I have a treat for you today. My Mother’s Day gift, and my mother’s Mother’s Day gift, was a trip to Bleeding Heart Brewery in Palmer, AK. I was lured their way on this special day, not because of my mother’s love of beer (she doesn’t have one), but because of the owners’ fabulous commercial.
All of my readers know by now it doesn’t take much to get me to a new brewery, but I can’t think of a time I’ve been more eager. These owners had just the personality I was looking for- approachable, thoughtful, and smart-assy.
But would these desirable traits translate into everything I was looking for in a beer?
Before I answer, let’s look into the joint a bit more. The location is perfectly Palmer. It’s in an unassuming industrial area and there is a picnic table out front for when the weather cooperates. Inside, there is limited seating, but it’s quite welcoming. It’s a lot like my grandmother’s house actually, and I mean that as a compliment. I love my grandmother and her house. There’s a distinct feeling of comfort. And, much like my grandmother’s house, there’s also plenty of banter between guests to disrupt the comfort with a laugh.
The owners, Zack Lanphier and Stefan Marty, were at the bar when we arrived, and I quickly asked for my free “mom” beer. Their first response?
“Wow. You even brought your kids to prove it. That’s going above and beyond! I mean, we would have trusted your word.”
After this boisterous greeting, my husband and I chatted them up about their brewery vision and I complimented them on the commercial. Lanphier laughed and pointed to the wall. What I saw only reinforced the owners’ and bar’s persona- a hand written script jotted down on yellow notepad paper. Marty laughed and the two began discussing how they want to make consistently delicious beer, creative beer, and beer the patrons ask for. There’s a chalkboard available to all who visit. Ideas go up, and the best, sometimes riskiest, are chosen and brought to life.
We initially got a flight because it’s important to try all of one’s options before picking a free beer. For science! (And of course we always get a flight when visiting a new brewery. Duh.) Some high notes were hit with Grounds for Divorce Coffee Porter and Kold Shoulder Kristallweizen. By now you know I love a good coffee porter, and this one did not disappoint. It was dark, smooth, and carried a distinct coffee flavor that didn’t linger bitterly on the tongue. (Spoiler- this ended up being my mother’s day choice.) Kold Shoulder was fresh, crisp, and golden.
Two other brews, Valley Trash Dirty Blonde and Bleeding Heart IPA, left a bit to be desired. First, I have read nothing but lovely reviews on both since visiting. Second, I’m in a tumultuous relationship with IPAs, and strong hop flavors in general. (We see plenty of other people. Sometimes we fall for each other again, but I find myself betrayed months later…) Third, I’m a girl who loves pink and purple, so a pink or purple beer was bound to be the Best. Beer. Ever. Tragically, the Red Beet IPA was terrible- stunning, but hard to swallow. What does all of this prove? Well, possibly my tastebuds were just not “in love with hops” that day. I could also be the only person in the world who doesn’t like them. Whatever the reason, I plan on doing more research on the subject the next time I’m in Palmer. Again, for science!
Final thoughts? Disliking beer is part of the journey, part of the whimsy, and part of the bit of unpredictability in a world that is all too often predictable. I’m actually hoping these guys make more unique beers for me to dislike because it means they’re doing something right. They’re standing out from the Alaskan brewery crowd and creating their own distinctive taste. I will be back with a big smile, ready tastebuds, and a craving for personality.
*Some of my more particular readers may have noticed it has been a very long time since Mother’s Day. True. I really liked Bleeding Heart and struggled with doing them justice, and being honest about my experience. This was not a quick nor easy write. At last, I am satisfied with my work.