The winning label for the Brackish Brown ale rest on the counter at Grace Ridge Brewery on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019 at a First Friday event in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

The winning label for the Brackish Brown ale rest on the counter at Grace Ridge Brewery on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019 at a First Friday event in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Kachemak Bay Research Reserve unveils winning beer label

Who says science and suds don’t mix?

In celebrating its upcoming 20th anniversary, the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve decided to put a little hop(s) in its step with a beer label contest to drum up awareness and excitement. Environmental Education Specialist Dana Nelson said she took inspiration from a similar contest she saw done by Kachemak Heritage Land Trust.

The public was invited to submit beer label design entries to go with a Brackish Brown ale. Responsibility for the beer’s concoction was entrusted to Sherry and Don Stead of Grace Ridge Brewery.

“I told them, ‘Yhis is what I’d like,’” Nelson said.

The brewers took that and ran with it. The brown ale was made with salt taken from Kachemak Bay through the local Alaska Salt Co., and they sourced hops from Homer’s Oceanside Farms.

When the brew was ready to go, 100 bottles of it were plastered with the winning label, a classic, bright salmon against a backdrop of ocean water and mountains. Those bottles went fast at a packed First Friday event held at the brewery on Feb. 1, which also showcased the other label entries.

“It was great,” Nelson said of the turnout of about 75 people. “It was very successful.”

The whole thing was “for the love of estuaries,” according to the reserve. The contest and the beer were meant to inspire more people to think about their local reserve, estuaries and the people that study them.

When Nelson started at the research reserve about three years ago, she said they found they were hitting the target audiences of school aged children and retirees, and that “seemed about it.”

“It was just another way to celebrate the research reserve, getting people to know us,” she said of the contest. “…We do a lot of fun research. We also like to have fun.”

The tips from the First Friday event will all be donated to the reserve, and those funds will be used to benefit its various volunteers, Nelson said.

The research reserve isn’t done celebrating just yet. Also in honor of its 20th anniversary, the reserve hosted a discovery lab on Wednesday that showcased 20 years of research and education. Tonight, there will be a Barley and O.A.T.s (Outdoor Adventure Talks) at 5:30 p.m. at Grace Ridge Brewery. The topic will be diving in Kachemak Bay.

Still to come is a trivia night to be held at Alice’s Champagne Palace on Feb. 27, Nelson said.

For more information on the research reserve, visit accs.uaa.alaska.edu/kbnerr/.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.

A crowd of people talks and mingles at the First Friday opening Friday, Feb. 1, 2019 at Grace Ridge Brewery in Homer, Alaska. The winning label for a special Brackish Brown ale was unveiled at the event. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

A crowd of people talks and mingles at the First Friday opening Friday, Feb. 1, 2019 at Grace Ridge Brewery in Homer, Alaska. The winning label for a special Brackish Brown ale was unveiled at the event. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

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