Assistant brewer Bart Chelmo of Glacier Brewhouse // © 2014 Glacier Brewhouse
Alaska’s 23 craft breweries and brewpubs offer excitement and cultural immersion that shout “The Last Frontier” like no other experience. Earmark the following options for clients searching out the best in local tourism.
Denali Brewing Company
Denali Brewing Company is located on a spur road that ends in the tiny town of Talkeetna. This brewpub reflects the self-sufficient archetype of the rural Alaskan way of life.
Sassan Mossanen, general manager of Denali Brewing, said it best: “Our company and our beers represent the quirky, fun, self-sufficient, hard-working individualism you’ll find in Talkeetna-area residents.”
Denali brews beer with traditional ingredients as well as local highbush cranberries and wild rose hips. Their Purple Haze brew includes wild Alaskan blueberries.
“Our brew names are more than catchy phrases to us,” said Mossanen. “Our most popular beer, Single Engine Red, is named after all the single-engine small airplanes in Alaska.”
Their Twister Creek Restaurant earns high marks from locals and visitors as well.
“Everything we make is from scratch,” said Mossanen. “We buy all our items from local farmers and bakers. Our kitchen receives more than 400 different ingredients.”
The result is superb brew and menu item pairings. Tell clients to feel free to ask staff for details about their fare, as well as for help with pairings. It’s expected and welcome here.
HooDoo Brewing Company
Many breweries in Alaska offer only a tasting room and no food service, yet this should not deter visitors from checking out HooDoo Brewing Company in Fairbanks. Named after the Hoodoo Mountains to the south, the brewery is tucked away in an industrial and historic railroad yard of Fairbanks.
Owners Bobby and Jessica Wilken started the brewery in 2011, and with a crew of five employees, they make and serve new batches of beer each week to a diverse customer base.
HooDoo offers refined elegance in brewing with a rustic patronage. Their tasting room gives visitors a great immersive introduction to local characters. Clients can intermingle with everyday Alaskans, including university professors, pipeline workers or grizzled bush pilots who delight in telling real-life tales of the Far North. This eclectic mix always enjoys talking to tourists about their Alaskan lifestyle, and they will not hesitate to offer insightful opinions on nearby sights. Oh, and HooDoo also offers some of the best brews in the state.
Anchorage residents flock to the Glacier Brewhouse (GBH) for good reason — its wood-fired oven and state-of-the-art brewery are impressive, and its massive rock fireplace provides a rustic feel that patrons love.
The open kitchen — with bursts of flame shooting up from pans filled with seafood — and rows of tables with hungry patrons also contribute to the ambience of this bustling brewpub. Its energy may be too noisy for some, but perfect for others.
Senior manager Carole Kite strongly recommends reservations. There can be a two-hour wait during the summer months for a table, but the bar has open seating and offers food service.
GBH features seasonal brews such as Plum Saison, as well as Alaskan fresh-catch dishes that often include beer as an ingredient. Halibut encrusted with macadamia nuts and spent grain is a menu highlight. The pizza dough here has amber ale as an ingredient, and the rotisserie chicken is brined in GBH’s own oatmeal stout. Kite says their most popular appetizer is the tempura amber ale fried cod, a zesty variation to beer-battered halibut.
With more and more tourists clamoring for authentic local experiences, Alaska’s brewpubs provide a great way for clients to mix with residents for a truly Alaskan encounter.