Anchorage brewer invests in costly full liquor license

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Frustrated by state limits on his beer tasting room, an Anchorage brewer has gotten around the rules by purchasing a full-service liquor license from a now-defunct business.

Gabe Fletcher’s new license went into effect at Anchorage Brewing Co. last week, the Anchorage Daily News reported .

With the new license, Fletcher’s business has fewer restrictions than the much less costly special brewery license that costs $1,000 plus fees. His business instead can now stay open later, serve more than three 12-ounce glasses of beer per person, host live bands and sell beer from other breweries.

In Alaska, full-service licenses are limited to a finite number linked to population. But license holders can sell them to other businesses.

Fletcher got his full license from a now-closed Italian restaurant, Romano’s. He declined to say how much he paid, but those licenses can go for as much as $300,000.

Fletcher said the main reason he bought the full-service license was because he wants to sell beer from other breweries.

“We’re able to bring up some of these beers that no one else can get their hands on,” Fletcher said. “It’s a big deal to us.”

He said has no plans for selling liquor except for the possibility of putting a high-end bourbon behind the bar and might offer a wine option.

One drawback of a full license is that it limits sales to distributors at 1,200 barrels a year. Fletcher said his business has never hit that level, so it won’t be an issue.

Other breweries would be limited by such a cap, said Lee Ellis, president of the Brewers Guild of Alaska. His group is lobbying state lawmakers to remove the limit, but it’s unlikely that many others would follow in the same course as Fletcher.

“Until those changes occurred, I would not expect most people to accept production caps,” Ellis said.

The Associated Press