David Howard, who placed in multiple categories at Great Alaska Craft Beer and Homebrew Festival, shows off medals he’s won in past festivals. (Courtesy Photo | Alexis Howard)

David Howard, who placed in multiple categories at Great Alaska Craft Beer and Homebrew Festival, shows off medals he’s won in past festivals. (Courtesy Photo | Alexis Howard)

Hop to it: Juneau homebrewers get busy winning awards

Capital city beer-makers did well in Southeast State Fair competition

Juneau brewers bubbled to the top of the Great Alaska Craft Beer and Homebrew Festival.

Kent Ficek, Blake Hass, David Howard and Jerry Nankervis all placed in multiple categories at the 27th annual competition held May 24 and 25 in Haines. Juneauite Arne Oydna also placed third in a European lagers and IPAs.

“I’m very happy,” Howard said when reached by phone. “There’s a lot of hard work that goes into that.”

Howard placed third in the smoked and wood-aged beer category, second in the dark and strong ales category, and third in the brown, amber and double IPAs category.

Despite the accolades, Howard said he actually fared better last year and won a category, but he was still pleased with his showing.

“This year, I brewed what I wanted to brew,” Howard said. “Last year, I brewed to win.”

He said of his award-winning entries, a Russian imperial stout was his favorite. The beer, Howard said, exemplified how much time the craft can take.

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“I made it in July of last year, and it sat on French oak for six months,” Howard said. “It takes a lot of patience.”

David Howard, who placed in multiple categories at Great Alaska Craft Beer and Homebrew Festival, separates grain from unfermented beer while in the process of making a hoppy wheat beer. (Courtesy Photo | David Howard)

David Howard, who placed in multiple categories at Great Alaska Craft Beer and Homebrew Festival, separates grain from unfermented beer while in the process of making a hoppy wheat beer. (Courtesy Photo | David Howard)

Ficek came in first place in the meads and ciders category, second in the smoked and wood-aged beer category, third in wild, sour and specialty IPAs and second in the European lagers and hybrids.

Hass placed second in spiced and fruit beers and second in wild, sour and specialty IPAs.

“I’m pretty stoked,” Hass said when reached by phone. “Any time you can take home a medal it’s a good thing.”

He and Ficek are coworkers at Alaskan Brewing Co., and Hass said there’s a bit of a friendly competition between the two brewers.

Hass said of his award-winning entries, an American wild ale called B.R.E.A.M. — Brett Rules Everything Around Me — was the brew of which he was most proud.

Brett is short for brettanomyces, which is a type of yeast that Hass said produces a funky flavoring.

“It’s one of my favorite homebrews ever,” Hass said.

Nankervis had a first-place finish in the pale beers category and won best of the wheat, pale and European lagers division. He also placed second in the wheat beers category.

Nankervis has been brewing since 2012 and submitting beers to the Haines competitions since 2013, he said.

Like Howard, Nankervis tends to brew to his personal tastes. The competition just confirms whether he’s on the right track.

“I send stuff in to reaffirm whether I’m making a good beer or not,” Nankervis said. “Some years I do better than others, and it sounds like this year I did OK.”

Even the brewers not from Juneau, such as best of show-winner Lara Lewis of Whitehorse, will have a capital city connection.

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That’s because award medals were made by Juneau artist Rachael Juzeler, who fuses together molten Alaskan Brewing Co. bottles to make the awards.

Juneau artist Rachael Juzeler, a former brewer, makes medals for the Great Alaska Craft Beer and Homebrew Festival using a glass kiln and old Alaskan Brewing Co. bottles. (Courtesy Photo | Rachael Juzeler)

Juneau artist Rachael Juzeler, a former brewer, makes medals for the Great Alaska Craft Beer and Homebrew Festival using a glass kiln and old Alaskan Brewing Co. bottles. (Courtesy Photo | Rachael Juzeler)

“I’ve been doing it for many years,” Juzeler said.

She was previously a brewer at Alaskan Brewing Co., and said the custom-made awards seem more appropriate for the Great Alaska Craft Beer and Homebrew Festival than boilerplate medals made to order.

“That festival in Haines is a pretty big deal,” Juzeler said.

Hass said he was unaware that’s where the awards come from.

“That makes it even more special,” he said.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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