I got my first lead back in February of this year that Alaskan Brewing Company would be coming to Michigan. They had hoped to be in the State by the Art of Beer Festival that was held at Lake Michigan College, but several things delayed their plans. It may be mostly sentimental to me since I lived in Juneau for a bit, but they also brew some darn good beer. To read more about my history with Alaskan Brewing, click here.
Press release from Alaskan Brewing Company:
(Juneau, AK) – Alaskan Brewing Company announced on April 17 the start of a facility expansion, the installation of a new beer canning line and the beginning of distribution into South Dakota and Michigan.
“It’s a huge day for us here at Alaskan,” said co-founder Geoff Larson. “We have so much going on, and it is all focused on bringing our beer to new consumers, in new locations and in new packages – while taking care of all the loyal customers who have gotten us this far.”
The facility expansion broke ground this week and will allow for Alaskan to join its two existing buildings together in order to make more room for packaging and warehousing. Larson said it will also bring greater efficiency to operations, as forklifts will be used to move supplies and product instead of the current system of trucking beer between the two buildings.
The expansion will be conducted in two phases, with the first phase allowing for increased warehouse and production capacity completed by February 2015. The concept for the second phase will eventually allow for new retail space to expand the brewery’s gift shop and tasting room.
The new canning line installed in the past month was chosen with quality in mind and reduces the amount of oxygen picked up during the canning process to the same level as the bottling line, which will continue to ensure the freshest tasting beer for Alaskan fans. In order to enter the growing beer can market, Alaskan bought a small filler and shoehorned it into a tight spot in the brewery between the existing bottling line and the packaging tanks.
“With our small warehouse and the addition of a new can line, it is so tight in our packaging areas right now that we are only going to be able to produce a limited amount of cans and will only be putting out Alaskan Amber and Freeride APA for our local Alaska market to start with,” said Plant Manager Curtis Holmes. “But we’re excited to be able to supply cans as an alternative package so people can continue to enjoy our beer on their outdoor Alaskan adventures.”
Holmes said that once the first phase building construction is finished, the plan is to move the canning line into the new building.
“With the larger warehouse we can then increase our production and supply cans to the rest of our markets,” Holmes said.
And those markets have expanded as well – with the addition this week of South Dakota and Michigan, making a total of 17 states where Alaskan is now available.
“We have been working on getting into these states for quite a while now, and we couldn’t be happier about our new distributor partners,” said Jon Blakley, Sales Operations Manager for Alaskan. “South Dakota connects our Midwest territory, and Michigan is a major new market for us – it’s the first state we have entered that operates on East Coast time! And Michigan beer drinkers are very knowledgeable, so we think our beer is going to do really well there.”
Gary Thompson of Powers Distributing in Detroit – part of the M1 Network of 11 distributors covering the entire state of Michigan – echoed those comments. “Alaskan is a brand that already has great name recognition, so we know there is a pent-up demand for their beer. This network is really excited to open the ‘Alaskan Pipeline!’ Alaskan is a highly regarded brewer and supplier and we look forward to a long and successful relationship.”
In South Dakota, Alaskan beer will be distributed through 4 distributor partners – Beal Distributing in Sioux Falls, Ellwein Distributing in Huron, Conkling Distributing in Yankton, and Eagle Sales in Rapid City and Chamberlain.
“Everything we do at Alaskan has one focus,” said Larson. “Whether it is expansion of the brewery, installing new packaging lines or choosing our distributor partners – it’s all about bringing the highest quality beer and a taste of Alaska to our fans.”
Until this announcement, the closest states to pick up Alaskan Beer were Wisconsin and Minnesota..
In other brews around the town:
Bottles of New Holland Dragon's Milk Reserve arrived at Chalet Party Shoppes today – Chicago Ave., Cassopolis St., and CR 17 locations.
Bottles of Goose Island Endless IPA are on the shelves of bottle shops throughout Michiana. This is also on tap at Miles Lab in Elkhart. The rest of their tap list includes: Three Floyds Man O Awe, Shiner bock, Boulevard Tank 7, Brooklyn Pennant Ale, Tyranena Down 'n Dirty, Finch's Wet hot American Wheat, Bell's Oberon, Fat Head's Head Hunter, Bell's Two Hearted, Sixpoint Resin, Goose Island Endless IPA, Victory Dirtwolf, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald and in cans – Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale, Goose Island 312 Wheat and Founders All Day IPA. In talking with Mike Miles today, he hopes to add two more taps to expand his total number from 18 to 20.
Another beer from Goose Island to be looking for around the first week of May will be The Ogden. This will be the second release in their imperial series. The Ogden (9% ABV, IBUs 35) is a Belgian Style Tripel brewed with Citra, Brewers Gold and Saaz hops. The first release in this series was The Illinois.
Last week at Venturi Pizzeria I enjoyed a Citra Hopburst (imperial IPA, 9.2% ABV, IBUs 80). It had quite a bit of dank hops, with a full bodied malt backbone. Currently Magnifico (imperial IPA, 8.3% ABV) is on tap and this may be the last house beer brewed by Logan Miller for now. I have had this beer from Logan before and it is killer. So if you want to get in on this last Venturi brewed beer, you better make plans to get down there in the next couple of evenings, before it's gone. Venturi recently expanded their hours to include Saturday lunch from 11.30 - 1:30, and Sunday from 4 - 7 PM. If they indeed discontinue brewing their own beer, I'm sure that it will be missed by many.
Here are some beers on tap at the Constant Spring that are worth mentioning - Upland Wheat, Victory Hop Ticket 2, Three Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf and Alpha King, Greenbush Anger, Founders All Day IPA, Flat 12 Walk About, Two Brothers Dog Daze, New Holland Dragon's Milk and Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. Aaron also mentioned to me that he has received a keg of Lagunitas Undercover Shut Down IPA. Look for this to be tapped sometime soon.