Recently, I had the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in Alaska. It was also 2 weeks with my parents, sister, brother-in-law and niece, but still, it was in ALASKA!
As we were there anyway, I decided to conduct my own “Beer Tour” of the areas we visited.
First up : Denali Brewing Company, in Talkeetna, AK.
Some of the beers we tried in the tasting room: Mother Ale (6.2% ABV, 46 IBU’s), Single Engine Red (5.9%ABV, 46 IBU’s), Twister Creek IPA (6.7% ABV, 71 IBU’s), Chuli Stout (5.9%ABV, 55 IBU’s). I was surprised by the variety of beers they were doing, and the quality. Many times, these small town places put out mediocre products, but can succeed because they are the only beer in town – not so here at Denali Brewing. Each brew was well balanced and solid in it’s own right. The stout really didn’t do anything for me, but the Mother Ale was rich and flavorful, the hops were a great player in the flavor, but not overpowering. The surprise from the taster line up was the Gypsy Rose – a traditional Belgian style witbier, dry hopped with rosebuds. Sounds like it was a springtime seasonal, but it was satisfying and intriguing.
Next stop: Silver Gulch, Fairbanks.
To be fair, we didn’t actually make it out to Silver Gulch – it was too far to walk from where we were staying , and the timing just never worked out to get there. But we did try 2 of their brews at the Salmon Bake. Copper Creek Amber Ale with Willamette hops. It was mild, pleasant and refreshing ( 4.8% ABV, 33 IBU’s ). We also tried the Coldfoot Pilsner (5.2% ABV, 33 IBU’s), which again, was refreshing, just not memorable. Though I would mention that it had been a long, warm day, and beer reviewing was not necessarily the first priority of the night.
In Juneau: Bike & Brew Tour
We stepped off the pier in Juneau, and met our guides for the day, a pair from Cycle Alaska. We drove off to their shop, picked up the equipment trailer, and set off out towards the Mendenhall Glacier. Once they suited us up with our bikes, helmets, water,etc, we went through a safety lecture and then we were off! We biked roughly 9 miles through the Tongass National Forest, including a stop at the Glacier visitor center, for some great photos. Not being in top physical shape, I had worried about this tour – I was excited, but didn’t want to slow down more experienced people in our group. Our guide kept us at a fairly slow pace and there was really only one hill to speak of – so the tour was great for me, and my dad, who hasn’t been on a bike in more than 10 years. There were more experienced bikers in our group, but they seemed to enjoy the tour as well. Once the biking was done, it was time for the Brews!
Cycle Alaska dropped us off at The Hangar on the Wharf, an old airplane hangar sitting on pilings over the water. Sea planes seemed to be taking off from the water right below us every 5 minutes or so – another great photo opportunity. At the Hangar, we tried Alaskan Brewing’s Summer, White, IPA, and Stout. I’ll go into more detail about these later though. The stand out of the day was the Kenai River Brewing Naptown Nut Brown - which was complex and a little mysterious. Looking at their website, it is brewed with Pecans added to the mash, and darker malts for some coffee and chocolate flavors. It is definitely not your standard Nut Brown Ale.
From the Wharf, we took a city bus over to Alaskan Brewing – I’ll pick up here in the next blog entry!