Beer of the Week: Alaskan Imperial Red

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I really love the Alaskan Pilot Series beers – big beers and interesting styles made in small batches. I was excited when they released the Imperial Red for the first time and ran out to pick up a 22 oz. bottle. It wasn’t inexpensive at $9, but Imperial Red isn’t a style that you see much and I figured it was worth a shot. The beer clocked in at 8.5% ABV and 70 IBU.

From the Alaska Website:

Recently made popular by west coast American breweries, Imperial Red ales feature high hop bitterness, full-flavored caramel malt profiles and a higher original gravity. While balance is key, Imperial Red ales are more malt-forward than other hoppy American beer styles.

Alaskan Imperial Red is a full-bodied deep mahogany ale with ruby red highlights. Citrus notes of chamomile, grapefruit and Meyer lemon brighten the aroma. A zesty array of hop flavors from mango and bitter orange to green mint and hibiscus meld with the nutty, roasted caramel and subtle dried fruit flavors of the complex malt profile to create a surprisingly fresh, yet warming example of the style.

Alaskan Imperial Red Ale is made from glacier-fed water, a generous blend of Centennial, Citra, Meridian and Summit hops and premium two-row and specialty malts. Our water originates from the 1,500 square-mile Juneau Ice Field and from the more than 90 inches of rainfall Juneau receives each year.

sasdsThe beer pours deep amber red in color with notes of caramel, wheat, mild hops and just a small amount of oak and whiskey, which was odd since this beer was not barrel aged. The beer starts out with deep notes of caramel and toffee followed by heavy malt and medium hop profile with just a hint of bitterness. The finish is slightly syrupy and sweet without a great deal of complexity. The balance is slightly better as it warms but it was really lacking direction and focus and I got none of the hop character I was hoping for, especially with the high expectations I usually have with Pilot Series beers. I am wondering if I may have had a bad bottle since I did start to detect notes of wet cardboard toward the end of the beer.

Alaskan Imperial Red casts its pots but hauls up a disappointing 2 Paralithodes camtschaticus out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Alaskan Brewing Pilot Series Raspberry Wheat

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Alaskan Brewing makes some pretty solid beers, but where they really excel is with their Pilot Series beers. These beers are small production, big beers which usually rate as outstanding brews and in a bunch of cases, age really well. One of their spring Pilot Series beers over the last few years has been their Raspberry Wheat. This beer clocks in at 6.5% ABV and 20 IBU. The beer is not cheap, with a 22 oz. bottle setting you back $9 at your local bottle shop.

From the Alaskan website:


Alaskan Raspberry Wheat is an American-style Wheat Ale with the lively addition of red raspberries during fermentation.

With nearly one pound of real fruit per gallon, Alaskan Raspberry Wheat has the inviting aroma of fresh-picked raspberries and an enticing red hue. The flavor of the raspberries lends a tartness that balances the full-bodied wheat profile and malt sweetness. Bigger than most traditional fruit beers, Alaskan Raspberry Wheat adds an extra kick to its dry and effervescent finish.

The fruit beer style became popular more than 500 years ago with the lambics of Belgium where they brewed with wild yeast and fruit was added to the beer during secondary fermentation. Alaskan Raspberry Wheat follows an American take on this Old World style, highlighting the bright flavors of raspberries.

Years of local demand as a Rough Draft brew and a Silver medal from the 2008 Great American Beer Festival made Alaskan Raspberry Wheat the perfect beer to launch Alaskan’s Pilot Series of limited edition specialty beers.

This limited edition batch of Alaskan Raspberry Wheat is made from glacier fed water, the finest two-row barley, wheat and specialty malts, premium quality European and Pacific Northwest hop varieties, and more than 3,000 pounds of real raspberries.

The tart, sweet flavors and effervescent finish of Alaskan Raspberry Wheat pair best with light foods and desserts including fruit salads, grilled vegetable dishes, light fruit baked goods, crepes, crumbles and warm summer weather.

Berry picking in Alaska can be a busy pastime. With nearly 50 types of wild berry species across the state fruiting throughout the spring, summer and fall, berries have long been a staple in the Alaskan diet. This is also true of the diet of Alaskan black bears. These omnivores load up on rich raspberries and other berries in the late summer before hibernating for the long winters of Alaska. This beer celebrates the natural bounty and fresh flavors of summer in Alaska.

72The beer pours reddish amber in color with an off white head. There are strong notes of raspberry with hints of wheat on the nose. The initial sip yields notes of slightly sweet raspberry before becoming drier with a more subtle raspberry profile complimented with notes of yeast and wheat. The finish is long and raspberry dominant, reminiscent of eating fresh fruit (without the seeds!) with a light tartness that lingers pleasantly. The balance is superb – slightly sweet and slightly tart at various times, with plenty of raspberry character, but not so much that it overpowers the subtle wheat and yeast character that exists in this beer. I wish more fruit based beers showed this balance.

Alaskan Raspberry Wheat picks its way through the bushes with a happy 4 Rubus strigosusout of 5.