Several years ago, Katrina Pearson and Katie Devereaux were having a beer at Skagway Brewing Company when they realized there was a void in the world of Alaskan books. Alaskans, and visitors to the 49th state, love beer; craft breweries and festivals in the state had exploded in recent years. But where was the quirky, entertaining book for Alaska beer lovers?
Enter Juneauite Clint Farr’s writing and sense of humor, editor Colleen Mondor, along with Alaskan visual artists Sarah Asper-Smith, Mitchell Watley and Courtenay Birdsall Clifford — brought together under the banner of Pearson’s Juneau company Shorefast Editions — and you’ve got yourself “Beers of the North: A Field Guide to Alaska & the Yukon,” an attractive, entertaining book for beer lovers both local and far-flung.
“I think the focus really was to have a breezy, fun, but informative read about beer and the love of beer,” Farr said.
“Beers of the North” features breweries around the state and the Yukon with short, engaging write-ups and a key to help you figure out if they offer food, growlers, tastings, and more. If you find yourself wondering just what a steam beer or lauter tun is, there’s a glossary to help you figure it out. For those who want their tasting to be as social as possible, there’s a schedule of beer events — and for those who like to get creative with their beer consumption, there’s a recipe section. There are also fun, informative asides (“Just a Taste”) about the place each brewery calls home, and pages for readers to jot their own notes.
“I think as you’re reading it, hopefully every once in a while you’ll come across a little turn of phrase, a piece of information and say ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool,’” Farr said. “And if that’s what happens, I’m happy.”
Co-writer Katie Devereaux lived in Skagway for five years and worked as a reporter for the Skagway News.
“As someone who came from outside of Alaska… I loved trying all of the craft beers,” she said. “It was really cool for me to learn about how each beer, each brewery, had something different that they did with their beer. Each one had their little specialty.”
Researching the book gave her an appreciation for brewers’ creativity, she said, especially as someone in a creative profession herself.
For Farr, a life-long Alaskan, one of the benefits of the book is its connection to local food efforts around the country.
“I really see craft brewing as sort of this predecessor for the locavore movement,” he said. “Locally produced food, beer — it’s really exciting to promote that, and be part of that sort of local economy. … the more that we can do stuff like that, the better.”
“Beers of the North” is Pearson’s Shorefast Editions’ first original publication.
Shorefast Editions plans to update the book annually, releasing a new edition each spring, she said.
“It’s just sort of exciting for me to have a small press based in Juneau, and to be able to collaborate with Alaskans on quality books,” she said.
“I love Alaska, and getting an opportunity to talk it up in a book was really, really cool,” Farr said.
Next up, Shorefast Editions this fall will release “Ed Ricketts from Cannery Row to Sitka, Alaska,” a book about Ed Ricketts, the scientist and philosopher who inspired the character of “Doc” in John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row,” edited by Sitka scientist Jan Straley.
“Beers of the North: A Field Guide to Alaska & the Yukon” is available at your local bookstore. Find out more at www.shorefasteditions.com.
• Contact Capital City Weekly staff writer Mary Catharine Martin at email@example.com.