~ by Maria Benner
The Culmination Festival, which happened last night, is hands down the best beer festival I have ever been to! Not only because each beer is hand-picked for being some of the best beer in the world, but also because most of these beers are normally not available in Alaska. Gabe Fletcher has been the organizing force behind this event, which has been an annual occasion for four years now. Scott and I have volunteered to pour every year, which is a great way to attend the event without having to pay the hefty price of $130 pp. The cost is completely worth it, considering how many amazing and rare beers are in one place for you to try. I wish the festival spanned over a period of three days, so I could try every beer. Alas, I was limited by my liver to only try about 30%, as most beers are pretty strong. As a bonus, this year the Masonry, which is a craft beer and wood-fired pizza bar in Seattle, drove a pizza oven all the way to Alaska, and served up delicious pizza all day long for hungry beer drinkers! The tasting portion of the festival lasted from 2-6PM, and then the band Mos Generator started playing, and kegs of a session IPA were available for consumption. The IPA, brewed by Gabe for the event was refreshing, fresh and delicious.
I was busy pouring 8 Wired Brewing Co. beer from New Zealand, and sampling beer during my breaks, so I didn’t take any photos, but luckily Scott captured some of the ridiculous beers he sampled.
You’ll probably see oil paintings of some of these beers in the coming months. The list of participating breweries is available at the Culmination Festival website. My favorites were Apple Brandy Noir by Prairie Artisan Ales, Gatherer by Tired Hands Brewing Co, and Stacks on Stacks IPA by Other Half Brewing. Brewers and reps flew up for this event from a hand-full of breweries, and it was great meeting them and finding out interesting details about the brewing process. A common theme I noticed this year is using foraged ingredients in beers like mushrooms and herbs. Some of the brewers fly up a couple days in advance, and brew collaboration beers with Gabe. I look forward to sampling these beers in a few months to a year. I know that Jolly Pumpkin brewed one, and so did Tired Hands.
As if Culmination wasn’t enough, Gabe also organized Hill Farmstead Brewery Day at Anchorage Brewing two days prior. So instead of having to travel all the way to Vermont, we all got to drink these excellent offerings from Hill Farmstead right here in Anchorage. Citra and Works of Love were the two best ones in my opinion.
I’m curious to find out what will happen with the leftovers from the festival. We’ll stop by the brewery to see if some of the beer is on tap today.
Thank you Gabe and everyone who makes this amazing beer festival possible! Cheers to many more!