Ben Millstein, owner of Kodiak Island Brewery, AK Gov. Bill Walker and AK Fish Radio’s Laine Welch sample a first batch of kelp-based beer.


At a recent swing through Kodiak, Fish Radio joined Governor Bill Walker for the chance to sample a new kelp-based beer set to debut at the local brewery any day.

The kelp comes from Kodiak Island Sustainable Seaweed, or KISS. It’s being brewed as a gose – a sour, German wheat beer made with coriander and salt.

Kodiak Island Brewery owner, Ben Millstein, says the kelp was an easy fit.

“We used the amount of kelp that we thought would replace the amount of salt. And it’s working really good.”  

Millstein credits brewery flow master Chrissy Johnsrud for the idea.  The still unnamed kelp blend was nearing its final stages before being added to the local tap. Millstein explained that there are over 150 different styles of beer and it is important to follow a few Zen-like guidelines before forming an opinion. He calls it calibrating one’s palate –

 “Shift your mind into neutral and take a couple sips and sit with that for 30 seconds or a minute and try not to judge.  Try to let it in and let it go.    (Glasses clinking) Try to disengage and give it a calibration rest and then see what you think after that.”

The kelp beer had a pleasing briny taste.

“I like it better than I thought I would …Governor Walker, your palate has been sufficiently seasoned by the kelp beer – what do you think? I like it. It’s very good.”

Walker says he plans to add the beer to his kelp collection.

“Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to add this to my repertoire of kelp. I’ve got a kelp salsa story about how I helped get that into Safeway- and now we have kelp beer to go with the kelp salsa. We are making it happen in Alaska as far as the blue economy!”

The beer will be added this week to Kodiak Island Brewery’s 13-tap lineup.

While he was in Kodiak, Governor Walker also signed a bill expanding the Mariculture Revolving Loan Fund to create new financing options for businesses.

Walker also re-established the Alaska Mariculture Task Force as an advisory body with a goal of growing a $100 million mariculture industry in 20 years.

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