I recently sailed off out of the port of Seattle for a week long Alaskan cruising adventure. After an amazing show by the Blue Angles over the Seattle skyline, it was time to set sail and get down to business.
The business of finding good craft beer on the cruise ship. First stop, pool bar.
I asked the bartender if I could see a beer list. He tilted his head in the same manner that my dogs do at the first sense of curiosity. He then pointed to a sample bottle and can line-up behind the bar and declared, “Those are all of the beers we have.”
Scanning left to right, I quickly saw the usual suspects like Bud and Coors Lite, a few that I haven’t heard of, a couple of entry-level crafts, and the old guards like Grolsch and Boddingtons.
I asked, “What IPA’s do you have?”
The bartender replied, “We don’t have any.”
My voice jumped 5 octaves as I screeched, “ON THE ENTIRE SHIP?”
Taking a few steps back the bartender replied, “No, sir. These are the only beers on the whole ship.”
“TURN THIS DAMN BOAT AROUND…I WANT OFF!!! But go ahead and pour me an Alaskan Amber while I wait. Thank you.”
Surprisingly, there was a lot of clarity in that bottle. I realized that this was a great opportunity to be forced from my IPA comfort zone and try some new things. Self-challenge accepted! By the way, the unlimited drink package was purchased so I was all set to go.
As I mentioned, the Alaskan Amber was my first choice. It was like going home for me. No, I’m not from Alaska. I used to drink amber beers almost exclusively. The Alaskan Amber took me right back. Smooth and easy to drink. If you are an amber drinker…give it a shot. Not bad at all.
There were 3 Alaskan Brewing Company offerings in total. The aforementioned Alaskan Amber, Alaskan White, and the Alaskan Kolsch. As far as the Alaskan White was concerned, I took a few sips and realized that like MOST whites, hefeweizens, or blondes…I’m not a fan.
Which brings us to the Alaskan Kolsch.
Ordering the Kolsch was a bit of a challenge. I had to convince each bartender or server that it was called Kolsch and not Summer. I would describe the bottle in detail as, “The one with an orange label that features a breaching orca, aaaaaand contains the word Kolsch.”
They each responded with some variation of, “No, that is Alaskan Summer.” I replied, “Can you please just bring me the bottle with the orange orca label?”
Turns out we were both right. That brew underwent a recent name change. And it turned out to be a really enjoyable brew. Light and crisp with a finish that didn’t linger. It quickly became my go-to of the bunch.
Until I was informed that the unlimited drink package was actually limited to 15 drinks per day. Now settle down, I wasn’t pounding 15 beers per day. The package also counted iced tea, coffee, and bottled water as a drink.
So I changed my strategy. Enter a player form the old guard…Grolsch!
Grolsch has been around since, well, the 1600’s. The Premium Pilsner being their flagship and my new go-to on the ship. It was light and refreshing. Weighing in at 5% ABV in abigger than the rest 15oz bottle…I was now winning the drink package game. Ha!
I will have to say that popping the top of a Grolsch bottle is quite satisfying.
After our fishing excursion, I was feeling like celebrating with another beer that I have yet to try. The tall yellow can of Boddington’s Pub Ale was just screaming at me from behind the bar.
The other member of the old guard, I was excited to give it a try. My first sip…meh. Second sip…meh. Third sip through the bottom of the can…meh. It had a Guiness-esque flatness to it. Could probably combine the two for a decent (and flat) black and tan.
Give me carbonation or give me death!
The next bottle in the bar background was Goose Island’s Sofie.
Unfortunately, I’ll have to get to the Sofie later because my waiter misheard what I ordered. My mouth said “Sofie” and his ears heard “Goldun Draak 9000”. Close enough…ha!
This beast of a Quadruple Belgian Dark chimes in at just a skosh shy of 11% ABV! Not exactly the best choice for 1PM. Maybe 1AM…but not an afternoon kind of brew.
It was official, I had found my “Night Night Beer” and it was pretty dang good.
Last but not least, I found a server with better hearing to try the Goose Island Sofie. I have been a fan of the Goose Island line for some time now but have never seen Sofie. I shied away from it early on in the trip because the label didn’t have that sip by the pool kind of vibe.
It turned out to be a good call.
Sofie is light on the ABV (6%) but heavy on taste. This is a wine-barrel-aged Saison. Definitely not an entry level brew. Before Sofie, if you handed me anything that was wine-barrel-aged, I would have passed. But remember, this is the try new things challenge. I was in. And I was pleasantly surprised.
Sofie isn’t something that I will be stocking my fridge with but I will definitely recommend to the wine-barrel-aged crowd.
As the trip came to an end, I was glad to have my eyes opened to new tastes and brews. Hopefully I can find some locally and Rob and I can share them with you on our No Fake Brews Podcast.
But first, a 5-hour layover in Seattle. Seattle has IPA’s…right?