Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival set for this weekend

This year’s second annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival will sell 1,500 tickets at the doors, said Matt Pyhala, the organizer of the festival and vice president of the Soldotna Rotary Club. Tickets are $20 and include a glass and six, 4 ounce samples. After six samples, more can be purchased — two for $3 or 12 for $15.


The festival will be at the Soldotna Sports Center on Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m.

At last year’s festival, co-owner of Kassik’s Brewery Frank Kassik said breweries were asked to bring 15 gallons of their beers.

“We went through close to 75 (gallons),” Kassik said. “We went back and got more. But this year, I think it’s going to be a little better controlled as to quantities.”

Pyhala said he thinks it will be, too. He said beer should be in surplus this year now that the kinks are worked out. He may even sell another 500 tickets if the beer lasts after the first 1,500 people.

Last year was the first year for the festival, and he said he didn’t know how many people to expect.

“We were at a different location last year; a thousand people were really all we could do,” Pyhala said.

Last year, St. Elias Brewing Company won first place in the peoples choice award for their beer, and this year co-owner Jessie Kolesar said he is feeling optimistic, “seeing that it’s local and we have good support.”

He said they will probably bring their Puddle Jumpers Pale Ale, The Farmer’s Friend, Williwaw I.P.A. and Fair Trade Porter.

For Kenai River Brewing Company, Brewer Joe Gilman said they will likely bring their Sunken Island I.P.A., Skilak Scottish, Peninsula Brewers Reserve (P.B.R.) and a few mystery beers “as a special surprise.”

It’s “a great beer fest,” he said.

The third local brewery, Kassik’s Brewery, is not sure what they will bring.

“Summer time is pretty tough for us to keep up with the state demand. So we’re going to grab what we can,” Kassik said.

He said that includes their mainstays and certain special beers. 

The music line up in order, Pyhala said, will include Bulldog and the Moose Nuggets, Troubadour North, Yellow Cabin and Big Foot Buddha.

There will also be food. Davis and Sons will sell barbeque; Charlotte’s will have chili; Corn and Roasters may have jalapeno poppers; Custom Seafood Processing will have smoked salmon and free sausages samples, and Big Daddy Pizza will bring pizza.

Pyhala said last year there were no incidents that required law enforcement.

“The troopers and the police were well aware of what we were doing; we involved them definitely in all the process,” he said. “As people were pulling out, right at first they were pulling people just to check them, and everybody passed with flying colors.”

He said the reason was Alaska Cab — last year they provided free cabs, and this year owner Brent Hibbert said he is extending the same service to the community.

“I thought, if the Rotary’s doing this, we can help out and be a community member and make sure everybody gets home safe,” Hibbert said. “We don’t want anybody getting hurt or going to jail or anything like that.”

Pyhala said this event is about enjoying beer and being responsible, and if people do indulge, he encourages them to take advantage of the free cabs.

“Big thanks goes out to them because keeping people safe is definitely one of the top priorities,” he said. 

All ticket proceeds benefit the Soldotna Rotary Club, and all beer is donated to the festival.

Dan Schwartz can be reached at