30 December 2012

The Northern Brewery Tour

When we set out on our Alaska trip, we had no idea we would wind up at the number of breweries and hot springs we actually did. The mountains of British Columbia and The Yukon have lots of hot springs, spread around pretty well making it easy to end long (or short) days of riding sitting in a hot pool of healing waters. Combine that with good beer from the local brewery and you also get an awesome night's sleep.

In the order we hit 'em.

Columbia Brewery--Creston, B.C.--Long before we left, during the planning stages of the trip, it was decided we would be making a breakfast stop at the Columbia Brewery in Creston, B.C. our fifth day out. Three years ago when Josh and Ian did the Mustache Ride up to B.C. and spent time in Revelstoke, they passed through Creston but didn't stop because the brewery was closed. Like the bakery I heard about for three years, I heard about this brewery for three years, and happily said we could stop by whatever time we got to town. Here in the states, the beer you would know best from them is Kokanee. But only if you're a hockey player.... Technically, the brewery was purchased a number of years ago by Pabst and is now owned by Anheuser-Busch. I don't hold that against them, though. I had the Kootenay True Ale--most of their other choices are lagers and I'm just not a lager girl. Sasquatch is their mascot, and we ran into him out in the parking lot.

This was the first sticker I got on the trip. It was all downhill from there for my luggage.
There are no tours until later in the summer, but we sat in the tasting room and watched a video on the history of the brewery. By which I mean we drank beer while a video played somewhere.
Bad Sasquatch! If you look closely, that's a case of beer in his hand (paw?) so technically he bought me a drink first.
Jasper Brewing Company--right on AB-16A when you get into town. We stopped here for lunch. The food was decent and I had the Honey Bear Golden Ale. I think I wanted the stout, but they were out of it. Oh well.

Yukon Brewing--This was one of my favorites. Mostly because 1: They gave me free stickers 2: They use local artists to design their labels (I had to buy a t-shirt because the art was so great--most expensive t-shirt ever, it's probably why they just gave me the stickers) 3: Going here means I can say I have been to every brewery in the Yukon. Uh huh, there's only one. They pour small tastings of everything they brew for you, and if there's anything you like, they'll pour you more. They are also the only brewery in Canada that is distilling. They are located in Whitehorse, and we spent a couple of days there at the hot springs. We grabbed a six pack of the Yukon Gold (English Pale Ale) and the Yukon Red (amber ale). I loved the artwork on the Red so much, that I bought four pieces of artwork by that artist the next day in town at a gallery and had it shipped home. The t-shirt has the artwork from the Yukon Gold.

The back of the t-shirt says "Beer Worth Freezing For."
This is the first batch of their spirits. It finished aging just last month--we were too early!
Silver Gulch Brewing and Bottling Company--off the Steese Highway (leading from Fairbanks up to the start of the Dalton Highway) across from the Howling Dog Saloon. Tom and Melissa took us here for dinner when we stayed with them the second time. We had just gotten down off the Dalton, and we enjoyed the art walk in Fairbanks with Melissa early in the evening, then picked up Tom and headed out. It holds the distinction of being America's most northern brewery. Along with the good food, I had a Pick Axe Porter and a Copper Creek Amber Ale. The gear store was closed by the time we left, so no sticker. Sad.

49th State Brewing Company--we stopped by here, about ten miles north of Denali Naional Park, on our way down from Fairbanks. We hadn't seen any tv in several weeks, and though that is just fine with me, it was great to sit at the bar and watch a hockey game. It was the Kings/Devils in the conference finals, and I w really happy to see some playoff action. I had the blonde ale, and soup made with one of their beers and loads of cheese. They have a fire pit outside to sit around with your beer (for those not glued to the hockey game) and they also have the "Into The Wild" bus which was made for the movie--the original is still in Denali National Park where it broke down.


Denali Brewing Company--Talkeetna, AK--right in the heart of Talkeetna on the main street. They pour tasters, glasses and growlers. I had four tasters, my fave being the Single Engine Red--I like my red beers. They have a pretty extensive food menu too, but other than the beer, I just got a sticker. I know, you're shocked.

I think this may be where I left my Turtle Fur neck gaiter. I am really sad about that as I have not been able to replace it. They don't seem to make them anymore.
Haines Brewing Company--at the fairgrounds in Haines. I know, weird, right? Wait, it gets stranger. It is in the set built for the "White Fang" film with Ethan Hawk from the early 90s. It's kind of great though. At the end of the set is a pizza place with GREAT pizza. Stop at the visitor's center in town before heading out--I got a coupon for each place. So we went to the tiny brewery and tasted each of their beers. They were all pretty stellar, no lie. My two favorites were the Spruce Tip Ale and the Imperial Stout, and as it turns out they make a Black and Tan style mix using each of them. They call it The Giggler, because that is all you do after you have one and move on to your second. The brew master kindly poured me an 8oz size Giggler, so I wouldn't be completely trashed. It seems like most of the customers who showed up were locals looking to fill their growlers, and they seem to be well supported in the community. After we closed the brewery down, we wandered to the end of the set and had a pizza. It was really delicious, and if you don't get your fill of beer at the brewery, the pizza place stocks it.

There was also a yarn shop and massage studio in these buildings. Along with the brewery and pizza place, I could happily live in that set.
Baranof Island Brewing Company--Sitka, AK--besides having good beer, they are directly across the street from a fish smoker. Once you get your beer, go across the street and load up on some smoked salmon bellies to take along with you. I had their Baranof Brown when we first rolled into town at the Larkspur Restaurant for lunch. It was yummy, so we hit up the brewery that night. And the next. And we had lunch there the next day because they also have a decent little menu. I had the Redoubt Red and the Medvejie Stout, and at lunch I tried their root beer as well, and one of the girls behind the bar asked if I was a local. Yup, we were there that much.

Red Hook Brewery--near Seattle, WA. We went one day for the tour with Laura and Sophia, and then back the next day with Holly, Bobby, Sean, Laura, Sophia, and Lilly to have lunch in their restaurant. The food is super good. The brewery tour is fun--the guys who lead it a funny, and you don't have to walk all over just to taste their beer! Brilliant! You can also send wiity, irreverent postcards to anyone you want from their gear shop--just fill out the address and a message and drop it in their mailbox. They pick up the postage.

Cousin Laura, Sophia, and I on the brewery tour. The tour guys are loads of fun!
While in the Seattle area, we visited the Chateau St. Michelle Winery, the Columbia Winery, Elevation Cellars (my favorite of these three), and the Woodinville Whiskey Company which created whiskeys and vodka. I don't do whiskey, but the vodka was super smooth straight up.
We also stopped at the Sokol Blosser winery in Oregon, because it seemed wrong to not stop while in such a gorgeous wine area. The scenery was beautiful, the wine super pricey but nice.
There were several other breweries I would have like to have gotten to. That's okay, it gives me something to go back for. Writing these last two posts has really got me wanting to go back already. I would happily do it again, and I have a long list of things I would do and see that I didn't get to the first time around.


  1. We got a new brewery in Fairbanks! It's called HooDoo. You'll have to come back!

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