A few weeks ago, over a hundred food bloggers, writers, and social media pros descended upon Juneau for the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC). As a local who was born and raised in Juneau, I have been thrilled to witness the burgeoning food scene over the last few years, but for Juneau to be chosen as the host city for a food blogging conference was an unexpected honor.
Alaskan Brewing was an IFBC sponsor, and I was able to join other members of the Brew Crew in sharing our corner of the world with conference attendees. Since Alaskan beers famously pair well with fresh, locally caught seafood, we were excited to showcase some our favorite brews alongside some of our favorite local eats.
To kick things off, we went big: we partnered with Temsco Helicopters and some of Juneau’s best local chefs and businesses to host a seafood and beer tasting on top of the mighty Mendenhall Glacier! For Juneauites, access to fresh seafood and beautiful landscapes is a part of daily life, but to have the opportunity to help host a unique event in a such a jaw-droppingly spectacular location was a rare treat.
Mid-afternoon on a bluebird day, I joined four helicopters full of IFBC attendees as we lifted off and whirled our way up over the Mendenhall Valley, spotting mountain goats and hikers sprinkled along mountain peaks en route to the Mendenhall Glacier. As we descended toward the glacial blue expanse of ice, two blue dots came into view, soon revealing themselves to be Alaskan Brewing tents, where Brew Crew member Andy Kline and chef Abby LaForce of Zerelda’s Bistro waited with tasty seafood dishes and (glacier) ice-cold beers.
Amid deep glacial blues, crystal clear streams, and majestic mountains, guests enjoyed a sampling of local flavor. On the menu:
- Freshly harvested Shikat Bay Oysters, Barnacle kelp pickle & everything kelp seasoning crostinis w/ goat cheese & chive blossoms, Barnacle kelp salsa & chips (prepared by Barnacle Foods)
- “Chips & Dip” – Taku River Reds salmon roe, ginger scallion dip, Ruffles (prepared by Beau Schooler of In Bocca al Lupo)
- Cold smoked black cod from Hooked Seafood, charred corn, heirloom tomato & fresh mango salad, cilantro & herb verde with local micro radish from Panhandle Produce (prepared by Abby LaForce of Zerelda’s Bistro)
- Ice cream made from the malt used to brew Alaskan Amber, Amber caramel sauce, and Alaska Pure alder smoked sea salt (prepared by Marc Wheeler of Coppa)
The glacier trekkers washed down the fresh seafood dishes and ice cream with carefully paired Alaskan beers pulled straight from our ad hoc cooler dug into the glacial ice.
While the glacier trip was unforgettable, I also enjoyed my time with other IFBC attendees during brewery tours and while pouring brews at various conference events.
In the end, the highlight of IFBC was getting the chance to meet and get to know the eclectic, passionate group of creatives over delicious food and brews. Every person I met was eager to immerse themselves in the Juneau scene and soak up all the culture, local eats, and experiences they could manage. Many attendees were old friends, while others enthusiastically exchanged social media handles and passionately shared their stories with one another.
On Juneau’s end, local restaurants, businesses and other folks who participated in IFBC pulled out all the stops to prove that Juneau lives up to our newfound fame as a culinary gem. The food I was able to sample from various local businesses during the conference was world-class and uniquely Alaskan.
I walked away from the conference with a full belly, a better understanding of the world of food bloggers, and a greater appreciation for the culinary talent in our little city by the sea.
–Lena Gilbertson, Alaskan Brewing Marketing Team