It would be difficult to say whether the beer or the bacon was the bigger hit at the Kenai Peninsula Brewing and Tasting Society’s Beer and Bacon Festival on Jan. 25 at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska in Kenai. Likely it was the combination of the two, as participants entered their appetizers and entrées in the cooking competition, and homebrewers submitted their bottles to see whose was deemed best.
When the crumbs settled, best professional entrée was awarded to Mykel’s Restaurant, with best professional appetizer awarded to Main Street Tap and Grill. Novice awards were
presented to Bruce Babbot for best entrée, and Team Challenger for best appetizer. In the homebrew competition, Chris Arbelovsky and Steve Ford were selected for their Russian imperial stout. The two only began brewing in 2013.
“We dove into it and had some fair to poor results, which evolved into some good questions for the more experienced brewing members of the (other brewers in the club),” Ford said.
The Russian imperial was their third try, brewed over the summer.
“You use more malt in this style of beer, which offsets the bitterness of the hops. We also used yeast that can survive higher alcohol levels, which results from the yeast converting the sugar during fermentation,” Ford said.
The result was an 11 percent ABV ale that can age for years like wine.
“(It) was black as night and heavier feeling in the mouth, more like swallowing an oyster. It was loaded with flavor,” Ford said. “… We entered our last bottle in the competition. This is one recipe we will make again.”
And this is one festival the club will hold again. Get your beer and bacon ideas brewing for the 2015 festival, scheduled for Feb. 7. For more information on the Kenai Peninsula Brewing and Tasting Society, look them up online on Facebook or Meetup.