ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Alaska is known across the world for its wildlife and its untouched natural beauty, for some alcohol aficionados, the state is also known for a rare barley wine that is released once a year.
Saturday morning saw Anchorage Brewing Company present "A Deal with the Devil," a set of six different barley wine style ales that cost $300. There were only 440 custom engraved box sets available for sale.
Gabe Fletcher, the brewer and owner of Anchorage Brewing Company, says the company has released the barley wine for the past several years. At first, it was known simply as “Anchorage Brewing Barley Wine.” It then won a number of awards across the world, leading to a local beer writer to tell Fletcher that he “must have made a deal with the devil, like Robert Johnson, to have made such an amazing beer.”
Fletcher explains this year’s release is special: the beer is aged 15-months in six different variants of barrels. From cognac barrels all the way to Glenmorangie whiskey barrels. The six beers are all over 17% alcohol and then individually wax dipped for aging. “They can age up to 20 or 30-years,” said Fletcher.
The excitement from the hundreds of fans waiting in line was palpable. Roman Estareja flew in from San Diego with a friend Friday morning, camping out in a tent and sleeping bag.
“Anchorage brewing is known worldwide for their barley wine,” said Estareja. He has tasted earlier varieties but this was his first trip to Alaska for the much hyped drink. He says the wines he has tried have been sweet, appropriate to the holidays and pack a punch.
Alaska though isn’t the furthest Estareja has traveled for beer: “I’ve flown for five days to Europe to try some stuff at one beer bar…we spent maybe $2,000 in an evening and tried bottles that we wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to try.”
Fletcher estimates 120-people flew in for release. “The reactions are insane, you got to really love something to sit out in 30 degree weather for 14-hours in line to want something this bad,” said Fletcher.