Breweries in Alaska are as common as smoked salmon or glaciers -- and nearly as numerous. From big names like Juneau's iconic Alaskan Brewing Company to smaller entrants in out-of-the-way locales, there is hardly a town or whistlestop in Alaska that doesn't have its own brewery.
And we're talking about good beer, too. The quality of beer and breweries in Alaska has grown exponentially in the past few decades, to the point where Alaskan cruise passengers are missing out if they're not disembarking their ship for a pint of local goodness. Pair that with some seafood chowder and a sturdy umbrella for all weather conditions, and you've got the recipe for a memorable Alaskan cruise vacation.
Here is a small selection of our favorite breweries in Alaska you must visit on your next Alaskan cruise, presented in absolutely random order.
Located about an hour south of Anchorage en-route to the embarkation port of Seward, the town of Girdwood is famous for the luxury Alyeska Resort that draws cruise passengers looking for an upscale pre-or-post cruise wilderness stopover.
But the gem of our visit was arguably Girdwood Brewing Company. Nestled in the forest about a 20-minute stroll from Alyeska, the locally-run brewery offers plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, along with a lineup of food trucks and cozy firepits.
Their tap list constantly changes, but expect high-quality pours like The Hippy Speedball (Oatmeal Coffee Stout), Down the Chute (Kolsch), and the tasty NEIPA No Woman, No Cryo.
You know you've hit the jackpot when a brewery calls its flagship pint "Shut up, Donna!"
Tucked away on Bawden Street in Ketchikan (head towards the fire station and hang a hard left, if you're walking from the cruise piers), Bawden Street Brewing is a favorite haunt of ours. The taproom has seating for maybe a dozen people, yet rarely seems too crowded. This is the off-the-beaten-path watering hole for locals and tourists alike.
Bawden Street is also Ketchikan's only micro-brewery. Staff are fun and irreverent, the beers are always absolutely on-point, and their merchandise is pretty cool too. And let's face it, it's fun to order a "Shut up, Donna!"
Pop in on your next visit. Bawden Street Brewing is the kind of down-home, friendly, welcoming place that makes us want to pack our bags and move to Ketchikan.
Like most breweries in Alaska, Sitka's Harbor Mountain Brewing isn't much to look at on the outside. Step inside, however, into a world of warmth, delicious pints, and some of the best handmade pizza we've ever had.
Specializing in small-batch beers, Harbor Mountain Brewing has a whole list of rotating taps. Constant brews, however, range from the refreshing Skiff Life (a Czech-inspired Amber Lager) to the Totally Pitted Hazy IPA.
If you come: get the pizza from the adjacent Campfire Kitchen. These wood-fired pizzas are out of this world good, and you can order right from the taproom.
While it's not near downtown, Harbor Mountain Brewing is just a short 20-minute stroll from downtown, via the Stika Historical National Park. Just follow the harborfront walkway until you hit the forest, walk straight ahead on the path, cross the highway, and you're there.
To say that Skagway Brewing Company has grown by leaps and bounds is no exaggeration. From its inception in 2007, it has grown from a small restaurant location on Broadway Street to its much larger, two-story digs on 4th Avenue that it moved into back in 2019.
It is, hands-down, the most popular watering hole in Skagway and exists year-round, not just for the cruise passengers but for residents as well. Skagway Brewing frequently hosts community events and other initiatives throughout the winter months, too.
If you stop by during cruise season, be sure to get a pint (or two) of the Spruce Tip Blonde Ale, which is perfectly balanced. But don't pass by the Boom Town Brown Ale or the Chilkoot Trail IPA, either. The Brewery even makes a tasty Barley Wine for the more adventurous.
Pro tip: come for the beer, stay for the seafood chowder. But get here early! It's gone by mid-afternoon on big ship days.
If Skagway Brewing Company is the 400-pound gorilla when it comes to local brews in the former Gold Rush town, nearby Klondike Brewing is a refreshing alternative.
Upon entering, Klondike Brewing looks like an old-timey, turn-of-the-century bar. But stroll down the corridor to the right, and you'll find a fabulous outdoor backyard beer garden, perfect for those long summer days in Skagway.
Try the Klondike Original for a refreshing Alt-style lager, or a pint of the Revenant, a barrel-aged stout that packs a punch. And if you're not imbibing, the Teetotaler (Skagway Root Beer) is an excellent alternative.
There's no going to Alaska without enjoying a pint from the state's largest brewery.
Based in Juneau, Alaskan Brewing Company is the de-facto standard for Alaskan beers. Independently owned and operated since 1986, Alaskan Brewing Company is a true success story. Chances are good that you ca probably even enjoy a pint of its flagship Alaskan Amber onboard your cruise ship, too: the line's brews are carried aboard most Carnival Corporation ships, like Holland America Line and Princess Cruises.
Alaska Brewing's official taproom is a bit out of the way for cruise passengers (it's in an industrial area at 5364 Commercial Blvd., but a free shuttle transports passengers to and from the merchandise shop downtown during the summer months), but the company's brews are available at just about every pub in the State.
If you need a reason to make the trek to the actual taproom: the adjacent orange Wild Alaskan Food Truck offers up some of the best fish and chips we've had in Alaska.