Alaskan Craft Beers

Discussion in 'Northwest' started by FredGallagher, May 6, 2013.

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  1. FredGallagher

    FredGallagher Initiate (0) May 6, 2013 Alaska

    I am truly passionate about Alaskan breweries – the creativity and unique challenges these breweries face bring some quality unique beer.
    My favorite brewery is Silver Gulch Brewing & Bottling Co. out of Fox, 12.8 miles north of Fairbanks. The head brewer, Levi is a trip – blasting an amazing music selection as he brews some the best beer in the state. His reinvention of Old 55 American Pale Ale is top notch and his creative twists like Blueberry Groove and Lowbush are truly Alaskan while adhering to Bavarian brewing practices.
    The Weird Bird Barely Wine has dominated the Barely Wine Festival two years straight.

    I am also starting to appreciate Midnight Sun Brewing – their Monk’s Mistress is top notch.
    Glacier Brewhouse has Kevin – the most consistent brewer in Alaska. But Kevin is an odd fellow who is reluctant to appreciate anothers beer. Too close minded.

    King Street Brewery is coming together – Shane is a genuine great guy. I carry their Hefe – which outshines Midnight Sun’s Hefe – powerful citrus flavor. I am on the fence regarding their IPA.
    Kassik has never thrilled me. Seemed too “outta the garage.”

    Any thoughts on Alaskan beers – even if it’s based on the corporate Alaskan Brewing Co. ?
    Want to pick quality kegs for my restaurant. Cheers!
  2. AndyKline

    AndyKline Initiate (0) May 7, 2013 Alaska

    Hello -- I work for the Alaskan Brewing Co., and I am wondering what about the great beers we brew is "corporate"? We have a crew of inspired brewers who brew great beer. We have beloved established beers and we are constantly brewing new beers that we make available in our Rough Draft and Pilot series. We are proud of the fact that there is great demand for our beers in Alaska and other states, and we have definitely grown through the years, but I don't understand why that makes a company "corporate"?
  3. FredGallagher

    FredGallagher Initiate (0) May 6, 2013 Alaska

    Hi Andy:
    I want to first thank you for participating in this dialog and bringing some definition to Alaskan Brewing Co.

    I myself have been in the lower 48 and proud to see at least you guys having a presence down there.

    The term “corporate” came from a discussion I was having with a Specialty Import Rep. I took it as truth – and maybe it is not. But he was referring to your distribution with “Budweiser” – similar to Red Hook.

    I used to work for Silver Gulch – spent time in Fox and I was the GM who opened Ted Steven’s Airport location for the Gulch.

    Something I was proud of was last summer – there was discussion about Silver Gulch doing their own distribution through their own fleet (yet to be created). That no matter what – Silver Gulch beer will only be brewed in Fox, Alaska.

    Someone stated to me that your flagships are no longer brewed in Alaska – not sure if there was any weight to that. I am aware your seasonal and special brews are brewed still up here.

    I realize from being the General Manager of Silver Gulch – the blood and tears that goes into brewing. I appreciate all Alaskan breweries – but always respected those who kept control of their product line – I do not know enough about your operation to really represent myself as an expert.

    But the rumor has it that Alaskan Brewing Co. went the same route as Red Hook – allowing the “corporate” module (Budweiser) get its hook into your production – and that is what I was referring too. And on one end – I understand but it’s a tradeoff I am glad Silver Gulch will not ever do (at this stage while Glenn Brady is alive) – and yes a lot has to do with the owner’s galactic size ego – Glenn is a character.

    I do respect your outfit and the fact that you are becoming an established reputable brewery in the beer world. I wish you guys the best of luck and if my facts are wrong (or distorted) – I appreciate the clarity.

    Thank you so much for responding!
  4. itracy63

    itracy63 Devotee (438) Apr 20, 2013 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Weird Bird received third place in 2012 and no medal this year. It's a good barley wine, but I would hesitate to say it "dominated."

    Midnight Sun doesn't even produce their Hefe anymore.
    nikalus31 likes this.
  5. AndyKline

    AndyKline Initiate (0) May 7, 2013 Alaska

    Hi Fred –

    Thank you for the opportunity to clear up these (BIG!) misunderstandings about Alaskan Brewing. First and foremost it is extremely important for all of us here at Alaskan Brewing that everyone reading this understand this point: we are brewed and bottled exclusively in Juneau, Alaska. We do not produce, and never have produced, beer outside of our facility here in Alaska. It is on our label, in our mission statement, part of the very core of what we are. We ARE Alaskan, and every drop of every pint and every bottle of Alaskan Beer that you drink is brewed and bottled right here, with our crystal-clear Juneau Icefield-fed water. Every beer has been created by our world-class brewers, with absolutely no outside influence. We are fiercely proud of our independence.
    Hope that clears up that point.
    On the issue of our distribution, it is illegal for us to distribute our own beer in most other states, so we rely on our distributor partners, who also represent other beers. In Anchorage we are distributed by K & L, who also carry other breweries, but we have no relationship with those breweries. And we have not followed the path of Red Hook and the CBA breweries – we are not in any way associated with or owned in any part by any other brewery except Alaskan Brewing. We are 100 percent privately owned by a small group of investors that have been with us for 27 years. I hope this clears up these questions about us.

    We feel like we are one of the models for how to grow as a brewery and stay true to your principles. Our brew crew works hard to make the best beer we know how, and our distributors get that beer to restaurants, stores and bars as quickly as possible. I hope you consider a keg of one (or more!) of our beers in your restaurant. If you do, you can tell your customers that they are drinking some of the best beer in the world, made exclusively in Alaska by an independent group of folks who are dedicated to putting the best of Alaska into every beer we brew. Thanks again for this discussion.

    -- Andy Kline Alaskan Brewing Co.
  6. OakedCanuck

    OakedCanuck Initiate (0) Jun 23, 2009 Washington

    Y'all should just (eskimo) kiss and make up.

  7. nikalus31

    nikalus31 Initiate (0) May 23, 2011 Alaska

    One of the best things about selling Alaskan beer in Alaska, is that the locals are really loyal and the tourist are looking for local beer. You really can't go wrong with any of the breweries up here. (There are a few duds and ho-hum beers that get brewed, but for the most part, it is all quality.) Some standouts, in my opinion:
    King Street: Hefe, Pilsner, IPA (great balance)
    Kassik's: Wee Heavy, Nut Brown, Double IPA, Imperial Brown
    Kenai River Stop: XPA, PBR
    Denali: Stout, Red, ESB, IPA
    Midnight Sun: Wit (newest recipe), their Belgian series that Specialty carries, Sockeye Red, and just about anything else really (they constantly are releasing one-offs and seasonals).
    Alaskan: APA, Pilot Series, Rough Draft Series, Export Series.
    Arkose and Baranof: I've been able to get a few of their brews from time to time. So far, just some of the standard styles, but well done, and anything new will sell well.
    Silver Gulch: You already know
    Anchorage Brewing Co: Anything and everything you can get your hands on.
    St. Elias, HooDoo, 49th State: I haven't had yet
    Sleeping Lady: Porter

    Any seasonals or special releases any of these breweries do, if you can get your hands on it, are worth it. The brewers up here like to have fun with their beers, so in turn, it's fun to sell and drink them too.

    (Note: These are just what came into my head, there are plenty more that I'm sure I'll think of after I post this!)

    Anyways, hope this helps. Cheers!

    Nikalus Sawatzky - Beverage Mngr at Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse
    JohnnyP3 and FredGallagher like this.
  8. FredGallagher

    FredGallagher Initiate (0) May 6, 2013 Alaska

    Oak: thats an awesome point cheers!
    Thanks for interacting with this dialog and clearing matters up. I have deeper respect for Alaskan Brewing Co. and truthfully feel less put off now.
    I never dove into Alaskan Brewing Co. – my appreciation for the complexities of this industry didn’t start until I reached Fox.
    I had zero understanding of the complexities and marvels of the world of micro-breweries. The passion and commitment of the brew crew at Silver Gulch had such a profound impact on me – that the passion is still in my soul.
    If we were to rewind the clock to three years ago – didn’t know what an Amber was. I was a beer drinking disaster.
    But I also remember the pride I felt when Anchorage opened – I took representing the crew back at Fox seriously. Every pint poured was a deep sense of pride,

    I am a student in this wonderful world of beer. And am trying to use this site as a method to connect with others and refine my understanding.

    I have a new found respect for the Pilot series you stated – was not aware how innovative you guys really are. I deeply respect the encouragement into beer exploration your company gives its staff. Other smaller companies should take notice – it must be a great place to work.
    Being in Juneau – I never had any direct interaction with your brewery. Anchorage has many local brewers who I engage with.
    There was a discussion about Red Hook – how their beer was brewed by Budweiser now to meet national distribution demand. They stated it was a challenge for them to maintain quality and consistency initially but how Budweiser allowed them to still control the brand even though it was brewed by Bud.

    That distribution is what was stated was occurring with at Alaskan Brewing Co. I am glad you took the time to correct that farce and set a new beer lover straight. The purpose of the forum was to get more definition to what I should look into to expand my knowledge.

    Until leaving Silver Gulch in Feb. I was too loyal to the brand to be ever seen drinking anything not brewed by Silver Gulch. Now –I am trying to experience the other breweries offerings – and build a solid selection of other Alaskan offerings.

    I want to have a beer selection I can stand behind. So I sent out a general post hoping for engaging conversation. Never assumed my “corporate” comment would spark the basis for this forum.
    Every day – my knowledge base grows – thank you. I am really engaged with King Street Brewing and love the crew there – and was excited with the happenings in Fairbanks especially with the fresh energy of HooDoo Brewing.

    My goal is to have quality beer that was well thought out and carried the spirit of the many amazing people behind the beer.

    Now Andy, with that in mind – what is the beer that stands out the most from Alaskan Brewing Co?
    My first beer review of Old 55 is the beer I hold dearest from Silver Gulch. My favorite (no laughing) was Blueberry Groove. It was my micro-brewery gateway beer.

    To itracy: Thanks for responding. I was referring to Old Whiskers Hefe - which was my favorite hefe hands down of the Alaskan flair. We carried it in bottles after they stopped brewing it for a while. I was not aware that it was a retired beer. Never had difficulty restocking it. King Street Hefe was the first Hefe I liked since Old Whiskers.

    No award was received this year – correct. But Levi has a devote following for the Weird Beard- dominated was too extreme – but what can you expect been drinking all night ;-). But Levi totally rocked it.
  9. FredGallagher

    FredGallagher Initiate (0) May 6, 2013 Alaska

    Cheers for the insight Nikalus. Been trying - and hard to dig Kassik - I appreciate the outfight - just not a fan. Anchorage Brewing is awesome - agreed. Midnight Sun is new to me. I was hesitant on the Monks Mistress. I love that beer now and have liked many samlplings from this outfit.

    King Street and HooDoo are amazing - cant do Broken Tooth (they brew for Mooses Tooth). Denali - dont know much - 49th Sate hasnt drawn me in (first drank their brew in Denali working for NANA).
  10. nikalus31

    nikalus31 Initiate (0) May 23, 2011 Alaska

    Check out Mid Sun's Loft from time to time for their latest releases, I just had their Bionic Blonde yesterday and it was wonderful. Ask for Darcy, she's their Beer Ambassador, and will help you out if want to serve any of their beers that Specialty doesn't distribute. Denali is distributed by Odom, and I can attest that they are a great brewery to get behind, and their beer speaks for itself. Are you selling draft or bottled/canned beer at your place?
    FredGallagher likes this.
  11. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (4,684) Sep 24, 2007 Washington
    Beer Trader

    To the best of my knowledge (and I could be wrong) ABI (Budweiser) does not do any brewing for Redhook, Widmer, or Kona, the 3 brands CBA owns. ABI owns +/- 30% of CBA, the breweries own the rest. They are distributed by ABI wholesalers, as are lots of other craft brews (around me the ABI house handles Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Firestone Walker, North Coast, American, Southern Tier and other craft brands, in addition to the ABI brands). Redhook has 2 breweries, Woodinville WA and Portsmouth NH, and AFAIK, do all their own brewing. While I'm not a huge Redhook fan, they make enjoyable beers, at a reasonable price.
    FredGallagher likes this.
  12. FredGallagher

    FredGallagher Initiate (0) May 6, 2013 Alaska

    Awesome tip - I will give them a closer look. I already use Odom (Gulch) and Specilty (Midnight Sun). K&L has Bud and Red Hook - no interest. But I am willing to entertain Alaska Brewing Co more closely. Specialty has a large portion of my bottled line - domestic and imported non Alaskan beers I keep. Currently I brought Hofbrau, Anchor Steam and Framboise on the line. I 86'd Coors, Miller, Budweiser all their silly variations. I also carry Fat Tire, Trippel, and Red Bridge through K&L – I am not impressed with New Belgium – despite it being a buzz beer.

    don’t carry cans – I could and am not opposed but prefer the flow of bottles.

    To everyones surprise - the number one selling beer in the Gulch airport locaton was Northern Light - a reluctant take they did to have on hand a "Bud Coors" like beer.The beer was a hit. I am sure, like Old 55 this will become an upcoming unoffical flagship.
  13. nikalus31

    nikalus31 Initiate (0) May 23, 2011 Alaska

    Where do you manage? Is it the Silver Gulch in the airport? I don't fly much, but when I do, I would come in and have a beer or three.
  14. HuskyinPDX

    HuskyinPDX Poo-Bah (2,483) Jan 23, 2011 Washington
    Beer Trader

  15. airevac19

    airevac19 Initiate (146) Dec 6, 2006 Washington

    When I was stationed at elmendorf, I got hooked on Alaskan (glad I can get it anytime I want here in WA) and the moose's tooth. I like midnight sun and glad I can get here too. But just before I left, I was hooked on snow goose. I'm hoping to be able to get back up there sometime soon.
  16. BeerKangaroo

    BeerKangaroo Initiate (0) May 30, 2011 Alaska

    Oddly enough, we currently get Anchorage Brewing Co. in Maine and I like what I`ve had by them. I`ll be movin' to Juneau this summer and am really lookin' forward to tryin' more of Alaska`s offerings.
    FredGallagher likes this.
  17. FredGallagher

    FredGallagher Initiate (0) May 6, 2013 Alaska

    Love Maine, lived there years ago. Alaska has an amazing beer sub culture and many great local brewries. Not being a hop head limits me on what I drink up here (the North West is very hop heavy - which is the buzz) but there are still many malty options too. If your into Stouts and IPAs you will be in heaven.
    BeerKangaroo likes this.
  18. BeerKangaroo

    BeerKangaroo Initiate (0) May 30, 2011 Alaska

    Well then, looks like I'm movin' to the right,place. Thanx FredGallagher.
  19. JohnnyP3

    JohnnyP3 Devotee (467) Dec 13, 2009 Alaska

    Andy, great post. And please bring back the Imperial Red in your Pilot Series. In my opinion, that was an excellent beer. Also a diehard Smoked Porter fan.
    Bitterbill likes this.
  20. jaminjohnson

    jaminjohnson Initiate (189) Jul 3, 2012 Yukon (Canada)

    Really like Alaskan beers, even more so being back up here again today, got a growler of gabe and Sean hill ipa collaboration distant matter from bodega and it was an awesome 7 dollar investment! Also, not a huge fan of smoked beers but tried some dry fly out of the fermenters today and am really looking forward to trying the finished product post barrel!!
    Side note nice to be able to pick up crooked stave beers outside of Colorado! It will be a good week on the boat for sure
  21. jaminjohnson

    jaminjohnson Initiate (189) Jul 3, 2012 Yukon (Canada)

    Also I'd like to add it was great to have a wall mounted salmon pee ipa into my cup, thanks Alaska
    CurtFromHershey likes this.
  22. itracy63

    itracy63 Devotee (438) Apr 20, 2013 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Anchorage Brewing Company's "The Darkest Hour", "Anadromous", and their latest Mikkeller beer "AK Alive", in stores now!!!
  23. SHIG

    SHIG Initiate (36) Mar 5, 2007 Alaska
    Beer Trader

    It is a great time to be in Alaska! I've only been in Anchorage for a year and unfortunately 5 months of that was spent deployed since I am in the military. With that said I couldn't think of a better place to be for beer and its still a semi secret to the beer lovers in the lower 48. Outside of Alaskan, Anchorage Brewing, Midnight Sun, and a few special beers from the other breweries very few beers made in Alaska make it out of Alaska. This in my mind makes for great beer tourism options, not that there aren't enough reasons to visit Alaska already. Also I'm a firm believer in drinking locally first, which Alaskans do religiously.

    The only complaint I would have at this point is that some of the breweries/brewers seem reluctant to respond to emails or answer contact numbers posted on their websites. I consider myself a full fledged beer geek and sometimes I have questions that go beyond the one line description on a bar menu. Maybe its because the electronic age we live in but having the ability to contact and understand what the brewer was going for provides extra insight to the beers I try. Again I state "some", since overall this is not a huge problem either in Alaska.

    Fred where is your restaurant located? It would be great to stop in and enjoy a Alaskan brewed beer with you...Shawn
  24. erikkoppin

    erikkoppin Initiate (101) Nov 4, 2009 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Can't wait to visit at the end if this month. Hit me up if anyone is looking for some Michigan brews. Will be looking to take back some AK Alive and Sun of a Beak.
  25. itracy63

    itracy63 Devotee (438) Apr 20, 2013 Washington
    Beer Trader

    I might be interested in some Michigan beers, I'll have to do a little research first. I've got quite a few AK beers, if you want to swap.
  26. SHIG

    SHIG Initiate (36) Mar 5, 2007 Alaska
    Beer Trader

    Not sure if you'll have much free time or staying in anchorage, but I'm always down to meet up for a beer. I'm currently on R&R from my deployment so I'm free Monday-Thursday next week.
  27. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (4,684) Sep 24, 2007 Washington
    Beer Trader

  28. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (5,082) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Thanks for sending kegs of your Billiken Bitter Ale to Casper WY. I bought a Howler of it yesterday and it was delicious.
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