Spring is trying to spring, but the surest sign of spring is my favorite beer festival. The 16th annual Great Alaska Craft Beer and Home Brew Festival will be happening in Haines on Memorial Day weekend, May 23 and 24.
Beer always tastes better in Haines. I don't know why - maybe it's the sun, the people, or the small-time community feel of the most comfortable and friendly festival around.
The Haines beer festival is a multiple-day affair, starting with home-brew judging on Friday, followed by a gourmet beer dinner that evening and a beer festival at the Southeast Alaska fairgrounds on Saturday. Either held under the pavilion or on the main drag of Dawson City, depending on the weather, the Great Alaska Craft Beer festival is a gathering spot for anyone who enjoys good beer and great people.
The festival hosts a variety of beer distributors and breweries from around the state. Alaska Distributors, Odom, K & L, and Specialty Imports will be in attendance with their many varieties of beer, and local breweries Skagway Brewing and Alaskan Brewing will be well represented. Haines Brewing is always in the midst of the festival - Paul has been brewing like mad in preparation. And breweries from the peninsula will also be showing: Kenai River Brewing is set to make an appearance, and Kassik's Kenai Brew Stop - whom I've heard nothing but good things about - is coming via a distributor. Hopefully we will also be seeing the Anchorage breweries, as an Alaska beer festival would not be complete without them.
Friday's dinner menu looks fantastic. Each course is paired with a beer and it is an extravagant affair. This year's dinner will be prepared by head chef Martha Stewart from Mosey's Cantina with help from Deana Stout from The Garden Café. Just reading it makes my mouth water:
Grilled chipotle shrimp with mango salsa,
Roasted corn chowder with applewood smoked bacon,
Hearts of romaine with Maytag blue dressing, toasted pecans and sliced pear,
Beef short ribs with tomatoes, roasted poblanos and herbs, and stuffed zucchini squash,
Martha's extravagant almond cake with vanilla custard and raspberry sauce.
For dinner reservations contact the Southeast Alaska State Fairgrounds at seakfair.org or 907-766-2476. There will be a one-way run of the Fjord express from Juneau northbound to Haines on Friday at 2:30 p.m. arriving in Haines at 5:30 p.m. The boat leaves from the small boat harbor in Auke Bay, and the fare is $75.
One last note: Congratulations to all the Alaska breweries garnering medals at the World Beer Cup held in San Diego recently! Alaska pulled in 14 percent of the winning medals, the highest percentage of all the states. Alaskan Brewing received four medals - a gold for Smoked Porter, a gold for Summer Ale (a first!), and a bronze for Barley wine and Jalapeño IPA, which beat out 70 other entries. Kassik's Kenai Brew Stop got their first national award, a bronze medal for their Caribou Kilt Strong Scotch Ale, and Midnight Sun Brewing Company also scored this year with Pride, one of the "7 deadly sins" series, receiving a bronze.
Congratulations again to a fine showing of great beer brewed in a great state!
Rachael Juzeler can be contacted at Rachale101@gmail.com.
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