Beer Powered Beer, Part 1: Inside One of the Nation’s Most Isolated (and Innovative) Breweries

Beer Powered Beer, Part 1: Inside One of the Nation’s Most Isolated (and Innovative) Breweries

August 16th, 2021 (JUNEAU, AK): You’ve probably seen the beer before. It’s been championed by the likes of Seinfeld and Oprah and is distributed to as many as 26 states. In 2021, it clocked in as the 26th largest craft brewery by volume in the United States. But what you may not have know – is that the Alaskan Brewing Company has accomplished it all without the advantages that most other breweries take entirely for granted.

Brewed and bottled in the Alaskan capital of Juneau, Alaskan Brewing Company operates in near total isolation. With no roads in or out, the entire town of just over 30,000 people is surrounded by miles of unforgiving icefields, fjords, and rainforest. Among other challenges, this leads to a persistant shortage of labor, exorbitant shipping costs, and unpredictable weather conditions. It is also why the Alaskan Brewing Company legacy is one of hard-pressed independence, shameless sustainability, and raw Alaskan spirit.

The challenges that Juneau’s geography presents have led Alaskan’s brewers and engineers to innovate and come up with revolutionary solutions to its unique problems. These innovations have become a part of the process which Alaskan Brewing has coined ‘Beer Powered Beer.’ The process is a remarkable story of necessity, creativity, and sustainability. A story in four parts, that starts with the most recent addition – a Pressure Swing Absorption Nitrogen Generator.

Unlike most breweries which benefit from the ability to cheaply import C02, Juneau’s isolation has made importation of C02 impractical and environmentally harmful. This logistical hurdle, paired with the brewery’s commitment to sustainability, helped push Alaskan to be the first brewery nationwide to install a C02 recovery system in 1998. Recently, however, the Brewery’s need for CO2 has exceeded this system, calling for further innovation. At the beginning of August, the Brewing Company began operation of its new nitrogen capturing unit featured above. Using cutting edge nitrogen-capturing technology, the device collects nitrogen from the surrounding air, separating it from the oxygen molecules, which in turn allows AKB to cut down on its use of carbon in its operations. “Nitrogen will relieve the brewery’s dependency on C02 to replace the air in kegs, bottles, and cans,” says founder and innovator Geoff Larson.

Efforts such as the introduction of the nitrogen generator have gone hand in hand with the brewery’s operation and growth since its inception in 1986. We look forward to sharing the rest of the process with you in our four part ‘Beer Powered Beer Series coming out in the upcoming weeks.