Did you know that after a male octopus slings its sperm with a specially affected arm (not a tentacle, they are called arms) it then withers and dies? The female receives the gametes in her mantle cavity then finds a protected spot to deposit the fertilized eggs, after which she also withers and dies. Pretty depressing that right after achieving your reproductive goals in life, to simply sit back and die, never to see your offspring. This octopus is not even thinking about reproduction though, he is only thinking about how he still has six arms left without beer! That is like only having 1/4 of a beer in your human hands. It also might be a problem that this guy is underwater and I am sure that this beverage is leaking out into the sea. Better get on it you suffering cephalopod, and slurp the suds down your beak before it dissolves faster than you can say octopus ink. Octopoda are smart, and this guy proves it by choosing beer as his beverage of choice. Cheers to intelligent decisions! Drink beer! Be merry! Don’t spawn out too early!
I’ve lived in Alaska most of my life, and when I shop for gifts, I always try to buy from small local businesses, because they make this place quirky, interesting and cultured. Without our artsy community, Anchorage would be a sad place. So, I came up with a list of five businesses that offer perfect gifts for Mother’s Day. You can feel good about supporting the local economy, while giving a unique and meaningful gift. FYI, Mother’s Day is May 13th.
Food & Wine Class at Marx Brothers Cafe. Mom will get to explore wine pairing with 18 foods and 9 wines. That will surely make her forget all her worries. The last class until next January is May 19th. The cost is $95.
What is the official Alaska State tree? The Sitka Spruce, which is also the source of the critical ingredient in Alaskan Brewing Company’s Spruce IPA, a beer brewed with Spruce tips. This IPA is a must-drink! I know New England IPAs are all the rage. “Have a milkshake,” people are saying. “Try this coffee-infused IPA, it has never been better.” I will, and have tried all these varieties. The flavor Alaskan Brewing put out in its Spruce IPA is unique. IPA is rapidly becoming the largest style with the most variations.
“I made this weird beer, it has a lot of hops in it, but I don’t know what to call it.”
“Dude, it has lots of hops, call it an IPA.”
This seems to be the most common solution to these unique beers and I can’t really say the hop-forward Spruce IPA is any different, but it is different, and that is the problem. What do you do with these avant-garde beer styles that do not fit any of the specific BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) style guidelines? Craft beer is evolving too rapidly for the BJCP to keep up. The answer is easy, just drink the tasty beverage and quit complaining about the name.
Cheers to Alaskan Brewing Spruce IPA, a great ale that brings a smile to my lips!
Feeling lucky tonight? For this week’s Thirsty Thursday beer painting I decided to paint a vintage beer I grew up loving. This was the first beer I ever drank. Lucky Lager is not only a pretty tasty beverage, similar to beers nearly twice as expensive, but also has this vibe to it making me think, “If I drink this elixir I could win at gambling, I can dance better, or I might even get lucky tonight… If I play my cards right”.
General Brewing from San Francisco started brewing this American adjunct lager in 1934 with the intent to make a beer as well as the Germans on a large scale. Becoming the second most popular beer in America off and on during the 50’s and 60’s, its popularity dropped off in the seventies and the product name was sold to Labatt Brewing and Pabst, and is still sold today in parts of Canada. I’m hoping to find some when I go there next year. Although this is not a craft beer, I always thought it was very refreshing, and I loved the aesthetic of the label. This verbiage on the can sold me on the contents when I was young and impressionable, “This Traditional Lager Beer owes its distinctive character to the finest quality ingredients and purest brewing water. In addition, long aging in ice cold cellars makes Lucky a true Lager beer and is the reason Lucky has been a favorite since 1934.”
I hope you have fond memories of Lucky Lager like I do. Raise your cans, stubbies, or 40s high, and make a toast, “Cheers to getting Lucky!”
Today is the first day of March, which begins my favorite stage of Alaskan winter — early Spring. We’re still in winter mode, but we get extra daylight, and with a bit of luck the snow is in perfect condition to get outside and play. Here in Anchorage we have a big festival known as Fur Rendezvous. Dating back a bit longer than 80 years (originating in 1935), local Alaskans (miners and trappers) traditionally met up for a huge fur auction and a bit of fun. Today we still don our furs (or fur like garments) as it is still cold outside, only 2 degrees above zero this morning. The fur auction is still on, but there are so many great events and traditions that it’s hard to name them all. Maria always buys a Rondy pin, but my favorite tradition is to buy a Rondy Brew from Anchorage Brewing Co. This year available in pint-size cans and served up in a four pack as well as on draft around town. I am impressed with this year’s recipe, a nice IPA at 6.4% with 55 IBUs. Brewed with Mosaic (one of my favorite aroma hops) and Idaho 7, which is new to me, but seems to be just right for drinking while watching the fireworks display. Maybe don’t have more than one before getting on the Tilt-a-Whirl at the annual Rondy Carnival. Best save that for afterwards! This weekend is the end of the festival, and also the beginning of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. The ceremonial start is this Saturday in Anchorage on 4th Avenue, right in front of our studio building. If you are in Anchorage, stop by the Real Art is Better headquarters (333 W. 4th Ave, Suite #4) this Saturday, March 3 for some fresh baked cookies, or to warm up. We’ll be open 10 – 5pm.Running of the Reindeer, another epic Rondy event is to be held at 4pm. Don’t delay getting your Rondy-Brew on, as this is a once a year beer, and next year will be changed. Who knows? Gabe Fletcher may make a sour lemongrass saison again (also very good, but decidedly different).
Cheers to Rondy — a great festival, and to Rondy Brew — a great beer!
Every holiday season I get many requests for commissions, and this year was no exception. By now I know what to expect, and how to get ready for the holiday rush. As always, each painting had a special story behind it, and I loved being in on the surprises. My favorite painting this year was the view of looking up at aspen trees in the Fall (Maria wanted to keep it). The best response was from a customer in Texas about the Shiner Bock painting, “OMG THIS PAINTING IS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!! You’ve officially made me cry! Today has been an absolutely horrible day and you’ve made it so much better. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover it!” Messages like this make me happy about being an artist.
We take a picture of every painting that leaves the studio, so here is a slideshow of the paintings I made this holiday season (click on the pictures to view a slideshow). They are all oil paint on wood panel, framed in a natural ash wood frame. I prime my paint supports red and gold before applying the oil paint, so you can see the gold paint shining through gaps in the oil paint. This is my signature technique, and one way you can always recognize a Clendaniel original.
Every year the sunsets come earlier and earlier, the leaves turn golden and the air becomes crisp. The hectic schedule Alaskans experience all summer begins to slow down. Autumn, the fore-bearer to winter, is a time that all Alaskans start to prepare for the winter experience. In the animal kingdom it is referred to as hibernation. I might not sleep like a black bear, which forgo drinking and eating while hibernating. I just take it easy. Sleeping more, doing less. During the summer it’s a get-it-done-while-you-can attitude. There is road construction, fishing, building, and recreation that can take up to 20 hours of the day. People hardly stop to rest. In the winter we experience what Alaskans call “down time”. Time to hone the tools, do indoor projects, fix the fishing nets, eat, sleep, and well… sleep some more. The fall is what we call the shoulder season and we begin to slow down. The brewing geniuses at Denali Brewing Co. made a seasonal beer to honor this phenomenon called Slow Down Brown. It is a spiced brown ale that has a bit of a kick at 6.1% ABV. Sri Lankan spices and chocolate malt make this a precursor to a winter warmer. I last drank this around a campfire and it was the perfect complement to the dark skies and early snowfall this year. If you are an Alaskan, or just love things AK, I urge you to seek out a Slow Down Brown and to take it easier. It’s a good idea to rest up for the craziness that will ensue shortly after the spring equinox rolls around.