Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tour and Tasting at Alaskan Brewing Co (Juneau, AK)

If you find yourself in Juneau, whether you're passing through on a cruise or spending some time there to hike the glacier, be sure to stop by the Alaskan Brewing Co.

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No mini tasting glasses here, very generous pours
If you don't have a car in Juneau, that's fine. There's a shuttle that runs hourly from their downtown store location (the "depot") on Franklin St to the brewery. The shuttle costs $15 round trip but, hey, once you get to the brewery you get to taste all their beers for free! The shuttle driver even gave me some fun historical anecdotes about Juneau. The brewery itself is in a somewhat industrial part of Juneau, with not much around it.
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You first get ushered in to the tasting room for their four standard beers while listening to the history of the brewery.
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The first brewery to operate in Alaska was in Anchorage, but it failed. That made the bank wary about lending money for breweries and the couple who started Alaskan Brewing Co. had a hard time finding bank investments. What did they do? Why, crowdfunding, of course!
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The couple went door to door and finally got 80 people to invest $5000 each. They spent all the initial money on investment and building and all that stuff that they forgot to hire people to do the bottling, so for the first release they put out an ad asking the community to come help them bottle in exchange for "a good time" (free beer!). This became the norm for many years with more and more locals coming out to drink beer bottle beers.
Next, they start a CO2 reclamation system since the CO2 tanks used to get damaged being shipped in barges. They haven't had to order CO2 in 12 years, also saving 10 million pounds of CO2 from being released into the air per year. Alaskan Brewing Co. also has the only generator in the world to use spent grain boiler (since 2012) so they don't have to ship it to Washington to get rid of it. This technology took 10 years to develop, but have saved 65% of fuel cost.  They call this "beer powered beer".

OK, history facts aside, let's go to the beers. Their flagship beer is the award winning Alaskan Amber Ale, based on a recipe from the Gold Rush era.
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I also liked the refreshing White Ale, with hints of coriander and citrus.
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So after the main tasting, we went out to the store and tap room, where you continue on and taste anything else they had on tap that you'd like to try.
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These include their experimental beers which are divided into "rough draft" and "pilot" series. The rough draft are being tested out locally, and if they do well, they go on for a wider (but still limited) distribution, dubbed the "pilot series". I told them I don't like hoppy beers but the guy in charge of the taps convinced me to try the Hopothermia, which is a Double IPA! He said I would love it, so I gave it a chance. I did love it, to my surprise. It was hoppy but very nicely balanced! Well, by convincing me to try Hopothermia, I meant that I actually tried pretty much all of them ... hey, they were driving me back to downtown Juneau anyway, right?

I wanted to buy a bottle to take home, so I grabbed one of the "pilot series" Pumpkin Porter, since it may not be available in LA!
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1 comments:

Jake Quarstad

Thanks for visiting us & supporting our craft. Thanks also for giving Hopothermia a try - We're pretty excited to have just released it in bottles! Come back soon.

-The Alaskan Brew Crew

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