Best Smoked Beers of Alaska

By Bill Howell / Photography By Elaine Howell | September 14, 2016
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Fall is a great time of year to enjoy some locally produced smoked beers. As in the Gold Rush days, brewers use malt that has been dried over wood fires to infuse these beers with a unique flavor. The strong, dark smoked porters and stouts are justly famous across the beer world for their intensity and quality, often winning medals in national and international beer competitions. If you are interested in sampling smoked beers produced in Alaska, here are five excellent choices:

Alaskan Brewing’s Smoked Porter: First brewed in 1988 by Geoff Larson, who co-founded Alaskan Brewing with his wife Marcy, this classic ale was the first modern American smoked beer. It has been awarded medals at the Great American Beer Festival an unprecedented 21 times, more than any other beer in history, plus another 30 national or international beer awards. It’s a taste of history, both from the Gold Rush era and the early days of craft brewing in Alaska.

Kassik’s Brewery’s Smoked Russian Imperial Stout: Located in Nikiski on the Kenai Peninsula, Kassik’s Brewery is the Alaskan version of a traditional farmhouse brewery; it opened in 2006. This big smoked offering took home a Gold Medal in the Tasting Institute’s World Beer Championships.

Midnight Sun Brewing’s Barfly Smoked Imperial Stout and Second Hand Stout: These two smoked beers from Alaska’s second oldest operating brewery are produced from the same load of grain, using a traditional brewing technique known as partigyle mashing. In essence, the first run-off from the grains contains the most fermentable sugar and is used to make the stronger imperial stout. The grains are then rinsed and used again. The second run-off contains less sugar, so it’s used to make a plain stout. Both beers are packed with the flavors of smoke and roasted malt.

49th State Brewing’s Smoked Marzen: In addition to its original location in Healy, 49th State has now opened a second brewpub in downtown Anchorage. This traditional German-style smoked lager won a Gold Medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival in the Smoked Beer Category.

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