“Alaska is for Beer Lovers” and that is a lesser known fact. While Alaska tourism is driven by individuals in search of soaring mountains, pristine waters, calving glaciers, and teaming wildlife including moose, bear and bald eagle, other visitors are on a quest for craft beer. Thirty years ago the Alaskan Craft Beer industry was non existent. Today Alaska boasts over 50 breweries scattered from Fairbanks to Anchorage down the panhandle to Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. Certainly a staggering area to explore as Alaska is over twice the size of Texas measuring better than 660,000 square miles with most towns only accessible by boat or plane. The Alaska Railroad provides service between Fairbanks and Anchorage and on to the ports of Whittier and Seward, beyond that exploration of the pan handle is best served via cruise ship.
Princess offers two cruises that catch my attention, Voyage of the Glaciers (Southbound) and Inside Passage (Glacier Bay). Both cruises are 7 day with similar ports of call. VOG is one way, from Anchorage (Whittier) to Vancouver and IP is Round Trip from Seattle. The pricing is similar, but I would strongly recommend a cabin with a balcony for either cruise. The caveats on VOG are the airfare will probably be a bit more expensive since you fly into Anchorage and out of Vancouver. Food and lodging can be very expensive in Alaska, and limited on your options. VOG could be your only chance to see moose (we saw 3 between Anchorage and Whittier). Extensions to Denali National Park on Alaska Railroad are available if you have a few days prior to the cruise. The Inside Passage (Glacier Bay) is a bit simpler trip, but please be sure to stay a few nights in Seattle. Both cruises visit Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan Alaska.
Schedule your excursions well in advance and try to book morning activities to give yourself the afternoons to explore the breweries. A few excursions to consider: In Skagway book the White Pass Scenic Railway, in Juneau book the Mendenhall Glacier White Water Rafting and in Ketchikan the Zip Line Adventure Park.
So far, so good… but Where’s the Beer?
The Anchorage breweries are divided between Downtown Anchorage and the Diamond Center area Southeast of the Airport. Midnight Sun Brewing Co, Anchorage Brewing Co. and King Street Brewing are located a few miles apart in the Diamond Center area and are at the top of the list of best breweries in Anchorage. There are several food and lodging options in that area as well.
The cruise port of Skagway is small and very walkable. The Klondike Brewing Company, Skagway Spirits Distillery, Skagway Brewing Co are just a few blocks apart. Be sure to try the Spruce Tip Ale at Skagway Brewing… You’ll love it! (great food too)
Juneau is Alaska’s third largest city and state capital. Just a short walk from the cruise port is Barnaby Brewing Company, you would have passed The Alaska Brewing Company Depot on the way. The brewery for ABC is located out of town, but is accessible by shuttle from the ABC Depot gift shop. You need reservations, so establish contacts in advance of your cruise.
Ketchikan is a bit light on breweries but can offer a huge craft beer selection at The Asylum Bar with 22 Alaska brews on tap as well as great hamburgers. The Inside Passage Brewing Company was just approved for the opening of a downtown brewery just a few blocks from the cruise port so be sure to check if they’ve opened.
There you have the template for the perfect beer-centric Alaska vacation. Enjoy the wonders of Alaska, the rugged snow covered mountains, endless pale blue glaciers and the delicious amber waves of Alaskan craft brewed beer. Savor Alaska in every drop of Spruce Tip Ale, knowing its inspiration was this beautiful Alaskan wilderness.
The Beer-Centric Traveler writes for Play Harder Tours… Please email Bill@playhardertours.com and start your travel planning today! For a complete list of recommendations please email with “Alaska” on the subject line. I’d love to hear your suggestions too.