Tag Archives: great northern brewers club

Why the Great Northern Brewers Club is the Best Club!

Alaskans love beer, and we have some pretty great ales, lagers and barley-wine here in the Greatland!  Alaska Beer Week is this week, culminating in the Alaska Craft Brew & Barley Wine Festival on Friday and Saturday. I am lucky enough to get to vend my beer art at this event, and I hope to see you there. You probably already know that during Alaska Beer Week, Alaska hosts beer events at restaurants, bars and brewery tasting rooms. What you probably didn’t know is that the best beer event is hosted at 49th State Brewing by the Great Northern Brewers Club.

The GNBC is a homebrew club in Anchorage Alaska, and was founded in 1980.  It is hard to believe this club is as old as I am! The GNBC mission statement is: to educate people about beer, beer tasting, beer judging, and brewing techniques based on shared knowledge and experience. To engage in enjoyable social activities focused on home-brewing as a common foundation. To promote the hobby and enjoyment of home-brewing. To promote the responsible use of alcoholic beverages.  

The best part about the club is the January monthly meeting during Alaska Beer Week, which is also known as the “Industry Meeting.”  This meeting is a mini beerfest in itself, held at the theater at 49th State Brewing.  A keynote speaker is invited to speak, and I’ve listened to some great brewers from famous commercial breweries in the past including: Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada), Greg Koch (Stone Brewing), Jeff Lebesch & Kim Jordan (New Belgium Brewing), Geoff Larson (Alaskan Brewing), Jerry Vietz (Unibroue), John Maier (Rogue Ales), and many others.  There are a lot of complimentary commercial and home-brewed samples, enough that you should arrange transport other than driving yourself, since you will not be legal to drive after this event.  There’s also a great spread of food from the kitchen at 49th State Brewing.  Not to mention, a great amount of door prizes that are available if you donate to the club for drawing tickets.  Overall, I like this event more than the beer festival itself, because you get to find out why people are wearing chicken necklaces at the beer festival (Phil the chicken guy is almost always in attendance), and you will get to meet the brewers from around the State if you are a social person. 

There are a number of reasons to join this club, especially if you love making and drinking beer, mead, cider and other fermented alcoholic beverages. First, you get 10% off at La Bodega, and 10% off at ingredients at Arctic Brewing Supply. Then there’s the December meeting, which is a holiday party that is almost as good as the January meeting. There is a campout in the summer with free camping spots at an amazing campground (it changes yearly). The reasons keep going. You can sign up to become a certified BJCP judge (Beer Judge Certification Program), and participate in the numerous home-brew contests throughout the year. And lastly, this is a great group of people that like to have fun and be social! It was tough through the pandemic, but we survived by drinking socially over Zoom, although it wasn’t the same!  We are back, baby! Get your membership and come on down to hang out at 49th State with one of the funnest clubs in Alaska! 

Cheers to beers and the GNBC! 

Here are some photos from previous January industry meetings: Jerry Vietz from Unibroue with Maria, beard twinsies with John Maier from Rogue Ales, and a photo of the meeting hall.

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And the Winner of the Tart Side Challenge is… Me!

Turnagain Brewing graciously hosts a contest each year for members of the Great Northern Brewers Club called the Tart Side Challenge. Ted and Mary Rosenzweig, owners of the brewery, give each club member one gallon of wort containing the brewery’s proprietary sour culture from the solera tank we all affectionately call Big Bertha. Our task is to flavor the wort any way we wish, and to ferment it into beer. The entries get judged at the GNBC annual summer campout, and then Turnagain Brewing brews the winning recipe. Last year, Maria won the contest. When I created the recipe for my entry this year, I referred to my experience making small batch beers. I had been mixing beer and fruit for a couple of years now, and I know how much fruit to add to make a beer explode with flavor. I wanted to bottle-condition this beer, since oxidation is one of the easiest and worst things that can happen to a beer at this stage.  I also know that people generally tend to like slightly stronger beers over weaker ones. Since this was a beer tasting committee I was aiming to please, I added a 1/2 cup of malt extract to not only slightly increase ABV, but also to restart fermentation. I also added some of my own yeast from my yeast ranching project, since bottle-conditioning doesn’t work without yeast present.

I was unsure what fruit I wanted to put into the beer. Last year Maria won with a blueberry recipe, so I knew blueberries were a crowd pleaser. I also love the Piña Colada beer Ted has been making for Serrano’s Mexican Grill. It all became clear to me when I was making my morning smoothie with a healthy dosage of sour yogurt, pineapple, and blueberries.  Blueberries and pineapple would play the starring roles in my beer.

Ted didn’t have enough space to ferment my beer, so he used a French oak barrel, which added Brett to the equation. Ted and I were sipping on the finished beer at the brewery and I suggested that he bottle my beer, so we could cellar it to allow the Brett to develop. Since I’m the local beer artist, I also offered to make a label design for my beer. 

I had to design the label quickly, and I think best when I am out running on the trail. The next morning I figured it all out when doing my five mile loop.  I came up with the name, “Solera Eclipse” and decided upon a design inspired by the yin yang of T&C Surf Designs.  Ted’s solera is where the wort originated, and an eclipse is a noteworthy astronomical event.  The yin yang showed off the the contrast of the blueberries and pineapple perfectly.  Since it was fermented in Ted’s favorite old wine barrel, I included some barrel parts in the design making a sun. 

I am very excited to try the commercial version, I have one bottle left of my homemade version, and I look forward to sampling them back to back! The beer will be released at my art opening at Turnagain Brewing tomorrow (12/03/2021)! I’ll be there 5-8pm, and hope you’ll stop by to try my beer, check out my art, and buy a couple bottles to cellar.

Cheers to Turnagain Brewing for doing this fun contest for GNBC!

Ted taking a small sample of my beer from the barrel to see if the Brett flavor had sufficiently developed.
My design for the bottle label.
Solera Eclipse sour ale with blueberries and pineapple.

Year of Beer Paintings – Day 16

If you are here in Alaska for AK Beer Week and the Great Alaska Beer and Barley Wine Festival, then the Snow Goose Restaurant, and the Sleeping Lady Brewing Company should be on the forefront of your mind today because that is the venue for my favorite Great Northern Brewers Club event.  This is a club-member only event, so if you’re not a member, you can join at the door for $30.  Not only will you get into tonight’s event where you can mingle with brewers from all over the country and sample their special brews, but you’ll also be able to attend monthly meetings, and take advantage of 10% discounts at Arctic Brewing Supply, La Bodega Store, and a couple other businesses.  The beer pictured in today’s Year of Beer painting is the Fish On IPA from Sleeping Lady Brewing Co.  Good job Greg Mills, lead brewer, your ”Fish On” IPA is “Spot On”!  By the way, you can get your growlers filled at this brewery for $5 on Wednesdays and Fridays!

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

View the complete Year of Beer Paintings gallery.

Year of Beer 01.16, Fish On IPA from Sleeping Lady Brewing Co. Oil on panel, 8"x10".

Year of Beer 01.16, Fish On IPA from Sleeping Lady Brewing Co. Oil on panel, 8″x10″.