Drink Your Way Through Alaska With These Non-Beer Breweries
February 2019 | By Lisa Maloney | 3 minute read
Alaska is renowned for its concentration of beer microbreweries — and rightly so! But creative brewers and bottlers in Alaska are pulling together a lot more than “just” beer. From vodka to hard cider and locally brewed kombucha, here’s a look at the many ways you can drink your way through the country’s largest, wildest state.
If you’re a teetotaler or simply curious about the non-alcoholic side of things, try local kombucha on tap. This light, refreshing drink is made from a base of fermented black tea and lacks the stringy residue and strong vinegar flavor often found in store-bought bottles. Instead, kombucha on tap is slightly tart, a little fizzy and mildly sweet, flavored with fresh berries, fruit and herbs.
Local kombucha on draft can be found in dozens of restaurants and breweries throughout Southcentral Alaska. You can even stop in one of the local kombucha taprooms — 203 Kombucha in Palmer and Zip Kombucha in Anchorage — to sample their products and tote out your very own mini growler for the RV or hotel room.
There’s no arguing beer is king in Alaska. But two Southcentral Alaska cideries and tap rooms — Alaska Ciderworks in Talkeetna and Double Shovel Cider Company in Anchorage — are pressing hard to revive what was once the most popular drink in the nation.
Cider’s crisp, refreshing taste is a result of fermented fruit juice — particularly apples, which grow well in the region. And hey, if you’re traveling with celiac disease or food sensitivities, cider is brewed without malt. That makes it naturally gluten-free.
Ah, the finer stuff in life — or fine spirits, at least. The grains used to distill spirits like vodka, gin and whiskey grow well in Alaska. Pair that with our seemingly endless sources of fresh, clean water, then add in creative local ingredients like spruce tips and assorted herbs, and you have the perfect ingredients for farm-to-bottle production.
Some of Alaska’s smallest distilleries, like Port Chilkoot Distillery in Haines, have already made outsize waves by receiving national recognition. But you’ll find many distilleries dotted throughout Alaska in cities like Juneau, Skagway, Sterling, Fairbanks and of course Anchorage. And don’t miss the chance to tour the Arctic Harvest Distillery near the North Pole. Every step of the spirit-making process — from planting to harvesting, malting, fermenting and distilling — happens at the family-owned facility.
Alaska may be the land of the midnight sun, but its relatively cool climate still has local vintners scratching their heads on how to set up a thriving traditional vineyard. Regardless, fruit wines made of locally grown fruits and berries are booming here.
Alaska Berries in Soldotna grows their own fruit for true Alaska Grown “bush to bottle” fruit wines, plus jams and syrups you can take home as souvenirs. Meanwhile, you can find many more family-owned wineries, such as Bear Creek Winery, which buys local fruit by the pound to make its wines, scattered throughout the state.
Best described as “honey wine,” mead is made from fermented honey, water and yeast. The world’s oldest alcoholic beverage is also one of the rarest in Alaska. Meaderies have faded in and out over the years until just one dedicated meadery — the Alaska Meadery of Talkeetna — was left carrying the torch. But you’ll also find a couple wineries producing their own version of “honey wine, ” including the versatile Bear Creek Winery in Homer.
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