Tag Archives: craft 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

Montucky Cold Snacks Beer Painting

Montucky Cold Snacks is a light and refreshing beer, just like a good “adventure” beer should be.  For this painting I imagined three white horses prancing around a Montana ranch, while a cool farm hand stands watching by the property’s fence, sipping on a Cold Snacks at the end of a long day of ranchin’.  It is this type of dream of Montana that inspired this beer to be made, and inspired me to paint this composition.

I love a good, cold, American-style lager. It is the perfect beer for after a long, hard, sweat-filled workday, or a grueling play day.  I would drink it on a box, I would drink it with a fox. I would drink it here, I would drink it there! Basically, I could drink Montucky Cold Snacks anywhere! The cool thing about this beer, is the brewery donates 8% of its profits back to local causes.  Remember, the first two are for hydration. 

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

Montucky Cold Snacks Beer Painting by Scott Clendaniel. 11″x14″, oil on panel.

 

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.

Zip Kombucha Taproom Review

~ by Maria Benner

I try to find places to hang out before they get discovered by everyone else, and become too crowded for my comfort.  Mostly because I dislike waiting in line (like a typical Alaskan), and prefer less noisy environments where I can easily communicate with my friends.  The Zip Kombucha tap room is one of those places that is still mostly under the radar.  I shouldn’t even tell you about it, but at the same time, I want it to prosper.

I prefer brewery taprooms over bars, because they offer a comfortable setting without the meat-market/sketchy vibe that most bars have.  This taproom is unique in that it offers draft beer in a brewery-taproom setting, but can stay open past 8pm.  It can also have live music and games.  The craft beer selection is really top-notch.  Last week it was the only place in Anchorage that had No Woman No Cryo IPA by Girdwood Brewing on tap.  The price is a very reasonable $5 per pint!  For those who don’t want to drink alcohol, or are gluten-free, kombucha is on tap in several delightful flavors like blueberry, ginger, or mint.  Wine is also on the menu.  Delicious and healthy food is available as well.  Recently, Glacier Bowl teamed up with Zip to offer poke bowls.  Several nights a week there is live entertainment including open-mic night, and music by local musicians.  The large space in the brewery even has enough room for dance lessons.  The taproom also exhibits art by local artists.  In April the featured artist is Scott.  His oil paintings and limited-edition prints are on display and available for sale through Zip until May 2nd.  This place has it all!

What is kombucha?  It’s a beverage produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria.  It tastes sweet and sour at the same time, but the flavors are not overwhelming.  The yeast eats most of the sugar, so this beverage won’t rot your teeth, and it’s loaded with probiotics.  Added flavors like ginger, berries and mint really shine in this clear and fizzy drink.

So next time you’re looking for a quiet, yet hip space to meet your friends where you can get food, craft beer, and non-alcoholic, gluten-free beverages, along with entertainment, and art, check out the Zip Kombucha taproom at 3404 Arctic Blvd.  The location in midtown is convenient, with plenty of parking.  Open every day 4-9pm.

Kombucha and draft beer menu.

Live music in the Zip Kombucha taproom.

Ahi poke bowl by Glacier Bowl.

Mint kombucha.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #29, July 16, 2015

The Skilak Lake is a popular destination on the Kenai Peninsula. If you go, don’t forget to bring the Skilak Scottish Ale from Kenai River Brewing Co. Skilak is one of the biggest lakes on the Kenai and is easily accessible from Soldotna and Anchorage. The fact that it’s a popular destination makes sense, because there are two campgrounds and square miles of beautiful crystal blue water to enjoy. The views are nice too.

Skilak Scottish Ale pours with a robust creamy head that is more than ample. The aroma is of licorice and smoke. This is a very malt-forward beer that finishes with a hint of piney hops. The taste is robust of licorice candy and caramel dark grain. It is sweet and satisfying. A nice dark amber beer with a hint of peat. The mouth feel is a bit boozy even at only 5.3% ABV, and this beer is creamy and smooth. Overall, highly recommended for drinking during out of town adventures, preferably by a lake.

Cheers to Kenai River Brewing, a great Alaska brewery producing unique brews! Keep up the good work!

The original oil painting sold.  You can purchase limited-edition prints, or order a custom painting at my Etsy shop.

Beer oil painting of skilak scottish ale by kenai river brewing by scott clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #29 by Scott Clendaniel. July 16, 2015. Skilak Scottish Ale by Kenai River Brewing Co. 8″x10″, oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #24, June 11, 2015

This week’s Thirsty Thursday beer painting is a throwback to the Year of Beer Paintings project, being in the same format and size as those paintings. For those of you who missed it, I painted a new beer painting every day last year, and posted them on this blog. You can see them all in the Year of Beer Paintings section. A couple weeks ago I mentioned that my friend John brought me a delicious homebrew from St. Louis, brewed by Kevin Cummings. Well, I also received a delicious beer called the Schlafly Pale Ale, brewed by the largest independent craft brewery in St. Louis – The Saint Louis Brewery. Schlafly Pale Ale is a delicious example of an English Pale ale brewed in America with American malt, a hop bill of Kent Golding, Pilgrim, Northdown, and London Ale yeast. It is a great beer that won’t leave you wasted. Too many craft breweries have been making beer that is too strong. Well, at 4.4% ABV the flagship beer of the St. Louis Brewery won’t leave you hung over, it will just be a tasty treat. I wish I had more than one. It’s always great to get beer that is not distributed to your home community, and most times all you get is a small taste. This was true as I shared the 12 oz bottle with my wife and Business Manager who agreed this was a worthy beer to paint! The impressive thing is that it survived the drive all the way from St. Louis to McCarthy, Alaska, and still tasted great! This is the first craft beer I’ve ever painted from St. Louis!

Cheers to St. Louis Brewery, the independent brewery with the good stuff. Thanks John rice for driving it thousands of miles all the way to Alaska! Hand delivered to McCarthy, of all places!

The original painting sold, but you can purchase a limited-edition print, or commission a custom painting at my Etsy shop.

Schlafly Pale Ale beer painting by Scott Clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #24 by Scott Clendaniel. June 11, 2015. Schlafly Pale Ale by The Saint Louis Brewery. 8″x10″, oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #21, May 21, 2015

René Magritte (1898-1967) is a well-known Surrealist painter known for his pieces that made people think. This piece is modeled after a painting entitled, “The Treachery of Images” (1928-29), consisting of a pipe with perfect cursive writing beneath it that says, “Leci n’est pas une pipe,” which in French means, “This is not a pipe”. Magritte is referring to the fact that it is an image of a pipe, not an actual pipe itself. Because he was a very exacting painter, this made sense. I didn’t even attempt to make the painting seem as lifelike as Magritte would have, but I had other motives. I was visiting Brandon Yanoshek, checking the inventory of his late father’s brew equipment, and looking into what was needed to get Brandon up and running. Brandon is an avid pipe smoker and loves to show off his pipe collection. He received a new pipe in the mail that day, a real beauty. Too bad I gave up tobacco a while ago. I still enjoy the smell of pipe tobacco. Later at home I was watching his YouTube video on how to load a pipe and this Magritte painting came to mind.   This painting has another meaning, referring to the fact that most “pint” glasses we use today are actually 13 ounces to the brim, a full 3 ounces short of a full pint, hence “This is not a pint.” If you want to see Brandon’s images of his pipes, follow him on Instagram at @thearcticpipe, and his YouTube channel if you need advice on how to fill your new corncob beauty. Cheers to beer! Check back next week for another Thirsty Thursday beer-themed painting.

The original oil painting sold.  You can purchase limited-edition prints, or order a custom painting at my Etsy shop.

Beer pint poster print painting by scott clendaniel

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #21 by Scott Clendaniel. May 21, 2015. Leci n’est pas une Pint. 11″x14″, oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #17, April 23, 2015

The Sistine Chapel ceiling mural is a fresco painting that was painted from 1508 until 1512 by Michelangelo.  Frescoes are large paintings utilized as architectural decoration often covering the entire walls.  The paint is laid into the plaster, or wet lime as it dries, which creates a painting that is an integral part of the wall.  The earliest known frescoes are from around 1500 BC, and can be found in the archeological sites on the Island of Crete.  The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was created nearly 3,000 years later.  Michelangelo’s work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is considered to be the pinnacle of Renaissance painting.  I sampled the famous scene where God is creating Adam and inserted beer into God’s hand.  I call this painting God’s Gift.  I have never been to the Sistine Chapel, but intend to get there sometime in my life.  Maria has been, and she was the instigator for this painting.  I found it difficult to emulate the style of Michelangelo, not only because he was a very gifted artist, but also because there is a difference in medium as well, and making my style of oils look like a plaster painting was interesting.  Not to mention, hands are very challenging subject matter… thanks Maria.  I hope you don’t find this painting offensive due to the change in its meaning, however I think our founding fathers would approve.  “Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy!”  -Benjamin Franklin

The original painting sold. You can purchase limited-edition prints, or order a custom painting at my Etsy shop.

Sistine Chapel God and Adam touch hands Michelangelo painting beer

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #17 by Scott Clendaniel. April 23, 2015. God’s Gift. 11″x14″, oil on panel.