The co-founders of Copper River Brewery from left: Micah Renfeldt, Christiana Fincher and Curtis Fincher. Photo courtesy of Curtis Fincher

The Copper River Brewery has been a labor of love for owner/co-founders Curtis and Christiana Fincher, and co-founder/head brewer Micah Renfeldt. The team is thrilled to finally open the doors to the new brewery, located at 501 1st Street.

The Fincher’s decided to come to Cordova because they heard about the town’s beauty from an old boss. The recommendation eventually led them to move and open a small business in the remote gem.

“When we were in Homer, we worked for a woman who traveled all around Alaska and northwest Canada for her work. She always said the two prettiest places for her was Atlin, British Columbia and Cordova, Alaska,” Curtis said.

Nearly a decade later, after Curtis finished graduate school and Christiana’s job went fully remote, the couple was pondering where to set new roots, and decided to take a chance in the wild north.

“We moved here with all our worldly goods, sight unseen based on that recommendation,” said Curtis.

The Fincher’s didn’t have aspirations early on to start a brewery or small business, but the spark began when Curtis was taken by some amazing, good energy breweries they had experienced in other places. For the Fincher’s, it’s not just about the beer.

“Some of those local breweries were really grounding points for the community. And one of the only places that brought all kinds of groups together,” Curtis said. “It was a great place to meet people, very community minded. It was about having people be good neighbors to each other in a casual space for people to hang out.”

Noticing the adventurous, cool spirit of the people in Cordova, the Fincher’s decided to open a brewery and a community space to gather in, while finding ways to give back too.

The brewery space is filled with good cheer and locally made furniture, including some hand-crafted pieces by Aaron Muma.

“It’s a rustic vibe with some slabs. There are two mezzanines in the building, each one with its own distinct flavor. There is quite a big farmhouse table with a base made of a gnarled driftwood stump. The ceiling in part of the building has the cast plaster molding of the original bank from 1910,” said Curtis.

The cold room where the beer is kept used to be the bank vault and the walls have about 14 inches of concrete. Local artist Skylar Lewis created original paintings that are on display.

“The space has good vibes, it’s just a nice place to be,” Curtis said.

The beer repertoire consists of an oatmeal stout, Kveik IPA, a sour craft selection and a Saison.  A hard seltzer is coming down the pike for customers to enjoy, shared Curtis. Non-alcoholic beverages will also be available (such as a ginger ale or root beer), paired with a tasty food menu.

“Shae Bowman and Joe Hamm are going to run a restaurant in the kitchen space. Joe is an amazing cook for anyone who has ever had his food. It has a homey feel and is really well done,” said Curtis.

The most fun part of the project for Curtis and his wife, Christiana, was bringing awesome talent together to showcase their unique skillsets.

The Fincher’s said they want to thank their friends that helped make this dream a reality and remind folks that Copper River Brewery is a gathering place for everyone.

“Two people in particular I would like to thank are Jacob Peterson and Harmony Graziano. Both have been so hugely helpful,” said Curtis.

The brewery’s hours are 3:00-9:00 p.m., Tuesday-Friday, and noon-9:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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Amanda Williams, originally from California, is a reporter, photographer and videographer for the Cordova Times. She has a long history of writing professionally for magazines and newspapers in her home state, and she also writes her own music. Williams is a decorated Navy veteran. When she isn’t covering the news, she enjoys skiing, singing, spending time with friends and family and traveling. She first came to Cordova as a VetsWork intern working for the Forest Service as a public outreach specialist on the Cordova Ranger District.