Food and Drink

A new beer and barley wine festival pops up in Anchorage

A month ago, beer enthusiasts in Alaska received bad news: The 2020 Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival, a sprawling annual event featuring the best beer and barley wine Alaska (and elsewhere) had to offer, had been canceled.

“After 26 years, the economics of continuing the festival just don’t pencil out in the current economy,” Steve Shepherd, president of festival organizer Aurora Productions, said in a statement dated Nov. 21.

Now the Alaska Craft Brew & Barley Wine Festival, which runs from Friday, Jan. 31 to Saturday, Feb. 1, has popped up in its place.

The Brewers Guild of Alaska announced the upcoming festival — produced in partnership with Peak2Peak Events, a division of the Anchorage Daily News — on Friday afternoon.

“For 25 years, Anchorage has been celebrating craft beer and barley wines from Alaska and around the world with a unique festival unlike most others around the U.S., and the Brewers Guild is extremely excited to see the event managed by a new group that is as passionate about beer as we are,” Lee Ellis, president of the Brewers Guild of Alaska, said in a statement Friday.

The new beer and barley wine festival, which runs from Friday, Jan. 31 to Saturday, Feb. 1, will have three sessions: a session from 6 to 10 p.m. both days (tickets cost $45 each), and a “connoisseur’s session” ($55) from 2 to 5 p.m. on the second day. The event will be held at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in downtown Anchorage, and will also feature food from brewpubs and restaurants around town, according to event organizers.

“We wanted to bring back the taste of the original Barley Wine Festival and make it better with more space, great food and most importantly, more beer!” said Billy Opinsky of Humpy’s, who founded one of the original events that eventually morphed into the Great Alaska Beer & Barley Wine Festival, in the statement. Organizers said Friday that they plan for the new festival to be held on an annual basis.


Tickets are available at People must be at least 21 years old to attend.

The Alaska Craft Brew & Barley Wine Festival coincides with Alaska Beer Week, which runs from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the rescheduling of Alaska Beer Week from earlier in the month of January.

Vicky Ho

Vicky Ho is the ADN's managing editor. An avid hiker and skier, she also wrote Cautionary Tales, a column about lessons learned the hard way in the Alaska outdoors. Contact her at