Congratulations on this anniversary! What’s the most surprising thing to you about the fact that you’re sitting there in Juneau, observing the 25th anniversary of your brewery?
Marcy: It went by so fast—in some ways. It seems like forever ago that we were first were trying to raise the money and all that, but on the other hand, it’s a fast 25 years when you look back.
Geoff: It’s also amazing, boy, what the industry’s gone through, what was believed to be the course to success 25 years ago. That really was a different era.
What would be the major differences?
Geoff: There wasn’t an awareness of craft beer, beyond a small eclectic few.
Marcy: “Craft beer” meant dark beer. Everyone said, “Oh, you must be making dark beer.”
Geoff: And the idea that if it’s gonna be made locally, it’s gonna be cheap: cheap ingredients, cheap manufacturing, cheap flavor. There were very few breweries when we started, and today it’s a different world.
Even among that unusual group of people who opened microbreweries back then, you choose a remarkably challenging location. You knew from the start that everything but the water would have to be brought in from outside.
Marcy: We did. We actually did several iterations of our business plan until we were really convinced that this could work.
How did it all begin?
Geoff: This is Marcy’s story, but she’s losing her voice. Our background is eclectic: her training was in photo-journalism, but she had a real knack with numbers, like accounting and bookkeeping. My background was engineering. We both enjoyed working: we took our jobs home. And then, we also enjoyed beer.
The idea came up in ‘80 or ‘81, about starting a brewery in Alaska. Marcy had a full-time job in the Department of Revenue and I had a job working at a gold mine. When the mine shut its doors, we made a decision that this was the time to start pursuing what it would take to start a brewing business.
Neither one of you is from Alaska originally. Had you experienced the beginnings of craft brewing culture elsewhere in the country?
Geoff: Not at all.