Laurels for local beer

Juneau suds dubbed tops in U.S.

Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Beer makers named Alaskan Brewing Co.'s smoked porter the best beer in the nation and ranked the Juneau company as the seventh-best craft brewer in the country.

The accolades were published in the July edition of Zymurgy, the official journal of the American Homebrewers Association, whose members participated in the poll.

Alaskan Smoked Porter jumped from 14th place to first this year. Its recognition now joins the other honors the beer has won over the years, including top places at the Great American Beer Festival, the World Beer Cup 2004 and a silver medal at the Brewing Industry International Awards.

"It validates that the smoked porter is one of the top beers in the world," said Alaskan Vice President Linda Thomas.

The smoked brew invented by Alaskan's founders in 1988 takes a cue from smoked salmon technology, with the malts smoked in the same fashion as fish.

The company was selected as the seventh best brewery among 1,400 other domestic craft brewers, Thomas said.

Alaskan Brewing also was listed ninth among specialty domestic brewers in sales volume, with 90,400 shipments in 2004, almost a 4,000 increase from the year before. Boston Beer Co. and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. topped the list with 1.26 million and 590,000 shipments, respectively.

Thomas said that 95 percent of their beer is sold outside of Juneau and 90 percent is sold outside of Alaska. The brewery expanded into new markets last year in parts of Southern California and Arizona.

On the horizon, the company has been experimenting with new flavors. As part of its "rough draught" program, seasonal beers are crafted for Juneau drinkers, and with success they go on to Anchorage to possibly become permanent beers in the company's portfolio.

On tap now is Boogie Bitter, a light summer beer themed after a solstice celebration, and IPA, a beer held over after its popularity with the Juneau Jazz Classic festival. This fall, the company hopes to put out another flavor that coincides with Oktoberfest.

Previous beers that began in the rough draught program but are now in the regular lineup include ESB, summer and winter ales and stout.

• Andrew Petty can be reached at

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