One of my hobbies, if you can ascribe it with that name, is to sample as many locally produced beers as I can when I visit a new area. I call it drinking with a purpose. A recent trip to Alaska provided me with ample opportunity to prospect for beers previously unknown to me. And what a treasure trove it proved to be.
Still in Skagway, off the main road but nearer the cruise ship jetty I found the Klondike Brewing Company. There was a nice walled garden area which enabled me to take in the unexpected Alaskan sun and to offset some of the effects of the beer I had chosen from their extensive menu. Hammer Stone Double IPA had an impressive ABV of 8.9% and was dark, hoppy, and piney with a hint of citrus. It was delicious but one was enough. It was a good job I had a ship to catch.
I had heard there was a new brewery in Ketchikan and in the hour or so I had free in the town, I decided to track it down. Tucked away from the main drag is the Bawden Street Brewing Company, which opened as recently as July 16, 2018. There was a tasting room to the side of the brewhouse in an Alaskan log cabin style. It was all a bit spit and sawdust but I was here to sample the beer, the menu for which was written on a piece of brown paper hung up over the bar.
All the beers on offer were phenomenally strong. It was as if Sean Heismann, the lone brewer, was on a mission to brew the widest range of strong beers known to man and there was something of the mad professor about him as we saw him inspecting the latest batches. I selected an amber, Biere de Garde, which with an ABV of 8.2% was one of the tamer ales on offer. It was coppery gold in colour, malty with a hint of spice, and wouldn’t have been out of place in a Belgian bar.
I had just time, before boarding my ship, to pop into the Totem Bar and sample a glass of Single Engine Red, brewed by the Denali Brewing Company from Talkeetna in Alaska. It was an Irish Red Ale in style with an ABV of 5.9%. Its name was selected by customers in a poll. It could have been worse, I suppose, it could have been Boaty McBoatface. It had an intensely reddish amber colour, a nutty taste, and was slightly bitter.
Alaska’s burgeoning micro-brewery industry is certainly making waves.