This is a familiar story- girl hears about new, amazing beer. Girl misses the first release. Girl’s best friend tries to bring her a growler of said beer. New, amazing beer isn’t put into growlers. Girl begins mourning process because she didn’t ever get to try beer. Brewery brings beer back on tap. Girl rushes over. Girl and new, amazing beer are united…finally. The world is a better place.
Touching isn’t it?
The Girdwood Reserve is a bourbon barrel aged stout. It’s pitch-brown in color, has very little head, and a smooth mouthfeel. Upon first approach it smells of barrel chips, and delivers a lot of flavor. There are layers for your palate’s enjoyment, including a bit of sweetness. I am happy to report it’s not even a little “barleywine-y” and is instead a very drinkable (well, sippable) barrel aged beer. Derek mentioned notes of cherry, but I enjoy cherry Lambic, so my meter is set pretty high. I was happy to let the bourbon notes shine.
This is where the story gets embarrassing- girl drinks stout. Girl hadn’t eaten much. Girl tries to have conversation with kind brewery owner. Girl realizes she’s a bit tipsy…
Even so, Josh Hegna discussed expansion with me. The team at GBC is ready to grow and moving forward with very exciting plans. It would seem they can’t make poor decisions. It does help that their backgrounds are varied- everything from law to education. It’s also a true family establishment.
Josh and I were discussing education too. Well, we were trying. Derek was enjoying his own story- the one where boy has brewery owner’s attention. Boy loses the attention and conversation strays from beer.
Boy interrupts current conversation to return to topic of beer…three times. I don’t know why I bring him. Oh ya, I love him and he loves beer as much as I do…maybe more.
The day started out pretty rough. I had to take my Audi TT into the shop to have her poor brakes looked at. The up-side was Cynosure happens to be right next to Mike, our wonderful car genius at Professional Automotive. So, once my baby’s keys were in his safe hands, Derek and I scooted over to the brewery.
There were many familiar drafts, but we both went for something a bit different for round one. (Round two was filled by delicious repeats.) Cyndi, one of the owners, was there to greet us and offer us some friendly information regarding our choices.
But Then There Was Beer
Saison ABV 7.1 IBU 21
The brew was golden-honey yellow, and contained numerous tiny bubbles. (The song was quickly stuck in my head.) It had very little head and was light and refreshing. The flavor was a bit peppery and it was quite Delerium-ish. It was very, very good.
Potter’s ABV 4.5 IBU 33
Derek’s Assessment: Very light and crisp. It tasted somewhat nutty and had a subtle dark-roasted taste/feel at the end without being heavy at all. It was very drinkable. This patersbier was “Father’s beer” or based on the beers made at monasteries.
Black ABV 5.1 IBU 26
There was no head to speak of on this dark and inviting beer. There was a clean, warm smell and a good mouthfeel. It was chocolate-y, coffee-y, black goodness. Do I enjoy dark beers too much? Is there such a thing?
Clouds ABV 5.1 IBU 35
Derek’s Assessment: This one was hard to describe, therefore he’d use the word “complex”. No specific flavors jump out. It was just good beer that makes your middle taste buds snap to attention. Just a nice easy drinking beer to be enjoyed at an easygoing brewery.
And Brew Porn
Cynosure has been busy since our last visit. They have painted their picnic tables and have stunning growlers created by an AK artist for sale. We spied their shiny kegs the last time we were in and discovered they were ordered from China. They are actually embossed with Cynosure. Rad.
I was in a bit of a mood despite the beer. (My car was broken!) Derek used his amazing powers of deduction to realize this and proceed to call me “kind of an itch.” Then, perhaps out of guilt or wanting to live a bit longer, explained I wasn’t an “itch” I was just being “itchy”. Oh, and just so we’re clear, he really did say “itch”, not the other thing.
Due to my mood, I was a little bit judgmental. When the third group of men came in, I thought it pointed to a unique demographic. Five men in a gaggle (is it a gaggle?) all at Cynosure on a Saturday together. No women with them at all. Seriously, zero boobs. Hmmmmm. I wondered aloud if maybe they had just left work. Derek pointed out their shoes didn’t scream “work”. Sure enough they were wearing nice loafers and clean tennis shoes. Gosh I love being married to a LEO sometimes.
Next I noticed one of them wearing fancy embroidered jeans. What is with this trend? Seriously, when did grown men start wearing these? Thank goodness my eyes then fell on the “beard guy”. I love beards. Beards I can get behind.
Despite my mood, we had another lovely visit to a brewery that doesn’t disappoint. If you’re familiar, keep going. If you haven’t been, get yourself some sequined jeans, ditch your lady, and head on over.*
*Derek says I should clarify here. I’m kidding! Cynosure welcomes everyone. All of our past visits have included men, women, and families. It truly is a wonderful addition to the community. (I love you honey.)
We decided to go visit the new family in town: Girdwood Brewing Company. It’s got a great location, and a large parking lot. Views, of course, consist of Alaskan mountains, ski equipment, and dogs. Girdwood can always be counted on for a relaxed, welcoming vibe. The town has been a favorite destination for my family since the 90s. I really hadn’t thought about how it could improve until GBC opened its doors. In truth, the husband and I have been there three times now, but I’ll focus on our first visit within this blog.
I’m a sucker for extras. I’m someone who can spend hours on the internet reading about Easter eggs in movies. So, when a business takes the time to add unique elements to their space, I appreciate it. GBC has a mileage post in front with locations from Queenstown to Moab. It also took care to showcase the beautiful beer equipment with gigantic windows. Derek and I both took a moment to stare at the shiny metal, heaven-liquid producing, mashers and fermenters.
The entry is small, but the walls are lined with skis. Once through the main door the brewery space itself is quite open and comfortable. On this day, sun streamed through the windows and made us want to stay forever. Seats vary. Options run from high-tops with stools, to chairs at tables. It is also perfectly acceptable to meander about with your beer in hand.
Because of its open plan, it’s a bit loud and echoing. That said, the care taken with pops of color and ski-town detail makes it quite beautiful and the noise doesn’t bother. The other fabulous addition were all the locals- duh. Girdwoodians knows how to support new endeavors.
A Family’s Dream
We were greeted warmly and quickly offered a tour by Bret Marinco (an owner). He gave a brief, although pleasantly familiar backstory. He and his brother had worked for Conoco-Phillips and dreamt of opening a brewery together. They finally decided to take a very well planned jump. 29 meetings later (Girdwood had very interesting red tape) they were able to move forward to a dream realized. I love this. I could hear stories like this for the rest of my life and smile every time. Passion leads to wealth and happiness.
They have wisely considered the future, and there is room for expansion and a beer garden. The rest of the family was there, a little boy ran around the back, and a baby had arrived into the world not too long before. GBC will be around for generations, I’m sure.
Derek and I picked up a flight of everything. The beer list was limited, but it was another precise decision made by the brewers. They wanted to launch small and build up to making enough beer for the actual amount of visitors. The choices were very well done.
First we sipped the IP-AK, the house IPA. It was very foggy, had little to no head, and a smooth mouthfeel with a hoppy punch- sweet up front, bitter (not too) toward back of palate. Derek and I argued a bit about hops. In the end he said it was “Essence of Seattle IPA with Girdwood flair.”
“What’s Girdwood flair?” I asked.
Shrug “They just put some Girdwood in it.”
Fair enough. A lot of things in Girdwood can’t be explained.
Second up was the Down the Chute Kolsch. This brew was very clear and golden. It had a good milky head, sweet oat smell, and clean flavor. The smooth mouthfeel lead to very easy drinking.
Derek said “Clean, crisp and heavenly. One of my new favorites.” (Dare I say “high praise”? Can there be too much Nick Cage?)
Finally, the Hippy Speed Ball Stout had a lovely smell of coffee, and was the color of a sexy brunette. (I’d date her or at least have hair envy.) There was no head and there was a surprisingly light mouthfeel. It was a bit bitter on the tail end. For this one, Derek offered up a “random Legend quote”:
“Black as midnight, black as pitch, blacker than the foulest witch.” -Blix
We had our girls with us on this visit. They partook in the Kombucha and helped prove the brewery was family friendly. It was so nice of them to take that hit for us. Research is hard sometimes. Getting a teenage smile is a big “win” though, and I was glad we dragged them along.
We love it. We will be regulars. We will be adding more posts! This place shows what a perfect dream looks like. Congratulations to the family!