Dr. Fermento's

James ‘Dr. Fermento’ Roberts

The two stupidest questions that I’m asked regularly are, “what’s your favorite beer?” and “have you ever been to Germany?”

Here’s my reasoning on the first question: Beer’s a very personal thing. It’s like pizza or sex. Ask a group of people about their favorite pizza or sexual position, and you’re likely to get a thousand different responses for a thousand different reasons. Beer’s like that. Beer’s as situational as it is personal, so I usually answer that question with “the one I have in my hand; I wouldn’t have ordered it if it wasn’t my favorite right here, right now and given the way I feel.”

As for the second question, I usually retort with “why?” Thirty years ago that may have been a valid question. It assumes that Germany — just because of its longevity with beer , makes better beer than anywhere else. That assumption has lost a lot of traction over the years. But any more, the beer right here at home here isn’t necessarily better — and in some cases it is — but it’s certainly more diverse and interesting. Although it’s good there, there’s no need to go to Germany to get an outstanding beer experience.

More inside

That aside, beer aficionados always dabble in the concept of favorites and best beers. We struggle with this, but some of us have a different approach. I use the “desert island six pack” approach. What six beers would I want to always have if I were stranded indefinitely? The rule is that I can take one beer out of the six pack and replace it with another. The theory is that the one beer that stays in the six pack the longest is a favorite.

For consideration, my longest six-pack resident — it had never been replaced before — was recently displaced. I have a feeling that this newest member of the elite will be the leader of the pack for quite some time. I won’t tell. If you know me well enough you probably already know what beer I’m referring to. More to come.

I got to thinking. What’s the best beer around these parts? How would I know? I’m back to that situational/personal thing again. Some beers stand out. How about if you help me figure it out?

I guess I could ask the breweries what their best selling beer is. I could survey my beer-loving friends about what their favorite local beer might be. How about a friendly competition?

Anchorage Press editor Matt Hickman is serious about craft beer. He loves the stuff. He’s not from up here, but when he arrived, he quickly realized how important beer is to our community, the positive economic beer has, and of course, just how flavorful our community brewed suds are.

Hickman and I drink together regularly. Beer is as communal as it is utilitarian and we’ll pick a different place that features local beer every time we gather and sit down over beers and talk about writing, literature, the paper and of course the prominent place beer’s had in the Anchorage Press since its inception. Since I’ve been writing each week for the Press for the last 22 years, I got a lot of street cred, so my input is as important to him as his writing and editing prowess is to me.

Our subjects vary. Around this time last year, we went back and forth over the definition of a dive bar and mentally walked and drank through Anchorage trying to define and find them. Other times we talk about the paper’s role in exposing readers to good beer around here. Almost always, we talk about the beers we’re drinking. We often talk about bests and favorites when it comes to beers.

What better way to determine Alaska’s best beer than a March Madness-style bracket, where each must survive and advance until the Final Four are decided upon in a live event, which will be decided on the weekend of May 4 at a live event.

If you’re reading this, you’re a discerning beer drinker. You have your own thoughts about what the best local beer is, so you get to weigh in. Get online at anchoragepress.com to vote for what you feel is the best and advocate with your beer loving beers to vote for their own. Monitor the site to see how the beers move forward to the final round. Thirty-two beers are in the mix; only four will make it to the live judging. I don’t want to pick the top beer myself and this is where I’ll need your help. Four other participants, one of which could be you, will step up to drink through these final four to distinguish a winner in this inaugural event that will take place around this time every year.

Care to join me in deciding a friendly little competition?

Why should I decide what our favorite beer is? I’m just a beer drinker with a writing problem, after all, and you know what you like as much as I do. Let’s get together and give Alaska something to drink about.


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