It all started when local real estate broker, Jean Anne Henry's son, Zack, turned 21 and his wife gave him a home brewing kit for his birthday. "That's where it all evolved from," says Zack, who built the St. Elias Brewing Co. with his father. "Ten years of home brewing, then I ended up going to school and learning the science of it all and how to do it professionally. I then worked at a brewery in Nashville, Tennessee for two years before coming up here and building this place with my dad," he explained for the Dispatch. It's said that Vitus Bering might have missed discovering Alaska if it hadn't been for the mountain now known as St. Elias. "Legend has it that Bering saw the peak sticking up above the clouds so we thought it deserved some recognition. It is the second highest peak in North America, second only to Denali, so that's why we named our restaurant the St. Elias Brewing Company," said Henry.
St. Elias Brewing Company has certainly been getting a lot of recognition for their hand crafted beers and gourmet pizzas. It's become the place where locals gather, and travelers make a destination. "I really enjoy the science and chemistry of brewing. It's one of those jobs where you never stop learning. It'll never be one of those jobs where when you master it, it's not fun anymore. By the time I die, there will still be a ton of stuff that I'll have to learn," says the young brew master. Zack and his father spent about two years in building the brewery/restaurant and most of the ideas for the atmosphere and decorating came from Zack's wife and mom. The new outdoor patio has become very popular during this year's sun-filled summer, and has given folks a place to enjoy their pizza and beer in Alaska's great outdoors. "Recently we had some of our veteran Wounded Warriors come in after fishing on the Kenai. Seeing their smiles as they sat on the patio with empty pints of beer that I had made at their tables, it made me feel pretty good," says Zack.
The first Thursday of every month has been coined Thirsty Thursday at St. Elias, when the venue features the popular music stylings of musician Mike Morgan. "This is a great place, with a lot of great people, pizza and great beers. I love it here. It's right next to Fred Meyer, and that brings the travelers in. I have to say my favorite pizza is the Hawaiian of course, and my favorite brew is called Farmer's Friend," says Morgan. St. Elias is open from 11:00am to 10:00pm and until 11:00pm on Friday and Saturday nights. For orders-to-go or reservations call 260-7837.
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