Official Alaska State Fair Beer Announced

For the very first time, there will be an official beer at the Alaska State Fair this year! After a taste-off between two beers last week, we decided on a delicious cream ale from Kassik’s Kenai Brew Stop. The brew will be flowing at the Oasis Beer Garden and the Sluicebox for the duration of the 2010 Fair. We’re working on a name and label design now – stay tuned for updates!

Why have an official Fair brew? According to Sheri Musgrave, our beverage manager, the goal was to promote both the Fair and Alaska-made products, and recognize our hard-working local breweries.

So how did we choose Kassik’s from all the great Alaska breweries? There were a couple of deciding factors. First, Kassik’s was one of the People’s Choice award winners two years running at our popular Mighty Matanuska Brewfest. They’re also an Alaska brewery. And they were able to brew the quantities we require for our thirsty fairgoers. “That immediately put them at the forefront,” Sheri says. “Plus, we loved the beer!”

After we selected the brewer, we had to choose between two great Kassik’s brews – a blonde and the cream ale. A group of lucky Fair staff members gathered for a taste-off last week and, at the end of the day, the cream ale came out the winner. Check out a short video of the taste-off on YouTube (a big thanks to Brian Mead for creating the video!).

“Both beers tasted great, but blondes are very popular to brew. We were afraid it would be lost. The cream ale is more unique. It will be the only cream ale at the Fair,” Sheri says.

In fact, the beer is one of the only Alaska-brewed cream ales in the state! And it’s so exclusive, it’s currently only available at Buckets Sports Grill in Soldotna. According to Debbie Kassik, owner of Kassik’s, since introducing the beer in 2008, they’ve made 10 batches for Buckets, which equates to 1,550 gallons or 12,400 pints!

So what makes the cream ale so special? Officially, the beer is light golden in color, with low malt, a hop aroma, and a slightly sweet malt and corn flavor. Some of our taster comments included “smooth,” “good bubble,” “clean finish,” “beautiful color,” “no hoppy aftertaste” and “good balance.”

“It’s a great thirst-quencher on a summer day while enjoying the many events the Fair has to offer,” Debbie says.

If you really enjoy the cream ale at this year’s Fair, be sure to check out Kassik’s spiced cream ale at the 2010 Mighty Matanuska Brewfest, which will be held Friday and Saturday, October 15 – 16 at Raven Hall on the fairgrounds.

Brewers and beer-lovers alike will definitely want to be at this year’s Brewfest, as attendees will be able to weigh in on the selection of the 2011 official Fair beer and brewer! “We’ll definitely be continuing the official beer next year,” Sheri says. “We’ll see what works this year, what doesn’t and what we can do better next year.”

Imagine if…you were in charge of selecting the official Fair beer. What beer would you choose and why? Comment here or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.