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Sterling brewery could open this fall

Jake Walgenbach

Sterling is in a bit of a beer purgatory. While Sterling-ites have several options to the west and Cooper Landing Brewing to the east, there’s no Sterling-specific place for them to get their brew on.

Five residents are moving toward opening a brewery in the unincorporated community, across from Sterling Elementary School near Swanson River Road. They’re calling it “Naptowne Brewing” — an homage to the town’s early roots, and their family history.

Siblings Jake Walgenbach and Bailey Jankowski, two of the co-owners, are the great-grandchildren of homesteaders who set up shop in Sterling back when it was called Naptowne. The name was changed in 1954, though Naptowne Rapids down the street, at Bing’s Landing, remain.

Jake’s wife, April, and Bailey’s husband, Rory, are also co-owners. As is Eric Johnson, a family friend. Most of them work in the oil and gas industry in one form or another, though Jake’s been brewing at home for over a decade. He says his specialty is a white chocolate stout with vanilla and coffee.

They have the place — a log building on the Sterling Highway. But the group is still putting together what it needs for a state license. That includes getting signatures from half the permanent residents within a one-mile radius of the brewery, a requirement for breweries 50 miles or fewer outside city limits.

Pending that approval and some other housekeeping, the team hopes to open this fall.

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