PUBLISHED: 1:09 PM on Wednesday, October 12, 2005
High in the sky
Local brewery takes honors, begins air line distribution

Courtesy photo
  Anna Marie Ellis, marketing representative at Alaskan Brewing Company, greets thousands of visitors to the brewery each year with beer samples in the gift shop and tour room.
Juneau's Alaskan Brewing Company struck gold - and silver - at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colo.

Among the three medals was a gold in smoke-flavored beer for Alaskan Smoked Porter. The brewery received a gold in the bitters for Alaskan Boogie Bitter, one of the breweries newest Rough Draft releases. Returning favorite Alaskan ESB took a silver medal in the extra special bitter category matching its 2004 GABF performance.

The festival featured samples of 1,669 of the nations beers from 380 American breweries, which competed for honors in 69 categories.

"We couldn't be prouder of our brew crew and fellow brewers from Alaska", said Geoff Larson, brewmaster and co-founder.

Photo by Amanda Gragert
  Alaskan Brewing Company's Smoked Porter, which is distributed on a limited basis, won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colo.
"It brings national recognition to Alaska and the local influences that make brewing beer here unlike anywhere else in the world."

Alaskan Brewing Company's three new medals secure its place as the most award-winning small craft brewery in the history of the GABF with 33 medals. Alaskan Smoked Porter accounts for 14 medals, with six among them gold. The Alaskan ESB has nine medals with its earliest medals won as a Rough Draft release. Following in the ESB's footsteps, this is the first medal for Alaskan Boogie Bitter.

Kristi Monroe, marketing communications director, said a story of Alaskan history is part of each beer flavor produced by the company. Alaskan Amber, the most popular and distributed flavor, is brewed from an old gold miner's recipe, Monroe said.

"There is a very rich brewing tradition in Alaska, and that shows in our product from the recipes to the artwork on the packaging," Monroe said.

While Alaskan Brewing Company beers are distributed across the state, Alaskan Amber also can be found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, California, Nevada and Arizona.

On Oct. 1, Alaska Airlines began offering Alaskan Amber to its passengers.

"I got on the plane to come back from the festival in Denver and had an Alaskan Amber during my flight. It was nice to celebrate that way," Monroe said.

Fred Hees, director of marketing and sales, said consumers have been asking for Alaskan Brewing drinks on flights for years.

"Airlines work in weight, and it just hasn't made sense to load glass bottles on an airplane," Hees said.

The idea of blending the brewery with the airline made sense.

"The two brands compliment each other," Hees said. "It's not about the money. Things have to make dollars and cents to work in business, but the compelling thing is how these two companies have succeeded against all odds and now are coming together."

Hees said that while having beer distributed on flights will boost sales, it will more importantly increase visibility to the brand.

"It gives the brand more exposure," Hees said. "It gives us the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the east coasters and a chance for them to get something very Alaskan."