Everyone knows that a cup of coffee and a good book are an iconic duo—but an ice-cold pint gives the ol’ cup of joe a run for its money. And if there’s one single thing that unites Alaska, it’s beer. It houses 5.3 breweries per 100,000 adults, making Alaska the eighth densest state for breweries in the nation. With a brewery practically around every corner, you’ll always have a spot to cool off and cozy up with whatever you’re reading at the moment. And it just so happens that many of Alaska’s best breweries are just a stone’s throw from wonderful independent bookstores that showcase Alaska’s rich literary culture.
Moon Alaska author Lisa Maloney has a number of recommendations for diving into Alaskan literature. One of the best-known Alaskan authors is Pulitzer Prize-nominated Eowyn Ivey, who writes The Snow Child, Last Days in Hunting Camp, and To the Bright Edge of the World. In addition to these, Lisa recommends Fifty Miles from Tomorrow by William L. Iggiagruk Hensley: a wonderful introduction to native Alaskan culture and the struggle for recognition and equal rights.
So, book and beer lovers, rejoice: what better way to travel the state than by sampling as many beers and visiting as many of these bookstores as possible? Below, we’ve rounded up some of the top bookstores and breweries for relaxing with a good read (and an even better pint). So, crack open that novel, order that renowned lager, and settle in with the locals.
Anchorage and Southcentral Alaska
Title Wave Books, an independent bookstore in midtown Anchorage, is your best bet for finding Alaskana books as you settle into the scene. The shop has a broad collection of new and used books, with a strong emphasis on Alaskan literature: there’s even a locked cabinet containing valuable historical Alaska books.
In Anchorage, Resolution Brewing Company is your one-stop-shop for evening entertainment, offering not only award-winning beer, but also outdoor food trucks and Wi-Fi. Goodreads update, anyone? If you’re in the market for something more upscale, consider Glacier Brewhouse—the best of fine dining to go with that pint.
Cover to Cover Bookstore (Seward, AK) is an exceptional independent bookstore with a friendly owner who can help you find exactly what you need. Cover to Cover receives notable praise for its selection of books either about Alaska or by Alaskan authors.
After visiting, you’re in luck—in true Alaska fashion, Seward has its own local brewery—the seasonal Seward Brewing Company. Order up some of their classic pub grub, and enjoy dinner, drinks, and reading time all in one.
The Kenai River Brewing Company (Soldotna, AK) allows you to bring in your own food. Their heated, covered patio overlooking the Kenai River Valley makes this the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic accompanied by an Alaskan book as you take in the local landscape. As a bonus, Kenai offers closed containers of beer to go, so you can take your book/brew combination almost anywhere as you explore the area—for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers, try C.B. Bernard’s Chasing Alaska: A Portrait of the Last Frontier Then and Now, which details the changes and mysteries of Alaska over time as the author goes on a remote journey across the state.
Denali, Fairbanks, and the Interior
Author Lisa Maloney describes Gulliver’s Books (Fairbanks, AK) as “a charming little independent bookstore and community touchstone,” offering a solid mix of new and used books on its walls. As a bonus, they have a great selection of area guidebooks for travelers (you can pick up Moon Alaska here, if you haven’t already)!
After your daytime adventures are over, HooDoo Brewing Company (Fairbanks, AK) is the place to go and get friendly with the locals. It’s perfectly acceptable to start up a conversation with a stranger here—perhaps by asking, “So, what are you reading these days?”
Juneau and Southeast Alaska
The Babbling Book (Haines, AK) is a worthy stop on your independent bookstore tour, as is the quirky and popular Old Harbor Books (Sitka, AK), which offers sweets and other gifts along with their curated selection of books.
For Alaskan books and authentic souvenirs in the town of Ketchikan, visit Parnassus Books & Gifts, a favorite destination among cruise ship passengers looking to experience local culture beyond the ship. The Asylum (Ketchikan, AK) also boasts a fun and friendly atmosphere, with 30 draft beers on tap, Wi-Fi, pool, darts, pinball, and a DJ. Its double-decker beer garden is the perfect place to discuss your favorite books with fellow travelers, and maybe even some new friends. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, about one man’s struggle through the Alaskan wilderness, comes highly recommended and is sure to be a talking point at bookstores and bars alike.
Kodiak and Southwest Alaska
In Lisa’s expert opinion, the best beer in town is at Kodiak Island Brewing Co. It closes fairly early (open 12PM-7PM), which makes it the perfect place to sift through your new books and enjoy a sunny read or two. The Racksis a recent addition to the beer scene in Dillingham, Alaska. Come for the classic brewpub atmosphere and giant moose rack displays; stay for the much-lauded steak and seafood.
Have you visited any of these spots? Pick up any good books along the way? We’d love to hear your opinions or book recommendations for future Alaska travelers in the comments section below.