Alaskan Brewing Co. reacts to ‘Wastebook’ listing

Juneau's Alaskan Brewing Company is using an innovative boiler to save fuel and shipping costs. Photo courtesy of Alaska Brewing Company.

Juneau’s Alaskan Brewing Company is using an innovative boiler to save fuel and shipping costs. Photo courtesy of Alaska Brewing Company.

Republican Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual “Wastebook” released Tuesday purports to document cases of wasteful federal spending.

No. 59 in the 100-item list is a $450,000 federal grant awarded to Juneau’s Alaskan Brewing Company. The Wastebook says the grant gives the already successful company “a big profit boost courtesy of the federal government.”

The money covered a quarter of the cost of the brewing company’s first-of-its-kind boiler that generates heat from the spent grains used to make beer.

Andy Kline is the spokesman for Alaskan Brewing.

“So that was a significant risk to be the first, you know, brewery in the world to try this system, and the USDA’s grant helped us mitigate a portion of that risk.”

They’re taking the listing in stride.

“I think it gives us an opportunity to talk about a project that we’re incredibly proud of,” Kline said with a chuckle. “You know, I think this guy has his opinion, but, in fact, it’s barely negative.”

Kline says the environment and federal government also benefit.

“Part of the point of what the senator said is that we’re a successful brand and we’re enjoyed in 15 states. We’re happy with that success, and that success lets us pay about $2 million annually in federal excise taxes. So on a dollar figure alone, the federal government’s getting a pretty good return on that investment.”

Kline says no one from the senator’s office has contacted the company about the listing.

(Full disclosure: Alaskan Brewing sponsors many public radio events in Juneau and Kline often volunteers his time.)

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