Despite being the toughest state on beer regulation in the country, Alaska’s craft community is growing into a diverse, delicious landscape. With popular events like the Alaska Beer Week, which attracts over 60 breweries and thousands of drinkers from around the United States, Anchorage in particular is evolving into the go-to northern beer destination. So, if you find yourself taking the three-and-a-half hour flight from Seattle to the Great White North with a thirst, be sure to check-out these rising brewers.
Head brewer Gabe Fletcher is nothing short of an Alaskan legend. Since opening the doors of Anchorage Brewing in fall of 2016, Fletcher and his crew have released some of the most coveted pours on the global craft scene, like the Deal with the Devil barleywine which many revere as one of the top examples of the style in the world. Really, a trip to his oak foeders-decorated taproom is a necessity for beer drinks. With an ever-rotating tap list, it’s impossible to recommend what beer to try. But we will say, Fletcher prides himself in his barrel-aging and sour-culture skills, so if an option includes either of those processes, you’re in for a treat.
Midnight Sun Brewing
Create a family tree of brewers in Anchorage, and chances are most of them stem from some relationship to Midnight Sun. After all, this is the oldest brewery in Anchorage and second in the entire state. With so many years of experience under their belts, the team at Midnight Sun tackles over 40 different types of ales and lagers, with their barrel-aged and barleywine options being some of the most coveted. The brewery claims the key to its flavorful pours is the water used in the brew process, which is glacier-fed from the nearby Chugach Mountains. Stop by the taproom for a delicious bite to eat and nice cold pour to experience the difference it makes for yourself.
Owners Amber Jackson and Tom Chambers are both experienced climbers, yet in different disciplines of the sport — Jackson’s focus is bouldering and sport climbing competitions, while Chambers is a retired mountaineering guide who has summited some of the tallest peaks from Alaska to Antarctica. Now, the young couple has opened a climbing-themed brewery which reflects their adventurous spirits: Onsite Brewing. “Onsite” is a climbing term which means to successfully ascend a route on the first attempt without falling and with no beta (tips from others who have previously climbed the route). With this intentional, double-meaning name in place, the brew-duo hosted their grand opening party in January, attracting hundreds of locals, including Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, to try flavor-packed pours like the jalapeño kölsch and a brut session IPA.
While some locals sip on dark beers with high ABVs to get them through Alaska’s brutal winter, others still prefer relaxing with a light and crisp pours, like the offerings at Cynosure Brewing. Open for less than four years, this small crew focuses specifically on lager and Belgian-style brews. So if you plan on stopping by the cozy taproom, don’t be looking for an IPA or barleywine. Instead, experience the taste of Old World brewing with an option like the Grade-A grisette of Spiced Dark strong ale. Pair one of the classic-influenced beers with a delicious plate from the rotating Food Truck vendor, and you’ll be living that Anchorage locals’ life.