WASILLA — The Wade brothers cut the ribbon on Bearpaw River Brewing Company’s second location on East Railroad Avenue in Wasilla.
Jack, Jake, James and Jed Wade began Bearpaw River Brewing Company in December of 2015 at their location on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway now known as the “little bear,” with the new location affectionately named the “big bear.” The new Bearpaw location in Wasilla was a means of homecoming for the four Wasilla-grown Wade boys, where they tripled their brewing capacity and added a wood-fired pizza oven.
“We’re from Wasilla.The four of us we grew up down Wasilla-Fishhook and Wasilla is our hometown and so when we decided to make a move to this place and for the expansion we really wanted a central location and a good presence in the city of Wasilla,” said Jake Wade.
The “little bear” location will remain open and allow for more small-batch beers from Bearpaw. A 30-barrel brewhouse was moved to the new location alongside new 60-barrel brewhouses, with room for up to 120-barrel tanks. The new CODI canning system cans up to 60 cans a minute, as opposed to 11 per minute previously. Beer manufacturing takes up more than half of the new floor space, encompassing 8,000 square feet. The original Palmer-Wasilla Bearpaw location is 3,200 square feet.
“I wanted a clean look so it’s going to be a stark contrast from our charming taproom on the Palmer-Wasilla which is eclectic and has lots of doodads around and we love it, but this place has a different vibe to it and that’s intentional,” said Jed Wade.
The spacious warehouse layout features a mountain silhouette along the walls and an open garage door makes the outdoor beer garden space easily accessible from the dining room. The Wade’s began planning for the new location in downtown Wasilla before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, and thanked Davis Constructors for their expedient construction of the building amidst a global pandemic. The new space’s main addition is the wood-fired pizza oven with Bearpaw River tiled across the front in white letters. The Wade’s named their brewing company Bearpaw River after the river north of Delta in the Kantishna hills where their father homesteaded. Jed’s wife Carly crafted pizza recipes at their home which will now be put into the wood fired oven and served to patrons by pizza cooks Aaron Wiggins and Joe Kays.
“Over time too we’re going to try to use as much Alaskan ingredients as we can, so all that stuff is the fun part of this and trying to make sure that our pizza matches the quality and the craft element that we’ve always based our craft beer around,” said Jed Wade.
The ribbon cutting was attended by Wasilla Mayor Glenda Ledford as well as the Wasilla Chamber of Commerce. A line out the door stretched nearly all the way across the parking lot as the new location opened its doors to customers for the first time.
I am thrilled, absolutely thrilled,” said Ledford. “It was well attended. I think a lot of people are really excited about having Bearpaw in the city and we are looking forward to being a partner with them.”
The new massive brewing space in downtown Wasilla will allow the Wades to ramp up their beer production, with a goal to distribute their cans across Alaska. Over five years after opening in a small taproom on the Palmer-Wasilla, the Wade brothers are at the forefront of craft brewing in the Mat-Su Valley as a family.
“Our craft canned beer says family owned on it so family is at the root of what we do,” said Jake Wade.