Hoonah microbrewery gets new owners
and location, but will offer familiar tastes
May 1, 2018
By Tripp J Crouse, KTOO (Photos by Tripp Crouse)
The former Misty Bay Lodge will be the new home of Icy Strait Brewing, the Hoonah-based microbrewery.
Previous owners Dan Kane and his business partner Todd Thingvall sold the business, recipes and equipment to Tawney Letterman and Keith Quinn, who hope to open in time for the first cruise ship on May 12.
“We couldn’t have purchased a brewery from more solid people,” Letterman said. “They’ve been gracious as well and helpful getting everything thing over here and giving us any kind of guidance. … We definitely couldn’t have had more incredible people to purchase it from.”
Letterman, 29, previously worked in Vancouver, British Columbia. She hopes the influx of tourists will want to sample the brewery’s familiar oatmeal stout, blonde, pale ale and India pale ale.
When her mother and her mother’s business partner called about the opportunity to buy the brewery, Letterman couldn’t pass it up.
“I’m not totally sure how they found out about the brewery being for sale,” she said. “But they called me in December and asked me and my husband if we wanted to be a part of it. We said yes, and the rest is history.”
Letterman and Quinn are busy fixing up the inside to utilize the space, and provide plenty of seating next to the building’s large windows overlooking the water.
Letterman calls it a “modest remodel,” but hopes to include some Southeast Alaska decor.
“It’s like a total construction site here right now,” Letterman said. “We obviously have a lot of work to do but we’re looking at two weeks hopefully.”
The outside will be repainted red to make it more vibrant and noticeable, and it’ll get a new sign for the brewery.
Letterman said they’ll keep all the previous beer recipes.
“We’re actually going to stay with the beers that Hoonah is familiar with. One of the brewers who worked at Icy Strait Brewery, the original one, came along with the brewery,” said the 10-year veteran of the service industry. “And he graciously agreed to come and get us started.”
The brewery previously rotated a smaller batch of blueberry blonde and also a short run of hefeweizen.
“I’m really into a Belgian hefe,” Letterman said. “I like lighter and more fruity beers, but I definitely have a place in my heart for the darker, more heavy beers. Just maybe not as often.”
Letterman said the brewery will get most of its ingredients from the Pacific Northwest and West Coast, but she wants to source locally whenever possible. So they’re working on getting hops grown in Hoonah.
“Just because we’re in a small town doesn’t mean that we don’t have the capacity to make a really high quality beer that you might find anywhere else,” she said. “It’s really exciting to be able to live in such a remote location and be able to do what we’re doing.”
Photo by Louis Jeurgens