May 19, 2021
How does one survive in a place where temperatures regularly hit
negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit, if not below that? A toasty
Barleywine might hit the spot, but in the 49th state of the Union,
residents are just as likely to pick up a classic IPA or Vienna
Lager as they are an Imperial Stout. How, why, and when did Alaska,
of all places, become a beer destination?
In Bailey Berg’s first piece for Good Beer Hunting, titled “Way Up North — Exploring the Growing Beer Scene in Fairbanks, Alaska,” which was published on April 27, 2021, the Anchorage resident explores the rise and embrace of local craft beer in one of the vastest frontiers on Earth. There are fewer than a million people across the entire state, but the amount of independent breweries continues to rise, thanks to a streak of independence, ingenuity, and adventure that tends to define those who call the severe, but beautiful, landscape their home.
In our first podcast conversation together, Berg enlightens me to the spirit of entrepreneurship required to thrive in the burgeoning beer scene in Fairbanks, why being the first to accomplish something specific holds such sway when you’re on the edge of the world, how unique obstacles—like the mere access to ingredients like water—force brewers to squeeze every last bit of use out of what they have available, and why Alaskans are going to do what they like to do relatively free of outside influence. She’ll also tell me how much a pint of beer costs at the literal end of the road, and how common it is to see wild moose wandering around the streets. (It’s apparently a lot more common than I realized.) I strongly encourage listeners to scroll through her photographs within the article during this conversation: She captures snowpacks and sled dogs, the pints and the people, all framed beneath the mystical emerald serpent of the aurora borealis twinkling across the night sky. Let’s travel together to the Land of the Midnight Sun with Bailey Berg.