Roadtrippin’ 2023: A visit to the Haines Brewery where craft beer is king

Roadtrippin’ 2023: A visit to the Haines Brewery where craft beer is king
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 10:55 PM AKDT
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HAINES, Alaska (KTUU) - In 1999, Paul Wheeler and his wife Jeanne Kitayama opened the Haines Brewing Company, in part, Wheeler said, because of how hard it was to find a good beer in the small Southeast town unless you made it yourself.

Wheeler had always been an avid homebrewer and decided to take the next step. Haines Brewing Company isn’t just the oldest brewery in this small community; it’s the only brewery, and locals and visitors alike enjoy it.

Wheeler brews about 20 different kinds of beer with 16 on tap at all times. He’s known for some unusual techniques in his brewing style, as well as for using local ingredients grown in the Haines area whenever possible.

Wheeler has helped to put Alaskan craft beers on the map and is one of the founders of the Great Alaska Craft Beer and Home Brew Festival, which draws more than a thousand participants to Haines every May.

Lauren Maxwell went to the Southeast Alaska Fairgrounds to learn about this weekend's upcoming Great Alaska Craft Beer & Home Brew Festival.

The Great Alaska Craft Beer & Home Brew Festival in Haines may not be the biggest in the state, but it’s the oldest, according to Amanda Randles with the Southeast Alaska State Fair, which runs the festival every year in May.

It started in 1992 as a way for locals to show off their homebrew creations and has grown every year since.

This year, 26 brewers were expected from across the state as well as the Yukon, Canada, according to Randles, who said more than 1,000 people attend to sample their wares.

The festival starts with a gourmet dinner. Randles said brewers pair beers with a five-course meal and often make special brews just for the event.

A full day of tastings and live music keep the atmosphere going with food served from vendors at the State Fair Grounds throughout the day.

Randles said people who are interested in the festival next year need to get tickets early, as it always sells out. They go on sale on the Southeast Alaska State Fair website every year on March 1.