It all culminates in the epic weekend event, the Great Alaska Beer and Barlywine Festival, which is one of the best beer fests in the nation with more barleywine than you can drink (no that is not a challenge, it is a fact!). I recommend the connoisseur session on Saturday afternoon, as the glass is better (real glass) and the barley wine offerings are more plentiful.The Saturday afternoon session presents the marching bagpipe band, and the barleywine and winter warmer contest winners are announced. Overall, a great week to visit Alaska! Fortunately, the airlines haven’t figured this out, so you can get some of the cheapest rates to Alaska at this time.
~by Maria Benner
We’ve been meaning to do a Kenai Peninsula brewery tour for some time now, but there are always excuses. When we went dip-netting to Kasilof, we had every intention of stopping by Kenai River Brewing and St. Elias Brewing in Soldotna, but in reality, we had to rush to get to the beach and set up camp before the tide started coming in. On the way back from fishing, we were in a hurry to get the fish home. But last week we were invited to spend two nights in Homer with good friends who were visiting from Philadelphia. So, without any fishing obligations holding us back, we took a detour to Kassik’s Kenai Brew Stop on our drive to Homer. I’ve been meaning to go there for several years, and this was my first time. Scott had been there when they first opened. This brewery is worth the drive. Not only were all the beer samples superb, but we were able to score a bottle of barrel-aged Statny Statny Imperial Stout that was only available at the brewery. We also bought a crowler of double IPA to go.
Once in Homer, we had to check out the new brewery, Grace Ridge Brewing. This brewery is an impressive facility for a start up operation. Someone did the legwork to get sufficient funding for a modern, brand new building, in a prime location in Homer. The three-barrel brewing system only took up a portion of the available space in the building. Obviously, it was built with future expansion plans in mind. The selection of beers was impressive for such a small brew system. There were six beers on tap, and every single one was spot on. None of the offerings were ground-breaking, or unique, but often new breweries start out with conservative selections.
Our final brewery visit on this trip was to Homer Brewing. The tasting room had expanded since our last visit, but the beer seemed to be same as ever. We sampled all eight beers. Our favorite as always was China Poot Porter, but the Raspberry Porter was a close second.
On our way back from Homer our intention was to visit Kenai River Brewing and St. Elias, but we drove through Soldotna at 11 AM, and had no inclination to drink beer that early in the morning after a couple days of partying with our beer-loving friends. We plan on coming back sometime this winter though.