For true beer snobs and craft beer enthusiasts, the idea of taking a “beercation” has come into vogue in recent years. If you’re not familiar with the idea, basically you pick a location that is known for having a high concentration of great craft beer (Portland, OR, Seattle, San Francisco, Asheville, NC, San Diego, etc.) and you spend a vacation exploring the beer culture there. You hit up breweries, great beer bars, and yes, even the local non-beer-related sights (it’s still a vacation, after all). It’s a great combo because you get to try regional brews that you don’t normally have access to while resting and unwinding, plus the opportunity to experience other areas of the country. It’s like travel, history, fun, relaxation, inebriation and mystery all rolled into one!
If you’re someone that is starting to become a veteran of beercations and you’re looking to take it to the next level, it’s time to plan your trip to Alaska. Yep, Alaska. Take it from me, I’ve been three times (prior to the existence of this blog) and my fourth trip starts in a couple of days. I understand that Alaska may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of great beer destinations, but believe me it is. There are far more breweries than you would expect considering the relatively sparse population and I think a lot of this has to do with location. It’s very expensive to ship beer up from the lower 48, so I think a lot of places just started brewing their own. Local beer is everywhere in Alaska and they were ahead of the craft beer curve, with many craft breweries opening before the nationwide craft beer boom.
So what’s the best way to explore this beer frontier? My suggestion is to fly to Anchorage, rent an SUV (with 4-wheel drive), and see the state on your terms. Give yourself plenty of time, as there are great breweries from Homer all the way to Fairbanks. Stay in all the brew towns along the way so you can drink and mingle with the locals while in walking distance to your hotel. You can then press onward the next day. This road trip style will also provide you with a ton of Alaska’s other great resource, amazing scenery. There will be no shortage of breathtaking views on your journey, and I’ve found they make for a decent hangover cure.
The last thing I’d like to point out is you’ll get an interesting diversity of beer because a lot of Alaskan breweries use local ingredients that you don’t see often elsewhere. The last time I was in Skagway I got to enjoy a lovely Spruce Tip Ale from Skagway Brewing Co., which was brewed with real spruce tips. The brewers in Alaska can be quite creative, after all this is the state that brought us Smoked Salmon Vodka, Fireweed Jelly and Reindeer Sausage. Take the the opportunity to embrace it all because you’re on beercation! However, if you can’t make the trip anytime soon just stay tuned to this blog, as we’re sending the whole crew on this latest trip and we’re hoping to partake of at least 6-10 breweries depending on how things play out. Needless to say, the reviews will start rolling in not long after.