This week on Brew Dogs, James and Martin are in Juneau, Alaska to brew…a very cold beer? No, it’s a survival brew.
Their first decision is to smoke the malt because meat in Alaska tends to be smoked for survival purposes. There’s also a lot of spruce tips floating around which taste sprucy while adding a bit of vitamin c to ward off the sniffles. Did you know that sailors used to drink beer on large voyages to ward off scurvy? And when there weren’t any hops, spruce tips did the trick.
Fishing. Beer. Fishing while drinking beer. Perfect! James and Martin hop aboard a tiny boat and head for one of the bazillion local islands somewhere off the coast of the wilderness. Their chief engineer, David Donley, arrives rather awkwardly via sea plane and explains that the plane is their brew system. Along with the plane, he brings trail mix, bread, and sourdough starter. Which means they’re making a traditional Russian bread beer. [Insert joke about seeing Russia from my pint glass.]
The ingredients, including birch syrup, are mixed together in a Ziploc bag to get the yeast going. Now, it’s time to get the brew going. Which requires an avalanche specialist who also bills himself as a survival specialist. Isn’t that, like, redundant? He brings kayaks so that James and Martin can find a glacier, for the fresh water.
And the top five craft breweries in Alaska are:
5. Broken Tooth Brewing
4. 49th State Brewing Co. (Yak burgers!)
3. HooDoo Brewing Co. (only one 5-gallon keg per person per day, so pace yourself)
2. Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
1. Anchorage Brewing Co.
Several hours later, there’s a pit stop at an ice cave. Ooh! Pretty! And, it chills the beer beautifully. But the warmer beer from James’s pocket is much tastier since cold beer masks the flavor. Finally, they arrive at an ice field and learn how hard it is to hitch ice to a kayak and tow it back to the island.
So how do you turn a seaplane into a brewing system? And how do you get back to the mainland without said seaplane? I’m thinking these are faux plan parts, since I didn’t see anything that would, like, cop metal into bits and pieces, let alone bend metal into the right shape. Yeah, bogus.
Anyway, the glacier ice melts and heats and the mash is resting. Uh, yuck. Sea bugs, and not the lobster variety. They just look…gross. And they live under rocks. There’s also slimy seaweed stew and a bit of freshly caught flounder.
We’ve got the top five craft beer bars in Alaska:
5. Tap Root (open mic night)
4. The Hangar on the Wharf
3. Salt (delicious food, good craft beer selection)
2. Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse
1. Café Amsterdam (Belgian and Alaskan craft brews on tap)
The brew is brewing, the hops are hopping, and there’s too much malt going into the filter so James uses his sock because this wasn’t gross enough. Toss in some spruce tips and some birch syrup and it’s time to chill the wort in the ice cold sea. When it’s roomish temperature, the yeast is added to the mix and the guys have a toast to the stunning scenery.
After fermenting for two weeks, James and Martin host a beach bonfire and give the beer a taste. Does the crowd (well, a crowd by Alaska standards) love the beer? They seem fairly happy. Probably because nobody mentioned the sock filter.