It not only wants to do a brisker bar business, but it hopes to create a “beer renaissance” in town.
The restaurant, in operation in town since the fifties, chose to use its capacious bar space for a new set of taps with the hopes of improving the bottom line for the bar and bringing Kodiak up to speed in the craft beer universe.
Henry’s introduced a new eight-tap tower, increasing the number of on-tap beers to 20.
“Henry’s is the family restaurant here in Kodiak. But as you see we also have this very large bar, and so we removed a couple of seats to recreate the traditional beer tasting thing where you can belly up to the bar so to speak and drink beer and talk beer,” said Jeff Nye, keg manager and bartender who is spearheading Henry’s beer moves.
The new eight-tower features craft brews, which will be rotating based on availability, popularity, taste and the managers’ whims.
“We already have a list built up of about 30 on order right now. The list is going to keep growing,” said Dylan Dick, Henry’s service manager and son of owner Raymond LeGrue.
As soon as one enters the room or opens the menu, they will see beer.
“We like to put that right your face – the first thing you see is beer,” Dick said.
Their goal is to develop a discerning beer culture in Kodiak.
“In Kodiak there is a community of beer drinkers, and we celebrate that. We’re tapping into that beer renaissance that’s going on,” Nye said.
Preparations and planning have been going on for the bar for the last two years.
A computer screen shows the available beers — it will be updated on the web as well — and the “on deck” brews too.
“You name it — porters, stouts, lagers, ales, highly crafted beer and cider, that’s the idea,” said Nye.
Weekend entertainment and flight boards — beer tastings — are also on tap at Henry’s.
“You can order a flight, which is a five-ounce serving of every beer on the eight-beer tap. The price will vary according to the price of the beer. As soon as flight boards are done, then we’ll be offering them,” Dick said.
Henry’s also changed their beer propulsion system. The kegs now use a CO2-nitrogen mix, which smoothes the quality of the pour.
“It’s 70 percent CO2 and 30 percent nitrogen, which actually gives it a slightly creamier flavor, but mostly it makes the beer more consistent,” said Dick.
Prior, they had used stadium-sized hoses bringing the beer up from downstairs —too much power in the pour.
“We had these pumps which were pumping too much air into the beer… This system is basically propelling that beer through the line and it’s a better thing to use nitrogen and CO2 together,” Nye said.
Another change is faster system for tapping new kegs – using stopgaps by the kegs for quicker change time and better flow.
“If they run out you don’t end up foaming our lines forever. We can run out and instead of being out for the rest of the night we can put a new one on in a few minutes. So this tower will be running smoothly and hopefully it will change the ballgame,” Dick said.
One challenge is getting all of the beers onto the island. The job requires plenty of logistics planning and clever buying and shipping strategies.
Also, the managers seek to use beers available in Alaska, but not necessarily available anywhere else in Kodiak.
The current beer line-up features Kona Firerock, a Hawaiian pale ale; Shock Top, Belgian White, a citrus and spice beer; Sierra Summerfest, a summer lager; Deschutes Mirror Pond, a pale ale; Kassiks Morning Wood, an Old English India pale ale; Denali Agave Gold, a summer lager; Sam Adams Summer Ale, an American wheat ale; and Deschutes Twilight, a summer ale.
On deck are Kassiks Beaver Tail, Oskar Blues Old Chub, and Deschutes Black Butte.
Their current offerings “are more well-known because they are our first batch. But as we go we are going to be getting a little more exotic,” Nye said.
Contact Peter J. Mladineo at firstname.lastname@example.org.