49th State Brewing (Anchorage, AK)

After a mere five days of rest and relaxation at home, we again headed back to the airport, and headed back out on another vacation, this time, to Anchorage, Alaska, to attend a wedding of two former coworkers. After a rather complicated day involving canceled flights, maintenance problems on the rescheduled flights, and an extended delay at Newark Airport (home of some of the most ridiculously overpriced food ever), we finally arrived in Anchorage at the airport, 24 hours after starting our trip. We simply headed to our hotel, and called it a night.

The next morning, after taking care of rental car arrangements, and some light exploration of downtown Anchorage, we met up with a local Anchorage friend and headed out for lunch at 49th State Brewing. I can see one reason 49th State is quite popular (getting there only 30 minutes after opening, the place was already packed, and I was glad we had a reservation): their location on the north end of town has a truly nice rooftop deck that looks over the north harbor area of Anchorage.

The main attraction at 49th State is definitely the beer. The Anchorage-area craft brew scene is quite hopping; there’s a good half dozen small breweries in Anchorage proper, and another half dozen out in the extended Anchorage area (the municipality of Anchorage is huge, just under 2000 square miles), so the scene is quite competitive. But 49th State delivered: of the beers we tried, they’ve got it dialed in. The Sprucesplosian IPA I had was a particularly nice version of the niche “Spruce IPA”, and the Golden Dall Belgian Tripel (shown here) was spot-on, so they’ve got that part of the package dialed in.

Food-wise, I’d call 49th State’s menu “Tourist-driven pub fare”: it’s your basic appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, and lighter entrees, with quite a few nods towards the “Alaskan specialties”: yak (including a yak-a-dilla and the tak burger), crab, salmon, and halibut. One of their featured items was the crab-stuffed jalapenos, which were one of the more ambitious menu items I’ve seen recently: roasted jalapenos, filled with a mix of crab meat, multiple cheeses, and dried mango… then breaded and wrapped in bacon. That’s a lot to cram into a single dish, and interestingly… it worked. The filling was more crab than cheese, and it was good, fresh crab. The result was like a jalapeno popper on steroids, and while a single one of these was good enough to satisfy me, I enjoyed them.

For my main course, while I was sorely tempted by either the yak burger, King Salmon BLT, or the “King Crabby Grilled Cheese” (which Carol had and enjoyed), I went simple: the Halibut and Chips. While the dish itself was just your simple, straightforward fish and chips, but the attraction here was the fish quality: this was made with large slabs of Kachemak halibut, cooked to perfection in a light (almost too light) batter, served up with an above-average house-made tartar sauce. I’ve had a lot of great fish and chips recently, and this was an enjoyable, well-above-average version.

Overall, this was a great start to our trip: I can see why 49th State remains almost crazy-busy. The beer is good. The food is good. The deck is awesome. And they’ve got enough interesting food options that I’d love to come back another time.

(And, with this review, Offbeat Eats has now posted reviews from 33 different states! 17 to go!)

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