PUBLISHED: 4:18 PM on Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Alaskan Brewing Company adds India Pale Ale to year-round list

Courtesy photo, image by R.E. Johnson
  Cold water surfing near Yakutat inspired the imagery for Alaskan Brewing Company's India Pale Ale.
It's bright and hoppy just in time for the start of spring. It's Alaskan Brewing Company's India Pale Ale, which is being added as a year-round offering by the Juneau brewery.

IPA's popularity in Juneau as a draft is why it was chosen as the first new yearlong offering in five years, said Amy Woods, brewery communications manager.

"It takes a very long time for us to decide on a product and decide to go year-round with it. Some people will say, 'but this isn't new,' and that's because it's been on draft in Juneau for a number of years," Woods said. "It was well received in Juneau, which was a major determining factor because Juneau is an important test market. People voted at the tap."

Woods said the IPA is a departure from the usual offerings of the company.

"Amber is a maltier beer, and we're kind of known for that. IPA is a hoppier beer, so it was kind of fun I think for our brewers and the company to do something a little playful and unexpected for us," Woods said.

IPA started several years ago in the rough draft program, said brew master Geoff Larson.

"People get together and maybe someone from accounting and some from sales and brewing and packaging will get together and form a group to kind of investigate some style they want to do," he said.

"Some are fanciful and some are general to a classic style like the IPA."

Using Juneau as a test market has allowed for the production of IPA to grow throughout the years, Larson said.

"Juneau is our incubator, and we like to have fun with that. IPA comes from a platform of getting lots of accolades from the public, and we went to the next stage," Larson said. "Good taste in Juneau springboards to the northwest and throughout the region."

While the taste of the beer might be different than other Alaskan offerings, so is the packaging. IPA imagery features an image of a surfer. The image came from a photo taken of a surfer in front of Mount Saint Elias near Yakutat, where it is known as a growing surfing spot, said brand manager Cindy Birchfield.

"When we decided to put this in a bottle, that we needed to share this with the world, we picked a beer and then decided we needed an Alaskan image to share with the world," Birchfield said. "We have the kayaking, the fishing, the float planes and we thought 'you know what is cool about Alaska that not everybody knows yet is the surfing.' I thought that is so Alaskan and now that our beer is available up and down the west coast we're the far north shore."

Along with the surfing image, the beer features bright green packaging that can't be missed when displayed on shelves.

"IPA is so very crisp and clean and there's a floral aroma to this beer, and we wanted to capture that with the packaging too," Woods said. IPA will have a release in Juneau to start with Anchorage to follow.

The beer will not be released in all nine states Alaskan Brewing Company currently distributes to, but will find its way in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming by April 2, Birchfield said.

A kick-off event will be held Friday, March 16, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Viking and the Alaskan and from 9-10:30 p.m. at the Hangar and the Rendezvous.