Here we were lead through tasting Alaskan's Amber, Summer Ale, Pale Ale and White Ale by one of the ship's bartenders. I think hands down our favorite here was the Amber, but I also quite enjoyed the white ale. It wasn't really the most informative tasting, but certainly a fun way to spend an afternoon at sea.
Our first port in Alaska was Juneau, the home of Alaskan Brewing. Downtown they have a shop where you can purchase t-shirt, glasses and other goodie, but they can also arrange to be driven to the brewery for a tasting and "tour" for $12.
Like Summit here in Minnesota, Alaskan is celebrating its 25th Anniversary which meant we were lucky enough to get to try their celebration ale, Perseverance, a Russian Imperial Stout flavored with Alaskan birch syrup. It was so good and we were lucky enough to find a couple bottles at our local liquor store when we got home.
I did say this was a brewery tour, well sort of. Basically, you get about 5 - 6 tastings and then there is an informal presentation about the history of Alaskan Brewing and how they have dealt with the special issues of being a brewery in Alaska. I have to say we were really impressed with their sustainable brewing practices.
Our next stop was Skagway where we visited the Skagway Brewing Company which has been in business since 1897. It's a really friendly brewpub that seemed to be populated by tourists and locals alike.
Matt tried a sampler of four of their beers which he really enjoyed, but I went for the beer they are most know for the Spruce Tip Blonde. Yes, this is a beer make with the tender young tips of spruce trees. Apparently, when miners came to Alaska the lack of fresh citrus caused them to suffer from scurvy. The natives showed them how to make a drink from spruce tips which are full of Vitamin C. The miners then turned that into beer. It was surprisingly tasty with a slight floral, orange scent and flavor. It's inspired Matt and I to try our own hand at making some.
Our final port was Seward where we visited the Resurrection Roadhouse. Despite being basically a hotel bar they had a wonderful selection of Alaskan microbrews and a bartender who knew something about them. Here we were able to try Moose Tooth Beer out of Anchorage, Kenai River Beer from Soldotna, Midnight Sun Beer from Anchorage, Glacier Brewhouse from Anchorage and Kassik's Brewery from Kenai. Ok, we didn't try them all, but I really loved the Moose Tooth Raspberry Wheat and Matt like the Glacier Brewhouse Oatmeal Stout. The bartender recommended we visit Glacier Brewhouse when we were in Anchorage the next day.
Well, it just so happened the Glacier Brewhouse was right across the street from our hotel, fate! Luckily, he had also recommended we make a reservation, because I think everyone else in Anchorage was there too. Sure there were lots of people from tours like ours, but there were also lots of people who were definitely local. The food was great, in a warm, noisy setting. The beer was also fantastic, we especially enjoyed the special beers they had on tap while we were there.
We had hoped to make it to Silver Gulch Brewery in Fox outside of Fairbanks, touted as America's most northern brewery. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a hike from our hotel and we were tired after a long day of touring. Guess we have something to look forward to next time.
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