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HOMER, Alaska (AP) — 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, ‘This 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.

For more information on the research reserve, visit


Information from: The Homer (Alaska) News,