The Haines Brewing Company has started pouring its Dalton Trail Pale Ale and Lookout Stout at a new, much bigger location. The brewery opened the doors Monday at its new Main Street facility after about 16 years in Dalton City, at the Haines Fairgrounds. The brewery owners say the new digs have been a long time coming.
“Well this is the tap room, and you’re standing next to our row of tap lines, of 12 taps right through the wall from our walk-in cooler,” brewery co-owner Paul Wheeler describes the layout of the new location.
To celebrate the occasion, he brewed up a special drink. It’s number one on tap.
“We have the brand new ale, the Expansion Ale, it’s ‘New Hoppinins on Main Street.’ And it’s basically a strong red ale with an aggressive hop character to it. So it’s real fun to have that to pour today.”
Wheeler and co-owner Jeanne Kitayama started the brewery in 1999.
“Well I drew up a five-year business plan at the very beginning,” Wheeler said. “I was supposed to move out of Dalton City in five years. And that was 11 years ago.”
Wheeler says the Dalton City spot was a great place to start, but “it’s cramped quarters.”
The original location’s tasting room had a 12-person capacity, the new one allows for 49 people, not including the beer garden the brewery is still working to construct. The production area is also about four or five times bigger.
“It’s just gonna give us a little more breathing room in the summertime,” Wheeler said. “We are at our maximum production in the old facility and we can’t make any more. So we’re actually losing out on a couple accounts we have in Juneau in the summer months, for instance. This new facility will allow us to sell outside Haines all year-round.”
Right now, the brewery produces about 375 barrels of beer a year. Wheeler says the added space, along with some new equipment they plan to purchase, will allow them to double their production. Although he doesn’t see them growing production that much right away.
“Our philosophy is staying the local brewery,” Wheeler said. “We built this brewery as the Haines Brewing Company, which is local. And the beautiful thing of traveling is finding little jewels that you can’t find at home.”
Aside from providing beer year-round to two bars in Juneau, Wheeler says they just hope to meet local demand. He says they might consider more options in the future.
So how does it feel to leave the building where everything started? The Dalton City brewery is even on the company’s logo.
“It’s totally bittersweet,” Wheeler said. “It’s been fun out a Dalton City. It’s been a very comfortable atmosphere.”
Kitayama says she was ready for the new facility.
“Definitely. It was a small space and it’s definitely nice to be in a brand new place,” she said. “Up to this point was more of a worry, who’s gonna get done, how are they doing. But today is fun. Today is exciting.”
“It’s just perfect. Perfect for Haines,” said Ardy Miller, a Haines resident and self-professed ‘beer nerd.’ She and her husband Rob are drinking the Expansion Ale to celebrate.
“Oh it’s wonderful, it’s a good sort of medium strong ale, like a cross between an IPA and Red,” Ardy said. “It’s got a nice bitter finish. It’s just a wonderful beer.”
The Millers say they’re glad the brewery will be able to make more of the product they love. And, they might be stopping by more often.
“I think for everyone it’s just going to be more convenient,” Ardy said. “Because no matter where you live you have to come into town to do your grocery shopping, get your mail, and they’re right here. And I think it’s also a perfect location for visitors.”
Denver resident Margie Parkis is one of those visitors.
“I was working in Denali for the summer, and one of the bus drivers said, ‘Oh you came through Haines? Did you get to try the Haines brewery? You’ve got to go that way if you’re going back, because they’ve got spruce tip beer and it’s really tasty.’ And I said ‘Okay, I’ll look for it.'”
Parkis said when she arrived in Haines Monday, she asked where the brewery was, and someone gave her directions to Dalton City. But she happened across the new location by chance.
“And the spruce tip beer is exactly what I’d hoped for,” she said.
Cheers to that.
The brewery is also extending business hours, from noon to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.