The long anticipated formal launch party for Alaska’s newest brewery, Anchorage Brewing Company, is slated to happen on Sunday, June 19th at 4 pm on the upstairs pub deck at downtown Anchorage’s Snow Goose Restaurant and Sleeping Lady Brewing Company. The brewery’s inaugural brew, Whiteout Wit, will be poured along with live music and food available for purchase from the restaurant.
Wait a minute. Astute readers might wonder why a new brewery is celebrating a grand opening in a well-established, iconic downtown brewery with excellent beer just a couple of feet away in their own pub. Don’t these guys understand the basic principles of competition?
Actually, they do. Anchorage Brewing is the brilliant brainchild of internationally recognized brewer Gabe Fletcher who spent 13 formative years learning brewing alchemy and designing tasty, eclectic brews at Anchorage’s Midnight Sun Brewing Company before chasing his heart and palate in his own brewing operation.
Fletcher did his homework. He figured out that if he could crank out his essentially non-competing suds on someone else’s brewing system and doing the bulk of the work himself, he could reduce his production costs to next to nothing and still turn out a unique, sought after product viable not only in home markets but nationally and abroad as well.
Fletcher looked around town and astutely figured out that if he could build a conditioning and packaging facility in an unused space under the Sleeping Lady Brewing Company within the cavernous Snow Goose complex on 3rd Ave., he could gravity feed the suds through the floor and pick up the operations on his own from there.
And, the beer doesn’t flow into the standard stainless steel cylindrical tanks common in most breweries. Fletcher’s beers are unique in design, process and fermentation. Fletcher’s “brewery” more resembles the cellar of a winery with close to 200 oak barrels, two massive oak tuns and a state of the art cork-and-bail bottling system custom designed for filling his painted (not paper) labeled 750 ml wine bottles.
All of this is integral to producing Fletcher’s triple-fermented, brettanomyces-infused, all-oak-aged beers, most of which are pre-sold before they’re even produced. Three-quarters of each batch of the six different brews produced annually go to Shelton Brothers Importers for global distribution and the rest goes to our own Specialty Imports for sale around the state and ultimately for beer lovers like me to fight over.
Whiteout Wit, according to Fletcher’s description, is his variation on the classic Belgian wit style. This wheat-based beer is light, tart and refreshing, and amply accented with lemon peel, black peppercorns and coriander, and of course the influence of the brettanomyces, one of the elements that ferments the beer further (after) initial fermentation upstairs) in the French oak Chardonnay barrels is profound. The “brett” adds its own signature funk to the brew on its way to the bottles where a third and final dose of yeast is added for carbonation and bottle conditioning.
The cumulative effect is a robust yet delicate, imminently quaffable brew with a myriad of complex, swirling flavors that just beg for many repeat samples. And, if my initial sensory impressions have any validity and if the word on the beer-loving street is of any value, this stuff rocks.
But, if the release isn’t until Sunday the 19th, why is the beer so well heralded already? Unbeknownst to the general, discriminating beer drinking public, word got out that bottles of this heady stuff showed u at the independent La Bodega Liquor Store in the University Mall on Tuesday, June 14th. When I got word of this electronically, I was there within minutes and I wasn’t alone. Positive feedback started rolling in almost immediately.
So, since the beer’s already on the street, if you absolutely can’t make the gig at the Goose on Sunday, you may not be out of luck, but you may have to scrounge around to find some. According to Fletcher, Specialty Imports had sold their entire allotment within 24 hours, so it’s out there, but I’d call around first or it could be a wild wit chase for you.
Other Anchorage Brewing Company beers currently on the oak and slated for release throughout the year include:
- Bitter Monk Belgian Double IPA – Released July – Brewed with Apollo and Citra hops. Dry hopped in the barrel with Citra Hops. Aged in French Oak Chardonnay Barrels with Brettanomyces. Triple Fermented. 9% ABV & 100 IBU’s
- Love Buzz Belgian Saison – Released August – Brewed with Amarillo and Simcoe hops. Spiced with fresh Alaskan rosehips, fresh orange peel and black peppercorns. Dry hopped in the barrel with Citra hops. Aged in French Oak Pinot Noir barrels with brettanomyces. Triple fermented. 8% ABV & 40 IBU’s.