Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The creative minds at Forbidden Peak have once again stumbled across a recipe worthy of introduction to the masses. Forbidden KGB is a Kolsch style ale with some very special additions- fresh Devil's Club Buds and Spruce Tips. The crew at FPB went on an ingredient gathering mission this past May in SE Alaska to investigate some local flavors for our beer. Devil's Club is in the ginseng family and has been a valuable source of medicinal qualities for SE residents for ages. Eaten raw, the buds have a flavor described as a "spicy celery". The crew wasn't sure a spicy celery beer would taste all that great, but after extensive testing the perfect compliment for Devil's Club was discovered - Spruce Tips. The two flavors combine to create an impressively smooth but flavorful Kolsch style ale. Forbidden KGB is an easy drinker but with enough kick to keep you warm after a long day on the slopes.
Since the introduction of KGB, we have received many inquiries into the origin of the name. There is a very strong Russian influence here in Alaska (you may recall from our Seward's Ice Box story that the US purchased Alaska from Russia) and Russians helped write the story of Alaska's exposure to the rest of the world. Without further ado, here is the story:
Late one evening, amongst the rising mist, Nikolai Ludsveg set out from his small village in Eastern Russia on the vessel “Zharkiy”. Nikolai who days earlier had been jobless and broke was hired by the infamous "Cheka" which was then known as the KGB. His mission was simple: cross the Bering Strait, turn right, follow the coastline and travel many miles until hitting Juneau, Alaska the capital city of the new Alaska. Nikolai was then to infiltrate the community under false pretenses and spy on the state and federal government up close, as the Cheka had few men posted on the eastern seaboard who had yet to see much American activity.
Nikolai immersed himself in the small community and took a job bartending at the Lucky Lady. Nikolai used the bartending gig to learn about this “American culture” and found that bar goers were very open to discuss their most intimate secrets after only a few drinks. One frisky December night, Nikolai met two large men from Skagway and the three fellows talked for hours about beer. Though Nikolai had no brothers of his own, he felt a deep connection with these two new friends and felt a brotherly bond with them. His new friends Squatch and Skookum were upstanding businessman in the Southeast area and well connected in political arenas. Nikolai found them to be a host of information and their monthly poker games held in the basement bar in a hotel called the Bergmann gathered a number of political types. Nikolai soon learned his real love was for America and beer, which caused his weekly dispatches to slip and he eventually quit sending them to Moscow altogether. Spying on the boring and corrupt Alaskan political landscape was of little interest to Nikolai in this new world. The intelligence officials at the KGB quickly wrote him off as dead and laughed at how the dimwit had once tried to explain how beer was more delectable than vodka.
After several months Skookum and Squatch made a business proposal to Nikolai as they sought to expand their brewery operations to the capital city and with Nikolai’s love for brewing he made a perfect match as the plant manager. The most famous beer during his reign was created with Nikolai’s favorite local ingredient- Devil’s Club. Nikolai would often traverse the peaks of SE Alaska carrying only a canteen of water or beer and a satchel filled with Devil’s Club Buds. Nikolai swore these “killer green buds” (Devil’s club buds were and still are called this due to the difficulty in harvesting them off the spiky stalks) had powers to heal aching muscles and gave him energy when he tired.
Remnants of Nikolai's family recently contacted FPB with stories of the signature beer of Nikolai's, which he appropriately named "KGB" (as a secret hint about the true origins of his adventures). Although unable to unearth the original recipe, the creative minds at FPB brainstormed additions to a Kolsch style ale that would put Nikolai's stamp on it. Using detailed tasting logs of the original recipe, the crew is satisfied that old Nikolai would be proud of this latest creation.
So raise your glass with a Forbidden KGB, realizing that sometimes, just like this beer and Nikolai there is more to the story than meets the eye. Cheers and as always remember, BEER IS FUN.