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Local brewers kick off Alaska Beer Week

By KTVA CBS 11 News 9:12 PM January 9, 2015

Alaska Beer Week is something locals wait for all year long, and brings together brewers and connoisseurs alike from all over the state to celebrate Alaska’s unique and diverse taste.

Glacier Brewhouse is going big with 22 brews on tap, like Oatmeal Stout and an Oak Aged Peated Scotch Ale. Head brewer Kevin Burton said with so many choices, it’s hard to choose a favorite.

“They’re kind of like you’re children. You don’t like to say. You just let people find out,” he laughed.

The company brews 100,000 gallons every year. Burton said Beer Week is a time to meet up with other brewers to celebrate what makes Alaska great.

“Beer. Beer keeps everything going. You can’t do anything without beer,” Burton said.

At the Midnight Sun Brewing Company, head brewer Lee Ellis knows how much Alaskans love their beer; their production is up 25 percent over last year.

“In the winter time we can usually leave work and go out to lunch and have a good time. Not this year,” Ellis said. “We had about two weeks where we were slow and able to shut down our brewhouse for one week to do some remodeling. That’s it. Otherwise, we’ve been in full production.”

Upstairs in the tasting room staff will release a number of new beers throughout the week, including one so fresh they don’t know what to call it.

“I’m very excited about this, we haven’t named it yet so we’re working on that. It’s a sea salt caramel chocolate porter that will be coming out at the end of the week,” said Darcy Kniefel, Midnight Sun’s beer ambassador.

The craft brew phenomenon has taken over in the past few years. The Beer Institute estimates the brewing industry has had a $226 million economic impact on the Last Frontier.

Kniefel said while our state may not have as many breweries as states in the Lower 48, we probably have some of the best beers around.

“With brewing I think Alaskans take a lot greater care with their beer,” she explained. “I think we also have incredible water that adds to the best parts of our beer. We’re just really crazy creative people. In those dark nights when these guys are writing recipes they’re doing amazing things.”

AK Beer Week culminates in the Beer and Barley Wine Festival on Jan. 16 and 17 at the Egan Center in downtown Anchorage.

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