Tag Archives: midnight sun brewing

Drinking on the Southside

Yesterday was a great day to go to the south-side of town to grab a beer at Midnight Sun Brewing and  Turnagain Brewing. My art show is up at MSBC for the month of January, and yesterday the brewery busted out dusty bottles of Sloth Belgian-style Imperial Stout from 2017! For those in the know, Sloth is one of the best beers MSBC has ever made. A Russian imperial stout that was originally brewed as part of the Seven Deadly Sins series in 2007. The brewery hasn’t brewed it since 2017! Sloth has a rating of 95 on Beer Advocate and is rated as the 90th best Russian Imperial Stout in the United States!  It is big, bold, dark, black, and has a nice Belgian yeast note to it. If there is any left on draft today, I would get on down there and get a glass.  If not, you can always find something noteworthy from the big offerings from MSBC.  I made this painting of Sloth in 2016 and it immediately sold. Limited edition prints are available at my Etsy shop. If you prefer an original oil painting, rather than a print, I can paint a custom one for you.

A 6oz pour of Sloth Belgian-style Imperial Stout

Meanwhile, right down the street, an amazing sour beer called Solera Eclipse was released today at Turnagain Brewing!  Since Maria and I are in the Mug Club at Turnagain, we had the opportunity to stop by to get first dibs on this amazing beer yesterday.  It is a pineapple and blueberry sour that originally was brewed in summer 2021 and was released in early November 2021.  Every year there is a contest called the Turnagain Tartside Challenge, and Anchorage home-brewers come by Turnagain Brewing to get a gallon of mostly fermented sour wort from the Solera. The idea is to flavor, finish, and package the wort to make a delicious beer. In 2021 I was the winner of this contest with the concept behind Solera Eclipse. Ted Rosenzweig (owner and brewer at Turnagain Brewing) and I conferred, and I designed a label, and Ted packaged the beer for individual bottle sales. It has to be one of the tastiest sour beers I have ever had, and today it is released again. At $7 for a 12oz pour or $7 for 12oz bottles to go, it is a good deal. My original recipe called for a whole pineapple and 1lb of blueberries per gallon!  Little to say, the fruit in this beer is very expensive, and I am unsure how much profit can be made when using so much fruit here in Alaska! I have included a picture of Ted stealing a sample from the barrel on Halloween in 2021.  I wanted to show off my original label and bottle design, because the packaging is different this year.  The pineapple brings the flavor, and the blueberries bring some aroma, and a great color!  

Anchorage is a great beer drinking town and I hope you brave the cold to get out to one of our lovely brewery destinations to revere our beer! Cheers to beers brewed in the North! 


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

An Art Show During a Pandemic. The show will go on!

First Firkin Friday with Scott Clendaniel at Midnight Sun Brewing

We recently returned from our cabin in McCarthy to the metropolis known as Anchorage.  Maria and I both experienced small culture shock from the peaceful surroundings of our ten acres near Wrangell – St. Elias National Park compared to the industrialized buzz of the Anchorage city scene.  At the end of a two week stay all the treats we stockpiled to bring to the cabin start to run out and pretty soon you are making a lentil casserole from leftover ingredients.  At the cabin the birds were chirping and the loudest noise in the area was ourselves.  In Anchorage, the place where supplies are plentiful, we ordered sushi the night we arrived to our condo.  It was crazy to hear sirens, neighbors’ doors opening and closing, and the garbage truck.

We returned because I have an art show at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. starting this Friday, June 5th, and lasting for the whole month.  I have been working hard to get a new group of paintings together for this show.  The new pieces represent the four seasons of nature in Alaska’s Boreal forest, and I think they turned out pretty well.  Alaska is still experiencing over a dozen new cases of the Covies each day, but the Governor said we can start socializing again, so the show will go on, but don’t forget your mask.  I’ll tap the firkin at 5pm, and last call will be at 8pm.

Upon returning to Anchorage I was pretty stoked to go into MSBC and have a beer with my friends again.  MSBC didn’t get to celebrate its 25th birthday on the 5th of May the way it normally does, so this week the brewery is having a small celebration by offering some serious barrel aged beauties on draft.  Yesterday I stopped in and they had Arctic Devil barleywine, Sloth imperial stout, Bar Fly smoked imperial stout, the 25th anniversary barrel aged quad, and the Grand Crew Brew all on draft.  The walls at the Loft were bare when I got back Sunday, so I hung some paintings Monday.  I will hang the remaining 33 paintings tonight, and I will see if those barrel aged beers are still on draft.

Tomorrow is one of my favorite nights of the summer when I get to host the First Firkin Friday for June.  If the barrel aged delights are no longer on the menu, never fear, because there will be a special cask of Sloth aged on blackberries!  I will be bringing my craft fair table and will be selling art cards and stickers while sipping the tasty brews around my face mask.  It has been since 2013 that I have been enjoying MSBC’s hospitality in June, and I can’t think of a better way to spend the beginning of summer than sharing a small glass of Sloth with you!   So don’t go hiking at 5PM tomorrow, because you won’t get back in time, the brewery still closes at 8pm.  This isn’t a problem in the winter, but during summer, sometimes you have to set an alarm to make sure it doesn’t get too late for fresh beer at the tasting rooms!  I look forward to seeing all your sparkling eyes, if I miss being able to see your big smiles under your masks tomorrow!  Cheers to summer!

Gary’s Retirement Beer – “The Adult” Dunkelweizen

beer label design by artist scott clendaniel the adult

When I tell people I’m the Beer Artist, they immediately think I make beer labels.  I have to explain that I am an oil painter and I make paintings of beers.  I have only made three official beer labels during my career so far, and two have been for special one-off beers for Midnight Sun Brewing Co.  Former MSBC Chef, Chris Hilliard, and I brewed a Dopplebock called Feast with the brewing team.  It was barrel aged in whiskey barrels.  I made a special painting for the label with Alaskan animals drinking and feasting.  When I heard MSBC’s General Manager Gary Busse, a.k.a. “The Adult,” was retiring, I asked if he had plans for a special retirement beer.  He said, “Yes, a dunkelweizen.”  I was excited about it, and said, “I have to do a special label for that!”

What most people don’t know is that Gary has been instrumental to my beer artist career.  In 2006 I made a series of paintings called the Color of Beer, which was the first time I ever painted beer.  The show was a huge success, not because I sold any work at the actual art show at Noble’s Diner, but because when I drove the paintings around town after the art show, I sold them at local breweries and at the home-brew shop.  During a stop at the original MSBC location on Arctic Blvd I sold 3 of the 10 paintings!  Two to Gary and another one to a customer who just happened to be getting a growler filled.  It was because of this type of success that I made my second beer art series, 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.  It took me years to complete the small paintings and then I had no idea where to show the large body of work.  I had grandiose plans to house the show in the Lower 48 (what Alaskan’s call the Continental US), and I had a long back and forth email conversation with Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Co.  When that failed, I imagined Deschutes Brewing being the location for the show.  Bend is where beer is more plentiful than water.  When I visited the brewery, I couldn’t figure out where I would hang the pieces.  Two years passed while I was searching for a location and I was chatting with Gary at the new MSBC Loft and asked what they had in mind for art.  Gary explained that Barb Miller was going to do a rotating show every month and have a First Friday event called First Firkin Friday.

A firkin is a 10 gallon keg that is cask conditioned, i.e. fermented just enough in the keg to cause carbonation naturally.  MSBC uses a pin for First Firkin Friday , which is a 5 gallon version of the firkin.  Gary told me he would put a good word in for me with Barb, but that it was a long shot, because she had a specific vision.  Barb and I hit it off, and she made me wait until January to have the show, because it was the first ever AK Beer Week!  The show was a huge success, and I owe it to Gary and Barb!  The following year Gary purchased a large beer painting I made for the next show at MSBC called Another Round, which consisted entirely of MSBC beer paintings.  I continue to make beer paintings today, and completed my most famous series called the Year of Beer three years after the 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.  I showed this series at MSBC as well.

Gary is the General Manager at MSBC.  His nickname at the brewery is “The Adult.”  He is the one who has kept MSBC profitable and in business.  After art shows at MSBC Gary is the guy who writes and signs my checks.  He has worked there for nearly 20 years!  When I asked him what to do for his retirement beer label, he said it had to be a portrait of him with a bunch of kids running loose in the tasting room.  He said the beer would be called “The Adult,” and that it was going to be a dunkelweizen, his favorite style.  I am not a portrait artist and I have had some mixed reactions to my portraits over the years, and I mentioned this at our art meeting.  I gave it my best shot and Gary was slightly disappointed with my first attempt at his portrait.  He said the likeness maked him look like Butt-head, from Beavis and Butt-head.  I gave it another try, working from a new picture that Gary send me of himself, and I finally got it right on the third try.  The  other characters on the label represent employees at Midnight Sun Brewing Co.  It’s pretty easy to identify Davey with his mohawk and Barb struggling over toys with Mark.  I imagined the girl in pink to represent some of the servers, and the others as brewers and workers over the ages.  I know I missed many important MSBC people, but they are represented whether the likenesses are to be found or not.  Leave it to “The Adult” to keep them in line. 

beer painting for beer label design for the adult by scott clendaniel

The painting that I made for the label, which will be a retirement gift for him from me.

What will MSBC do without this parental figure to check everyone and keep the brewery in the black?  Luckily, Gary passed most of his knowledge to Jamie Schmitt, who has big shoes to fill.  I am sure there will be many memories yet to be made at this iconic brewery in Anchorage, Alaska.  With so many great beers and such a high quality bistro, MSBC has found its recipe for success!  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!  I love going to MSBC and love adorning the walls with my paintings every June and January!  Cheers to Gary!

beer label design by beer artist scott clendaniel

Gary with his retirement beer.

beer artist scott clendaniel with beer label design

Of course I had to get a few cans!

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #109. Wolf Pack Pilsner by Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Happy Thirsty Thursday, beer connoisseurs!

A new, “modern” Pilsner is available from our local favorite brewery Midnight Sun Brewing Company — a brew known as Wolf Pack!  I think it may be one of the best pilsners available in the city.  It’s been my libation of choice lately when I go to Crush Wine Bistro to check on my current art show there, which will be up for the month of October.  MSBC is known for brewing bold, big beers, but this one is a bit more on the normal side.  Still a very hop forward version of Pilsner, but only 5% ABV, and compared to an IPA, not a hop bomb.  More balanced, yet still hop forward.  This beer is true to Pilsner style with more hops on the bittering end, and less in the aroma.  It drinks like an aggressive Czech, or dry-hopped German Pils.  Beers that come to mind when drinking it are Bitburger, Budvar, Pilsner Urquell, and one of my all-time favorite pilsners Berliner Pilsner.  So now when I get a hankering for the Euro flavor, but don’t want to travel halfway around the world, I’ll save the airfare and just buy a 12 pack (coming soon) of the Wolf Pack Modern Pilsner.  

Midnight Sun has a beer for just about anyone, and if you are a pilsner fan, this is a good example of a not boring version of this classic style.  Thanks MSBC for not only making huge beers like Termination Dust (I’m a fan), but making great classic session-able styles as well!  You can actually drink this beer at the brewery and still drive home safely.  

This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #109.  Wolf Pack Pilsner by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. By Scott Clendaniel. 14"x11", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #109. Wolf Pack Pilsner by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. By Scott Clendaniel. 14″x11″, oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #105. December 29, 2016.

Happy LAST Thirsty Thursday!  I started releasing a new beer painting every week on Thirsty Thursdays in 2015, starting the day after I completed the Year of Beer Paintings, a series of 365 oil paintings of different beers, including at least one from every state!  After two years of Thirsty Thursday paintings, I’m ready to move on to different projects.  Stay tuned to this blog to see new paintings, and to read about my life and work as an artist in Alaska.

Only a few days until 2017!  I hope you have good beers ready to drink when the ball drops on Saturday night.  I have been saving a few special Midnight Sun Brewing beers, and look forward to popping them open on the big night.  We are in our log cabin in McCarthy, Alaska, so we will be trekking down to the cool spot known as Tony Zak’s to hang with the local crazy crew.  I heard that it can get pretty wild, and go late into the next morning.

This week’s painting is another shout out to Midnight Sun Brewing, because I’m getting ready for my art show at the brewery’s Loft on First Firkin Friday.  I’ll be kicking it off on January 6 at 5 PM by tapping a firkin of Sockeye Red IPA cast conditioned with cold brew.  I hope to see you there, if you’ll be in Anchorage.

I painted this painting to show the sun coming through the woods.  Although the sunlight looks lovely, you should guard your beer from it, and pour it in an opaque glass.  I use stainless steel pint cups when I’m not indoors.

Cheers to beers!  May your New Year be better than ever!

The original oil painting sold.  Limited-edition, signed art prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #105 by Scott Clendaniel. Scott Clendaniel. 11"x14", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #105. Scott Clendaniel. 11″x14″, oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #104. December 22, 2016.

Winter Solstice was yesterday, and everybody in the Northern Hemisphere (even my uncle who lives in California) is a little relieved that we will be heading towards more daylight soon.  Although the days are short and the weather is cold, it can be really beautiful outside, if you make sure to get out during the daylight hours.  I find myself hibernating this time of year and I can’t seem to get everything done that I can during the long days of summer.  If you do get out you can be rewarded with amazing light.  The sun doesn’t get very high in the sky, creating dramatic lighting.

My favorite brewery in Anchorage, Midnight Sun Brewing, celebrates the long days of summer and the short days of winter with special beers on tap.  So I thought that an MSBC growler with the sun logo would be fitting for a Solstice painting.  This painting is also perfect for my upcoming art show at the Loft at MSBC in about two weeks.  I invite you to join us for the First Firkin Friday party on January 6th, 2017!  I need to find out what the brewers have planned for the firkin.

This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition art prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #104 by Scott Clendaniel.  MSBC Chillin, by Scott Clendaniel. 12"x24", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #104 by Scott Clendaniel. MSBC Chillin, by Scott Clendaniel. 12″x24″, oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #93, October 6, 2016, Panty Peeler Belgian Tripel by Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

I painted this week’s Thirsty Thursday beer painting in response to the recent heat that Midnight Sun Brewing Company has received over the name and label design of Belgian Tripel called the Panty Peeler.  I remember first tasting the Panty Peeler at the original facility on Arctic Blvd in 2003 when the beer was called Épluche-Cullote, French for Panty Peeler.  In 2008 the name changed to Panty Peeler, because Americans were confused by the French name.  This beer is now available on draft at the Loft at Midnight Sun Brewing, in 22-oz bottles, and in cans. Midnight Sun has won awards for this beer, the latest being a silver medal in the Can Can Awards in the Belgian style ale category.

So, the beer is sexy, the design on the can is sexy.  Everyone knows sex sells.  But is it sexist, and does it promote “rape culture”, as some critics have recently claimed?  I think not.  The term “Panty Peeler” is a bit ambiguous.  The Urban Dictionary defines it as, “something said, or done that is almost sure to get a chick to sleep with you.  A candlelit dinner with rose petals could be a huge panty-peeler.”  This does not have anything to do with rape.  Promiscuous?  Yes…  Criminal?  Absolutely not!  Courtship is part of sex and is completely natural.  People who are looking for sexism and rape in anything and anywhere are in denial that women can choose to have sex.  Consensual sex does not mean rape.  Women enjoy sex too.  Everyone knows that alcohol is an aphrodisiac.  In my mind a delicious Belgian Tripel is aptly named Panty Peeler.  Shame on you, prudish party poopers, for taking an innocent, whimsical product and linking it to a heinous crime.  I stand behind one of my favorite breweries, and the wonderful people who run it.  It would be sexist not to.

This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #93 by Scott Clendaniel. October 6, 2016. Panty Peeler Belgian Tripel by Midnight Sun Brewing Co., 14"x11", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #93 by Scott Clendaniel. October 6, 2016. Panty Peeler Belgian Tripel by Midnight Sun Brewing Co., 14″x11″, oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #80, July 7, 2016, Kodiak Brown Ale by Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

A huge Kodiak Brown bear just grabbed a hold of my last 22 oz bottle of Midnight Sun Brewing Company’s Kodiak Brown Ale!  OmG!  I think he is going to drink it in one gulp!  Excuse me while I sprint in the other direction.  I know you are not supposed to run from a bear, but maybe he will be savoring the flavor of the beer long enough for me to outrun my fellow campers. 

Mark Staples started brewing Kodiak Brown back when he was home-brewing, before he and Barb Miller started Midnight Sun Brewing Company back in 1995.  It is a staple for the brewery, and is always available in 22 oz bottles and in 12 oz cans here in Alaska.  A good value at the Loft with a 12 oz serving for only 3 dollars, which means you can buy a round for six friends and still only chew up one 20 dollar bill.  The 12 oz cans make a great packing beer for rafting, fishing, biking, backpacking, or any outdoor adventure, because dark beer tastes great warm, straight from the can, or after being chilled in a creek.  I propose a toast to the grizz in all of us!  Drink a Kodiak Brown like you mean it!  Cheers to the long days and short nights of July!  Thanks MSBC!

This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #80 by Scott Clendaniel. July 7, 2016.  Kodiak Brown Ale by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. 11"x14", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #80 by Scott Clendaniel. July 7, 2016.
Kodiak Brown Ale by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. 11″x14″, oil on panel.


Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #78, June 23, 2016, Sockeye Red IPA by Midnight Sun Brewing Co.

Sockeye Red IPA is a hopped up beer that was a hop bomb before IPAs were even popular.  About 20 years ago this beer was brewed by Mark Staples at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. to feed the desire for a spawntastic IPA at Humpy’s Great Alaskan Ale House, a downtown watering hole.  At 5.6% and 61 IBUs this beer was an immediate success.  Inspired by the Alaskan fishing scene, Humpy’s has always been a beer hub of Anchorage, with over 40 taps, a pizza joint, and a new music venue all connected into one downtown campus.  This place is where you would want to spawn till you die.  Sockeye Red IPA is available in ever convenient 12 oz cans, as well as in the original offering of 22 oz bottles.  This IPA has long been one of my favorites.  Be like this Sockeye and snag yourself a little piece of Anchorage brewing history.  Cheers to the big, bold Sockeye Red IPA!  

This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #78 by Scott Clendaniel. June 23, 2016. Sockeye Red IPA by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. 11"x14", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #78 by Scott Clendaniel. June 23, 2016. Sockeye Red IPA by Midnight Sun Brewing Co. 11″x14″, oil on panel.