03 January 2010

Guest Post: North to the Future: Craft Beer in Alaska

Our guest contributor for today's guest column is Sun King Brewer/Owner Clay Robinson. Staraya, his talented and lovely girlfriend, is a former Alaska native.

Staraya & I arrived in Anchorage after a long journey that took us from Indy through Chicago, then to Seattle for a 22-hour layover, complete with sushi and last minute holiday shopping, and then a very turbulent flight to Alaska. I have been now been lucky enough to arrive in Alaska on both the Summer & Winter Solstices, so I have been able to enjoy their longest and shortest days of the year! But no matter what day it is, the best place to go for a beer lover is The Moose’s Tooth.

The Moose’s Tooth boasts an impressive 22 taps, all of which are pouring fresh beer, brewed on site. On this particular day, they had 18 beers pouring! I didn’t get to taste all 18 of them because it was crazy busy and I needed to save room for their pizza, which is exquisite. The place is packed at 8 p.m. on this frigid Monday night and from what I gather that is the case pretty much every night. The doors lead straight into their waiting area, which is right in front of their bar. Two dining rooms extend out from either end of the bar and the place is buzzing with chatter and good spirits. The atmosphere at The Moose’s Tooth is very cozy with exposed wood beams and stone. Everywhere you look they have artwork from their First Tap Series, all of which is incredible. You could spend hours perusing their poster collection that lines the walls.

We put our name in and headed for the bar to grab a beer for the wait. They have a convenient spot sectioned off at the bar for thirsty patrons to grab a beer while they wait for a table, which doubles as a spot for convenient growler fill service. Russell, Jeanie and myself all got the I.P.A. and Staraya got the Winter Warmer. After traveling for a few days I had a powerful thirst for something hoppy and their Fairweather I.P.A. really hit the spot. Its initial caramel sweetness is mild and quickly cut through with big doses of Chinook Hops. The hop flavor and bitterness were just right, so between the delicious beer and catching up with old friends, the wait really flew by.

We were seated and greeted by our server, Kristen, who was comfortably decked out in Moose’s Tooth apparel, topped off with a cozy sock hat. The staff at the Tooth is always friendly and seems to genuinely enjoy working there. After a little chatting, Russell told her that I was in fact a brewer, so Kristen said she would bring me samples of a few things that she felt I had to try… then she left us to the difficult task of choosing our pizza.

Choosing a pizza at the Moose’s Tooth is akin to picking your pie at Jockamo’s. There are dozens of options from traditional to unique and of course being in Alaska there is a Halibut pizza (Blackened Halibut, Diced Red Onions, Diced Roma Tomatoes, Spicy Sour Cream Sauce, Parsley, Mozzarella, Provolone, Garlic & Olive Oil). It is my opinion that some of the best things about pizza are: 1) Good pizza places have their own unique dough/crust. 2) There are a countless number of toppings and combinations. 3) Pizza is perfect for sharing. Of course these are some of the same reasons that I love beer, breweries and traveling to experience them, so I’m kind of in Heaven at this place!

In the infinite sea of pizza decisions, we chose to go with two medium pizzas and have each side of the table pick a pie. Russell and Jeanie chose the White Pizza (Sundried Tomatoes, Artichoke Hearts, Feta, Mozzarella, Provolone, Garlic & Olive Oil) with the addition of sausage. Staraya and I went with the Brewhouse Favorite (Italian Sausage, Sundried Tomatoes, Red Onions, Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Denali Sauce) then added mushrooms and black olives. When Kristen returned, she had three tasty samples of beer. We ordered pizza and a salad and I commenced sampling.

Winter Warmer: I took a sip of Staraya’s Winter Warmer when she first got it. I was happy to have some to myself, so I didn’t end up drinking all of her beer (which happens quite frequently), but given her fondness for this particular beer, I thought I’d better get my own. Winter Warmer is a really nice beer. It is reminiscent of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale in that big malt and generous hops kind of way. The aroma is full of earthy hops. It has a rich malt start with a distinct extra dark crystal malt character. The body is full, bordering on chewy and it is all balanced with a generous earthy hop flavor. Winter Warmer is a well-balanced beer that is very enjoyable and would probably sneak up on you after a couple of pints, which would be easy to consume on a cold Alaskan evening.

Prince William Porter: This is a spot on Porter. It has a lot of chocolate to the nose with a bit of roast. The body is light to medium and the flavor is rich and chocolaty with a nice ester quality. It is a clean, smooth, delicious porter.

Dark Star Lager: From what I could taste, the Dark Star Lager is essentially the Porter, but fermented with a lager strain. The chocolate flavor was really nice in this beer as well and the clean lager finish worked well to make this a really nice beer.

While all of these beers were delicious, as I’m sure most everything else is, Fairweather I.P.A. was calling my name. It is the type of beer that I just can’t get enough of, so I ordered another pint to accompany our pizzas. The pizzas and my fresh beer were delivered to the table in a timely manner and our feast ensued! Both pizzas were f@$!&# fantastic and we devoured every bit of it.

All in all, I can’t see how there could possibly be a better place for pizza and beer in all of Alaska. So, if you ever make it up this way… Stop in at the Moose’s Tooth. It’s worth the trip!


  1. You guys are never, ever going to get me to write a big ass thing like Clay just did. I'd be cussin', chatting up waitresses, talkin' bout how much better Brugge is etc.....Well done Clay.

  2. Not only did Clay go out of his way to do this, it was his idea.

    I wish everyone else cared as much as Clay.

  3. Clay did cuss - it just was censored for our more innocent readers.

    I think we all know how awesome Brugge is - but if you want to write about it we're not stopping you, Ted.

  4. To be fair, Ted already wrote a review. It was improvised by me, but I feel like that's what he would have written anyway.