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The Great Alaskan Beer Run. Oktoberfest Alaska Style.

The Great Alaskan Beer Run. Oktoberfest Alaska Style.

Old Nov 10, 13, 12:39 pm
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The Great Alaskan Beer Run. Oktoberfest Alaska Style.

My last trip on Alaska Airlines in April left me a mere 1700 miles short of renewing MVPG status. It only takes 40K miles if keeping it on AS metal vs 50K w/ partners. Living in BOS, there are only 3 non-stop destinations to keep me on AS metal, SEA PDX and SAN. I found a decent price one way paid to SAN and a saver 12.5K mileage ticket on the return and was just going to do a quick overnight. I noticed an event was posted on Facebook for the “Great Alaska Beer Train” out of Anchorage and it was to be the same weekend as SAN. I used my MVPG change fee waiver and cancelled both the award and the revenue ticket. Once the money and miles were redeposit into “My wallet”, I booked a one way revenue ticket to ANC and a one way saver award back to Boston. Along with another credit, the change didn’t cost any extra money than I had already paid out for the year.

Photo's for this report taken with Canon T1i and the following lenses: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 Pro DX-II, Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS & Canon EF-S 55-250mm f4.0-5.6 IS

Riding the Peter Pan bus to South Station

View of Boston from Four Point Channel

Seaport District

Boston Skyline

Since I'm not flying on United, I could not use my Turkish Star Gold card but I have a Priority pass membership as well which gets me in the United club when flying other carriers

Alaska Airlines Flight 18
737-800 BOS-SEA, Coach Seat 16A

Alaska Airlines ready for boarding

They now call First class and almost every elite level on partners DL and AA causing a giant cluster in the boarding area. Finally made it around but ended up in another line in the jetway

Lots of legroom here, although no recline in the forward exit row as per the exit behind, although it wouldn't hurt if the added the ability to recline a tiny bit. I'll take this over a regular seat

Always holding out hope there is no one in the middle. Sadly there always seems to be a non-rev that fills it up at the end.

Turn left should you need to evacuate from the overwing exit

Inflight meal option for purchase was a deconstructed burrito which was extremely tasty

Sadly Glenlivet is a goner. It did stay on AS long after its demise on AA. If I was in first class, I would have had a glass of champagne (well sparkling wine). I don't think any other domestic carrier offer it on all routes in F
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Old Nov 10, 13, 12:42 pm
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I decided since I was in no hurry to get anywhere. I decided to stop by the newly remodeled SEA Boardroom.

Seating area. There used to be some nice comfy couches in this corner but they fit in more seats this way.

Brown leather seats were scattered around

I decided to have a glass of Alaskan Amber and a salad. There were several different salad dressings on offer along with some real cheese. The beer was really good. Much better from the tap than the can or bottle.

The guys watching the game

After a second beer it was closing time so I made my way to the hotel. I stayed at the Fairfield Inn near the airport. I got an AAA rate of $89 which was the cheapest yet still decent hotel this close to the airport. To this day I'm still trying to get my United/Mariott RewardsPlus account linked so I can have gold status so i was given a standard room. Here are 2 photos of the room

I was originally scheduled for the 6am flight to Anchorage and my upgrade had cleared. Prior to going to bed at midnight, I did a same day change to the 8am flight so I could get some sleep and hopefully a view on the way up to Anchorage. I gave up my upgrade in order to make the change.

So many SDC options for AS elites

Warm but not so tasty breakfast, at least there was Cholula hot sauce so I could spruce it up

I woke up about 90 min before departure, got ready and repacked. I left on the shuttle leaving an hour before departure. It was about a 10 min ride to the airport going the back way to avoid construction. Although I was flying on AS, I told the driver I was flying delta as the precheck line, is much quicker than the one closer to the AS gates. They were right, not a single person was in the lane so I zoomed through. My flight was going out of the dreaded N gates. I had to take 2 or trains in order to get to the terminal. Luckily the enterence to teh trains is very close to the precheck lane. By the time I reached the gate, it had only been about 20 min since i left the hotel.

Alaska Airlines Flight 83
737-400 SEA-ANC, Coach Seat 28F

I was #1 of 3 on the upgrade list for this flight but somehow I really wasn't first on the list as number 2 and 3 cleared and I was the only person who did not. I was the sole elite in the back of the bus.

View from my seat 2 rows forward of the aft Lav

Bye Bye Seattle

Some cool mountains

I had a bloody mary as my "First one on us" drink. I guess its not so bad in back when you have your own set of 3.

Light load. I'm not sure why so many people try to pick the seats closer to the front vs the back which had so many empties.

Sadly switching to a flight that spent more time in the sun didn't work out too well. It was cloudy for most of the trip. Finally started to break up as we got closer in


Overhead view of where I believe the train will be taking me later

Excellent view of the airport with anchorage in the background

Touchdown is a mere seconds away

Delta 747 looks bigger than the airport
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Old Nov 10, 13, 12:45 pm
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Since I arrived during the day, there was not much going on at the airport. A majority of flights in and out of ANC are in the evening and at night. Mainly because the timing works better connecting to and from flights across the lower 48.

Terminal shot

I made a call to the hotel for the shuttle to pick me up. It arrived fairly quick and we made the 10 min drive to the hotel. Every time I come to Anchorage, I stay at the Inlet Tower due to Round trip shuttle, walking distance downtown and a good price compared to other options. I was allowed to check in early. I was given the option of 8th, 11th or 12th floor. I chose the highest of the options with hopes of a good view.

Queen Bed

Kitchen and seating area

View of the city from my room. The window opens enough so I was able to peak my head through to get a better angle

Looking to the left towards midtown

Elevator shot

Main lobby and Piano

The restaurant and bar

I had about 4 hours to spare before I had to catch the hotel shuttle to the rail depot so I decided to to go for a walk.

Hotel from the outside

I walked several blocks to get to the downtown area. I decided to get a birds eye view by climbing to the top of a few parking garages

The brown buildings in the center is Hotel Capitan Cook which is Anchorage's most luxurious hotel. Behind that is the Cook Inlet

More of Downtown from another parking garage

The Mexican Consulate has an office in Anchorage. I know seems a little out of place. Go further down the street and you will run into the northern most FBI field office

Anchorage Museum

Large mural on the JC Penny

Outside of the train, my goal for this trip was to find a nice warm winter jacket. I figure Alaska would be the place to find the best one due to the long cold winters. I went to 6th Avenue Outfitters and walked around the sea of coats, boots, gloves and other cold weather wear. There were so many options I didn’t know where to start. After initial look the manager gave me a catalog and was pointing out the items as we went along. Sticker shock hit me right off the bat. Many of these coats were $400-$1000. Obviously these are for those living in the much more northern locations of the state. Expedition wear will not be necessary. There were lower ones as well in the $150-$300 range that will be more appropriate. I was extremely indecisive so I took the catalog so I can do some more research as to whether I can get them lower elsewhere or if not buy one on my next trip up in a few weeks.

My next stop was Humpy’s Great Alaskan Sports bar for some nourishment

It was busy so I found myself a spot at the bar.

I ordered an Alaskan White and reviewed the menu. I ended up getting chicken fried steak. I was expecting a thin pounded down piece of beef but I ended up with this

More of downtown

I decided it was time to head back to the hotel to relax a little before the train ride. I made a pit-stop at the supermarket by the hotel in order to grab some food just in case there wasn't enough to eat on the train.
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Old Nov 10, 13, 12:47 pm
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Great Alaskan Beer Train - Part 1

After resting for an hour, I decided id rather be early for the train than to risk missing it. I decided to cancel the shuttle and make the mile or so walk to the station

Chooo Chooo

Terminal building

Loading up

I made my way to the upper deck on the front car. On the normal trains this is reserved for Gold Star (Business class) passengers. Not very many people went up here. I guess they were scared of falling down the stairs

Scary if one were drunk.

The menu for today. The event is put on by Glacier Brewhouse. I figured it was going to be one item from each course but I was oh so wrong. No one was going to leave hungry

We were given 6 drink tickets good for 1/2 pint each. Additional beers were $4. There were 6 beers available so you could try each one without having to buy more. My favourite ended up being the Porter

Welcome everyone

IPA Pretzel Bites with Cracked Sea Salt
Amber Moosetard & White Cheddar & Jalapeño Ale Queso

Hefeweizen Salmon Caviar with Crème Fraiche
Stout-Spent Grain Cracker with Fresh Chive & Lemon Zest
I overhead the caviar is normally bought up by Japan but the owner managed to hold back a few pounds. I didn't care for it,way too fishy for me.

The best part about the gold star section is there is an outside area for fresh air and much better photo ops. even though it was sold out there was a lot of room. When I went during the summer the year before it was hard to get a good viewing spot but not on this trip. We were on our way for the 4.5 hour round trip journey to Portage and back.

Brrrrrr it was really cold outside. The one other person with a DSLR, who happened to be areal photographer offered to take my photo.

The Alaskan Ceviche was good but I couldn't get a photo as it was handed to me when I was outside taking photos. cant shoot one handed that well

I found an empty table when i saw a server bringing the salads
Stout Glazed Alaskan Beets & Spent Grain–Pecan Crusted Chevre
Baby Arugula, Hefeweizen-Citrus Vinaigrette & Fresh Raddish

Last edited by CDKing; Nov 10, 13 at 8:42 pm
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Old Nov 10, 13, 12:49 pm
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Great Alaskan Beer Train - Part 2

I went outside again for a little bit.

Oktoberfest Alder Grilled Bison Currywurst
IPA Curry Catchup with Caramelized Amber Onions, Shoestring Potatoes & Fresh Sour Cream

I was getting stuffed so time for more photos.

Girdwood, Not the nicest part of town.

The views continued to amaze me


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Old Nov 10, 13, 12:50 pm
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Great Alaskan Beer Train - Part 3

I made another trip inside to get out of the cold. Not too busy up here on the rear car either

Pit stop

Back at it

Dinner Time

Pork & Duck Rouladen
Seared Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Duck Confit, Carrots & Amber Moostetard
with Herb Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Blonde Pickled Cabbage, & Bison Stout Gravy

I could have also had the other main but i don't really like fish. So i took a few more photos before darkness was to set.

As it got dark, it was time for the band. They weren't that good, they seemed to scare everyone away but I thought they were decent enough.

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Old Nov 10, 13, 1:01 pm
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On my walk back to the hotel, i walked by this building, Ha already a building named after Edward Snowden (Kidding)

I went back to the room and took a nap for a few hours before the shuttle to the airport. I woke up and grabbed my stuff and headed to the aiport about an hour before departure.

I made it to my gate after a delay at precheck due to some guy with boarding pass problem. I decided to have the sandwich I grabbed the day before:

Another extremely light flight. Weight restrictions caused plane to be broken into 2 zones. They were moving people before boarding. Once i air exit row forward could move to an empty seat in that zone and same for those behind teh exit row. No one moved up front as it was nearly 50 seats for 7 people. Back zone wasn't so fortunate as it will about 35-40 people. I had a set of 3 in the exit row to myself.

Sunrise on approach to PDX

After arriving I decided to stop by the renovated PDX Boardroom. To have some breakfast and figure out what i was going to do for the day.

I called my hotel to see if I could check in early and they said it was full the night before and the cleaning crew did not come before noon. I then learned that today was the Portland Marathon so i decided it was probably not the best time to go downtown.
I was looking at a calendar of events for PDX. First item I noticed Sunday Funday w/ Brewvana brewery tour. The gods have spoken, My trip must continue on without breaking the beer theme. I booked the tickets online, the printer wasnt working so the Boardroom concierge printed them for me on his computer.

Just before it was time to go the soup was coming out. I filled up a coffee cup with soup and another with goldfish crackers and pretzels and hit the road. I made my way outside security and bought myself a Max (Lightrail) ticket and headed for the city.
Luckily my stop was just past all the marathon activities (wow was it crowded). I walked the 6-7 blocks to my hotel.

Crystal Hotel

I went to the check in desk thinking I would need to check my bags. They must have noted that I called for early check in because the front desk person was shocked I had a room available just after noon.

The Crystal Hotel opened May 2011 and has been my go to hotel when I'm in Portland. It's a historic hotel owned by McMenamins, which is one of the 50 largest craft breweries in the US (Gotta keep with the beer theme ) The hotel is decently priced. They only have 2 room types and rates are about the same year round (except the major holidays). Rates do not rise as rooms run low and do not rise even as same day a walk up. Rates are all refundable up to 48 hours before arrival with some exceptions such as NYE

European style room with shared bath are $85++ on weekdays and $95++ on weekends. Summer is $10 higher.

Suites with ensuite bath are $145++ on weekdays and $155++ on weekends. Summer is $10 higher

I always go for the shared bath. The shared yet private bathrooms are clean and out of 7 stays, only once has the bathroom closest to my room been occupied. If the hotel were at maximum occupancy and each room filled with the max number of people, there would still be 1 bathroom for every 20 but that would be an extreme case.






I will not give away the best feature of the hotel. You will need to read the rest of the report to see what is waiting in the basement.

Last edited by CDKing; Nov 21, 13 at 2:03 pm Reason: spelling errors
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Old Nov 10, 13, 1:03 pm
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Brewvana - Part 1

It was time to head to the next event. The trains were running off schedule due to the arrangement with the marathon route. I was also running late. I ran down the street along side some of the marathon runners and just missed teh train I needed to catch. I waited baout 10 min and caught he next one. I keept staring at my watch as was worried I was going to miss the pickup. Made it to the Lloyd Center Mall station and ran to the Doubletree. I was relieved to see the bus pulling up at the same time i was arriving.

Our fearless leader handing out waiver forms

Our first stop for the day. Gigantic Brewing

People waiting to get beer

The taps were being changed out so while we waited we got our beer 101 lesson. It wsa an amazingly warm and clear day. Just what I needed aftre freezing in Alaska

Hops smell really good

Hop pellets

Time for the first beer. We were also given pretzel neckless so we could clean pallet between drinks.

Ill try some darker beer next

Getting back on the short bus to head to our next stop

Murals on the bus. Also note rule #3

Some scenes of Portland as we make our way to brewery #2

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Old Nov 10, 13, 1:04 pm
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Brewvana - Part 2

The Brewcycle, another beer related tour of the city. I may try that next time but seems like too much work.

Our next stop Bridgeport brewery.

The beer menu

Finally a real beer glass for the remainder of the tour

Also some food to get us through more drinking

Everyone is enjoying lunch

After we finished off drinking a few more pitchers of various beers, it was time to head to our third and last brewery. Some more scenes around the city from out he window

Driving by Widmer brewing which was the scene for 2012's Capt Denny PDX Dinner and PDX station tour DO

Interstate Bridge

Last edited by CDKing; Nov 10, 13 at 8:56 pm
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Old Nov 10, 13, 1:06 pm
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Brewvana - Part 3

Amnesia Brewing, our last brewery of the Day

It was busy outside so we ended up inside instead

Time to drink some more

Another pitcher down, one more to go.

Our fearless leader was able to give us a quick tour of where the magic happens

The tour is coming to a close. We boarded back in the bus and headed back to the Double Tree and dropped people off. There were a few people who were headed to the westside drop off and we all decided to take advantage of the pay $10 for a custom drop-off to check out a restaurant that was on the food network.

Pine State Biscuts

Now this is a Biscuit. Fried chicken, bacon and gravy. Of course another beer which is not pictured

We grabbed a cab and went back to the west side. Dropped off at the Embassy suites and I walked back to my hotel. it was time to relax after such a long day. If you were reading the previous section about the hotel, i'm ready to share with you the best kept secret in Portland lodging. Time to suit up and head for the basement. On the way down, I decided to grab another beer from the hotel bar. Time to sit back in the saltwater soaking spa

View from entry

from the other side

I spent about an hour of soaking away in the 100+ degree water, Such a great way to loosen up some tense muscles after an action packed weekend. It was still nice outside so I decided to get one last drink before the trip home.

View from front door.

I made my way back up the stairs (elevator is slow)

Time for sleep before my early wake up call.
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Old Nov 10, 13, 1:06 pm
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Headed Home

I woke up bright and early so i could catch the Max back to the airport.

Thankfully the rain decided to wait for my departure from the Rose City. Some photos of Pioneer square

Umbrella man statue


Just like The Today show you can be in the background as KGW does the morning news

It took about an hour to get back to the airport. I stopped by the boardroom so I could have more pancakes and a Mimosa before my flight in coach again. I was in another non-reclining exit but at least I had an aisle this time.

It was a pretty uneventful flights. I was lucky to have a crew member working coach that I have flown with many times so it was almost like first class service while in back. I had water for most of the flights as it was way too early to enjoy the MVP Gold first one one us drink.

During the third drink/snack service, Since I'm a kid at heart, I decided to try out one of the children's picknick packs. Of course with an adult grape juice for my first one on us drink.

I took a trip to the aft galley to do some catching up with the crew. I got a free refill on the wine and was given 2 leftover fruit and cheese trays. I stuffed one in my bag and had one for now.

After landing, I headed to the South Station bus terminal and loaded the greyhound codeshare on the Peter Pan bus

Classing up the Greyhound experience with my last remaining cheese tray.

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Old Nov 10, 13, 1:26 pm
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Great report on one crazy trip. Alaska in the fall looks beautiful.

This has to be my favorite pic.

Originally Posted by CDKing View Post
Now this is a Biscuit. Fried chicken, bacon and gravy. Of course another beer which is not pictured.
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Old Nov 10, 13, 2:07 pm
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Fabulous report with some great pics. Something different for a change - no pics of business or first class seats or michelin star meals,^
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Old Nov 10, 13, 2:35 pm
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Great photos! Reminds me of my ANC "side-trip" MR in September on AA/AS .... I rented a car and drove down Seward Highway next to the train tracks.
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Old Nov 10, 13, 3:24 pm
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Great photos fella
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