TapRoot in Anchorage, Alaska

Barkeep by | Sep 2016 | Issue #116
Photo by Nathaniel Wilder

On a typical night, the folks at Anchorage bar and music venue TapRoot could be hoisting anything from a pint of locally brewed Midnight Sun Pleasure Town IPA to a PBR tallboy or an Alaskan White Russian while listening to notable and often roots-oriented national touring acts like Martin Sexton, Low, Bobby Bare Jr., and Angel Olsen. “We have a super diverse clientele, and we try and accommodate everyone,” says music and events coordinator Evan Phillips.

Since it opened 10 years ago as a small café hosting mostly acoustic acts, TapRoom has moved to its current location in Anchorage’s Spenard neighborhood and developed an impressive beverage selection.

Bar manager Dennis Sullivan has his work cut out for him, given the eclectic crowd that comes to the venue to see shows and hang out. He says he tries to “have some for the rookies as well as the beer snobs—maintaining a list that appeals to all.”

TapRoot’s 23 taps are mostly local, including selections like Alaskan Brewing Co. Imperial Red Ale, King Street Brewing Co. Pilsner, Denali Brewing Co. Twister Creek IPA, and Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter. A dozen or so wines, a handful of house cocktails, and a smattering of non-local beers from the likes of Elysian, Goose Island, and Schöfferhofer fill out the bar.

Not unlike music, says Phillips, “the beer selection at TapRoot adapts to what is new and relevant. There’s a lot of great breweries emerging in Alaska, and we try and feature them as much as possible.”

Regular Eric Bleicher, a musician and student who lives nearby, admires the spot’s support of homegrown talent. “Local musicians and local brewers alike put a lot of love into their crafts,” he says. “Being able to share what we create at community places like TapRoot for others to enjoy is a great thing to see and be a part of.”

Not content to simply do music and beer well, TapRoot sports a serious food lineup, too: think marinated almonds and olives, fish tacos, and deep-fried Spam in Buffalo sauce. Bleicher loves the rustic feel of the venue’s wooden benches and light fixtures, but also likens the place to “a micro convention center that wears many hats,” since it’s not uncommon for TapRoot to flip a fancy sit-down dinner show into a larger music event later in the evening.

Sometimes, the music and beer literally go hand-in-hand. At press time, TapRoot was planning a Portland-themed musical showcase paired with an array of Portland beers. Over the years, the venue has hosted everything from burlesque shows to Scotch tastings, plus ongoing events like karaoke nights and a “Geeks Who Drink” trivia series. Suffice it to say, they’re doing their damnedest to keep Anchorage weird. And it seems to be paying off.

“So many different types of people from all walks of life come through the door because they enjoy what TapRoot is offering,” Bleicher says. “The opportunities for networking, getting experience performing, and just kicking back to enjoy some good entertainment are endless here.”