Skye Stekoll, right, and brother, Spencer, clean up construction debris as the Forbidden Peak Brewery nears completion on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. The Auke Bay brewery opens Saturday, Oct. 12. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Skye Stekoll, right, and brother, Spencer, clean up construction debris as the Forbidden Peak Brewery nears completion on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. The Auke Bay brewery opens Saturday, Oct. 12. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Auke Bay brewery ready for opening

Forbidden Peak Brewery moves into old bookstore

The development of Auke Bay into a “small town center” has been a significant focus of the City and Borough of Juneau.

Next Saturday, a new business will added that town center.

Forbidden Peak Brewery, a microbrewery owned by Skye, Sara, Justin and Anya Stekoll, will open for the first time next weekend, marking the completion of a demolition and renovation project of the former University of Alaska Southeast bookstore and administration offices. The Stekolls purchased the 10,000-square-foot building rather than just leasing it.

“With just the amount of capital that we were putting into the place, it didn’t necessarily make sense to just lease it and do all the improvements to,” Skye Stekoll said. “In order to do what we really want to do, we felt we had to own it.”

Co-owner Skye Stekoll stands behind a new bar as the Forbidden Peak Brewery nears completion on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. The Auke Bay brewery opens Saturday, Oct. 12. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Co-owner Skye Stekoll stands behind a new bar as the Forbidden Peak Brewery nears completion on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. The Auke Bay brewery opens Saturday, Oct. 12. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

One step inside the taproom reveals where the capital went. To the right, tall black shelves rise up the wall where the brewery will have a gift shop stocked with cans of beer and merchandise. Straight ahead, long slabs of polished western cedar from Icy Strait Lumber makes for an elegant-looking bar where up to 12 craft beers will be served to thirsty patrons.

Standing at the bar, customers will be able to look through large windows into the brewhouse’s six 10-barrel fermenters. A large opening next to the bar will provide another look at the brewing process. The microbrewery is designed to be an educational space, Forbidden Peak operations manager Alec Venechuk said, with the hope everyone finds a beer they can get behind.

[Photos: Sneak peek of Auke Bay’s newst craft brewery, Forbidden Peak Brewery]

Local chef Lionel Uddipa will eventually be opening a restaurant in the back of the brewery known as “Red Spruce.”

“We anticipate having upwards of 12 beers on tap, all different styles, varying different styles and we feel like beer is so diverse, there’s something for everybody,” Venechuk said. “If you’re a dark-beer drinker, we’re going to have dark beers. If you like something light or you like something hoppier or bitter, (we’ll have those). And also beer styles from different parts of the world.”

There will be eight beers on tap next Saturday: Auke Bay IPA, ESB, First Ascent APA, Frost Point IPA, Helles, Low Altitude Altbier, Oatmeal Stout and Peak Style Blonde Ale. Forbidden Peak served four brews — the Auke Bay IPA, First Ascent APA, Peak Style Blonde Ale and Oatmeal Stout — at Capital Brewfest.

“It was awesome,” Stekoll said of participating in the event. “It was great to see the support from both from the event and the other breweries but then also the public.”

Brewer Erick Heimbigner fills kegs at the Forbidden Peak Brewery on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. The Auke Bay brewery opens Saturday, Oct. 12. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Brewer Erick Heimbigner fills kegs at the Forbidden Peak Brewery on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. The Auke Bay brewery opens Saturday, Oct. 12. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The brewing equipment arrived in the spring and the crew started brewing test batches this summer.

“We had some really good recipes or recipes that we felt were good, but scaling them up definitely took some trial and error,” Venechuk said. “It wasn’t a straight or linear process.”

Stekoll said the process of transforming the space was a long process, but not a completely foreign one as a former project manager for the City and Borough of Juneau Engineering Department.

“This was just kind of an extension of that in some ways,” Stekoll said.

“A lot of the work was dismantling the offices and opening it back up to essentially how it was when it was Horton’s Hardware way back in the day,” Stekoll added.

Stekoll and Venechuk both are excited to focus on beer-making full-time now.

“We’ve been mired in the construction for so long, it feels like we’re really welcoming just being able to brew and really focus on the beer from here on out,” Venechuk said.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com.


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