Jacqueline A. Lott Ashwell (isquiesque) wrote in alaskans,
Jacqueline A. Lott Ashwell

Low-key but stimulating pubs in Anchorage?

I signed up for this new service called Aardvark, which was recently acquired by Google. The premise is that sometimes you want a personalized, quality answer over a quick Google search, so you can ask it via vark.com and they'll send it to another human being who claims to have some expertise in that arena. I decided to try them out, and said I could answer questions about Alaska. Today I got this question, which was fun to think about and try to answer but I feel like I didn't really come through for the guy. As such, I'm going to post his question, my reply, and send him the URL to this post so that if some of you have a better recommendation, he can see it in the comments.

Cody asked, Where is a low-key but stimulating pub in Anchorage, Alaska?

Hm... low key but stimulating? I unfortunately can't think of anything that exactly fits that bill, but having lived in England a couple of winters, my definition of 'low key but stimulating pub' is set at a much higher bar (no pun intended--seriously). Anyway, I think 'stimulating' is based on the company you keep rather than the pub itself, so I'll defer to you and your comrades on that one, but if you're looking for a good place to settle in and have a beer and some good conversation, here are the places that come to mind as favorites:

Fletcher's in the Captain Cook hotel downtown is rather small and has a couple of nice nooks that can make for good conversation. The dark paneling gives it more of a pub feel (they also have a very cool hand-hammered copper ceiling). My recommendation is the Black Butte on tap; it's spendy at $6/pint, but damn good.

McGinley's on 7th & G has one of the better 'pub vibes' in town, but I've only been there on a night when they had live music and were celebrating some new Guinness promotion, so it was a crazy crowded. Fun, a sort of stimulation I suppose, but not stellar for conversation.

Sometimes the Snow Goose can be a decent hangout, though I would hesitate to label it as a 'pub'. I prefer it earlier in the day when it's less crowded, and my favorite thing about the place is their fantastic view of the inlet. Over the winter they are apparently offering three dollar pints to feature a new craft ale each week, and their John Henry oatmeal stout isn't shabby.

One of my favorite memories of beer in Anchorage is a summer afternoon I spent a few years back at the Millenium hotel on their outdoor deck (I'm rarely in Anchorage during the summer, so I haven't had a chance to do this again). They have a killer view of the float planes on Lake Spenard, and I keep meaning to get back there on a sunny summer afternoon or evening to enjoy beer with friends while watching all the cute little planes land and take off. I can't recall what beer I enjoyed there, but it was some dark nitro-infused thing that was pretty smooth... probably Guinness.

Organic Oasis isn't a pub, but they have organic beer and a few other interesting things on offer. Girly though it may be, I recently really enjoyed their Belgian Raspberry Framboise (which isn't organic, but very interesting and good, and it's okay to admit that I drank the fruity girly drink because I am, after all, a girl). On the weekend evenings they pretty much always have a dude playing a piano; he's pretty decent, but plays a lot of muzak-inspired renditions of popular music... sometimes I love being there when he plays, sometimes I don't really notice him playing, and sometimes I'm just not in the mood and would prefer quiet. Oasis also has free wireless, excellent food, and a whole range of sustainable food options.

The Bear Tooth off Spenard and The Glacier Brewhouse in downtown are my top picks for the best beer in Anchorage. They are a must-visit for me anytime I'm in the city--particularly since both have excellent food as well--but they make for difficult places to have stimulating conversation. Both establishments are too popular for their own good and are consequently insanely crowded and far too noisy. There's invariably a wait to get in... not what I'd term 'low-key' at all. But they're popular for good reason and probably worth a look.

So, those are my recommendations, though I realize that none of them entirely fit the bill. That's why I've posted this here: hopefully someone else will post a comment below with just the thing you're looking for, and I'm interested as well, so I look quite forward to the replies...
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