FAIRBANKS — Three entrepreneurs find inspiration in the town of Fairbanks for their new microbrewery on south Peger Road.
You can see the spirit of the Golden Heart City in the company logo, featuring local landscape. The beer names, including Keep It Boreal and Muskox Safari, all reflect Interior Alaska. The mural on the wall is a big orange glow, bringing to mind the midnight sun, radiating green rays that look a bit like trees. Even the brewery name is a nod to something local.
Black Spruce Brewing Co. offers seven beers on tap and a tasting room. Three beers are staples, and the rest are a rotating variety of special offerings. A glass is $5-$6. A growler is $14-$18.
The beers included on the menu are Short Days Golden Ale, Aroma Dome and Squiggly Trees American Brown Ale. On Wednesday, a new amber called Reginald Van Horn will be unveiled. Carey Fristoe, head brewer, described it as rich with a lot of malt depth.
The brewery and tasting room are the creation of Fristoe, Stephanie Haskins and Jake Hovenden. Fristoe and Hovenden grew up here and were schoolmates since their days at Pearl Creek Elementary School.
The business partners leased a building next to a tire store, remodelled it, started their first batch of brew in November and met their goal to open Black Spruce Brewing Co. by the end of 2018.
At the grand opening in December, the parking lot overflowed and cars were parked along the street. Black Spruce is one of three microbreweries now operating in Fairbanks.
“For us opening in the middle of winter, it’s been a really welcoming reception. It’s super awesome,” Fristoe said.
The brewery is currently selling about 40 barrels a month and has the space to more than double capacity but the owners are in no big hurry to grow, at least for now. Presently, their focus is on making tasty beer. Fristoe and Haskins each have seven years in the craft brewery industry.
Fristoe’s goal is to “gently challenge” beer drinkers in Fairbanks by innovating with unique ingredients to come up with bold new flavors.
Short Days, one of the house beers, is a light beer. Aroma Dome and Squiggly Trees, the other house beers, are fruity with citrus flavor and a medium-bodied dark beer.
The rest of the beers will depend on what Fristoe comes up with. Currently, he is playing with yeast from Norway.
“Some of these beers will make more appearances than others,” he said. “Some we might brew once and not brew again.”
Fristoe has been brewing beer professionally for five years. He earned a master’s degree in brewing and distilling in Scotland, he said. His undergraduate degree is in chemistry. It all started with home brewing in his kitchen. Now he’s aging beer in whiskey barrels.
“It’s another layer. You’re adding different complexity,” he said.
The tasting room consists of long rectangular tables with stools. They have a Hungry Robot food truck on site where customers can purchase wood-fired pizza.
The brewery has two part-time employees and maintains an active presence on social media, its main marketing tool.
A couple of weeks ago, Haskins made a short video starring Fristoe introducing a new beer, Muskox Safari, and posted it on Facebook and Instagram.
“It’s just beer,” Haskins said. “We are having fun with it.”
Black Spruce Brewing Co. is open 3 p.m.-8 p.m. on Tuesday-Friday, and noon-8 p.m. on Saturday.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.