Brewing with history
Alaska has a rich history of brewing. From the explorers of the 1700s through the Gold Rush, many a thirsty Alaskan has been able to enjoy locally made beers.
In 1986, 28-year-olds Marcy and Geoff Larson reignited that tradition when they opened the Alaskan Brewing Company, the 67th brewery in the country and the first brewery in Juneau since Prohibition. Alaskan beers reflect many of the same characteristics of beers that were brewed here during the gold rush era. From the historically based Alaskan Amber recipe to alder-smoked malts and Sitka spruce tips, Alaskan beers reflect Juneau’s local brewing history and innovation.
Marcy and Geoff were drawn to the beauty and adventure of Alaska, but finding a livelihood that would allow them to stay was a challenge. “Why not start a brewery?” a friend suggested. Other than the extreme financial and logistical challenges of brewing beer in the Last Frontier, they couldn’t think of why not.
Maybe the idea wasn’t so far-fetched. After all, Geoff was a chemical engineer and a homebrewer and was married to Marcy, an adventure-seeking accountant and aspiring bush pilot. Together they brought a unique skill set to the task of opening a brewery in Alaska.
While researching brewing in Alaska, Marcy unearthed shipping records from Douglas City Brewing Co. (1899-1907) that listed ingredients for its popular beers and a newspaper article that described the way it was brewed. Geoff homebrewed a batch of the Gold Rush-era brew and they could see what made it so popular. That beer is now known as Alaskan Amber.
In December 1986, Alaskan Brewing Co. officially began operations when Geoff, Marcy and 10 volunteers spent 12 hours hand packaging the first 253 cases of Alaskan Amber for distribution in Juneau, Alaska. From that very humble beginning, Alaskan Brewing Co. has grown to become one of the most award-winning craft breweries in the history of the Great American Beer Festival and expanded distribution to 17 states.