Monday, February 25, 2019

Winter Marches On

We're still slogging on through another winter here on the Kenai, though with the growing hours of daylight, I think we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The winter weather was very accommodating for this year's Frozen River Fest on Saturday, February 16th. We had temperatures in the twenties and a nice ongoing snowfall during the festival itself. That may not sound appealing, but compared to the first festival in 2015 (single digits and about 25 knots of wind blowing!) it was fantastic! Here's a nice slideshow of the festival.

The producer turnout was excellent, with 18 different breweries, wineries, & cideries on hand and pouring samples. This festival has become very popular among brewers, thanks I think to both its uniqueness and its laid back atmosphere. While I was there, I did interviews for my monthly radio show with most of the brewer attendees, which you can listen to by clicking here. As good as this year's Frozen River Festival was, I'm sure next year's will be even better.

On the same day as the Frozen River Fest in Soldotna, the Fur Rondy Festival was held up in Anchorage. I really wish we could deconflict these two events, as it makes it hard on the brewers to try to be two places at once. Be that as it may, 49th State Brewing Anchorage took home the Best in Show crown (literally) from that event for its The Intrepid Imperial Stout. This particular version was brewed with Sitka spruce tips, birch syrup, & cocoa nibs before being aged in whiskey barrels. I had a sample of this brew at Frozen River Fest and found it to be excellent, so I'm not surprised it took home this award. Well done to Devin and the rest of the team at 49th State!

Photo courtesy of David Short
Some of you may know that I used to write the Alaska column for Northwest Brewing News until the first of the year when my column and the one for British Columbia were axed to reduce the page count. Times are pretty tough for print beer publications: R.I.P. Draft Magazine, The Celebrator, All About Beer. Even Beer Advocate has shifted from monthly to quarterly. Well, as of a few days ago, Northwest Brewing News has halted publication while it tries to find a new owner/publisher. Bill Metzger, who published all the "Brewing News" papers around the country stepped into controversy with an article he wrote for The Great Lakes Brewing News. If your curious, you can start with this story of, and find lots more info on the internet. In response, on February 19th, NWBN released the following:

"Nearly 20 years ago, Northwest Brewing News, part of Brewing News Publications, began providing the PNW beer community with a news source "of record." Over the years, the paper has covered numerous topics of interest to craft beer drinkers and brewers, profiled brewers and breweries, and reported beer-related news from Alaska to the Bay Area - something no other publication in the region has done.
The Great Lakes Brewing News, another paper under the Brewing News Publications umbrella, recently published an article written by the publisher, Bill Metzger. The article contained unnecessary, offensive misogynist language, and had very little to do with beer. Northwest Brewing News had no knowledge of or involvement in the printing of this article; otherwise, it would never have gotten past the editor's inbox.
People within the beer industry took an immediate, vocal stand against the article and Brewing News Publications on social media. Breweries that advertised in the papers pulled their ads. One of our NW Brewing News writers publicly quit. As in many similar cases recently, the public outcry sparked a reaction in which, rightly, Mr. Metzger resigned from all Brewing News operations.
Northwest Brewing News has operated mostly independently of Metzger since its founding; as publisher, he facilitated printing, shipping, and the annual writers meetings. The editor and writers determine the written content of the paper. The staff includes women as an integral part of the editorial process, and we do our best at balanced coverage of women in the industry. The article in question misrepresents the values and goals of this paper, and other Brewing News papers as well.
Northwest Brewing News is faced with a transition of ownership; that has not yet been determined. It is our hope to continue to provide thorough and informative coverage of our brewing community, and to be conscious of the diverse culture that craft beer has become. We can always be better!
Thank you to our Northwest readers and breweries who have supported us over the years. We will be in touch about changes moving forward."

To date, the Northwest Brewing News has not found a buyer, and I gather it will not be published again until it does. Despite my column getting the ax, this saddens me, as I have always thought that NWBN did a pretty good job of covering the beer scene in its area of responsibility. Let's face it: no other magazine is doing very much to cover our beer scene up here!

My last cover story at NWBN...
On Saturday, March 9th, the Brewers Guild of Alaska will be holding a Rare Beer Festival at Williwaw in downtown Anchorage. Here's a poster for it:

Click to enlarge

Moving on to reviews, I only have one new beer to write about this time, but I have something else to review: the uKeg from Growlerwerks. I resisted buying one of these for quite some time, but finally decided to give it a try. I got the plainest, cheapest version out there, a 64 oz. plain stainless one. There are also 128 oz models, and both the half and full gallon sizes come in a variety of (more expensive) finishes. The other challenge is obtaining food-grade CO2 cartridges; forget buying them online, since they cannot be shipped to Alaska. They are available at Arctic Brewing Supply in Anchorage and at other places, I'm sure. After playing with it for a couple of months, on the plus side, I'd say that when it works properly, it lives up to its hype. It keeps beer fresh and properly carbonated more or less indefinitely, or at least longer than I can let a half gallon of beer sit around without drinking it. On the downside, there is a definite learning curve associated with filling it properly, operating the pressurization system, and keeping it working right. You have to be scrupulous in following the cleaning instructions and be prepared to disassemble the cap to clean the internals on a regular basis. However, if you're willing to do that, the uKeg makes an excellent addition to your beer tools. Also, if you're a member of the American Homebrewers Association, Growlerwerks offers a pretty sweet discount.

Here's my only new beer review:

Midnight Sun Brewing's Dark Night Winter Warmer: Another in MSBC's series of limited edition canned releases, this beer was aged in port wine barrels. It poured a very dark ruby color with a small, tan head. The port barrel aging was definitely noticeable in the aroma, along with malt notes and hints of spices. The mouthfeel was light, and the carbonation was good. On the tongue, the flavors were smooth and malty, with sweet elements from the raisins and brown sugar used, plus a touch of pepper from the rye. There were distinct notes of port and oakiness, before falling away to a long finish highlighted by the light use of cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange zest. An excellent choice of style to apply this particular barrel aging regime to, and the end product is a complex but quite delicious beer. 8.7% ABV, 30 IBUs.

Well, that's about it for this time around. Talk to you again in another week or two.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Monday, February 11, 2019

It's February...Must be Time for a Beer Fest!

It's the middle of winter here on the Kenai, with a foot of snow on the ground and temperatures in the teens. That means it's time for Alaska's only outdoor winter beer festival, the Frozen River Fest. The first FRF took place in 2015, meaning that this year's fest will be the 5th iteration. As someone who was part of the group of people who first dreamed up this crazy idea and made it happen the first couple of years, it's very gratifying to see what the Frozen River Fest has become. These days the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce runs the event (so send any compliments or complaints to them), but I still love attending each winter.

The original logo from 2015
If you're going to be in Soldotna this Saturday, the fest will run from 4 to 8 pm. Admission for non-drinkers is free, persons under 21 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, and admission for beer drinkers is $20. Breweries, wineries, & cidermakers from as far away as Fairbanks will be in attendance. Buy your tickets in advance online via this link or at the gate.

Click to enlarge

As part of gearing up for the fest, local establishments have held beer dinners in the past. This year, Kenai River Brewing Company decided to hold a beer dinner on Saturday, February 2th. Despite choosing not to advertise the event or publish the menu in advance, the 70 seats available still sold out rapidly, which is a testament to the quality of the food and beer regularly on offer at KRBC. Here's a copy of the menu:

click to enlarge

As someone who attended, I can attest to the excellence of all the courses (especially the roasted garlic soup!) and the wonderful way each of the beer choices paired with them. I sincerely hope that Kenai River Brewing can see it way to eventually offering beer dinners like this one once a month over the course of the winter season.

As I mentioned in my last blog, this is the week Skagway Brewing moves to its new location. The brewery has been posting lots of great photos of the new location on its Facebook page; they are well worth checking out. To whet your appetite, here's one of them. Note the new brewhouse visible through the windows in the background.

Photo courtesy of Skagway Brewing

Alaskan Brewing has just released its Spruce IPA again as the spring beer for this year's seasonal rotating releases. This is the second year that Spruce IPA has filled that slot. The beer won regional and international recognition, leading with a World Beer Cup gold medal in its first year as a seasonal product, and another gold in the Pacific Northwest’s Best of Craft Beer Awards. It will be available through April.

Alaskan Brewing also has a new beer in its Rough Draft series on limited release around the state:

Click to enlarge

Bearpaw River Brewing has announced that it will be releasing another batch of the iconic Valley Trash Imperial Blonde on March 16th. The brewery first reproduced this famous creation of the defunct Great Bear Brewing Company of Wasilla last August.

That's it for the latest beer news. Let's do some beer reviews.

I've been laying fairly low since my last blog post, so I've only tried three new beers.

Rogue Brewing's 2018 Old Crustacean Barley Wine: I picked this one up at the Costco in Anchorage. It poured a translucent honey color with a nice, cream-colored head. The aroma had a good amount of hop notes. Mouthfeel was medium with great carbonation. On the palate there was decent bitterness up front, followed by the strong malt notes you expect from a big burly barley wine. In keeping with the American barley wine style, the overall hop flavors were excellent. A nice example of an American barley wine, though I still can't help feeling the ceramic bottle with its swing top closure is a bit over the top. 10.75% ABV.

Bearpaw River Brewing Company's Smoked Scottish Ale with Lapsang Souchong Tea: As its name implies, there's an awful lot going on in this beer. I'm not much of a tea drinker, but I love both smoke and Scottish ales, so I decided to give it a go. It poured a clear ruby color in the glass with a small cream-colored head that dissipated to a collar. The smoke was definitely evident in the nose. Mouthfeel was light and the carbonation level was okay. The flavor profile had the clean malt elements that you expect from a colder fermenting Scottish ale, plus a strong overlay of the smoky notes. I had a hard time picking up the tea (though perhaps that's because my palate is a bit "tea ignorant"), but I finally thought I picked up some tannic dryness that could well have been the tea's contribution to the overall flavor picture. A very unusual beer, but one I found I liked, a bit to my surprise. 5% ABV.

Sierra Nevada's 2018 Bigfoot Barley Wine: Like most craft beer drinkers my age, this beer and I go way back. I've been drinking Bigfoot for over 30 years. I can remember haunting the one liquor store in Honolulu in the early 90s with a decent beer selection, waiting for the Bigfoot to appear following its annual March release. Over the course of those three-plus decades, I decided that I like it best after it's been cellared for a year. So I'm only now opening the bottles I purchased last year. This batch poured a slightly cloudy honey color with a small but peristent cream-colored head. The nose was chock full of American hops and sweet malt notes. Mouthfeel was medium and the carbonation was excellent. On the tongue it was smooth, with both hop bitterness and hop flavor, attached to the strong malt backbone. The first of the American-style barley wines and still, in many ways, the best. An American classic that is simply not to be missed! 9.6% ABV, 90 IBUs.

Well, that's it for this post. I'll be doing some interviews for my radio show at the start of the Frozen River Fest on Saturday, so if you see me there and would like to be on the radio, don't be shy. Just step up and say hello and you can tell my listeners what you think.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Another Warm January

It's been another warm couple of weeks here on the Kenai, with above freezing temperatures and rain, rather than the snow we all prefer. Looks like we'll finally be getting some more snow over the next couple of days, though I doubt it will replace all that we've lost.

The 2019 Alaska Beer Week seems to have been a great success, at least from my vantage point down here. Sadly, my responsibilities as both a student and a teacher pretty much precluded me from going up to Anchorage again this year, since classes started that same week.

At this year’s festival, winners were chosen in both the winter warmer and barley wine competitions. In the winter warmer category, Cynosure Brewing took third place with its Noe Belgian-style Strong Dark Ale, Oskar Blues took second with its Ten Fiddy Imperial Stout, and first place went to Maui Brewing’s Night Diver. In the barley wine category, local favorite Kassik’s Brewery of Nikiski did not take gold in the barley wine competition for the fourth year in a row.  Instead, its Buffalo Head Barley Wine took home the second-place trophy. Third place went to Fremont Brewing’s Brew 2000 Barley Wine, while First Place went to Anchorage Brewing’s Double-oaked A Deal with the Devil. This beer from Gabe Fletcher’s brewery had already received much national acclaim, including being named one of the best beers of 2018 by Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine. Congratulations to all the winning breweries.

Photo courtesy of Anchorage Brewing

Skagway Brewing has announced that the grand opening of its new location will take place on February 15th and 16th. As I wrote in my last blog post, the new location on Broadway represents a 200% increase in seating and a 400% increase in brewing capacity. The brewery is also having a special Reservation only Valentines Dinner on February 14th.

Click to enlarge
The 2019 Frozen River Fest is less than three weeks away. This year's festival will take place on Saturday, February 16th, from 4 to 8 pm at Soldotna Creek Park. It is hosted by the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and tickets are $20 for beer drinkers, free for non-drinkers. As always, this is a family-friendly event, with live music and food on sale besides the beers on offer. This year's live music will be by The Mabrey Bros. Band and Conway Seavey. For more details, look for the Festival on Facebook or contact the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce. Tickets can be purchased online here.

Some new statistics have been released on the impact of craft brewing on a state-by-state basis. Alaska ranks 6th in breweries per capita of 21+ adults and we are third in pints produced annually per adult (behind only Vermont and Delaware) at 96. The most recent economic impact of craft brewing in Alaska was $511 per person per year, which is 5th overall among the 50 states. There are currently over 7,000 breweries in the US. Now if we just get the Alaska State Legislature to recognize these statistics and work to help our brewing industry instead of hamstringing it...

On last Friday, Kenai River Brewing released its Spruce Tip Double IPA in packs of four cans. The cans feature two different labels designs and cost $11. Profits go to benefit the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust.

Photo courtesy of Kenai River Brewing

If you missed the live broadcast on Saturday, I'd encourage you to take a listen to the podcast version of my January radio show on KDLL. In it I interviewed Corey Fristoe from Black Spruce Brewing in Fairbanks, James "Dr. Fermento" Roberts, and Don Stead of Homer's Grace Ridge Brewing. You can find the recording of the show at

Now let's review some beers. I've got four new ones to tell you about this time.

Fremont Brewing's Barrel-aged Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Sout (2017 ): The dark beauty had spent a year in my cellar prior to my opening it. It poured dark with a decent tan head that dissipated to a collar. The nose spoke strongly of its time in bourbon barrels. Carbonation was on the low side but acceptable, and its mouthfeel was very oily and smooth from the use of oats. On the palate, it was rich and think, with plenty of roasted flavors and additional bourbon notes, falling away to a touch of alcohol heat on the finish.14% ABV, 50 IBUs.

New Belgium Brewing's La Folie Sour Brown Ale (2018): This year's version of this classic sour poured a beer, translucent ruby with a nice tan head. The aroma was tart notes and hints of cherries. Carbonation was good, and its mouthfeel was light. The flavor profile began with a pleasant tart attack, then mellowed into smooth fruit notes, followed by a nice finish. A delicious sour. 7% ABV.

Midnight Sun Brewing's Last Run Porter: This limited-release beer poured dark with a nice tan head. The nose had light and pleasant roasted notes. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was light. On the palate, there nice roasted notes continued very clean tasting, before falling away to a nice finish. While not overly complex, I thought it was a very well executed beer, stylistically more of a brown porter than a robust one. 5.5% ABV, 20 IBUs.

Black Raven Brewing's Grandfather Raven Russian Imperial Stout: Another impressive brew from the award-winning Washington brewery. It poured opaque with a nice mocha-colored head. The aroma was full of coffee notes with hints of chocolate as well. Carbonation was excellent and the mouthfeel was medium plus. The initial flavor profile was smooth roasted flavors, very rich and complex, then more hints of chocolate sweetness followed by a long, lingering finish. A superb Russian Imperial Stout. 9.5% ABV, 70 IBUs.

That's about it for this post. I hope to see you all at the Frozen River Fest in a couple of weeks. I'll be recording some live interviews for my radio show there, so if you'd like to be on the radio, come on up and say hello.

Until next time, Cheers!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

New Year's Resolution: 2019

So it's a new year and my resolution is to make blog posts here more often than every six months, which has been my rate for the last year or so. I could give you readers a litany of excuses, but what's the point? Let's just move on and talk about craft beer.

If you're one of the folks out there who reads my Alaska column in the Northwest Brewing News, then I've got some bad news for you. My column (along with the one for British Columbia) has been permanently cut from that publication. The past few months have been very rough for print publications about beer: Celebrator has ceased print publication, All About Beer has folded, and even Beer Advocate has gone from a monthly to a quarterly format. In the case of Northwest Brewing News, ad revenues are down and pages had to be cut. Apparently, Alaska and B.C. don't produce much ad revenue in the best of times (which these certainly aren't), so ours were the necks to feel the axe. On the plus side, if no one is willing to pay me to write, I guess that means I'll have more time to do it for free in this blog...

The last issue you'll find my Alaska column in...
It's a shame that the readers outside Alaska won't be getting news from up here anymore, given how active our craft beer scene has been lately. In the last few months, Cooper Landing Brewing has broken ground on a new brewery, with an eye toward being open in the spring of 2020. Skagway Brewing is in the midst of a massive and long-overdue relocation/expansion, which will give them a 200% increase in seating and a 400% increase in brewing capacity. A new brewery, Black Spruce Brewing Company, opened last month in Fairbanks. Barnaby Brewing in Juneau should be back open almost any day now in its new location. Baleen Brewing and Bawden Street Brewing opened this summer in Ketchikan. Midnight Sun is now operating Williwaw in downtown Anchorage. King Street Brewing moved into its new home and Turnagain Brewing opened in its old one. Many other breweries have added tankage and expanded production capacity. Craft beer in Alaska just continues to grow and improve.

Photo courtesy of Black Spruce Brewing Co.

While 2018 was certainly a positive year for craft beer in Alaska, it certainly wasn't all smooth sailing. In fact, it often seemed that craft breweries were successful in spite of all the roadblocks that the state and federal governments saw fit to build in their path. On the state level, the antics by the Alcohol Beverage Control Board and its "no fun at breweries" policy created lots of angst and uncertainty, none of which was relieved by the fiasco with SB 76 in the state legislature. On the national level, Trump's aluminum tariffs have helped drive up the cost of aluminum cans, and the current partial government shutdown includes the TTB, which means no breweries anywhere can get the labels approved for any new beer! Still, our local craft brewers soldier on, trying to produce good craft beer for us to drink, no matter how much stupidity flows out of Juneau and D.C.

Alaska Beer Week starts this Friday, January 11th, and runs through Sunday, January 20th. There are going to be a ton of events, so the best places to find out about them are the AK Beer Week Facebook page and the AK Beer Week webpage's Event Calendar.

I've got a few reviews to post as well. These are by no means all of the beers I've had recently, but these are a few from the last six months or so that I particularly enjoyed.

Midnight Sun Brewing's 23 American Barley Wine: Brewed to celebrate the brewery's 23 anniversary and released in cans, this beer poured a deep honey color with a nice cream-colored head. Hop notes were fairly prevalent in the nose, as you'd expect from an American barley wine. Carbonation was good and the mouthfeel was medium. There was plenty of upfront bitterness, which lingered on through the rich malt notes that followed, all the way to a nice finish. An excellent example of this style. 10% ABV, 100 IBUs.

Bearpaw River Brewing's The Great Bear's Valley Trash Imperial Blonde Ale: The Wade brothers at Bearpaw River went to a great deal of trouble to recreate this iconic Wasilla brew, evn trucking in city water to ensure that this replica beer would be as close to the original as possible. Have never tasted the original, I can't speak to how close they came. It poured a deep clear gold color with a decent off-white head. The aroma was of clean, crisp malt. Mouthfeel was light to medium and carbonation was good. The beer had plenty of malt backbone, okay hop balance, and a touch of alcohol heat on the finish. Overall, I would call it a workman-like blonde ale, but nothing to write home about. Of course, I'm not feeling any nostalgia when I taste it. 10% ABV

Broken Tooth Brewing's Hopbility English IPA: As a lover of good English beer, it almost a certainty that if you put English or Scottish in your beer's name, I will at least try it. Of course, having lived in Britain for three years, I have pretty high standards when it comes to "British" beers, so that might be a double-edged sword. This beer poured a hazy honey color with a nice white head. The nose had the floral hop notes that I always associate with real British ale. Carbonation was good, the mouthfeel was light, and the beer left superb lacing on the side of my glass. On the palate, there was nice but balanced bitterness and more floral hop notes. It certainly displayed the "moreish" quality that British brewers strive for. An excellent brew, and one of the best efforts in this style that I've had on this side of the Atlantic! 7.3% ABV, 65 IBUs.

Anchorage Brewing's Time Waits for No One (Batch #3) Imperial Stout: Gabe Fletcher certainly knows how to brew big, burly beers, and this one was no exception. It poured thick and dark, with little to no head. The nose was rich in malt and bourbon aromas. Its mouthfeel was thick and viscous, like used motor oil, with low to no carbonation. On the palate, it was thick, rich, and oily, with a flavor profile full or sweet and roasted malt, plus chocolate notes. The finish was long and smooth, with no alcohol heat at all, despite the 15% ABV. A truly superb barrel-aged imperial stout marred only by the very high price. I can't say that it's not worth it, but I also can't say that it was a beer I could afford to drink more than once or twice.

St. Elias Brewing's Whipsaw Imperial IPA: This beer is a bit of a throwback; given the current fascination with hop varieties that produce tropical fruit flavors, to find a brew that harkens unashamedly back to the piney Pac Northwest hops is quite a pleasant surprise. It poured a deep copper color with a nice cream-colored head. The aroma is loaded with those resiny, piney PNW hops. Carbonation is good, and the mouthfeel is light. There a nice bitter attack, followed by clean hop flavors, before falling away to a nice finish. Surprisingly drinkable for a 7.8% ABV, 100 IBU beer.

St. Elias Brewing's H & H Oak-aged Pale Ale: Full disclosure: I helped design and brew this beer, so you have to take my review with a grain of salt. This beer was our attempt to recreate an extinct style of beer from Britain, known as a stock pale ale or a "yard" ale. These were strong pale ales that were aged in oak barrels for over a year; they were nicknamed yard ales because they would sit in the brewery's yard and experience the change of seasons. Obviously, doing this in Alaska was a non-starter. however, we did brew the beer in September of 2017, then rack it into oak barrels in January 2018. At that time we dosed it with Brettanomyces claussenii at 200,000 cells per ml and let it rest until mid-December. The final result is quite dry still retains some hop bitterness; it also displays oak notes and plenty of brett funk. It's more than a little reminiscent of a bottle of Orval that's been aged for 12 to 18 months, at least to my palate. All-in-all, it was a fairly unique experiment and one that we're proud of but unlikely to repeat anytime soon. So if you'd like to taste it for yourself, you'd better head into St. Elias Brewing before it's gone.

Well, I think I'll wrap this post up now. However, in closing, I'd like to remind you that I am still doing my monthly radio show about beer on KDLL 91.9 FM. It's broadcast the fourth Saturday of each month and is available via podcast at
During the December show, I interviewed Barb Miller of Midnight Sun about the upcoming AK Beer Week and Mike Healy, owner of Skagway Brewing about his relocation and expansion. You can listen to that show here.

Until next time, Cheers!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Photo Album: What I Did on My Summer Vacation (So Far)...

While I haven't been very active in blogging, that doesn't mean I haven't been visiting breweries. In the last couple of months, I managed to hit four that are either new or which I hadn't had a chance to visit before. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the photos that my wife Elaine took during our visits to them.

Matanuska Brewing Company

We were in Palmer the day before Matanuska Brewing's grand opening in May, but Head Brewer Kevin Burton was kind enough to walk us through this amazing new facility.

A whole lot of canning going on!

Four 120-bbl fermenters. There are two more are on order.

A 40-bbl JV Northwest Brewhouse, highly automated.

A ProBrew canning line that can fill 100 cans per minute.

I can remember when beer vending machines used to be common in Navy BOQs...

The tap room.

The brewery is located in the old Mat-Maid Dairy.
Bleeding Heart Brewery

I'd been trying to visit Bleeding Heart in Palmer ever since it opened, but something always got in my way. I finally bit the bullet and made a special trip up there to check it out. It's a real farmhouse brewery, as in it's located on an actual farm, not far from the Alaska State Fairgrounds. The brewery was just voted as the Best Place to Have a Drink by the readers of the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman Newspaper, as part of its annual “Best of the Valley” poll.

Yours truly leaning on the "serving counter" and talking to Stefan

Doing a little business

Bleeding Heart's fermentation area

I also sampled some damn fine beers...

HooDoo Brewing Company

I hadn't been up to Fairbanks in several years, so a trip in June meant a chance to swing by HooDoo Brewing. I heard that its beer garden area had been seriously upgraded and wanted to see it for myself. All I can say is: Wow! The new area is great and has clearly become a major gathering spot in Fairbanks. Having a different food truck there each day certainly doesn't hurt, either.

The beer garden from Fox Street in front of the brewery.

The tap room

The beer garden, looking from the brewery toward Fox Street. Note the twin firetrucks...

The man himself, Bobby Wilken, in his element.
King Street Brewing Company

King Street completed its move to its new location on June 2, and I stopped by a month later to check things out. There's still a fair amount of construction being done on the new building, but you can already tell it's going to be amazing when everything is complete. Dana Walukiewicz was kind enough to walk us around.

View from the second story catwalk. Brewhouse on the left, fermenters on the right, & a million empty cans in the background.

Further along the catwalk, looking over the fermenters back at the brewhouse.

Dan and I are standing in what will be the rooftop drinking area, looking at Denali in the distance.

This third story room will eventually be an event space. Check out the view!

The tap room on the ground floor is open for business!
So there you have it. A brand-new brewery, a well-established farmhouse brewery, a brand-new beer garden, and a brand-new facility. Craft brewing in Alaska is certainly on the upswing these days.

Be sure to listen to my radio show Drinking on the Last Frontier on Saturday, July 28th, at 11 am on KDLL 91.9 FM. I'll be interviewing Grant Yutrzenka of Resolution Brewing and Jake & James Wade of Bearpaw River Brewing. If you can't listen to it live, you can download the recorded show at shortly after it's broadcast.

Finally, if you happen to live in the Central Kenia Peninsula, I'll be teaching my beer class again this fall semester at Kenai Peninsula College in Soldotna. We always have a great time, so please consider it.

Click to enlarge
Until Next Time, Cheers!