I have made a new commitment to myself to only buy beer directly from breweries in order to get the freshest product. Not just for on-site consumption, but also for savoring at home. I’ll probably still order a beer occasionally at local bars and restaurants, although I will still seek out local offerings. When I travel I will do the same thing — buy beers directly from local breweries in the area. While traveling I have definitely picked up some shelf turds at the local grocery store. No more! From now on it’s from the brewery direct! I have three main reasons for doing this. The first is to get the freshest beer possible, especially of the IPA variety. The second reason is driven by economics — my money is going directly to the breweries, and I strongly believe in supporting local businesses. Lastly, I’m doing my small part to reduce waste by using re-usable containers to purchase my liquid nourishment.
Nothing is more disappointing to taste than a seven-month old IPA that has been left next to the heater on the liquor store floor. When I was doing the Year of Beer project I came upon such beers fairly frequently. A stale cardboard-like malt backbone with a cheesy, vegetative hop aroma is not how the artisans who made the beer wanted their product to taste. All the local breweries in Anchorage store their beer properly, and the overall flavor is so much better! IPA always tastes great directly from the brewery!
Aside from getting the freshest product available, I like that my hard-earned money is going directly to the breweries, helping to keep the product more affordable, and stimulating our local economy. Not many products available in Alaska are made here, but beer is definitely one of them. I always get a smile from brewery employees and management when I tell them about this new policy of mine. I’ve been spending a bit more, but I am not upset with my purchases. In the pre-prohibition era, people had to buy locally as distribution was not up to the current capabilities. Every town had its local brewery and its local flavor. A growler used to be a wooden bucket with a lid. The 20th century’s automation and big business homogenized, packaged, and marketed mass produced macro-brews, resulting in a lack of a local brewery scene. Beer is available from all over the world, not just Europe. Today I can buy beer from Zimbabwe if I feel like it. Although, the last African beer I drank was pretty stale, and not much better than an AB inBev product. I say drink beer really brewed “the hard way,” and drink straight from the brewery!
In addition to being good for our economy, buying a local product that is often sold in reusable containers is a win for the environment. Grain comes in big bags, so do hops. The heaviest ingredient, water, is locally-sourced, and we are lucky to have very good water here in Anchorage for making beer. Mother Earth is smiling every time you get a growler filled and don’t have any waste material. If we all bought locally brewed beer, less fuel would be spent shipping beer from all over the world, less water would be drained from dried-up aquifers, and less waste would be left in our local landfill! If you don’t want to consume a whole growler in one evening, and you don’t like drinking leftover oxidized beer the next day, opt for a half growler (howler) fill. You could also splurge at the local home-brew shop and buy a U-Keg one gallon CO2 charged growler, which holds ~12 servings and keeps beer fresh for a long time. Or go big and get a whole home-brew style draft setup and buy at the gallon price-point. Anyway, there are many container options out there, just find the right one for your drinking habits.
Simply stated, “life is short, drink good beer!” And to get good beer, buy local. There are so many great options right here. King Street Brewing and Midnight Sun Brewing have six packs for about $10. Glacier Brewhouse offers growlers for as low as $6 every Tuesday, which is cheaper than many out-of-state options per ounce. Anchorage Brewing is putting out world-class four-packs and amazing bottle releases. Turnagain Brewing, 49th State Brewing, and Cynosure Brewing all fill growlers, and l love stopping in for a glass in house. Anchorage produces barleywine, IPA, stout, hefe, lager, pilsner, saison, spruce-tip ale, and many other interesting-flavored malt beverages that are on par with anything available worldwide. The closer you consume to the brewery, the fresher your beer will taste! Cheers to Anchorage, our breweries, and to drinking locally!