Monday, September 19, 2011

Willie Nelson, Two Beers You Won't Get To Taste and Kate Hikes the Canyon

  As I've said before, there is no better time than right now in the history of this country to be a beer fan. New beers come out daily. Two that I've had the pleasure of trying lately are in very short supply and unless you've got a beer store on the mega scale of BevMo or a dedicated specialty store like Plaza Liquors nearby, you're unlikely to get your hands on them. It's worth trying. Really it is.

  The first is New Belgium Brewery's Lips of Faith Dunkel Weiss. "Weiss" is German for wheat. Most beers are brewed almost entirely from barley malt. Wheat beers contain some barley but a majority of malted wheat. The Belgians probably have the oldest tradition and widest variety of wheat beers. Some are made using indigenous wild yeasts that float around in the air in their ancient breweries. The vast majority of wheat beers are pale and cloudy with residual yeast. They're very refreshing, low alcohol and often served with lemon. Great summer beers for lots of folks. NB's Dunkel Weiss is a different animal. Dunkel is the German term designating a dark beer. In this case, REAL dark. This wheat gets it's darkness from the addition of dark roasted barley malt along with the wheat. The yeasts use give off a lot of fruity flavors. Dark fruits and clove flavors come through with a distinct black pepper finish. It only comes in 24 oz. bottles and checks in at 9% ABV. Share one with somebody if you can find it.

  Alaskan Brewing Company has been making tasty brews for 25 years. One of their beers was voted Best Beer in the U.S. some years back in a big competition. In celebration of their quarter century mark, they've introduced a limited edition big bottle of a very special brew called Perseverance Ale. This is a Russian Imperial Stout and thank goodness it's in short supply. Imperial stouts are strong, dark and on the malty side, just the way I like them. The brew is made with Fireweed honey and Alaskan Birch Syrup. The syrup adds a tartness that is unique. It's produced in Wasila, across the bridge to nowhere. It's real nice to now have something pleasant come to mind when Wasila is mentioned, but I digress. This stout pours dark and chewy, with a lasting head and many layers of flavor. It also clocks in at 9% ABV. I happen to know where the last two bottles of this stuff in the Verde Valley are, and as soon as I post this I'm going to go and snag them. My go to beer store was only able to get a dozen.

  In other news, Willie Nelson played the Stargazer Pavillion at Cliff Castle Casino last Friday. Josh came down from Flag and we went and had a big old time. He played all his hits and a lot of new stuff for an hour and a half to a packed house. The guy is 79 years old and has a concert schedule that I'd bet would put the typical superstar rocker in rehab in no time. My kid is no music snob, and will listen to almost anything that's well done. He enjoyed it I think. I know I did. Here's a shot of him playing that Josh took.

  Katie wanted to see Willy, but she was finishing the last leg of what seems to be becoming a semi-annual Grand Canyon hike. This time she and a group of friends did the plush route, hiking down to Phantom Ranch and staying two nights in a cabin there before hiking back out. They had a lot of rain and some group dynamics issues, but it was, like any Canyon trip, unforgettable and worth every sore muscle. Here's a slide show of some of her photos. For larger versions you can click on the center of the photo and it will take you to my Picasa album where you can watch the full sized slide show. Cheers and happy fall!