A recently released list by crowd-sourced review company Yelp listed one of Juneau’s breweries as the best-reviewed craft brewery in the state.
Devil’s Club Brewing Co., founded in 2018 and located downtown on South Franklin Street, was named to the list both for the number and rating of reviews.
“We’re humbled. Juneau has supported us bigtime for the past four years we’ve been open,” said Evan Wood, co-owner of the brewery, in a phone interview. “We’re very flattered to receive the recognition for all the hard work we’ve been putting in.”
While other breweries in the state, such as Alaskan Brewing Co., or 49th State Brewing Company, had more reviews — many more, in the case of 49th State — Devil’s Club were of a higher quality.
“I don’t think we have that many (reviews) so I guess they’re good ones,” Wood said. “We’re certainly fortunate on a local scale — we get a lot of friendly faces in the winter and fall. We want to be open for Juneau throughout the year.”
The transition back to heavily tourist-based commerce means shifts for the brewery’s offerings, said Kayla Johnson, who manages the kitchen for the taproom.
“In the summer we replace the local business with tourist business,” Johnson said in an interview. “I’m not going to serve smoked salmon to the locals. But in the summer I’ll put it on the menu all day.”
Tourists are more likely to order food that can be eaten as a group, Johnson said, joking about getting 16 orders for the brewery’s pretzels and beer cheese in a single go. Tourists are also more likely to order fare, like the smoked salmon, that they may not be familiar with, but that Juneau residents are more likely to have that in their homes.
“Shareables end up being a lot more popular during the summer,” said bar manager Eric Moots. “Locals get a lot more sandwiches.”
Wood said their dedication to providing the Juneau experience likely contributed to the positive feedback.
“I think the brewers are making great beer,” he said. “I think the cooks are making great food. And I think the beertenders are providing a personable and excellent experience,” Wood said. “It’s that Juneau vibes that we try to portray.”
It’s also nice to not be constantly dealing with the slings and arrows of mitigation measures during the pandemic, Johnson said.
“I think it’s nice not having to keep pivoting. Not having to juggle all that is really really nice,” Johnson said. “My supply chain issues have primarily disappeared.”
Wood said the brewery is aiming to expand its capacity for brewing.
“We’re trying to be able to make more beer. We have a very small brewery. We focused on organic growth without starting with a lot of capital,” Wood said. “We would like to be able to share it with more people.”
Toward that end, the brewery has been expanding its downstairs, Wood said, as their landlord knocks through an old bank vault to clear more space.
“We’re constantly trying to keep up with the taproom. We would love to be able to reach a wider audience. We would like to be able to reach more people who don’t love downtown,” Wood said. “We’ve been punching through some walls. They blew up an old bank vault to allow us to get into more space in the building to continue to grow.”
The refit is underway right now, said Jake Ridle, co-founder and manager of the brewing operations. Supply chain issues have held up some of the overhaul, Ridle said.
“Hopefully by fall or winter we’ll be able to increase production. Hopefully we’ll be able to make about twice as much,” Wood said. “Variety has always been a mainstay of our offerings. We want to offer the town new products.”
In the near future, Ridle said, Devil’s Club will be present at Beer Fest in Haines this weekend, as well as participating in the “Egan is Lava” event, a challenge to get from Devil’s Club to Forbidden Peak Brewery without touching Egan Drive.
Other notable entries on the list include Alabama’s Good People Brewing, Delaware’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, and Massachusetts’ Samuel Adams Brewery.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.