Bill Howell, for the Redoubt Reporter
I’ve got a couple of items of news this month, one good, one not so good. Let’s start with the good news first.
If you’ve driven through Soldotna lately, you’ve probably noticed that the former BJ’s bar on the corner of Kobuk Street and the Sterling Highway has been enjoying a bit of a makeover, with a new color scheme and some metallic siding. On Tuesday, July 24, it re-opened for business under the name The Pour House.
The Pour House is the brainchild of owner Molly Poland, also of Hooligan’s Saloon, and general manager Dee Roddis. They have transformed the old Soldotna landmark into a bright, new sports bar, serving beer and wine.
The interior of the bar has received a thorough makeover, with the old, rather dark (and thoroughly nicotine-stained) interior giving way to a much more modern look, boasting bright colors, metal trim and numerous flat-screens tuned to various sporting events. You can even sit at a pingpong table and enjoy a game while waiting on your order, or plant yourself at one of the truck tailgates attached to one wall.
A dozen beer taps stand ready to pour, with the standard beer offerings like Stella Artois and Pacifico being supplemented with more local offerings from Alaskan Brewing Co. and Kenai River Brewing Co.
The highlight of this new establishment are its three “tap tables.” These are tables with two beer taps built into them, allowing patrons to literally serve themselves. When you sit down, the server will take your order — say, for a pitcher of your favorite beer.
The system will be set to dispense that amount, which you can then pour at your own pace. Once that amount has been poured, you’ll have to order more from the server. This means the beer in your glass should always be nice and fresh from the tap, with no more pitchers getting warm and flat while you work your way through them.
These tables are becoming more and more popular in the Lower 48, but Roddis tells me these are the first ones in Alaska.
The Pour House will also have food, with a menu offering many of the typical sports bar choices, like hot wings and jalapeno poppers. But beside the usual, there also will be the unexpected, such as a turkey leg prepared like a giant chicken wing, or a pie baked inside a cake for dessert. And no sports bar can neglect to serve burgers. The Pour House will have several different varieties, including The Ground Pounder, a 1-pound monster. All burgers will be served either on waffle buns or thinly battered in pizza dough and deep-fried.
A friend and I stopped in for lunch on opening day, and we thought the food was great.
The Pour House is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Stop by and check it out, and be sure to tell them Bill Howell sent you.
Now, let’s move on to the not so good news — a proposed gravel pit on Miller Loop.
A company is trying to receive borough approval to open a 35-acre, 17-foot-deep gravel pit in North Kenai. Not something you’d normally expect to read about in a beer column, except that the proposed site is at the end of Spruce Haven Street, a mere quarter mile from Kassik’s Brewery.
Brewing by its very nature relies heavily on quality water, both as an ingredient and for keeping the brewery clean and sanitary. Kassik’s Brewery, along with about 100 of its neighbors who also rely on wells, is very concerned that this gravel pit in the ground will adversely impact the shallow aquifer that is the source of their water.
According to the Kassiks, an evaluation by an independent hydrologist stated that the gravel pit’s impact on this aquifer was potentially significant.
So, if you enjoy drinking the beers from Kassik’s Brewery as much as I do, you might want to consider contacting Borough Mayor Mike Navarre and your representative on the borough assembly to suggest that they find another location for this hole in the ground, one that doesn’t potentially threaten the water supply of that brewery and 100 other homes. After all, the Kenai Peninsula Borough is a pretty big place, and those hundred wells were there first.
Finally, don’t forget the second annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival on Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Soldotna Sports Center from 4 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person and are on sale at all the local breweries. Last year’s event was a great time, sold out completely and raised $14,000 for local charities.
So be sure to get your tickets for this year’s festival early and enjoy the delicious food, live music and great beer.
Until next month, cheers!
Bill Howell is a home brewer, teaches a beer appreciation class at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus and was named the 2010 Beerdrinker of the Year by Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver.