The Local Resources Kodiak Island Has to Create Unique Products

Product diversity is always on the mind of a brewery owner. Making sure they have something to entice a new consumer or bring back a regular can help stimulate growth along with innovation. For Alaska’s Kodiak Island Brewing though, the consumer base can’t get too far away from the brewery as it is on a literal island about 250 miles south of Anchorage, yet owner Ben Millstein said he is always looking for ways to win the consumer back.

Having a base portfolio of beers coupled with innovative flavors that are specific to the region help while expanding into spirits is the plan for 2022.

“I’m working on what we need to do to add more value to the brewery in this kind of harder economy,” he told Brewer recently. “We have sours and we have some barrel-aged beers. We’ve got a good variety and one thing that I’ve found that people really, really like a lot is local ingredients and so I’ve been doing more of that, which there’s a real market for.”

A Salmonberry sour is pretty Alaskan and Millstein says they make a Gose with kelp.

“We have a couple of different spruce tip beers — a spruce tip IPA and spruce tip Wheatwine,” he said. “What I like to say about being creative in beer is that it should also be good.”

He added anyone can make a beer and get creativity points, “but if it’s something you just want to taste, then there’s no point in making a beer that you just make and say ‘well that’s interesting, but I’d rather have a Pale Ale, thanks.’ You want to make something that is only good if it’s actually good.”

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​Having a 10​-​barrel system ​in a small market​ means making ​​beers that can be sold quickly.

“When you are going to make a batch, you want it to be something people are going to like because otherwise, you’ll be sitting on it for quite a long time​,” Millstein said.​

Purchasing a still and creating in-house spirits will cater to a whole new clientele as well, he hopes as well.

“We’ve started making them​,​ but I’m still working on a lot of the details in terms of logo and label and bottles​,” he said. ​”​I am very optimistic that it will help a lot.

​”​We have a big tasting room and this should allow that to be relevant for a lot more people in town.

​”​Most people who don’t drink beer ​have friends who do drink beer, but they don’t come to the brewery because we don’t have anything for​ them.”​

Clear spirits will be the start while Millstein said he is getting whiskey in barrels and will work with oak chip aging in stainless as well to get whiskey available sooner.

“It will be something that we can start experimenting with,” he said.

Millstein shared more insights in the Expert Outlook 2022 in the print edition of Brewer Magazine, out now. Get your free subscription if you are a brewery owner or decision maker here.

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