A selection of beers at Magnetic North Brewing Co. Photo by Bailey Berg.
When Magnetic North Brewing Co. opened its doors for the first time, it looked a lot different than owner and brewer Jeremiah Christian anticipated.
For starters, he’d originally planned on combating a competitive Alaskan beer market by initially just offering homebrew classes for novices to get a guided feel for brewing. But as Anchorage-wide COVID-19 closures were announced last spring, limiting the number of people who could gather indoors, and as bills started rolling in, Christian decided he needed to pivot.
In a single Facebook post, Christian announced he’d be opening for to-go sales of a sampler pack of four IPAs that afternoon. At 2 p.m. on April 11, Magnetic North flicked on their neon open sign and quietly welcomed hop heads into their southside tap room one at a time.
In under six hours, they were completely sold out. Now, nearly a year later, they’re chugging right along.
The first few months were an exercise in flexibility, rolling with pandemic mandates, identifying bottlenecks in their system, and upgrading equipment so they could brew enough potent potables to meet growing demand.
“The response has been tremendous,” Christian said.
By autumn, Christian was able to launch the classes he’d formerly outlined to be the public’s first introduction to his recipes. On Tuesday nights, he welcomes those keen on learning to craft into his facility and mentors them through the entire process.
Often, newbie brewers go “all in” buying expensive equipment, said Christian. They get discouraged by their first few batches, which often weren’t done correctly or were forgotten about until they spoiled.
“I wanted to help walk people through it and make sure they have a successful first batch,” Christian said. “So they feel good about their product.”
In the coming months, Christian hopes to add more classes, potentially allowing brewers to rent the equipment out for a brew day, as well as adding more diverse beers to his tap list and developing a barrel program to curate more unique experiences.
“The reason you go out, as opposed to just buying something from the liquor store, is to try something new,” Christian said. “Whether it’s making a new beer or trying a style you haven’t had before, it’s about having an experience.”
Join a brew class
On Tuesday nights, students can attend learn-to-brew classes at Magnetic North Brewing Co. The class is limited to six people and lasts about four hours. At present, the current beer choices include a hazy IPA, a black IPA, a pale ale, or a wheat ale.
It’s a two-part class, as it takes a couple of weeks for the wort to ferment. In the first class, participants are shown how to measure and mill their grains (the storeroom mirrors Arctic Brewing Supply—an effort to make the transition to brewing at home more seamless), properly sanitize equipment, manage the boil, and pitch the yeast. Two weeks later, they return to can and label their treat.
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