Stopped by Ravens Ring Brewing Company today before some grocery shopping. I had the Noel which is 7.9% ABV and 23 IBU. Word has it it’s only on tap through end of the month so get yours soon. It’s definitely a winter festive beer and is spice forward. Super dark with a light mouthfeel and a very pleasant sipper. It was a wonderful accompaniment to the snow outside.
Derek enjoyed the Nevermore imperial stout. It’s 9.7% ABV and 40 IBU. I snuck a sip and it had a very creamy coconut start with a smooth mouthfeel. It was also dark as night. We brought some of this home.
A HUGE happy birthday to Ravens Ring. What a glorious addition to Southside.
This Sunday’s offering is from Black Plague Brewing. The imperial milk stout, Medusa, is brewed with coconut, maple syrup, and cacao nibs.
It’s dark in color, pours with little head, and clings to the glass. It smells sweet with no particular ingredient aroma overwhelming the senses. The mouthfeel is very light and moderately effervescent for an ABV of 8%, and chocolate and coconut are the stars of the first sip.
Overall, I shared this 16oz can with Derek and I was happy I did. It drank like a dessert beer so more would have been too much for me. This beer was a nice part of my La Bodega beer club, but I don’t think I’ll purchase it in the future.
Today’s offering is 49th State’s Dia De Los Moles. It’s a mole inspired stout with notes of chocolate, cinnamon, spices, and chile.
I was excited for this one and not disappointed. It’s dark, but not heavy, and has a smooth mouthfeel. I can’t say I’m hit with all the suggested notes but I’m preferring that. There are a lot of extremely flavorful stouts out there right now, and while I’ve enjoyed many it’s refreshing to sip on a subtle and delicious take.
I feel it is important to add a disclaimer: I’m obsessed by chile in beer and keep searching for all heat and zero flavor. This has a gentle heat to it that I definitely appreciate. I suggest getting one while you can.
Welcome to Charlou‘s soft opening! As a La Bodega club member, I was invited to enjoy the evening of discounted food in return for reviewing my experience afterward. Being me, I jumped at the chance to bring Derek on a different kind of date night.
Same Place, Different Place
The location will be familiar to Alaskans as it has housed many restaurants in the past. Most recently, La Potato. Most memorable, The Fly by Night Club. Parking was a breeze due to the large parking lot on site. After a quick walk, we were greeted by the hostess warmly and pointed to the bar because the kitchen was running behind schedule. We took our seats on the bright red leather stools and took in the comfortable, bright atmosphere. The remodel was welcome as it wasn’t too loud or a bit dark and sketchy as in previous incarnations. Children would definitely be welcome and some were already there. A quick glance at customers behind us revealed familiar La Bodega faces, and two open tables. Due to this observation, I made the assumption the owners wanted some feedback from the bar and therefore recommended our seating as such.
A Bit Behind…
Our bartender greeted us with a friendly introduction and we were told a second time the kitchen was running behind, but she was quick to offer wine tastings. I always find this to be a nice, upscale touch. After making a wine decision, I took the time to peruse the menu. Even though it was limited, everything available had delicious descriptions. Derek ordered the AK Bacon Burger, and I ordered the Hot AK Halibut Sandwich.
As time passed without food we were checked on not just by our bartender, but by owners and servers alike, and there was genuine concern in everyone’s voices. At one point, about an hour into our wait, the bartender apologetically said, “I have no idea when your food is coming.” I saw this as a plus because at least it was honest. Although I have to admit an offer of a free appetizer would have gone a long way. It’s important to note we weren’t upset in the least. We knew what to expect from a soft opening and the staff was excellent. A snack just would have been a nice gesture.
During our wait, it was clear the staff was very concerned about getting things right despite the struggles they were facing in the kitchen. Derek and I had reservations at 7:30 and we received food at 9:47. That taken into account, I’d still call the team on deck that night superheroes.
The star of the show was the Hot AK Halibut. It was the perfect amount of sweet and spicy, and the portion of halibut was almost too large for the sandwich. Most Alaskans get perturbed if their serving of fish is too small- it was not the case here. The bread struggled to keep things together, but it was so delicious I didn’t mind the “fork to face” situation.
Derek left satisfied with his burger, and though he was a bit worried about the beet ketchup, he ended up enjoying it a lot. Sadly, he didn’t have any over-the-top review for this burger. To be forthcoming, he happens to have a favorite burger in town that nothing has surpassed so far… tough standard.
Final service lacked a bit as all hands were not “on deck” for water and plate clean up. We saw employees look at plates which were clearly “finished” and walk away without picking them up. Although I think this could be easily remedied.
We will be back- it’s hard to beat and Alaskan Chef is using locally sourced food.
July 18, 2019
We’re back for dinner with friends! Our group of four opted to sit outside this time, and there was no trouble due to the lack of customers. (Pause for “uh oh”.) We were greeted with a smile and quickly visited by our server, Ty. The group was offered samples of drink choices before commitment was required- a welcome carry-over from the soft opening. Also, it should be noted that Ty wasn’t afraid to say he needed to check with “smarter” people about possible drink pairings. I considered this a major positive at a restaurant owned by a very formidable local liquor store.
All of the menus had increased in variety of options as expected. I opted for a Rose’ as Derek was going to order beer. Ty was attentive and both selections were enjoyed and refilled promptly.
I want to take time to discuss Charlou’s small plate selection. It’s quite varied and enticed two of us to order only those for dinner. We each ordered two small plates. I will focus on my choices, the Halibut Ceviche and the dressed Oysters in vodka with watermelon.
First, the negative. For small plates, that were actually small, the price was a bit high: $7-$12. Second, the positive. The presentation was beautiful and the flavors were awesome! My ceviche was light and fresh with a little kick of heat, and my oysters (which I usually enjoy plain and raw) were a delight in my mouth as the watermelon snapped crispy and juicy between my teeth. It was a hot day and both of my plates satisfied.
I don’t want to spend much time on what the boys ordered because they matched what our order was at the soft opening. Derek had the AK Bacon Burger, and our guest had the Hot AK Halibut. Both stood out as meals they would reorder. The only difference I noted this visit was the addition of homemade chips. Very tasty.
Good Luck & Cheers!
It’s easy to say that Charlou has more than potential, but it’s a hard market in Alaska. I highly recommend going for after work drinks and small plates. Hungry for more? Stop in for one of their main courses. You’ll love the staff and the food, and please ask them about their wine, sake, and beer offerings. They are one heck of a knowledgeable crew.
La Bodega gifted us with a beer from Estonia this month. Estonia! If you’re like me, here’s a map to paint a clear picture.
What I found more interesting was Chris Pilkington of Scotland’s Brewdog joined the Põhjala team. The creative collaborations are going to be endless.
The beer itself was dark brown and opaque. The scent was fruit and molasses. The mouthfeel was surprisingly light and the first taste was also surprisingly syrupy. The second tasting gave me a more complete picture. The malt comes in and balances the sweet. Cocoa and coffee flavors abound, but lean toward a bitter finish.
I think this was a beer which would have been better after a sturdy meal. Even the bottle says to enjoy “as a dessert at the end of a decadent meal”. I feel that if given enough food flavor, this porter would cut through and finish the evening quite nicely.
Belching Beaver has been impressing me for a while now so I was excited to try Tastes Like Space when Derek brought it home. (Gifts like this keep a marriage happy.)
TLS is a stout with caramel flavor and cocoa nibs added. The pour provided a rich dark color and decent head that dissipated quickly, and it had a delicious chocolate scent. The first sip was sweet at the front and a bit bitter at the finish. Not bitter in a bad way, just in a well-rounded way. I’d venture to say the initial taste is caramel and the finish is nib.
The can reads “store cold drink fresh”, but we enjoyed this brew at room temperature. I think it really let the caramel and chocolate notes shine through.
We are big fans of Sam Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout. This one is very similar. I can’t wait to try mixing it with a Cherry Lambic. (If you haven’t tried this, do so now. Thank me later.)
This beer is out of Tennessee. It’s by VonSeitz TheoreticAles. It’s a gruit with rosemary, savory, and marjoram. It’s actually a very complicated beer. I recommend you check out the brewers website. (See below.)
According to our friends at La Bodega, this was supposedly not too sour. After the first pour, the smell said sour patch kids had an accidental baby with those cheap sour rings you get at gas stations. I persevered.
Syrup-yellow brown color, not auburn, is how I’d describe it. It was very distinctive. The mouthfeel was really nice and effervescent. I prepared for the worst, but the initial sip was not bad. It was actually pleasantly lambic in nature.
I grew braver on the second sip and let things swish. Tart but sweet. Maybe sour patch kids were in a committed relationship with gummy bears.
Thank goodness for the bubbles. They really took the flavors and rushed them around. It gave this brew the lightness it needed. Otherwise I think this would be close to barley wine. I don’t think I’ll repurchase, but I recommend this highly, especially to those sour beer lovers out there.
Yes, it’s January. Yes, there’s snow on the ground. No, this was not a timely post. BUT I still think it’s worth mentioning this one. Surly Brewing Co.’s Zwart Black Star 8 is a Brewmaster’s collaboration between Ben Smith, Jerrod Johnson, and Dirk Naudis of De Proef Brouwerij.
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie
I received this ale as part of my monthly beer club from La Bodega. While I’m not always a fan of what I get as a member of this program, I can always rest assured the beers are unique. This collaboration was not a disappointment in that arena.
The ale was bright amber in color. The note of star anise was nice, but the Brett was not. I’m just not a fan. I’ve tried so many Brett beers and my tastebuds are still very much against them. After pour, there was a really nice head, and a pleasant aroma. The first taste was sour and sweet. More than one sip proved this a complicated beer. I actually really liked the first notes. I dared to swish it around in my mouth and I got sweet, sour, and decent effervescence. Overall it was pleasant if not for the Brett. Brett fan? Run and grab this beer.
Little tidbit: this was named after Bowie’s final album “Blackstar”. My mother had a major thing for Bowie. She’s a very proper person, but when I was growing up she’d drop hints. I think the most scaring moment for me was when, after watching the movie Labyrinth, she announced that David Bowie should always wear tights as pants. Wowza. The only thing I could do to cope with the blow was wait until I had children, let them watch Labyrinth, and then let them know about Nana’s desires. Done and done. You’re welcome S and L.
To prove how much I love my mamma, and how I really did recover from too much information, here are some gratuitous shots of the man. Although, please note the Labyrinth photos have been omitted. I can only handle so much.
Arkose Brewery is a favorite of Derek’s and mine. It’s located in Palmer and has been open since 2011. It was nice to see them get a shout-out in my beer club selections from La Bodega. Included was Mandarina Moose Grapefruit IPA.
“Austin and I proceeded to knock back a couple of Ketel One and grapefruit juices, which happened to be my drink of the moment. Someone told me that grapefruit was a great detoxifier and I decided I wanted to start cleaning out my liver WHILE I was having a cocktail.” -Chelsea Handler
My husband, Derek, doesn’t care for citrus beers, so I knew I’d get the lion’s share of this one. On this particular occasion, he was out of town, so I left all beer-drinking guilt behind and popped the top of what I hoped would be a citrus treasure.
When poured, there was a lot of white, fluffy head that quickly diminished. It was such a lovely burnt orange color I had to hold it up to the sun and take the picture you’ll see below. There was a strong grapefruit smell, but the taste was not overwhelming. A bitter zing hits the back of the throat, and is balanced by a sweetness which hits the tongue and cheeks. The mouthfeel consisted of a light coating and medium carbonation. I didn’t love the finish, but it was a really solid IPA…with a twist.