At the height of tourism season, space can get tight in Alaskan Brewing Company’s tasting room.
“When a bus unloads, it’s very crowded,” Andy Kline, communications manager for Alaskan Brewing, said.
Next summer, there might be a little bit more room.
Earlier this summer, Alaskan Brewing purchased part of a building owned by Anchor Electric Company on Commercial Drive. The building is next to Alaskan’s current property, and at a meeting this week, the Alcohol & Marijuana Control Board agreed that Alaskan Brewing can treat that new property as part of its brewery site.
That decision means, Kline explained, Alaskan Brewing can continue its operations in that space and that there are options. They can use the new space for brewing, storage or retail, he said, and they are still nailing down the specifics. Kline said the decision from the board is very new, so they are still working with the board to specify all the permits and little details.
“This allows us to treat that building as we would treat the rest of the facility,” Kline said.
The idea at the moment, which could still change, is that there will be an additional tasting room at the new building. The current one is not going to close anytime soon, Kline said. The hope is to have this new location developed by the time next tourist season rolls around, he said.
There was a little resistance to the idea among board members, Kline said, because this expansion was to a building that isn’t physically connected to the current facility. Kline said that it’s common for large breweries in the Lower 48 to have multiple buildings on site that are all considered one facility, but it’s not at all common in Alaska for alcohol producers to have such large areas.
“We’re sort of on that forefront of figuring out how regulations get applied,” Kline said.
If the board hadn’t made its decision this week, Kline said, it wouldn’t have ruined the brewery’s plans. The board members were never looking to thwart Alaskan Brewing’s expansion, according to a memo to the board from Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office Director Erika McConnell. McConnell wrote that the brewery needs to expand and “a way forward for them must be found.” She just wanted to work out all the details of how this expansion to a new building would work.
Alaskan Brewing representatives and board members will continue to communicate with each other throughout the process, Kline said.
Alaskan Brewing has been expanding in its Shaune Drive location recently, having purchased a next-door City and Borough of Juneau property as well. The brewery and the city signed an agreement in July, Kline said, and brewing employees are moving into the office space in the coming months. They hope to be fully moved into that property by 2020, Kline said.
Kline said that the idea of expanding to adjacent properties and keeping everything in one spot is very attractive to the brewery. Another byproduct of this expansion, Kline acknowledged, was that Alaskan Brewing will now have a presence on Commercial Drive, which leads to a popular shopping area that includes Costco and Home Depot.
“Commercial Drive is appealing for that reason,” Kline said. “There’s a little bit more visibility, especially for non-tourist season.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.