Friday, July 01, 2011

Beer of the Week (Vol. CV)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the independent-minded folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who have the frontier spirit to help you celebrate this Fourth of July weekend with the wine, whiskey, and beer best suited to your needs.

Our featured beer this week comes all the way from Juneau, Alaska home to the renowned Alaskan Brewing Company whose brews only recently became available in the Twin Cities market. It’s their Amber:


Alt. The name of this beer style comes from the German word "alt" meaning "old". This refers to the aging that alts undergo since they ferment more slowly and at colder temperatures than most ales. Slow fermentation helps condition the flavors in Alaskan Amber, contributing to its overall balance and smoothness.

Flavor Profile

Richly malty and long on the palate, with just enough hop backing to make this beautiful amber colored "alt" style beer notably well balanced.


Alaskan Amber is based on a recipe from a turn-of-the-century brewery in the Juneau area. It was voted "Best Beer in the Nation" in the 1988 Great American Beer Festival Consumer Poll.

Alts are one of my favorite styles, although they can be hard to come by. I recently had the pleasure of discovering Über Alt from Rush River Brewing Company. It’s a fine beer if a bit heavier than most alts (8.5% ABV), but since it’s a seasonal offering it won’t be store shelves for long. Alaskan’s Amber meanwhile is a year-round beer which will come in handy in the future when my craving for alt hits.

12oz brown bottle. Red label with brewery name in black banner at top and rendering of a fishing trawler with majestic mountains in background. Alaskan is one of the few breweries that provides background on the labels of each of their beers available.

There are no roads connecting the remote coastal community of Juneau, Alaska to the Lower 48 or even the rest of the state. Everything must travel by air or sea. Oceangoing vessels, from fishing trollers to small skiffs, are a common sight as they travel the icy waters of Southeast Alaska. Each evening fishermen from all walks of life return to a safe harbor and close the day with a cold Alaskan Amber.

Style: Alt

Alcohol by Volume: 5.3%

COLOR (0-2): Rich copper red color. 2

AROMA (0-2): Very malty with just a hint of spice. 2

HEAD (0-2): Off-white color. Moderate volume which fades quickly. Light lacing. 1

TASTE (0-5): Sweet, nutty malt flavors predominate with lighter fruity hops at the finish. Not much bitterness. Smooth with a dry finish. Well-carbonated, medium-bodied, and moderately drinkable. More filling than you would expect. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): The toasted malt and nut flavors linger nicely. 2

OVERALL (0-6): A solid beer which makes a good addition to the limited selections of alts around here. Not exactly a traditional alt, its nutty flavor is more remindful of a brown ale. Definitely more on the malt than hop side, Alaskan’s Amber is a pleasant beer that won’t overwhelm you with flavor, but still prove satisfying. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 14