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Side Dish

Culinary crumbs and gastronomic gossip

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Arctic brewery
In the past couple months, perhaps you've seen Alaskan Amber in local bars, or a trio of Alaskan Brewing Co. beers in 22-ounce bottles at major liquor stores. If you've haven't tried one yet, be advised that these are some fairly decorated brews: the Smoked Porter alone medaled twice at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival.

Colorado's the 10th state serviced by the 22-year-old, 75-employee brewery, but the beer's still very "Alaska."

"We like to joke we're the only American import, because all our raw materials have to be shipped up from Seattle, and then we brew and bottle all of our products here in Juneau, and then send it back the same way or out to the rest of Alaska," explains communications manager Ashley Johnston.

Is there an advantage to brewing beer in Alaska?

"Just being in Alaska."

Look for a pale ale to join Alaskan's porter, summer ale and amber selections on store shelves around Memorial Day.

Drifting into town
A new burger joint, Drifter's Hamburgers, opened last month at 4455 Mark Dabling Blvd. and just started breakfast service last week. Owner Rich Beaven, responsible for opening Classics Hamburgers in the Springs in 1993, is the owner and current primary cook behind the operation. (Beaven sold Classics in '03 before the new owner opened a third, then closed all in early '05.)

"I've been at this for 30 years," Beaven says, noting he developed his California-style burgers while working teenage jobs in Southern California. "It's really all I've ever done."

Beaven has worked for the past year to open Drifter's, named by his former partner Randy Dietz, who passed away in 2002. After taking time off from the kitchen to earn an MBA, work for Care and Share and do some consulting, Beaven is not only back, but already envisioning another local location, as well as one in Parker.

Drifter's menu features several (Ranch Foods Direct beef) burgers topped in Beaven's own secret, Thousand Island-like sauce; one-size fries; a side salad; and shakes, including a unique boysenberry shake. Breakfast features burritos like the B-52: three eggs, cheese, ham, bacon, sausage, hash browns and salsa for $4.69.

Drifters is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (and 9 p.m. during summer) Monday through Saturday. Visit (soon) for information.

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