Sip Trips #166: The Last Frontier

The Sip Family is back from our Alaskan cruise and what a time it was. We managed to visit eight breweries, two distilleries and three saloons (a goal I had outlined prior to the trip). With so much to cover, let’s get right to it:

Our journey started in Anchorage, where after settling into our hotel, we walked to the nearby Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse, an eatery suggested to me by Ma and Pa Sip. There, I ordered a pint of King Street Hefeweizen to go with my delicious Crabby Patty Melt. The restaurant has over 50 beers on tap and is known for their halibut fish and chips meal, but I was intrigued by the Crabby Patty, partly because of my fondness for SpongeBob SquarePants.

krabby patty

After dinner and not quite ready to pack it in for the night (and with the sun nowhere near ready to set), we popped into Midnight Sun Brewing, which seemed appropriate. Our pints included the I’ll Have Another Belgian Wheat (with Alaskan blueberries) for me, while Mrs. Sip went with the Panty Peeler Belgian Tripel (with orange peel and coriander). We also split an order of their Soft Pretzel Sticks and were provided a sample serving of the Sockeye Red IPA from the very nice server.

Our last stop before returning to the hotel was Brown Jug Downtown Wine & Spirits. Interestingly, at this liquor store, your ID is checked both at the door and when making your purchase. I bought a bomber of Kassik Brewing’s Morning Wood IPA for a night cap beverage. The beer’s tagline is “Never let a Morning Wood go to waste!” Amen to that!

Speaking of mornings, upon waking up, we went for breakfast across the street at the Glacier Brewhouse. My Biscuits and Gravy were very good and quite filling. We also ordered a flight of beers, consisting of the Bavarian Hefeweizen, Passion Fruit Wheat, Imperial Coconut Ale, Pomegranate IPA, and Blood Orange Double IPA, to go along with our meal.

biscuits-and-gravy.png

Afterwards, we walked to 49th State Brewing, enjoying a seat on their patio, which overlooks the water. Here, we split another flight of beers, including the Fallen Comrade Red Ale, Belgian Pale Ale, Vagabond Saison, Moose Joose IPA, and Kingslayer Braggot. The brewery’s Smoked Marzen Glazed Popcorn was actually good, according to this anti-popcorn curmudgeon.

After travelling from Anchorage to Whittier – which included a close call, where a driver going the opposite direction crossed into our lane and around our vehicle at a decent speed, driving through the road shoulder to our right before returning to their own lane – we finally boarded our cruise. We came packing, bringing aboard three bottles of wine, a handful of mini liqueur bottles and a bottle of Lemon Hart Blackpool Spiced Rum, which was so very tasty. I used the rum in the cruise-offered lemonade and hot chocolate, as well as with mixers I bought during port stops.

Proving that miracles do occur, the Sip Advisor only purchased one cocktail onboard the ship through the entire cruise. It was a good drink, but my original choice was denied because they were doing a menu that could only be ordered at select times. I had narrowly missed the window and the bartender wasn’t willing to help a brother out. My paid for beverage was the Mint Divine (gin, ginger beer, mint, cucumber, lime juice, simple syrup), which reminded me of a Mojito and Gin Buck rolled into one.

mojito smoothie

Our first port stop was Skagway, where I had outlined two breweries to visit, as well as the infamous Red Onion Saloon. As we explored, we also learned about a new distillery in the town, so added that to our itinerary. Up first was Klondike Brewing, where a flight of their five beers set you back a whopping $17. This is also where we first learned Alaskan law allows folks to only purchase 36oz of beer per person, per day at locations. At distilleries, the limit is 3oz of spirits. Up next was Skagway Brewing, where we order a 4oz sample of each of their 10 beers on tap for $2 apiece. The Spruce Tip Blonde was particularly good and is a style that must be tried in Alaska.

Moving on, we walked what seemed to be the length of the town to end up at Skagway Spirits. After sampling their vodka and gin, we ordered some finely-crafted cocktails in their Rhubarb Collins, Rosemary & Grapefruit, Fireweed Cosmopolitan and Bloody Mary. I typically don’t like Bloody Mary’s, preferring the Canadian Caesar, but this was a good rendition of the Caesar’s American cousin. Our last stop was the Red Onion Saloon, a former bordello that was built in 1897. Along with a shared plates of Nachos with Chicken, I enjoyed a pint of Alaskan Icy Bay IPA, while propositioning the gorgeous Mrs. Sip.

The next port was Juneau, where we began our day at the Alaska Fish & Chips Company for pints, as the bartender was very helpful with directing us to some attractions around the city. While Mrs. Sip drank an Alaskan Blonde Ale, I had the Alaskan Hazy Bay IPA (only available on draft). We never made it to the Alaskan Brewing Tasting Room, as it cost $25 each (including guided tasting) to take the shuttle there and back, with Baby Sip being charged full fare.

expensive poor

Instead, we stuck to touring downtown Juneau, popping into Devil’s Club Brewing. Mrs. Sip went with a three-beer flight (Mile 37 Belgian Tripel, Silt Milk Stout, Tangerine Dream), while I ordered a 12oz serving of Princess Peach Milkshake IPA. The server also provided us with a taste of their Summer Lights Cucumber Berlinerweisse Sour Ale, which was light and refreshing.

After that, we moved on to the Amalga Distillery. Following samples of their gin, we got their Sixth & Seward (gin, lilac, lemon, simple syrup) and Rosemary Collins (gin, rosemary, lemon, simple syrup, soda water) cocktails. A gentleman at the bar, who owned a distillery in Indiana, ordered a specially made drink, comprised of rhubarb, mint and other ingredients, which he shared with us.

Our crawl continued with the Red Dog Saloon, the oldest man-made tourist attraction in Juneau. Here, I enjoyed the Alaskan Husky IPA, completing my trifecta of the company’s IPAs. Mrs. Sip had a glass of wine, which seemed a little out of place given the setting, but she’s a classy broad.

classy

We then returned to Barnaby Brewing, which we had stumbled upon earlier in the day when it was closed. I had The Goods from the Woods Spruce Tip Pale, which was satisfying. On the way back to the ship, we briefly stopped at the Pier 49 beer garden for a can of Kenai River Brewing Spruce Tip Double IPA. This was recommended to us back at Alaska Fish & Chips Company and was a very good beer.

Our final port was Ketchikan, where we visited Bawden Street Brewing to begin the day. I had a 16oz serving of their Hooktender Saison, while Mrs. Sip went with a 12oz serving of Berliner Weisse. After some touring of the town, including the scandalous Creek Street, we wrapped the day at the First City Saloon, enjoying a Single Engine Red and Twister Creek IPA, both from Denali Brewing.

Finally, the last day of our cruise was upon us, which typically means finishing off whatever bottles still remain. We began our activities with the Pub Lunch, where Fish & Chips were combined with a bottle of Piraat Belgian Ale. Next up was a wine tasting, featuring a champagne, one white, two reds, and a dessert wine. I was largely dealing with Baby Sip during the tasting, so didn’t get to spend much time savouring the vino.

wine tasting

In the evening, we used the new cruise ship app to order a couple free cocktails. I went with a Manhattan, which was disappointing in both taste and presentation, while Mrs. Sip had a Mai Tai, which wasn’t drank until we had Baby Sip in bed, so had become watered down by that point. My Duty Free bottle purchases for this vacation were the Edward Gunpowder England Spiced Rum and Anchorage Distilleries Ghost Pepper Vodka. I look forward to using both in future recipes.

In closing, I would recommend cruising Alaska to anyone interested. It was great to get off the ship in each port and not have to travel too far to explore the area. People were very friendly and helpful and enjoyed talking to visitors to their state. Mrs. Sip and I are looking forward to returning one day and doing some of the sites we didn’t get to this time around, but feel we made a pretty good dent into the last frontier.

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