The next stop on my Alaskan cruise adventure was Sitka. After two days of high-energy activities, we were both looking forward to a more relaxed pace. Our excursion in this port did still involve some physical activity, but also beer. We had a pedaling beer tour booked at noon, so we had a bit of time before to explore Sitka and find the best fudge before we got started. 

The group bike was more of a cart with pedals attached, but none of us were complaining. Our tour guide sat at the front and steered the monstrosity while we pedaled to provide power. Luckily, our first stop was just around the corner.

Ernie’s Old Time Saloon is one of the oldest bars in Alaska, and the oldest in Sitka. The center of the bar used to have a trapdoor where they’d throw the trash - both literally and any bar-goers who caused trouble - through the floor. Here our bartender generously made us Duck Fart Shots. 

They weren’t as bad as it sounds! This Alaskan shot is Kailua, Baileys and Crown Royal whiskey layered in that order. I signed up for a beer tour, so starting out with a shot made me somewhat nervous, but you know what they say. When in Rome and all of that. 

Looking around the bar you can easily tell how old it is. Not just from the decades of decor still hanging on the walls, or the backdoor entrance we took to get in, but from the crowd. This is the kind of bar where old veterans come to drink. One of them even had their dog, George, propped up next to the bar on a cart.

After just enough time for a beer, we were back out to the sunlight (which felt very bright after the dark wood and limited lighting of Ernie’s) and back on our bike/cart/ride in route to our next stop. I won’t lie. We were definitely a spectacle. People stopped on the sidewalk to point at us, and some cheered us on. This excursion is not for you if you’re easily embarrassed. But everyone was a good sport and it’s truly a blast if you embrace the ridiculousness of it. 

Our next stop on the tour landed us at a fisher’s bar called Pioneer. Pictures from the decades of operation cover every inch of the walls, apart from the cigarette vending machine next to the door (this must be a thing in Sitka - I haven’t seen it anywhere else). This is the bar that local fishermen come to after a long day and how much the fish were biting tends to set the mood. 

Fun fact: A bell is a common sight in Alaskan bars. Ring it if you want to find out what it means and you’ll be everyone’s favorite for that night.

Being from the Pacific Northwest, Alaskan Brewing isn’t hard to come by, but I’ve never turned down an Alaskan Amber.

After a shot and two beers, I got wrapped up in conversations with bartenders and other people in our group. So much so that I didn’t take any quality pictures at our last stop at Bayview. There, things went even further with a flight tasting. We sampled several local beers including Harbor Mountain Pontoon IPA and 49th State Blonde Ale. The rest of our group wasn’t much for IPAs, but being the Seattle gals we were, we took care of that for them. 

I learned a ton from this tour (if you’ll believe it or not), including that Sitka has the most steady population (education, agriculture & fishing, mining, medical and construction are all larger industries than tourism) than the other popular southern Alaska destinations. Here there isn’t a rush of non-local tour guides that leave at the first sight of winter, and you can feel it in the town.