Alaskan Brewing’s Birch Bock wins silver at Great American Beer Fest

Alaskan Brewing Company employees (Left to Right) Brent Kesey, Darin Menapace (Top row), Mike Jaskari (Bottom row), Curtis Holmes, Rob Day, and Suzanne Lawless toast the Alaskan Birch Bock’s silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival on Saturday October 13, 2012. Photo courtesy Alaskan Brewing Company.

A beer brewed by Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau won a silver medal at last weekend’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

The Birch Bock placed second in the “Specialty Beer” category, for beers that use “unusual fermentable sugars.” In this case, birch syrup harvested from Alaska’s Interior.

“It’s a lager. It’s kind of dry and malty and you get a little bit of a tart-ness from the birch syrup,” says Alaskan Brewing Company Brewer Rob Day. “You can taste the alcohol a little bit. It’s at 8.5 percent. So, it’s one of those beers that you don’t want to drink more than four pints, but you can sit there and drink it and enjoy the flavors you get from it.”

The Birch Bock was released in March as part of Alaskan Brewing’s limited edition Pilot Series. As with all the brewery’s smaller releases, it was a collaborative effort.

“We all kind of had a hand in it throughout the brewery,” says Day. “We start usually on a one barrel and then we scale it up and then everyone gets their little say on it, and then we go from there.”

The birch syrup came from two manufacturers based in the Mat Su area – the Alaska Birch Syrup Company and Kahiltna Birchworks.

Day says Alaskan Brewing strives to use home-grown ingredients whenever possible.

“The Alaskan brewery is based in Alaska, so the more Alaska ingredients we get to use, that’s a bonus and it helps out other companies in Alaska,” he says.

The Alaskan Brewing Company is no stranger to the Great American Beer Festival awards. The brewery has attended the event 25 times in its 31 year history, bringing home 23 medals.

More than 660 breweries entered more than 4,300 beers in this year’s competition. The 185 judges, representing 11 countries, decided which of the 84 categories each beer would be judged in.