Alaskans love beer, and we have some pretty great ales, lagers and barley-wine here in the Greatland! Alaska Beer Week is this week, culminating in the Alaska Craft Brew & Barley Wine Festival on Friday and Saturday. I am lucky enough to get to vend my beer art at this event, and I hope to see you there. You probably already know that during Alaska Beer Week, Alaska hosts beer events at restaurants, bars and brewery tasting rooms. What you probably didn’t know is that the best beer event is hosted at 49th State Brewing by the Great Northern Brewers Club.
The GNBC is a homebrew club in Anchorage Alaska, and was founded in 1980. It is hard to believe this club is as old as I am! The GNBC mission statement is: to educate people about beer, beer tasting, beer judging, and brewing techniques based on shared knowledge and experience. To engage in enjoyable social activities focused on home-brewing as a common foundation. To promote the hobby and enjoyment of home-brewing. To promote the responsible use of alcoholic beverages.
The best part about the club is the January monthly meeting during Alaska Beer Week, which is also known as the “Industry Meeting.” This meeting is a mini beerfest in itself, held at the theater at 49th State Brewing. A keynote speaker is invited to speak, and I’ve listened to some great brewers from famous commercial breweries in the past including: Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada), Greg Koch (Stone Brewing), Jeff Lebesch & Kim Jordan (New Belgium Brewing), Geoff Larson (Alaskan Brewing), Jerry Vietz (Unibroue), John Maier (Rogue Ales), and many others. There are a lot of complimentary commercial and home-brewed samples, enough that you should arrange transport other than driving yourself, since you will not be legal to drive after this event. There’s also a great spread of food from the kitchen at 49th State Brewing. Not to mention, a great amount of door prizes that are available if you donate to the club for drawing tickets. Overall, I like this event more than the beer festival itself, because you get to find out why people are wearing chicken necklaces at the beer festival (Phil the chicken guy is almost always in attendance), and you will get to meet the brewers from around the State if you are a social person.
There are a number of reasons to join this club, especially if you love making and drinking beer, mead, cider and other fermented alcoholic beverages. First, you get 10% off at La Bodega, and 10% off at ingredients at Arctic Brewing Supply. Then there’s the December meeting, which is a holiday party that is almost as good as the January meeting. There is a campout in the summer with free camping spots at an amazing campground (it changes yearly). The reasons keep going. You can sign up to become a certified BJCP judge (Beer Judge Certification Program), and participate in the numerous home-brew contests throughout the year. And lastly, this is a great group of people that like to have fun and be social! It was tough through the pandemic, but we survived by drinking socially over Zoom, although it wasn’t the same! We are back, baby! Get your membership and come on down to hang out at 49th State with one of the funnest clubs in Alaska!
Cheers to beers and the GNBC!
Here are some photos from previous January industry meetings: Jerry Vietz from Unibroue with Maria, beard twinsies with John Maier from Rogue Ales, and a photo of the meeting hall.