Matt Barnaby has become Juneau’s newest professional brewer, five gallons at a time.
Barnaby has been an avid home brewer for years, making small batches in his kitchen. After a while, he and his wife Kelly started to hatch an idea.
“I got sick of cleaning up the mess,” Kelly joked, “so I was like, ‘We’ve got to do something.’”
That “something” ended up being Barnaby Brewing Company, which opens its doors this weekend.
They started pursuing the idea in February 2016, and then signed a lease on the space on Franklin Street that used to house the Juneau Arts &Humanities Council (JAHC) in August. They then sent in their paperwork for approval in September and were awarded their federal alcohol license in March.
Ticketed events take place this weekend, but are mostly sold out. The beers will be open to the public starting at 3 p.m. Sunday, and Barnaby hopes to tap a new beer every Sunday moving forward.
Barnaby Brewing is the first of its kind in Juneau, producing craft beer in small batches. Barnaby, who grew up in South Carolina and has seen numerous breweries pop up and thrive there, is shocked that there hasn’t been more of a craft beer scene in Juneau.
“I’m sort of surprised that I’m the first guy,” Barnaby said. “I’m sure I wasn’t the first to think about it. I don’t know what makes me so unique to actually sort of jump in and do it.”
Both Matt and Kelly have been extremely busy in getting the company off the ground. Matt works for the state, dealing with childcare licensing, along with brewing the beer. Kelly cares for their two children and attends school along with designing merchandise and setting up the space. They’re both looking forward to the brewery finally opening its doors after months of selling sodas and coffee.
Barnaby aims to have six beers on tap at all times in the future, along with a couple taps for soda and one for coffee. The beers will constantly rotate, adding a couple new beers into the mix every Sunday.
All of the beers will be made in small amounts for the foreseeable future, as Barnaby plans to brew four batches per week at 31 gallons per batch. The space is fairly small, with a side room filled with brewing equipment and the public space dotted with high-top wooden tables ready for customers.
Opening a door in the back room to reveal 11 fermenting containers of 50 gallons each, Barnaby explains that that’s three weeks’ worth of brewing. In the front room, there are 14 kegs ready to be tapped, with two of them set aside for the Haines Brew Fest in May.
The brewery’s website, which refers to it as a “nano brewery,” lists 24 beers that Barnaby plans on unveiling during the ensuing months. For the grand opening this weekend, he’s tapping some of the more crowd-friendly beers that aren’t too hoppy or too adventurous.
He’s also limiting the amount of people allowed at the opening weekend events, trying to get a feel for how many patrons can comfortably fit in the room. Artwork from local artist duo Marms and Meeks hangs on the walls, as Barnaby prepares for First Friday on May 5. Barnaby has already hosted events for First Friday — a monthly event where downtown businesses open up at night for social gatherings and art displays — but this upcoming one will be the first one with beer on the menu.
“Very early on, we’ve had artists for First Friday that did pretty well,” Barnaby said. “Once you add beer, our First Fridays will do really well.”
Juneau already has a strong tradition of enjoying craft beer with Alaskan Brewing Company’s success, and Barnaby said all the alcohol establishments on Franklin should be able to coexist due to the city’s voracious thirst.
“Juneau definitely has the market and the population to support not just me, but Amalga and everybody else,” Barnaby said. “I don’t think Juneau’s reached its carrying capacity, to use a biology term there, when it comes to manufactured alcohol.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 523-2271