Alaska: The Last Beer Frontier

At the end of July, I visited Alaska for the fourth time to see Michelle with our very good friend Alex. We had such a fantastic week of near perfect weather and we were able to do and see so much – including visiting nearly all of the breweries near Anchorage and Homer! Here’s how it went down:

Day 1: I took advantage of a long layover in Juneau and explored downtown, grabbed breakfast and took a tram up Mt. Roberts. Then, I decided to hike the 2.5 miles down. It wasn’t until a man hiking up told me that he spotted a bear earlier on the trail that I realized perhaps hiking alone wasn’t the best idea. Clanking rocks together (I was too distracted to remember the box of Hot Tamales I had in my backpack that would have made for a perfect noise-maker), I made my way out of the trail, walked back into town and caught a cab back to the airport. Safely in Anchorage, Michelle and I hung out at her apartment for a bit before hitting up the gym and then going out to dinner at Firetap Alehouse. We entertained ourselves at a few local watering holes before picking up Alex from the airport and continuing our bar crawl.

Day 2: We slept in and then went to Midnight Sun Brewing Company for lunch before driving to Girdwood for a day of ATVing, which was a blast! Back in Anchorage and hungry for dinner, we visited Moose’s Tooth, a fabulous pizza joint and also a brewery, and then we moseyed into the downtown area to visit Sleeping Lady Brewing Company, where we sipped brews on the patio overlooking the bay and mountains, including Denali in the distance.

Day 3: We began our epic beer quest down the Kenai Peninsula. Stops included the Russian River (gloriously blue and frigid), lunch at St. Elias Brewing CompanyKenai River Brewing CompanyKassik’s Brewing Company, a cliff overlooking the Cook Inlet and Mt. Redoubt (the perfect place to enjoy our newly purchased growlers from Kassik’s and watch bald eagles), Soldotna (a quaint little town), and Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church (a lovely Russian Orthodox church). We arrived at the Homer Spit late in the evening, set up our campsite and grabbed dinner at Boardwalk Fish and Chips.

Day 4: We woke up bright and early and prepared for our full-day kayaking trip with True North Kayak Adventures. Our voyage started with a water taxi ride to the Glacier Trailhead in Kachemak Bay State Park. We hiked to a glacial lake fed by Grewingk Glacier, where Alex did the unthinkable and jumped in the freezing lake and scaled a giant iceberg. Once he thawed out, we hiked back to shore and took a boat over to Yukon Island, cruising past a puffin rookery. We saddled up in our sea kayaks and ventured around the island, spotting otters and eagles along the way. After a relaxing lunch on the beach, we took the boat back to Homer. We were exhausted from the day’s activities, but managed to swing by The Ring of Fire Meadery to sample some delicious mead, enjoy a lovely dinner at Two Sisters Bakery, and squeeze in a few beers at the Salty Dawg Saloon – famous for its wallpaper of one dollar bills.

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Day 5: We packed up our campsite, grabbed some camping supplies (hot dogs, firewood, etc.), swung by the Homer Brewing Company and caught a water taxi over to a very remote part of Kachemak Bay State Park where we rented a yurt for the night, which was awesome! In the spirit of the Summer Olympics, we made up three camping-themed events: chopping firewood, reading aloud in funny accents and throwing rocks into a bucket. Not surprisingly, Alex took gold in all three! We enjoyed exploring the area surrounding the yurt and finishing up our delicious stockpile of beer.

Day 6: Our water taxi picked us up in the morning and we enjoyed a delightful breakfast at Fresh Sourdough Express before making the long trek back up to Anchorage. Along the way, we stopped in at King Street Brewing Company to close out our beer quest. We relaxed at Michelle’s apartment before it was time to head back to the airport.

What a phenomenal visit! I’m impressed at all we were able to do, see and drink in a week!