Alaska’s Seaborne Brewery (Part II)

In my Part I, I raised the question whether the Alumna’s shipboard brewery in Ketchikan, Alaska was actually “the” brewery of its owner, Pilsener Brewing Co.

In other words, did the ship brewery supplement a bricks-and-mortar brewery in Ketchikan, or was it actually the sole brewery of the company?

A short piece in a 1937 issue of the American Brewers Review offers a clue here. Of all the sources I’ve been able to find, it is the only one to state that the Alumna, after its refit, would sail to Ketchikan to be “permanently anchored”.

It seems, then, that the Alumna wasn’t to service settlements up and down the Alaskan coast. Some press stories I found earlier stated that “feeder” boats would be used to take beer to those more isolated places.

The pieces in the puzzle seem to fall together: the smaller craft actually delivered the beer not consumed in Ketchikan, and the Alumna stayed put in harbour.

This would mean too that the Alumna would not travel south and back for brewing materials. Other vessels must have brought them, or by road or rail if such links existed then.

The book I mentioned earlier on Alaska brewing history mentions for the site of the brewery an address on “Cliff Avenue”, which I think today is White Cliff Avenue. But that could have been just offices of the brewery. Perhaps too bottling was done at that address, and it was a depot.

Interestingly, the ad I reproduced contains no civic address, it states the brewery is “at Ketchikan”. At, not in.

It’s not conclusive, but taken with all the rest, may point to a shipboard-only brewery.

The only other piece I found in 1930s issues of this journal on the brewery was that a man named Holt, different from the one named in the ad (Konrad Lux), went to Ketchikan to work at Pilsener Brewing Co. It stated he was a recent graduate of Siebel Institute in Chicago, which had only recently started up after Repeal.

My guess is, Holt was employed as a junior brewer, to assist Lux. I found stray references to Lux earlier. He seems to have been a brewery engineer who worked at one time in Louisiana.

Note re image: the image above is of Ketchikan c. 1918, sourced from the Wikipedia entry on the town, here. Used for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.

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