This beer is #2 on my list for a number of reasons. First of all, I really like drinking it. Second of all, the way they make this beer is so cool that I like it just on principle. It’s too cool not to like it.
Alaskan Brewing makes pretty damn good beer. Their Amber is one of my favorite ambers out there. It’s super drinkable and tastes so fresh. I’m pretty sure the clean and fresh water they use up there makes a big difference.
Alaskan Winter is an awesome beer because it tastes different every year. Now don’t be alarmed, this doesn’t have anything to do with consistency issues at the brewery. The beer has so much variation every year because it is brewed with spruce tips.
Yes, tips of spruce trees.
That probably sounds crazy, but it is a really incredible thing. It adds a flavor to the beer that is just so unique. And the best part is, it tastes different every year because the spruce tips have a different flavor each year depending on rain, temperature, etc. Alaskan just goes and picks them in early fall and then it’s up to fate.
The 2013 edition of Alaskan Winter was miles away from the 2012 edition. The color was surprisingly light this year, kind of like an amber (not dark like most winter beers). The smell was incredibly sweet! Surprisingly so, in fact. It smelled like a lovely mixture of caramel and malts, and the smell just gets better as you tip the glass further around your nose.
And then the taste. Oh man. It’s freshest and sweetest (but not syrupy-sweet) beer I think I’ve ever had. There are hints of malt and caramel combined with fruitiness, creaminess, and a hint of trees. It’s like someone told nature to make a beer and this is what happened.
In 2012, Alaskan Winter actually tasted like trees. Straight up, it was like drinking pine needles. Now some people don’t like that (understandably so), but I happened to love it. There’s nothing like using natural ingredients year after year and getting a different result.
That’s why this beer is #2 this year: I’m already excited for 2014.