Two exciting announcements have just arrived . . .
First, the Alaskan Brewing Company's Alaskan Smoked Porter won a bronze medal in the Smoked Beer category at the European Beer Star Award.
"To win a medal against the brewers in Europe that have defined this smoked beer style is definitely an honor for us," plant manager Curtis Holmes said in a press release.
This is no small feat. This year, 575 beers from 212 breweries and 28 nations competed which set the record for number of participants. The Smoked Porter was no underdog -- the brew already had a silver medal in the Smoke-Flavored Beer cateogry and a bronze in the Aged Beer category from the Great American Beer Festival in October, and it's the most award-winning beer in the history of that same festival.
What gives this brew it's belle-of-the-ball quality? The malt is smoked over alder wood, a hardwood indigenous to Southeast Alaska, often used to smoke fish, the press release explains. The best part for beer lovers is that the 2007 vintage will be released this month, just in time to toast its victory and whatever else you feel like toasting for the holidays.
And a second note worth celebrating -- for the first time ever Alaskan Brewing Co. plans to release its award-winning Alaskan Barley Wine in 22-ounce bottles in January. The Barley Wine is no slouch either having won silver medals at the 2003 Great American Beer Festival and the 2004 Great Alaska Beer and Barley Wine Festival, and first place at the 2007 Toronado Barley Wine Festival.
It's produced in small batches each year, and like a fine wine it can be aged for years. If you buy a bottle of the 2007 vintage, it's up to you how long you want to age it. Barley wines feature big malt character and a high residual sweetness counterbalanced with generous hops -- they're also a bit higher in alcohol content. The Alaskan Barley Wine is a bit darker and more balanced than most, according to the press release.
-- by Jessica Bowman