James 'Dr. Fermento' Roberts

James 'Dr. Fermento' Roberts

If you’ve ever wanted to get your foot in the brewing world’s door, now’s the time. Virtually every brewery in the state is looking for help. Like in all industries, it seems like Americans aren’t returning to work post-pandemic like labor and economic forecasters thought they would. There are a lot of reasons for this, and I’m not about to go into the political side of the issue – that doesn’t fit my singular writing objective of “making people thirsty for good beer” – but the bottom line is that, if you want in, now’s the time. Servers, publicans and tap room attendants seem to be in high demand, but there’s room in the brewery, too, if you want to get your boots wet and stir the mash with the big boys and girls in the industry.

Consider that you might have to start out washing kegs and doing some basic maintenance and cleaning chores in one of Alaska’s craft breweries, but you have to start somewhere, and even the lower, basic brewery functions are instrumental in creating a great brewer. 

Do you need a success story? Consider Anchorage Brewing Company’s Gabe Fletcher. Fletcher started out washing kegs at Midnight Sun Brewing Company 23 years ago and look where he is now. Fletcher is one of the most respected brewers on the globe, and he didn’t know squat when he started.

“I definitely didn’t know anything, but within a year and a half, I became head brewer,” says Fletcher of his defining experience in craft brewing’s formative years in Alaska. It just takes a dream, a desire, and willingness to invest in climbing to the top. 


Elsewhere in the local brewing world:

I’ve been holed up in Hope for most of July, so I missed it, but Anchorage Brewing Company’s Sent By Liars is a knee-knocking, palate blowing imperial stout that weighs in at 15 percent alcohol by volume. It’s not all booze. The heady brew was fermented, then aged in Missouri oak barrels. It was transferred on to over 1,000 pounds of hazelnuts that the brewers roasted in Anchorage Brewing’s pizza oven. To that, Madagascar vanilla beans and toasted coconut were added for the finish. According to the brewery, “the result tastes like chocolate covered biscotti with a sprinkle of roasted hazelnut on top.”  It’s sold out, so I might have to search the secondary market to get a copy of this one. 

There are rumors that after a visit from New Belgium Brewing Company’s pilot brewer Kelly McNight, 49th State Brewing Company will be releasing a tropical cocktail-inspired beer in August. Anything 49th State Brewing Company makes is good. At the world class brewing prowess of one of America’s heritage breweries – New Belgium – and a whole lot of interest is added. I can’t say I’m a huge “cocktail beer” fan, but I’ve been surprised before, so I’ll be waiting this one out. 

Girdwood Brewing Company’s DysFUNKtional Fruited Sour can be hauled off site from the brewery in four-pack cans now; a new addition to the increased portability of this brewery’s excellent suds that aren’t distributed widely, so if you’re down that way or passing through, someone bring me back some, willya?

For the unstoppable IPA fans in the mix, this week, Glacier Brewhouse has Daytime IPA, an incredible, sessionable IPA at a low 4.4 percent alcohol by volume featuring Mosaic and Citra hops, perfect for packing a growler in your cooler for outside summer adventures. 

I’m forever drawn to Glacier’s Hefeweizen, a very stylistic, Bavarian style wheat beer that’s one of the most authentic around. Looking ahead, anticipate a fireweed blond being produced for Priceless, Alaska’s anti-human trafficking organization, and a Tangerine IPA being brewed for Tent City Alehouse. 

Despite the heat, every now and then I get serious craving for something a little darker, and with a little more flavor than lighter pilsners, blondes, and golden ales. I’m not talking about big, bold bodacious stouts and the knee-knocker class dark beers, but something mild, flavorful and easy drinking.

Right now, a great “respite beer” is Cynosure’s English Style Brown Ale. It’s malty, it’s biscuit-y, it’s dry, and not hop forward like some of the American counterparts. 

This is welcome because I’m not seeing a lot of brown or amber ales these days; styles I dearly love, that seem to have migrated to the shadows of over the top IPAs right now. This is a no-miss winner in my book, so get after it while it’s around. 

No matter what you’re doing or what you like to drink, there’s plenty out there – near and far – from our local breweries that’s likely to please your palate. Seek it out, chase it down and celebrate what’s left of summer with it. 




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