I’ve been trying to be more aware of what I purchase lately. Part of this is shopping local. I happened to find Mat Su Farm Co-Op and ordered a variety meat pack from them. The only hurdle was I couldn’t bop down to the store and pick it up; I had to go out to Palmer which was an hour away. Thankfully, Palmer is also home to two favorite breweries- Bleeding Heart Brewing and Arkose Brewing. Derek and I decided to make it a meat-grabbing brew tour.
We picked up our package seamlessly from a Co-Op representative and drove over to Bleeding Heart. To our dismay, they didn’t open until 3 PM and it was only 2 PM. Before driving over to Arkose, we used our handy tech devices to discover they weren’t open on Sundays.
We were clearly early to the Palmer party.
In what ended up being a very fateful decision, we drove over to the Palmer Alehouse to see what was on tap and waste an hour. It was here we noticed Matanuska Brewing Company on the menu. What?! Again, our tech devices came out and we quickly learned the company had opened with their first beer on Valentine’s Day. They also had a tasting room that was open. As if we didn’t have enough luck, the location was a block away from the Alehouse. Fate my friends. Fate.
While at the Palmer Alehouse we tried the following two Matanuska Brewing Company beers:
Snow Bike White: ABV 4.76% IBU 15
The white came with an orange, was light in color, had no head, and low fizz. It was visually promising. My first sip delivered a very light flavor with a very slight bitter aftertaste. I tasted again. It was dangerously close to water. Not wanting to be a “hater” I asked Derek to try it. He reported back that it was indeed forgettable.
We speculated the brewery was trying to be super commercial, which I can understand. I’m just not interested in commercial. More on this to come…
(Derek’s) Sky Cab Gold Pale Ale: ABV 5% IBU 20
It was golden and clear, and not overwhelmingly hoppy in aroma or taste. The Sky Cab was a no-frills, mellow pale ale. The first taste was the most powerful but then it mellowed out into a refreshing thirst quencher.
Since we knew the tap room was open, we decided to head over to get a better assessment. After all, it was a great thing to have another brewery in the valley. The employee up front was nice and knowledgeable, and she got us pints within minutes of entering. The tap room doesn’t offer flights, but have $4 pours! Their price point can’t be beat.
Long Track IPA: ABV 6.7% IBU 55
The Long Track was a hazy gold with decent head. It had a great hop smell and taste. It was a smooth drink so a growler came home with us.
Pack Raft Red IPA: ABV 7.2% IBU 65
Pack Raft was a beautiful red. It’s easy drinking with malt flavor and notes that hit the front and middle taste buds. This was placed on Derek’s short list for a future 6-pack purchase.
There were more than a couple fun elements inside the tap room. First, there was a beer vending machine. Second, their bathroom decor and sign. (See picture below.) Finally, their merchandise room was full of the usual T-shirts, but also things like Hydoflasks.
Matanuska is local and nostalgic with their artwork and utilization of the old MatMaid building, yet their beers have a commercial taste. I can tell they have a grand vision and they have the space and equipment to pull it off. Derek and I were expecting more creativity from a brewer with over 20 years of experience, but I don’t think we’re their intended audience. I truly believe they are looking to compete with Miller, Coor’s, and Bud. Best of luck to them.
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.
So I’ll admit…today I woke up at 11 am. This does not happen often. I’m a grown-up after all, but today it did. Once my husband and I woke up, we got to cooking breakfast and taking care of pups. Derek was sweet and made us scrambled eggs and bacon while pups sunned themselves. I mention this because while bacon is amazing, it influences the tastebuds.
Once the cold brew IPA was opened it was obvious from the smell that we had a true coffee beer. I read the bottle Rogue notes and they promised a coffee start with a “punch” of hops in the end. I teased Derek that he was going to get hit with the hops, but we didn’t have that experience. In fact, I felt lied to. The coffee flavor was smooth and quite delicious, but the hops were just as delicious. They were complimentary. WTF? Don’t get me wrong, they were yummy, they just weren’t a punch.
The color was caramel and the head was decent. The flavor was light, smooth and lingering in a good way. I highly recommend this as a coffee beer. I can’t say there’s a very “special” ingredient or flavor, but it’s quite good, and I’ll be buying it again.
The best thing I can think of that came out of this tasting was a brain storm: hops flavored syrups for lattes! You’re welcome. Seriously, someone make money off this. (I’m talented, but apparently sworn to make zero profit off of said talent.)
If you’re curious about the pineapple, here’s the story. A student of mine knew I was allergic to apples, so he brought me a pineapple. I felt like that gesture deserved “fame”. I love this pineapple. XO