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.

Beer of the Week: American Brewing Stupid Sexy Flanders

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I while back, January to be exact, I posted about my excitement about the Belgian Beer Festival and American Brewing’s entry, Stupid Sexy Flanders. In the perfect example of why I needed to increase the frequency of my beer posts, I am finally getting around to reviewing the beer – only 6 months after I had it.

Here is what we know of the beer from the festival guide:

A Brown Ale fermented with our Sour Yeast on locally grown raspberries and aged to perfection in red wine barrels. 8% ABV

I am usually hesitant about drinking barrel aged beers because too often they taste like the barrel they are aged in and nothing else. If I wanted whiskey, I would drink whiskey. If you are going to age a beer in a whiskey barrel, I better taste the beer with notes of whiskey. So with a slight trepidation, I told my pourer “Stupid Sexy Flanders, Please.”

Hi-dily, ho-dily, frienderinos!
Hi-dily, ho-dily, frienderinos! A different stupid, sexy Flanders.

The beer pours dark brown, almost black in color. There are tons of wood and roast malt on the nose with hints of fruit hiding in between. The beer starts out surprisingly subtle – tangy, but not lip puckeringly so, followed by a hint of wood before a long dried fruit finish. I was expecting this beer to be over the top sour and so woody that it would be like chewing on a log, (considering American’s festival beers tend to be over the top, it is not a bad assumption) but, to my surprise, the sour was nicely restrained and it balances the wood extremely well; I knew this was a wood-aged beer, but not so much so that it was all I tasted. Don’t get me wrong, this beer was sour and, if you don’t love sour beers, this is definitely not the one for you, but it was pleasant and acted as a wonderful counterbalance to the wood. My only complaint about this beer, and it is a personal preference rather than a flaw, is that I would love this beer to have a little more fruit flavor to bring it more to the front rather than being a supporting cast member at the end.

All in all this was a great beer and I would never hesitate to drink this one when I am in the mood for something sour.

American Brewing’s Stupid Sexy Flanders comes in for a landing at a spectacular 5 Brussel-Zaventem out of 5. What? You expected a Simpsons joke here, didn’t you neighborino?

Beer of the Week: Populuxe Berrynice Wheat

By Iron Chef Leftovers

imagesCAAR87MMHey another current beer review, I must be slipping. As we enter into the waning days of summer, we still are treated to nice, warm, sunny days in the Northwest and, on those occasions, I want something light and refreshing. Populuxe recently re-released their raspberry wheat, called Berrynice Wheat in their taproom.  The beer clocks in at about 5% ABV.

The beer is reddish/amber in color with distinct notes of raspberry on the nose and wheat hidden among the fruit. Berrynice starts out with a distinct wheat kick before quickly moving over to the realm of raspberry – slightly tart with just a hint of mild sweetness, reminding me of a hard candy, with a fruit finish that lingers for a long while, like raspberry syrup on an ice cream sundae. It is an obvious fruit beer without being overpoweringly so, with nice balance and enough wheat character to keep the beer interesting and keep it from being one dimensional. The raspberry becomes more subdued the further into the beer you get, bringing out more of the wheat flavor and making for a very refreshing beer, especially on a warm day.

Populuxe Brewing’s Berrynice Wheat fades out with a warm 3 dog days of summer out of 5.

Iron Chef Leftovers and the Three Beers

…and now for something completely different…a beer review in the style of a fairy tale.

One day Iron Chef Leftoversy-locks was wandering through the concrete forest of Ballard and he stumbled upon a small brewery on a path called NW 49th street. Curious, he stopped in to find a friendly looking barkeep pouring 3 different porters, all infused with fruit. Thirsty from his long walk, Iron Chef Leftoversly-locks decided to taste all 3 beers.

First, he tried the Populuxe Raspberry Brown Porter. There were strong notes of raspberry with hints of chocolate on the nose when he smelled the beer. Upon tasting it, he noticed slightly tart raspberry that lingered for a long time before joining up with lots of chocolate flavors in a very long finish that kept going and going. Our hero thought “this beer reminds me of eating a raspberry filled chocolate and it was really tasty. I declare this beer received 3 ‘this porridge is too hot’s’ out of 5.”

Next, the friendly barkeep poured Iron Chef Leftoversy-locks a Sour Cherry Brown Porter. Our hero took a whiff of the brew and noticed mild notes of cherry and chocolate, reminding him of chocolate covered cherries. He took a swig and noticed the beer was chocolate forward, with an almost milk chocolate like characteristic, before it moved on to a  long cherry finish with a light tartness to balance the light sweetness of the malt. He thought to himself “the finish on this beer reminds me of eating fresh cherries with all of the juice. I can almost picture myself eating a handful of cherries and a chocolate bar while drinking this beer. I give this beer a 4 ‘this porridge is too cold’s’ out of 5.”

Finally, the friendly barkeep poured out hero a Roasted Plum Brown Porter. “Roasted plum?” Iron Chef queried. “It is a traditional Czech jam of caramelized plums that were used in the beer,” the friendly barkeep replied. Iron Chef Leftoversy-locks raised the glass to his nose and notices very light notes of plum and caramel with overtones of chocolate and malt in the foreground. Upon sipping the beer, he noticed light notes of sugar with hints of dark caramel in the foreground before moving on to light notes of chocolate and malt before finishing with a slightly sweet jam taste that lingered at the back of the palate. As the beer warmed slightly and more was consumed, our hero began to notice notes of dried fruit, raisins and plums becoming more noticeable throughout the beer, in a very subtle and pleasant way, complimenting the chocolate notes. Iron Chef Leftoversy-locks declared “this beer is subtle and delicious, with lots of character without being overpowering. I will rate this beer 5 ‘this porridge is just right’s out of 5.”

Just then Iron Chef Leftoversy-locks wife came through the door, Iron Chef Leftoversy-locks ordered a Plum Porter and a Blond (for Mrs. Iron Chef Leftoversy-locks) from the friendly barkeep and they went outside to drink their beers in the warm Seattle summer evening.

The End.

Roll Credits…

The Actors:

Iron Chef Leftoversy-locks……….. Iron Chef Leftovers
Mrs. Iron Chef Leftoversy-locks……… Mrs. Iron Chef Leftovers
The Friendly Barkeep………Jiri Zatloukal
Cast of Thousands……… Peter Charbonnier, Amy Besunder, Judy Scarcia
Prince Charming………Johnny Depp
Four Headed Alien………Betty White
And introducing………… Populuxe Brown Porter as Raspberry Brown Porter, Sour Cherry Brown Porter and Roasted Plum Brown Porter

This has been a production in association with Populuxe entertainment.

No animals were harmed in the making of this production, but there were a couple of cute standard poodle puppies on set. Plenty of beers were consumed however.

Editor’s note: All 3 beers were based on the same Brown Porter with the fruit added at the very end of the process. These beers were only done in 5 gallon batches, so watch Populuxe’s Facebook page to see when they are on tap.