Kahiltna Birchworks

Talkeetna, Alaska

Birch syrup, the lesser known relative of maple syrup, is a rare treat to behold – especially when it’s made with the kind of care family-owned and operated Kahiltna Birchworks puts into every bottle.

Located in Talkeetna, Alaska, a small community and a stone’s throw from Denali National Park, the company is proudly known as one of the largest producers of high quality birch syrup in the world. Among the United States and other countries around the world, production of birch syrup today totals a mere 2,200 gallons, and about 1,500 gallons of which is produced by the hands of Kahiltna Birchworks. On springtime treks through the Alaska wilderness, a group of loyal “sap suckers” sets out to collect the goodness, at times totaling 850 trees per person, later returning to company headquarters to boil down the stash into “Kahiltna Gold” birch syrup, run it through a reverse osmosis machine to remove 70% of its water content, and evaporate it on a wood-fired machine that become part of its signature namesake.

Founded by Dulce Ben-East, Michael East, and partner, Sally Freund in 1990, Kahiltna Birchworks began as an entrepreneur’s dream to live simply and adventurously by using what was within reach to create something memorable and lovable in kitchens throughout Alaska and beyond. These days, the picturesque cabin in the woods has opened its doors to dozens of helping hands each spring – some maple enthusiasts and others simply curious about the science behind the sap.

While the Kahiltna Birchworks family of employees and seasonal volunteers rigorously collect the precious sap from native trees surrounding Talkeetna, they’re also careful to protect the trees through sustainable and eco-conscious methods. Each year, the team taps as many trees as possible without injuring them – collecting 10-15% of the tree’s total sap production – and plugs up each 7/16″ hole at the end of the season to help the tree remain healthy for the next two years, until it’s ready to be tapped again.

In addition to its meticulous collecting and refining process, birch syrup is heralded for its unmistakable taste: sweet, of course, but with a darker complexity that lingers just beneath the surface. Chefs, breweries, candy companies, and home cooks know Kahiltna quality when they taste it, with a luscious molasses-meets-sorghum like quality, topped off with a floral, earthy note that’s Alaskan through and through. Each year’s supply happily runs dry, only to be restocked once the trees have done their sap-producing dance once again.