Tag Archives: Beer

Drinking and Reviewing NA Beer during Sober October, Part 2

In my last blog post I explained why I’m currently drinking NA beers, and reviewed three that I had tried so far. So, today I’ll be reviewing the rest.

We are in week 3 of sober October, and I have to say that we’ve been pretty good. I didn’t have any beer at the Alaska Craft Brew Festival, but I did have some at the Great Northern Brewers Club meeting.  Why would I go to a beer festival when I’m not drinking? I had a booth at the event to sell my beer art. Anyway, I am back on track and have just over a week left, and intend to finish strong.  It’s been great — I feel good, physically, and about myself too. I always tell people if they slip up on a detox from drinking to take heart and get back on the wagon. Your body won’t even notice the day you cheated on your discipline, but going back to old, bad habits is definitely going to hit you in the liver.  

So, I left off last time talking about Non-Alcoholic, or NA beer options.  I went into La Bodega and bought some beers to review: Athletic Light, Bitburger 0.0, Weihenstephaner Non-Alcoholic, Athletic Upside Dawn Golden, and Samuel Adams Just the Haze Non-Alcoholic Hazy IPA. 

I can’t recommend the Athletic brand, all three I’ve tried have that bad flavor of cooked alcohol in the beer.  And same with the Bitburger 0.0.  I was surprised, as Germans love their NA beers, and I would have thought Bitburger would have come through for me. I wanted something crisp and clean, but the beer Bitburger offered can’t hold up to the alcohol removal process.  I wonder why more breweries even try to make a beer and then remove the alcohol. Why not just make a malt and hop flavored soda? It seems to me that a beer-flavored drink would be easier to make than removing the alcohol.  The Russians have been enjoying Kvas for hundreds of years, and it has very little alcohol to begin with. I actually like drinking carbonated fruit juice beverages like IZZE and Blue Monkey more than an NA beer.  I normally cut them with sparkling water to extend the goodness, and to tone down the super sweet flavor of straight juice. 

The NA beers I can recommend are the Weihenstephaner, and the Sam Adams Just the Haze.  Germany comes through with the Weihenstephaner, it is a hefeweizen style of brew and has that estery quality that a good German weissbier should have.  Hazy and golden yellow with an aroma of cloves and banana. The mouthfeel is full bodied like a hefe, and the flavor is just like the aroma. If you love German wheat beers and can’t drink alcohol, this NA beer is a good choice for you. 

The Sam Adams not only won Gold at GABF for NA beer this year, it is actually really good! Also hazy and yellow, this NA beer provides a nice aroma of clean aroma hops.  The mouthfeel is slightly more watery than I would have liked, but the flavor makes up for it. They must have an expensive machine for taking the alcohol out of the beer, because if I didn’t know any better, I would call it a session IPA.  And session you can, since it has less than .05% alcohol content.  You would have to drink 100 of them to have the same alcohol that is in a regular beer.

Cheers to your health, your mind and your body! 

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Drinking and Reviewing NA Beer during Sober October

Today is day five of sober October, yeah I started a day late.  I’m doing well, and haven’t had a sip of alcohol since Saturday. The first time I took a whole month off from drinking was in 2012 in McCarthy, Alaska. There is an event at the Golden Saloon that happens at the end of every season called Last Man Standing, which is a party the bar throws for the whole town to get rid of all perishables, such as food, beer, soft drinks, and NA beer.  Everything is free! In 2012 the bar shut down later than usual, in mid-October, and so that was the first time I ever drank non-alcoholic beer. At the time, my options were St. Pauli Girl NA, and O’Doul’s. I tried both. The O’doul’s was alright, it had a bit of a sweet and sour, grainy flavor and not much hops, but I had a couple at the party.  The St. Pauli Girl NA was definitely worse. The owner had a hard time getting people to drink the NA beer, so he gave me a 12-pack to take to my cabin.  I drank one every night, until they were gone.

Today, I am in Anchorage, and I thought some NA beer might be kind of good. I wasn’t hankering for O’Doul’s, so instead I got a six-pack of Lagunitas IPNA.  I have been drinking one per night for the last five days, and I have to say it is better than O’doul’s, or St. Pauli Girl.  Today I went to La Bodega and bought a mix pack of other NA beers.  Let me tell you, the NA beer market has really expanded since 2012! I had heard that Athletic Brewing Co. made a decent NA beer, so I picked up a few of those, as well as a couple German options and a Sam Adams Hazy NA IPA. I will review both the Lagunitas IPNA and Athletic Brewing Company’s Run Wild IPA today. Next time I will give you a rundown on the other five.

Lagunitas IPNA smells great, just like a regular IPA. It tastes like watered-down beer, but has a pleasant IPA and malt flavor.  The beer is clear and light brown, and doesn’t retain any foam like a real IPA should.  To me it tastes like the brewers took a bottle of the Waldo’s Special Ale, poured it into a gallon of water, added some caramel coloring, then carbonated, and bottled it into 12 bottles.  Overall, I would consider buying it again. It is good, and possibly a decent alternative to real IPA when one is trying to stay away from alcohol.

Athletic Brewing Co’s Run Wild IPA has a copper color, and beautiful foam that stays around for a long time. The flavor is weird, not really like an IPA. It reminds me more of an O’Doul’s. It has a nice body to it, and the mouthfeel is spot on. The smell is grainy, and a bit like smelling malt extract straight from the barrel. It only has a hint of hops. There is a pronounced bitterness after the sour grainy flavor dissipates.  As it warms up, the weird sour grain flavor gets stronger. But, if you want to look like you are drinking IPA, it fits the bill perfectly.  And I would drink it again, especially during sober October.  

Next week I will review a few more of these beers, and let you know which one is the best. So far Lagunitas IPNA is the best NA beer I have had.  I know the Germans like to drink a bunch of NA beer, so maybe they make something decent. NA beer has got to be better for you than sugary sodas, and more tasty than drinking sparkling waters. 

Cheers to sober October!  I hope you are having a good time, whether participating, or not!    

Termination Dust

Termination dust on the Chugach mountains

Happy Fall Equinox! During our five-mile run this morning we marveled at the gorgeous termination dust on the Chugach mountains that arrived overnight. For those of you who are not up on Alaskan lingo, “termination dust” refers to the first dusting of snow on mountain tops, signaling the termination of summer. This means something to the beer drinking crowd of Anchorage.  When we see that first snow, we know that Midnight Sun Brewing is about to release Termination Dust Belgian Style Barley Wine.  It is only released when Lee Ellis, President of the brewery, sees snow on Flattop mountain.  Well, I looked up at Flattop today, and the snow stopped right above Flattop mountain.  So, I assumed the brewery would hold out, but to my surprise, I saw on social media that the release is happening today!  I have a bottle of this beer in my beer fridge from two years ago, so maybe it is time to drink that one as well, since it is Equinox, and I feel celebration in the air.

When Alaskans see termination dust, some take a big sigh of relief, and others start feeling depressed, depending on how one feels about the impending winter. I personally like winter more than summer, so I get very excited about longer nights, cozy evenings around a fire, movie nights without FOMO, football season, fat-biking, and most importantly, alpine ski season.  I love skiing, and I especially love skiing at Arctic Valley Ski Area!  I am a lifetime member of the Anchorage Ski club. Maria and I already bought our season passes, so seeing termination dust on the front range on Equinox makes me feel hopeful for a great upcoming ski season! I am certainly glad to live in Alaska! Now, I’m off to Midnight Sun Brewing to sample this year’s Termination Dust. Cheers!

Prints of this beer portrait are available at my Etsy shop

Yuengling Traditional Lager at Citizens Bank Park

When I was growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, my parents were saving every penny so they could help pay for all four of us to go to college.  We used to shop at thrift stores, and we played a lot of baseball.  My brother found this Phillies fan jacket and he instantly became a fan. I indirectly also became a fan, because he wore it all the time. 

During 2014, I worked my little tail off making a beer painting every day. This is when I went from being a beer fan to a straight-up beer nerd.  I had heard of Yuengling, the oldest brewery in America, but it doesn’t distribute to Alaska. I picked up a following in Pennsylvania during my Year of Beer project, and one of my followers mailed me a can.  I was impressed, since the beer was different than the regular pre-prohibition style lager I expected it to be.  During 2014 I made over 365 paintings, and some of them were more inspired than others.  I wish I had made this Yuengling painting at the Citizens Bank Park back then. 

In 2017, I took my second trip to Philly and I spent some time tasting beers there. My great friend Sam Magdowitz (a local Philadelphian) has season tickets to the Phillies, so I got to go to a game!  Thanks Sam!  He is a huge MLB fan, and has been to every ball park in the country! I was telling him about my history with the Phillies when we parked, and took the train on in.  This is Sam’s secret plan to avoid the traffic; park at a train station a ways out, and ride the train 10 minutes to the stadium.  Ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing, way less time stuck in traffic. I had been beer tasting all day with Rich Morgan that day, another great beer drinking friend whom I met during my Year of Beer, and I am glad I wasn’t behind the wheel.  I did make it until the game went into extra innings and was on my second wind when Sam suggested leaving early since he had to work in the morning.  It was after 10pm, so I was on board.  I watched the Phillies win back in his kitchen while sharing a bottle of Denali Brewing’s Louisville Slugger sour ale with Sam’s wonderful better half, Tamar.  Sam crashed out for the night. Great experience, thanks Sam and Tamar! 

Brad Lewis is a local Anchorage Phillies fan, originally from Philadelphia.  He brought me this can of Yuengling with the Phillies logo on it!  I was stoked to finally get another taste of this iconic brew and finally capture my experience with Sam at the stadium!  Cheers to a little help from our friends! Without so many great people in my life I would not have been able to put this painting together! Go Phillies! Drink a Yuengling, if you are lucky enough to get one!

This original oil painting, and signed prints are available at my Etsy shop.

Yuengling Traditional Lager at Citizens Bank Park, by Scott Clendaniel. 14″ x 11″, oil on panel.

Cultivating a New Yeast Culture for My Cherry Beer

A couple weeks ago my mother-in-law gave us a bag of organic cherries from Costco that she said were too sweet for her.  I thought, “Great! I will make a beer with them using some of the yeast I have been cultivating from a project I started well over three years ago.”  I have been a little too busy to brew on the regular schedule that I normally follow.  When I went to look at my yeast, I saw mold in it, and it smelled like old socks.  Three years of use is a very good run for a yeast culture. I think it might have happened because I had started using a smaller malt-extract-to-water ratio for feeding it. So, I started over again, making a new yeast culture, and I got to play with my yeast science equipment.  

After I collected the yeast in a baking pan from the air next to an open window in my condo in West Fairview in Anchorage, I put the starter into an Erlenmeyer flask.  Before, I had used a growler.  I brewed up a batch with the cherries after feeding the yeast for about two weeks.  It was frothing in the flask when I pitched it into the cherry beer wort I made.  When the flask was open, I also took a small sample out and viewed it with Maria’s new microscope (I gave it to her for her birthday, she requested it). It is now happily fermenting away in the corner of my second bedroom.  I only brewed a gallon, and used one pound of cherries.  The wort tasted great, so I have high hopes for the final product, but you never know when utilizing wild yeast.  There will only be 8, or 9 bottles total as the cherry puree and trub will absorb some liquid. I intend to brew another gallon batch this weekend but I will use lingonberries instead of cherries.  

Cheers out there!  I hope you find tasty beers to keep you fortified during the pandemic!  

The science station.
The new yeast culture viewed through the microscope. The big green blog is a hop particle.
The yeast culture in the flask, and a small batch of cherry wort ready to ferment in the green jug.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #13, March 26, 2015

This week’s beer painting for Thirsty Thursday is of Red Chair NWPA by Deschutes Brewing Company in Bend, Oregon. I neglected to include this great beer in last year’s Year of Beer Paintings series, because I painted many other great Deschutes beers, and was looking for more variety of breweries to increase the scope of the project. I chose to paint this beer this week because of the upcoming Merry Marmot Festival taking place this weekend at Arctic Valley – a ski area near Anchorage, Alaska. The festival marks the end of the ski season for this ski area, which is a bummer, because on a normal snow year we’d still have a couple weeks of great skiing left, but the lack of snow this year makes that impossible. Arctic Valley has two red chair lifts, which are Riblet brand, with the tailbone-smashing center pole. Hope your snow pants provide ample padding. Still, it’s the best option for getting to the top, the other one being a Poma t-bar. Although this beer is named for the red chair on Mt. Bachelor, I consider it to be a tribute to all red chairs out there. This North West Pale Ale has a nice hop aroma and flavor. Hardly a pale ale, full of Centennial and Cascade hops coming in with 60 IBUs, this beer is closer to an IPA. Overall, a great beer to enjoy ski après for its refreshing crisp flavor, and stunning complex malt body.

Cheers to downhill skiing, one of my favorite sports, and to Deschutes Brewing, one of my favorite NW breweries!

This painting sold. You can purchase a limited-edition print, or order a custom painting at my Etsy shop.

Beer Art Oil Painting of Deschutes Brewing Red Chair NWPA by Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #13 by Scott Clendaniel. March 26th, 2015. Red Chair NWPA by Deschutes Brewing Co. 8″x10″, oil on panel.

Year of Beer Paintings – Day 302

The featured beer painting of the day is of HooDoo Kölsch Style Ale from Uinta Brewing Company in Salt Lake City, Utah. This beer is brewed in celebration of Bryce Canyon National Park, and specifically of the tall spires of stone known as HooDoos. I have traveled to Utah a few times and the last time I visited Zion National Park and saw some amazing rock formations. I wanted to make it to Bryce Canyon on that trip, but the snowstorm in early May put a kibosh on our camping plans. So, I still plan on seeing this area of Utah someday, and riding my mountain bike on the Slickrock Trail in Moab.

HooDoo ale tastes like a hybrid between a golden ale and a kölsch. It smelled and tasted like sweet honey, with a slight pepper finish from a light dosing of hops. Overall this beer is great and would be best consumed after a long day out in the hot Utah sun. I think being at 4,000-9,000 ft elevation would also help to make this beer taste a lot like liquid heaven. Hydration is key when you transition from sea level to altitude.

Cheers to HooDoos, the rock spires and the beer! Both from Utah and both amazing!

You can purchase this painting, or a limited-edition print at my Etsy shop.

View the complete Year of Beer Paintings gallery.

Beer Painting of HooDoo kolsch by uinta brewing year of beer paintings scott clendaniel

Year of Beer 10.29. HooDoo Kölsch Style Ale by Uinta Brewing Co. Oil on panel, 8″x10″.

Year of Beer Paintings – Day 301

Today’s featured beer painting is of Delirium Nocturnum brewed in Melle/Ghent, Belgium since 1654. This beer makes me think of Timothy Q. Mouse and Jumbo Jr. (a.k.a. Dumbo) when they first sample the sudsy brew that the circus folk were enjoying. The musical number comes to mind with the big bass drum booming, “Boom, boom, boom, pink elephants on parade, pink elephants on parade!” The pink, or white elephant has had a mystique, dating back several centuries in the country of Siam, now modern day Thailand. The white elephant is considered a sacred animal because it is so rare. Only the King could own them, unless he chose to gift one to someone with gratitude. The gift recipient could not use the white elephant to do traditional work, like putting up circus tents, or as a pack animal. So the elephant would become a huge burden. A white elephant is only to be used on parade, to symbolize wealth, prosperity, and to represent a just, powerful King. Hence, the white elephant gift exchange.

The Huyghe family brewery that has been brewing at the old brew site since 1906 has used the pink (white) elephant as the symbol for the Delirium line of brews. Delirium Nocturnum translates to nighttime madness, and represents what happens when you drink too much alcohol. The hallucinations that ensue from such overindulgence are represented by the elephant on the bottle. You know you have been drinking way too much if you have this type of problem from drinking. But since it has been a tradition, I won’t get into it. The real reason for drinking beer is flavor, not drunkenness. Beer tasting, guys, not chugging. I sampled this one at my buddy’s 34th birthday dinner last night, and I am happy to say I did not see any pink elephants, except the ones in the painting. I am foremost a beer taster and connoisseur, not a beer glutton. The beer itself is definitely Belgian, with notes of sweet caramel and cloves, and a bit of sour flavor. This beer is overall a perfect example of a Belgian dark strong ale.

Cheers to Delirium Nocturnum! If you buy a bottle of this, you better share it with a few others, or you might be like Jumbo Jr. seeing pink elephants on parade, with the actual delirium accompanying your visions.

The original painting sold. You can purchase a limited-edition print at my Etsy shop.

View the complete Year of Beer Paintings gallery.

Beer Painting of Delirium Nocturnum by Huyghe brewery year of beer paintings scott clendaniel

Year of Beer 10.28. Delirium Nocturnum by Huyghe Brewery. Oil on panel, 8″x10″.

Year of Beer Paintings – Day 300!

The featured beer painting of the day is of Endless River Kolsch-Style Ale from Mother Earth Brewing of Kinston, North Carolina. I opened this beer for the first time for my dinner guests who own the local homebrew supply shop. Lisa is a beer perfectionist and makes some of the best brews I have ever had, and Kolsch and Pilsners are her favorite styles of beer. She gave this beer a very good review, and kept looking at the bottle so she could remember the name of it, and the brewery. I noticed right away how this version of kolsch is bright and clean tasting. Kolsch or Pils are styles that are a litmus test for a brewery. If a brewery has any off flavors in its brews, they will be obvious in the Kolsch and Pils. Not much to hide behind in this simple style of beer. Not only is this beer super tasty, but the label is really pleasant, and I can imagine being out on the river sipping on Endless River Kolsch.

The Mother Earth brewery has the coolest building in Kinston. They are as green as the name suggests. “Peace, Love and Beer” is their motto. They have a six-kilowatt solar system producing endless energy from the Southern sun. They even have recycled blue jeans as insulation and sound barrier built right into the retrofitted historic building. If you like Kolsch style beer, you will be a fan of this one. I certainly am.

Cheers to peace, love and beer! If you are at peace, and you love beer, you will find happiness, or hoppiness at least. Thanks Charlotte for sending me this delicious beer from the other corner of the country!

You can purchase this painting, or a limited-edition print at my Etsy shop.

View the complete Year of Beer Paintings gallery.

Beer Painting of Endless River Kolsch by Mother Earth Brewing Year of Beer Paintings scott clendaniel

Year of Beer 10.27. Endless River Kolsch-Style Ale by Mother Earth Brewing. Oil on panel, 8″x10″.

Year of Beer Paintings – Day 298

Trickster, or Treat? Both are pumpkin beers, but I went for seasonal T.R.E.A.T. The Royal Eccentric Ale Treatment is the Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter from Midnight Sun Brewing Company of Anchorage, Alaska. This is a big, bold pumpkin Porter at 7.8% ABV! My favorite part is the chocolate nibs, which differentiate this pumpkin beer from most others. Midnight Sun has been making this beer since 2005, so any kinks have been worked out. There are tons of flavors besides pumpkin: chocolate, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are all in the mix. This beer pours black, and looks sinister in a glass.

I’m glad Midnight Sun offers 6 oz servings at the Loft tasting room, because I can’t drink a full glass of some of those beers and still drive home safely. Alaska has strange laws about what a brewery can and cannot do. Mainly due to the difference between a full liquor license and a brewery license, a brewery can only serve 36 oz to one person on premise per visit, a person can take home 5 gallons, and the tasting room has to close at 8 PM. There are more restrictions too, such as no games like pool tables, or darts, no bar stools at the main bar, and no live music. You gotta pay for the full liquor license to enjoy stuff like that. So, I’m glad I can buy 6 oz servings, not only because most of the beers are strong, like T.R.E.A.T. and Termination Dust Barley Wine, but then you can have several different flavors without incurring the wrath of a hangover, or worse, a DUI. This Halloween consider drinking T.R.E.A.T., as it really is the grown-up version of a very fine reward for not being too tricky.

Cheers to the T.R.E.A.T! I appreciate what you do MSBC! Bring on Halloween! Hoooooowwwwwl!

You can purchase this painting, or a limited-edition print at my Etsy shop.

View the complete Year of Beer Paintings gallery.

Beer Painting of TREAT Chocolate pumpkin porter by midnight sun brewing year of beer paintings scott clendaniel

Year of Beer 10.25. T.R.E.A.T. Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Oil on panel, 8″x10″.