Alaska Wineries & Breweries
Even if you’re not the kind of beer fan who sports a waxed mustache and skinny jeans while quaffing your favorite new IPA, it’s hard not to notice the nationwide emergence of a fast-growing industry—the craft beer revolution.
Even though a large chunk of our beautiful state sits above the 66th parallel, isolated from its lower 48 brothers and sisters, Alaska is not one to miss the bus. In fact, one might argue that Alaska is driving the bus, carving out its own niche in an industry thriving with growth and excitement.
At the moment, Alaska boasts an impressive count of almost 40 breweries — and the number changes regularly. With its total population teetering around 800,000, Alaska is ranked sixth in the nation for the number of breweries per capita. How can a small population support so many breweries? The answer: Community-driven success. Alaskans aren’t easily impressed, and just another fizzy yellow beer, without any character behind it, isn’t going to make the cut. Statewide, our breweries work hard to fuse their Alaskan spirit and creativity, from grain to glass. Passion is infused in every step of the brewing process, bringing high-quality ales and lagers to local taprooms filled with smiling patrons.
There Must Be Something in the Water
So what makes Alaska craft beer so special? For one thing, Alaska must source the majority of its brewing ingredients and equipment from Outside. With the high shipping costs to such a remote state, life as a brewery owner in Alaska is serious (and often risky) business.
But one can’t overlook the fact that Alaska has one of the cleanest and most abundant resources that is vital to a beer’s quality: Water. Indeed, we have lots of it. Our watersheds are born from the source—glacial ice and snowmelt—producing cold, clean, and soft water. It’s a brewer’s dream. Since 90 percent of beer by volume is water, Alaska breweries are able to produce some of the cleanest, most true-to-style ales and lagers in the country.
Alaska’s Beer Map
From the Golden Heart City of Fairbanks (just 200 miles from the Arctic Circle) to Sitka (only 900 miles from Seattle), Alaska’s 32 Breweries are spread over a large geographical distance. Some of these breweries fall off our limited road system and are only accessible by boat or airplane. So, if you plan on visiting them all in one trip, fuel up the Super Cub and get busy. (Otherwise, you can also take a few good road or rail tours that help point the way—and do the driving for you—like Big Swig Tours, led out of Anchorage by Alaska beer expert Bryan Caenepeel.)
The good news is that the majority of our breweries sit along the most traveled route, between Fairbanks and the Kenai Peninsula.
If you are starting your trip up north in Fairbanks, you must visit HooDoo Brewing Co., a small community brewery that has a strong following amongst locals. Enjoy their Kölsch and sit back to mingle with the locals, and learn what life is like in the land of extremes. Before you rush out of town, poke your head into Black Spruce Brewing (a 3-mile drive from Hoodoo), a new player in the Fairbanks Craft Beer scene.
Denali & Talkeetna
Making your way south toward Denali National Park, your next stop could be 49th State Brewing Co., in Healy, which is just a stone’s throw from the national park entrance and far enough away from the crowds. (Their food is as good as their beer, too.) If your travels find you in the quaint climbing mecca of Talkeetna, grab a beer and a bite at Denali Brewing Co.'s brewpub on Main Street in downtown Talkeetna, or visit the production brewery and tasting room at mile 3 of the Talkeetna Spur Road, on the way out of town. Since 2009, this thriving brewery has not only become one of the largest employers in the area, but also the second-largest brewery in the state. This is the only brewery in the state to not only hold a brewery license, but also a distillery and winery license. If beer is not your thing, try their handcrafted gin, vodka, whiskey, ciders, or mead- fermented honey wine. All of which showcase the creativity and talents of Denali Brewing Co.
MatSu Valley & Eagle River
Continuing south toward Anchorage, you will drive through the infamous town of Wasilla, AK. A short detour off the Parks Hwy. in Wasilla, you will find one of the fastest growing breweries in the Mat-Su Valley. Bearpaw River Brewing Company is the dream of four brothers that grew up in Wasilla. Jed, Jack, Jake, and James Wade have come together to grow something great in their home town. A community driven tap-room and production brewery delivering high quality ales and lagers. Keep an eye on these guys, the sky is the limit. The distance between great breweries shrinks from hours to minutes if you find yourself in the historic colonial farming community of Palmer, AK. Palmer is quickly becoming a brewery town surrounded by a farming community. 3 fantastic breweries are nestled amongst the backdrop of the towering Chugach and Talkeetna mountains. All within a short drive of one another, it’s easy to hit all 3. Starting with the oldest brewery in Palmer, June and Steven Gerteisen opened Arkose Brewery in 2011. Combining craft brewing expertise with Alaska attitude, traditional German heritage, and visionary west coast roots, Arkose Brewery always has some fun seasonal beers to compliment their core beer lineup. Just a stones throw away from Arkose is the smallest production brewery in the state, Bleeding Heart Brewing Co. Tucked away on an original colonial homestead farm, this is a must see brewery. The beers are as unique as the farm animals and local “wildlife” meandering the property. After fueling up on some tasty bites at the Palmer Ale House, stop in for a quick beer at the newest yet largest brewery in Palmer, Matanuska Brewing Co. Located in the historic Matanuska Maid dairy facility dating back to the 1930’s, this newly renovated facility opened its doors in May of 2018. Head brewer and partner, Kevin Burton, helped open this brewery with over 20 years of brewing experience at the Glacier Brewhouse, in Anchorage.
As you continue south toward Anchorage, and begin assimilating back to city life, make a “quick” stop through Eagle River at one of the most creative taprooms in the state, Odd Man Rush Brewing. Drawing on their deep roots in the local hockey community, OMR has fused their passion of hockey and beer to create a one-of-a-kind, hockey-themed community brewery. CAUTION: it’s easy to fall in love with this one.
Anchorage: Big City Alaska Beer
Finally, you made it to Anchorage! The reward: Alaska’s biggest city means the highest concentration of breweries in the state. With nine breweries currently in the Anchorage Bowl, you won’t have to drive far to find world-class beer.
All of the breweries in Anchorage are worth a visit, but if you want to some of the best in town without UBERing far between breweries, go to the southside and enter the “Brew”muda triangle: Start at King Street Brewing Co. brand-spanking-new state of the art brewery and enjoy its flagship beer, the King Street IPA. After grabbing a four-pack of IPA tall-boy cans for tomorrow’s fishing charter, head right next door to Anchorage Brewing Co. and familiarize yourself with the art of oak-aged beers brewed with brettanomyces, a complex wild yeast that gives beer abundant flavors. Finish off the “Brew”muda Triangle at Anchorage’s oldest brewery, Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Its tagline—“Bold Beer. Brewed Here”—sums it up. If you’re feeling frisky and have some gas left in your tank, visit the newest brewery to the triangle, Turnagain Brewing. With deep roots in science and beer geekery, Ted and Mary Rosenzweig, have hit the AK beer scene with some of the most authentic sours and classic Belgian style beers in town. If you want to mingle with the locals, get off the beaten tourist path, and sip some of the best beer in town head to the Triangle or take a tour with BIG SWIG, and go behind the scenes to get a closer look and meet the wonderful people behind the beer.
If you’re into the off-the beaten path style, don’t sleep on Resolution Brewing Co. on the eastside of town and Cynosure Brewing in the up and coming SOMITO- South of Mid town district. Both breweries have gone against the grain and focus primarily on lagers and Belgian-influenced ales. They are both worth making a fews u-turns over when Google Maps fails you. While in SOMITO don’t forget to swing by the largest distillery in the state, Anchorage Distillery, and the ever so popular Double Shovel Cider Co. all within a mile of Cynosure Brewing. As you can see, you might need to go ahead and start planning your Alaskan beer-cation!
Kenai Peninsula Brews
If your travels find you on the Kenai Peninsula, chances are that a brewery is not far away. Only 40 minutes south of Anchorage is our ski town, Girdwood. Swing by for a cold-one at one of the most iconic taprooms in Southcentral AK, Girdwood Brewing Co. Celebrating 2 years as an anchor in the Girdwood community, cozy up in their inviting taproom, take in the views, mingle with the locals, and enjoy a handcrafted pint.
Soldotna is the epicenter for craft beer on the peninsula. You can fuel up on brick-oven pizza and wash it down with a Flower Child XPA at St. Elias Brewing. Just down the road is Kenai River Brewing Co., another worthy stop on the banks of the world famous Kenai River. Feeling adventurous? Travel another 20 minutes north to Nikiski to visit Kassiks Brewery—good proof that you sometimes have to get off the beaten path to find the gems.
If you find yourself at the end of the road in Homer, AK you have 2 great options to enjoy local suds. One of the oldest breweries in the state, Homer Brewing Co. is open daily brewing delicious ales since 1996. Celebrate a great day of fishing at Grace Ridge Brewing which you have to pass as you are leaving the Homer Spit. Convenient or coincidence? It doesn’t matter. Wine lover? Stop at Bear Creek Winery, established in 2003.
Speaking of off-the-beaten-path breweries, a few of our state’s smallest breweries are located in the remote areas of SE Alaska. Dating back to the Gold Rush Boom in late 1800s, small breweries have always been a part of the community landscape in these regions. Kodiak, Haines, Hoonah, Skagway, and Sitka all boast wonderful local breweries, providing handmade ales for their small communities and visitors. If you find yourself in one of these watering holes, soak up the ambiance and consider yourself lucky. Many Alaskans never get to visit these outlying breweries.
Juneau: Alaska’s Capital of Beer
An article about Alaskan craft beer wouldn’t be complete without mentioning where it all began: Alaskan Brewing Co., in Juneau, which opened its doors in 1985. Today, it is one of the top 20 largest breweries in the United States. Visit the brewery and see how Alaskan blazed a trail that others could follow in this growing industry.
While in the Capital City, check out Devil’s Club Brewing, Barnaby Brewing, and Juneau’s only distillery, Amalga.
No matter where your beer travels take you, though, you’ll find fantastic local beer. Stop in and sip at the source—and mingle with the locals. After all, that’s the spirit behind the community craft brewery model, and Alaska breweries will welcome you with open arms.
Wineries & Breweries
How unique is the 49th State? For starters, it’s the only brewpub restaurant here that serves Alaskan yak, in the form of a yak burger. Or tuck into the buffalo meatloaf, a specialty. Don’t miss the housemade Bavarian pretzel. And Fridays bring a special treat — a pig roast, with a pig from a local farm, roasted in ale and smoked over alder wood
The Glacier Brewhouse is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Meals are served in a large rustic dining area, complete with a fireplace in the middle, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere that’s always abuzz with conversation. Here you can enjoy fresh seafood and meats while sampling a spectrum of homemade beers. Before or after you meal, be sure to check out the brewing equipment on display through the glass wall.
Craft beer, locally sourced food, and a terrific location in the heart of downtown Anchorage all add up to a can’t‑miss experience. Dine inside the two-story restaurant, or step upstairs to the rooftop deck for magnificent views of the Alaska Range and Cook Inlet.
Originally the Fox Roadhouse, this old-style building has been renovated to house a brewery and brew pub. Ten miles from Fairbanks, the brewery has at least a dozen house-made beers on tap, and a huge selection of bottled brews, many of which can’t be found anywhere else in town. There’s a large, open beer garden out back, ideal for summer nights. And the food’s great.
Homer Brewing Company opened its doors in 1996 and has been a local fixture ever since. The brewery is open 7 days a week, until about 6pm (hours vary slightly, so it doesn’t hurt to call ahead). While there isn’t an official tour, you’re welcome to look around while you enjoy your brew.
This is a local favorite that serves what could be the best pizza in Alaska. It’s also a microbrewery. That said, its crowded and loud. They don’t accept reservations and a wait isn’t unheard of. But there is plenty of space inside and outside to wait for your table. And, you can even enjoy a brew (or a homemade cream soda or root beer) while you wait.
Serving up locally brewed beers in a fun, family-friendly pub atmosphere, St. Elias is a favorite with locals and travelers. It draws a crowd and can get loud and a little wild if they have live music. But without a band, it’s a fun, happening place. They have a great deck for nice afternoons, serve sampler flights of their beer and have great pizza and big salads.
Arkose Brewery is named after Arkose Ridge and Arkose Peak in the Talkeetna Mountain Range of Palmer, Alaska. You can enjoy a pint of artisan ales, take a brewery tour (every Tuesday at 6 p.m.) or attend one of our fun events such as Beer Meets Canvas and Beer Meets Chocolate. Find Arkose beer at many locations throughout the state. See our website and facebook page for more information. Cheers!
Bobby Wilken, Owner and Brewmaster, walks visitors behind the counter and through the process from raw grains (stacked in the back corner) to finished beer, which takes three weeks from start to completion. Visitors get a close-up view of the mill, production vessels, and stainless steel storage and fermentation tanks through which the beer must pass. Bobby, an approachable and passionate businessman, breaks down the significance of each step ...more
Enjoy a glass in the tasting room, or pick your favorite to go. Beers are available in 6‑packs, 64 oz. growlers, and kegs for larger gatherings. Favorites include Skilak Scottish and Sunken Island IPA. Now also serving food Monday — Saturday, 12pm — 8pm, with Brunch on Sunday 11am — 2pm.
Established in 1986, the Alaskan Brewing Co was the first brewery to open in Juneau after Prohibition. Stop in for a guided tasting to sample a variety of brew uniquely created by the owners to reflect flavors similar to those of the Gold Rush Era. Gift Shop and Tasting Hours Winter: October — April: 11 a.m. — 6:00 p.m., Monday — Saturday Summer: May — September: 11 a.m. — 7 p.m., 7 days a week
Alaska may not be known for its wines, but it is famous for its great berries — full flavors that make for wonderful wines. At this small winery and B&B in Homer, you can taste and purchase a compelling mix of award-winning fruit wines and fruit grape wine blends.