Some of us old-timers remember the craft beer desert the Valley of the Sun once was. It was the late 1990s. We had a smattering of brewpub chains like Alcatraz and Rock Bottom, a local legend in Four Peaks and… that was about it. Enjoy your Heineken.
How times have changed. Riding the local-first maker culture trending nationwide, Phoenix started seeing the kind of craft beer activity befitting the nation’s fourth-largest city. We now boast 47 breweries, with more on the way. So let’s get tappin’.
Valley Breweries: 47
Arizona Breweries: 87
Oldest Brewery: Prescott Brewing (1994)
Most Remote Brewery: Barn Star in Skull Valley
The Beer According to Rob
Arizona Craft Brewers Guild president Rob Fullmer singled out three interesting trends in Valley brew-smithery.
1. Arizona malting
Two in-development malt facilities (one in Casa Grande, one in the Verde Valley) means brewers can start sourcing grains from within the state.
2. Satellite taprooms
AZ brewers “are finally getting serious marketing to two different markets.” To wit: Tucson-based Barrio Brewing’s new Mesa taproom.
Not just collaborative brews, Fullmer says, but co-marketing efforts like the “Beermuda Triangle” beer crawl in central Phoenix. Creating such “micro-identities is really important.”
Essential AZ Six-Pack
With more than a thousand different craft beers produced in Arizona, the selection can be overwhelming. Here are our half-dozen picks – all available in cans – that we believe constitute the ideal, most balanced Arizona six-pack. — Jess Harter
Bottle opener from Portsmithco ($22)
Forget that cheesy Heineken promo opener on your keychain. Valley-based Portsmithco designed the credit-card-size Fulcro to conveniently fit in any traditional wallet. It’s stainless steel and has a sleek and minimalist style. shop.portsmithco.com/products/fulcro
The Hottest 3 Which AZ Breweries Enter Autumn With the Most Juice?
Tombstone Brewing Co.
Yeah, we know – it sounds like a gimmick brewery. The truth: It’s a visionary shop producing the state’s boldest IPA. And people are noticing.
Historic Brewing Co.
An international run on vanilla bean could not keep the Flagstaff brewer’s Piehole Porter down. An exhuberantly creative yet disciplined brewer.
AZ Wilderness Brewing
The Gilbert brewery’s buzz hasn’t abated since its spectacular debut two years ago. They’re kings of the event beer. Everyone wants to know which crazy native ingredient they’ll use next.
Five first-time Valley seasonals we’re amped to try this fall.
Pedal Haus Brewery
A variety of circumstances prevented the European-focused brewpub from debuting its much-anticipated fall seasonal in 2015 and 2016. This year it’s finally happening.
730 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, 480-314-2337, pedalhausbrewery.com
The Scottish-themed brewery will debut its brawny Scotch ale with a hefty 13 percent ABV. Not a “Wee Heavy,” but rather “The Heavy.”
7143 E. Southern Ave., Mesa, 480-666-0915, lochielbrewing.com
O.H.S.O. Brewery + Distillery
Gin & Bear It
Besides several variations of its popular Lost Viking porter, the brewery/distillery will introduce a Belgian Golden Strong Ale aged in red wine barrels previously used for its gin.
Four Valley locations, ohsobrewery.com
The latest addition to the artisan pizzeria’s growing roster of house beers, brewed under contract at SunUp Brewery, will be a fall/winter porter with coffee, chocolate and cinnamon.
6922 E. Main St., Scottsdale, 480-946-0542, craft64.com
The Perch Brewery
Storming the Castle
The small brewery known for its often unusual creations is working on a Bière de Garde – a rich, malty French farmhouse ale with just a hint of hop bitterness.
232 S. Wall St., Chandler, 480-773-7688, perchpubbrewery.com
25 To Try Right now!
An artful blending of perennial Arizona classics and special fall releases, this list curated by beer writers Jess Harter and Michael Lauersdorf is sure
to whet your whistle.
12 West Brewing Co.
Midnight Run Coffee Stout
5.3% ABV / 30 IBU
Coffee + beer = cool-weather bliss, and Gilbert’s 12 West has created something special. Creamy, roasty and downright quaffable, this oatmeal stout is perfect any time of day – even breakfast (it is a coffee beer, after all).
Borderlands Brewing Co.
Citrana Wild Ale
4% ABV/No IBU
Brewed with citrus zest and juice, this tart gose from the idiosyncratic Tucson brewer was the first competent sour beer to emerge from Arizona, and it’s still the best – earthy, effervescent and just a little funky.
Pueblo Vida Brewing Co.
5.4% ABV / 11 IBU
A great American-made hefeweizen can be hard to come by, but this Tucson brewery has it dialed in. Ample clove, distinct banana notes and a bit of bubblegum dominate in true Bavarian style.
The Shop Beer Co.
6.6% ABV / 31 IBU
You’d expect a great coffee beer from the Tempe brewery that’s a spinoff of acclaimed Cartel Coffee. The lighter style – a brown ale instead of a porter or stout – makes it enjoyable year-round.
Borderlands Brewing Co.
Toole Ave IPA
6% ABV / 65 IBU
A second beer for Borderlands? Yessum. Named after the street on which the brewery resides, it’s a great take on the current IPA haze craze with its spot-on cloudy appearance, ripe citrus juiciness and balanced hop bitterness.
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
Picacho Pecan Pie Brown Ale
6.6% ABV / 25 IBU
Released every Halloween at the Gilbert brewery in bottles and on draft, this nutty creation is brewed with whole pecan pies and dry-hopped with local pecans and vanilla beans. A truly fantastic fall beer.
Historic Brewing Co.
6.0% / 20 IBU
Imagine cherry pie in a glass. A worldwide vanilla shortage forced the Flagstaff brewery to suspend distribution of its flagship beer, leaving it available only at its taproom. If you can get some, savor it.
SanTan Brewing Co.
Count Hopula IPA
9.1% ABV / 99 IBU
This “blood red” cult classic was semi-retired to the Chandler brewery’s Vault Series a couple years ago, but rises from the dead each September in small quantities. Watch out for its bite!
McFate Brewing Co.
Candy Bar Milk Stout
5.8% ABV / 25 IBU
Inspired by peanut butter cup candy, this popular seasonal, which debuted in 2013, always draws long lines of growler-toting fans. For the first time, the Scottsdale brewery will also sell it in cans this year.
Barrio Brewing Co.
Mocha Java Stout
5.5% ABV / 28 IBU
The Tucson brewery’s creamy nitro stout is brewed with locally roasted espresso and cold-steeped with cocoa, oats and lactose. Not nearly as sweet as its name suggests, it pairs well with almost any dessert.
Blueberry Spaceship Box
6% ABV / 0 IBU
The Prescott mead maestros strike again, but this time with the No. 1 cider in the world, according to RateBeer.com, a reputable beer-scoring website. Intense berries and honey mingle well with Washington apples, resulting in a pleasantly sweet and tart flavor profile.
Grand Canyon Brewing Co.
Pumpkin Springs Porter
5.8% / 32 IBU
Named for a famous pumpkin-shaped, orange-tinted pond along the Colorado River, this seasonal from the Williams brewery is brewed not only with pumpkin, but also sweet potatoes and squash. A true gourdfest.
Dark Sky Brewing Co.
Son of Dankenstein
5.6% ABV / 45 IBU
Yup, another IPA. But this name was just too good to pass up before Halloween. Like most of Dark Sky’s creative names and beers, this hoppy haze bomb is legit. Check with the Flagstaff brewery on availability.
Four Peaks Brewing Co.
Double Pumpkin Porter
8.3% ABV / 9 IBU
Pumpkin Porter fans are in for something “gourd.” This imperial version of Arizona’s best-selling seasonal boasts bigger flavors, aromas and body, along with a spike in ABV. Look for it this fall at the brewery in limited quantities. fourpeaks.com
Wanderlust Brewing Co.
928 Local Farmhouse Ale
8% ABV / 25 IBU
A nod to the Flagstaff area code, 928 Local does AZ proud with this Belgian farmhouse-style ale that features a little funk from the locally cultured “wild” yeast, a hint of spice and several pounds of local honey.
Helton Brewing Co.
Dark Munich Lager
6.2% ABV/ 20 IBU
Not familiar with Munich malts? There’s no better introduction than the Phoenix brewery’s complex yet easy-on-the-palate lager with hints of caramel, chocolate and nuts. The perfect beer for a fall afternoon.
Oak Creek Brewing Co.
Nut Brown Ale
5.5% ABV / 30 IBU
Sedona’s flagship beer holds a special place in the collective heart of longtime AZ beer lovers, and has graced many a kegerator. A smooth body, nutty toffee notes and a hint of spice make it a fine example of the style.
Tombstone Brewing Co.
Another Exercise in Mediocrity Double IPA
8.1% ABV / 60 IBU
Inspired by an Internet troll’s disparaging comment about “another mediocre brewery” joining the AZ beer scene, Tombstone raised its middle finger high and made an intensely juicy, tropical New England-style double IPA that’s dank and delicious.
Huss Brewing Co.
Rice Pudding Porter
5.1% ABV / 30 IBU
The Tempe brewery’s seasonal spiced porter has all the flavors of fall and winter – including cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves – as well as a little chocolate, coffee and dark fruit. Look for it in mid-October.
Dubina Brewing Co.
Fall Maple Ale
9.5% ABV / 28 IBU
The Glendale brewery makes its seasonal Scottish-style ale with what it calls “a (expletive) ton” of Grade A maple syrup throughout the entire brewing process. All that’s missing is a stack of pancakes.
Lumberyard Brewing Co.
Big Rapid Red / Imperial Red Ale
9.5% ABV / 95 IBU
Dangerously smooth at 9.5 percent, this well-balanced brew from Flagstaff boasts a rich body with caramel malt and piney hop notes. To boot, it’s won gold at the Great American Beer Festival and silver at the World Beer Cup. lumberyardbrewingcompany.com
Uncle Bear’s Brewery
Barkley’s Peanut Butter Cup Porter
5.4% ABV / 20 IBU
Another peanut butter cup-inspired beer? Damn Skippy. Loaded with chocolate malt and a bevy of peanut butter cups, this year-round treat is available in cans and at various watering holes ‘round town. The ultimate “guilty pleasure” beer. ubcraftbeer.com
Mother Road Brewing Co.
Tower Station IPA
7.3% ABV / 70 IBU
Named for a landmark 1936 building on Route 66 (AKA, the Mother Road), the Flagstaff brewery’s unfiltered, copper-colored beer has aromas of tangerine and pineapple. One of Arizona’s finest IPAs.
Wren House Brewing Co.
10.0% ABV / No IBU
The Phoenix brewery’s pumpkin wheat wine is a flavor bomb of roasted pumpkin, cinnamon and allspice. Like last year, there also will be a version aged in whiskey barrels for nearly a year.
Helio Basin Brewing Co.
Autumn Oak Nut Brown
8% ABV / 25 IBU
Muscovado sugar, an unrefined sugar with a strong molasses flavor, is the key ingredient in the Phoenix brewery’s seasonal brown ale, which is aged in American oak. Hints of hazelnut, vanilla and coconut.
What’s an IBU?
That would be an “international bitterness unit,” made fashionable by IPA zealots obsessed with the ever-expanding hops content of that particular style. But it’s a useful gauge for non-IPA beers, too.
Valley Beer Trail Guide
To paraphrase the old saying: A rising tide of Double IPA lifts all boats. Organize a craft brewery safari with this illustrated breakout of the Valley’s best beer ‘hoods.
“The Main Street Miracle”
Once Cider Corps is up and brewing later this year, downtown Mesa will boast easily the densest, most walkable trifecta of breweries in the Valley. Downtown Mesa: Not just for
missionaries and war memorabilia buffs anymore!
Five breweries rest along a congenial, 3-mile cruise from McClintock Drive to Mill Avenue. The most bike-friendly of all the brew crawls.
“Brews and Boobs”
Old Town Scottsdale’s tightly clustered trio of craft breweries includes Craft 64, recently named a Top 10 Valley pizzeria by PHOENIX dining critic Nikki Buchanan. Get goofy with a game of Cards Against Humanity at Two Brothers.
The only Valley pub crawl with its own website (beermudaphx.com), this confederation of esteemed Central Phoenix breweries encompasses a tidy, 6-mile loop. Pro tip: Visit Wandering Tortoise, a spectacular beer bar on Indian School Road across the street from Helton, and make it a quad.
Suddenly a craft beer hot spot, the Shea/Scotts-dale area ceremonially became a “crawl” with the opening of Mesquite River Brewing this year. If they have it, try McFate Strawberry Milk Shake. It tastes unmistakably of strawberry Quik.
“West Side Wander”
The West Valley’s richest vein of brewery talent arcs northwest 5.3 miles across the 101 bend. Save Peoria Artisan for last – it boasts the trio’s best food menu.
That Barrio to Uncle Bear’s leg is a haul, but the total mileage is actually less than that of the West Valley crawl. The Caveat: Old Ellsworth doesn’t open until winter.
New Breweries in 2017
How fast is Arizona’s craft beer community expanding? Ten new brewers will have opened in 2017 by the time fall rolls around.
Dillinger Brewing Co.
University of Arizona graduates Eric Sipe and Eric Rosas rang in 2017 with their strip-mall brewery and minimalist, 50-seat taproom, named for the former Public Enemy No. 1 who was famously once arrested in Tucson.
3895 N. Oracle Rd., Tucson, 520-207-2312, dillingerbrewing.com
Using old family recipes for Scottish-, Irish- and English-style ales, Ian Cameron launched east Mesa’s first brewery and taproom near Superstition Springs Center mall in late January. Phase two will include a full kitchen.
7143 E. Southern Ave., Mesa, 480-666-0915, lochielbrewing.com
Copper Mine Brewing Co.
Owners Jeff Kaber and Jeremy Pie pay tribute to one of the historical “Five Cs” of Arizona’s economy with their Tucson brewery and taproom, which opened on a county island near Kino Sports Complex in late February.
3455 S. Palo Verde Rd., Tucson, 520-333-6140, copperminebrewing.com
Tony Williams and Chuck Boyer founded east Tucson’s first brewery and taproom in April, bringing in Gene Sandoval from Tucson-based home-brewing company Mr. Beer as head brewer.
1664 S. Research Loop, Tucson, 520-207-3203, blackrockbrewers.com
Old Ellsworth Brewing Co.
Chandler couple Brian and Chris McKean, along with Chris’ brother, Ryan Bostrom, opened Queen Creek’s first brewery, including a full kitchen, in the former Manhattan Vine building in July.
22005 S. Ellsworth Rd., Queen Creek, 480-433-0651, oldellsworthbrewing.com
Button Brew House
A unique Chiltepín Red Ale, brewed with spicy Sonoran chiltepíns (hot peppers) and fresh lime peel, will be the flagship beer at Todd and Erika Button’s brewery and taproom, scheduled to open in mid-August just north of Tucson.
6800 N. Camino Martin, Marana, 520-268-8543, button.beer
Harbottle Brewing Co.
Owners Michael Figueira, Sam Kroack and Andy Schlicker promise their Tucson brewery, scheduled to open in September, will deliver an “intense and intrepid beer-Viking experience.”
3820 S. Palo Verde Rd., Tucson, harbottlebrewing.com
Flying Basset Brewing
Rob Gagnon and Sara Cotton hope to open their Gilbert brewpub – named for his profession (commercial pilot) and the couple’s Basset hounds (Lieutenant Dan and Angela Basset) – in an old Famous Sam’s building in October.
720 W. Ray Rd., Gilbert, 602-614-7704, flyingbassetbrewing.com
Ten-hut! The Valley cider scene finally has a pair of commanding officers: war veteran Jason Duren and his brother Josh, profiled on the opposite page.
31 S. Robson, Mesa, cidercorpsaz.com
Dead Heat Brewing Co.
Andy Weiner and Keith Chapman aren’t even revealing what month Fountain Hills’ first brewery, which will be located next to the town’s Fry’s Food & Drug, is expected to launch, but look for it before the end of the year.
14825 E. Shea Blvd., Fountain Hills
Josh & Jason Duren
After Jason (left) was injured by an IED while serving in Afghanistan, he and his brother, Josh (right), began making cider as therapy for his PTSD. Reviews of their subtly sweet, fruit-based brews were so positive there’s already a waiting list for restaurants that want to carry their products. The brothers are debuting the Valley’s first full-fledged cider house and taproom (cidercorpsaz.com) in downtown Mesa in November. We must admit: Their story makes for a hell of an elevator pitch. “We’re [the country’s first] veteran-owned and -operated craft cider company,” Josh says.
Favorite food and beer pairing: Josh prefers “smoked Korean pork belly” with CC’s ginger, orange and lime cider. Jason counters with “Callebaut chocolate mousse paired with our cinnamon, vanilla bean and Morita chile-infused cider.”
Favorite Arizona beer: Josh likes the Trigo Suave wheat ale from Oro Brewing Company in Mesa, while Jason goes belly-up for Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.’s DC Mountain Double IPA.
Biggest challenge facing Arizona cider: “Finding our place in the current craft community while staying true to the traditions of cider making,” Josh says.
Verde Valley Superstition Meadery
Kinda-sorta world famous after scoring a partnership with storied Danish brewer Mikkeller, the pride of Prescott honey fermentation is a must-visit. They make a fine cider, too.
120 W. Gurley St., Prescott, 928-458-4256, superstitionmeandery.com
Lonesome Valley Brewing
Prescott Valley’s first brewpub pairs its 11 house ales, such as Sun Piercer IPA, with a scratch menu of pizzas and sandwiches.
3040 N. Windsong Dr., Prescott Valley, 928-515-3541, lonesomevalleybrewing.com
Verde Brewing Co.
This self-described “farm-to-mug” brewpub uses locally sourced ingredients, from the honey in its Off to Jail pale ale to the beef in its burgers.
325 S. Main St., Camp Verde, 928-567-7033, verdebrewing.com
Enjoy a sauerkraut-laden bratwurst and German potato salad with this European-style brewpub’s flagship Russian imperial stout in historic downtown Prescott.
220 S. Montezuma St., Prescott, 928-351-7712, coppertopalehouse.com
Beer Bars & Bottle Shops
Craft beer is big business. According to industry sources, craft brew accounted for 12.3 percent of the beer industry’s total U.S. market share in 2016, more than double the 5.7 percent figure in 2011. Little wonder so many beer-centric bars and growler-fill gas stations are popping up all over the Valley – and so many liquor stores are converting into specialty bottle shops.
Kings Convenience in central Phoenix offers an interesting case study. Once a typical neighborhood smokes-and-suds liquor store, it now boasts a formidable selection of local and national craft beer brands. Owner Mickey Salem stays on top of what’s trending, and creates special pricing programs targeted at savvy beer consumers. Keenly aware of the craft beer enthusiast’s penchant for experimentation, Salem likes to constantly flood his inventory with new beers – up to 30 percent of his stock changes in any given month. “Our customers like the variety,” Salem says. “It’s just a huge difference from a few years ago.” – Mike Lauersdorf
Check out one of these bomb bottle shops and beer bars around town.
The OGs of the AZ craft beer scene since 1981, the Eccles family stocks top ales from floor to ceiling and runs the beloved Taste of Tops beer bar next door. Still the gold standard of Valley bottle shops.
403 W. University Dr., Tempe, 480-967-5643, topsliquors.com
Come for the regal bottle selection, leave with a growler or crowler (a can/growler hybrid, sealed onsite) from one of 54 taps. And look for Kings’ new craft bar to debut next door any day.
2811 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-265-1777, facebook.com/kingsbeerwine/
Craft Beer Hop Stop
Hop in and have the always-helpful proprietor show you the ropes – great growler selections, rare bottles, make-your-own six-packs and more.
717 W. Union Hills Dr., Phoenix, 602-993-5090, facebook.com/craftbeerhopstop
Gilbert Convenience Mart (GCM)
One of the state’s first liquor stores to cash in on the craft boom back in 2010, the Hanna family-owned GCM excels at making beer geeks happy. Arizona-centric growler station and robust selection of prestige crafts make it a must-visit.
118 N. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert, 480-926-4478, facebook.com/gcm.liquor.3
Papago Brewing Co.
Wait, a brewery on the bottle shop list? It’s got a glorious selection of refrigerated bottles and cans from the world over, and a fun mix-and-match six-pack program so you can try new things.
7107 E. McDowell Rd., Scottsdale, 480-425-7439, papagobrewing.com
The bottle shop sitch is shameful –shameful, we say! – west of the I-17. The one saving grace: this venerable drive-thru in the northwest Valley.
3439 W. Cactus Rd., Phoenix, 602-863-0585
The Valley's Top 5 Beer Bars
Angel’s Trumpet Alehouse
A hip Downtown Phoenix hop spot that features a superior rotating tap selection, gastropub comfort fare and a large, dog-friendly patio.
810 N. Second St., Phoenix, 602-252-2630, angelstrumpetalehouse.com
The Wandering Tortoise
Mosey on over to this happening Biltmore-area hangout for 21 rotating taps, beer-geek-worthy special events and chill vibes.
2417 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-441-3490, facebook.com/thewanderingtortoise16
The Hungry Monk
Owner Jim Lolli has been serving up killer craft beer, wings and other beer-friendly foods since 2010. Don’t miss $3 craft drafts on Wednesdays.
1760 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, 480-963-8000, hungrymonkaz.com
Craft 64 likes to keep it local. Nestled in Old Town Scottsdale, all 36 tap handles showcase Arizona beers plus the wood-fired pies are on point. If you want a crash course in AZ beer, this is the place.
6922 E. Main St., Scottsdale, 480-946-0542, craft64.com
This way-out west space boasts world-class beer, wine, coffee and tasty food all in one. Look for Ian “The Beer Guy” Harwell – he’ll get you the right brew.
4860 N. Litchfield Rd., Litchfield Park, 623-535-9066, groundxcontrol.com
Jeff & Leah Huss Huss Brewing Co.
When the couple took over long-closed Rio Salado Brewing Company in south Tempe in 2013 to open their brewery and taproom, they were already respected players in the Arizona beer scene – Jeff had just wrapped up seven years as a brewer at BJ’s Brewhouse in Chandler and Leah was general manager and part-owner of Papago Brewing Co.’s beloved South Scottsdale taproom. In 2017, however, they took it to a new level. The popularity of Huss beers like Scotts-dale Blonde and Koffee Kölsch – along with the acquisition of Papago’s brands last September and the April opening of a second Huss taproom at Uptown Plaza in Phoenix – have made Huss the third-largest brewery in the state, behind Four Peaks and SanTan. But don’t look for the brewery to begin distribution out of state anytime soon. ‘‘We’re laying down roots in Arizona,’’ Jeff says.
Favorite food and beer pairing: Both go gaga for the moderate hop profile of a pale ale – Jeff likes his with “Chicago-style pizza,” while Leah prefers it with Thai food.
Favorite Arizona beer: Jeff’s favorite non-Huss brew is the Lumberyard Brewing Co. IPA, while Leah picks the McFate Brewing Co. Pueblo Vienna lager.
Biggest challenge facing Arizona craft beer: “It is not as mature as other states. We are just now hitting our stride with growth and quality. We have a long way to go, but we have also come so far,” Leah says.
Dennis Arnold Barrio Brewing Co.
After graduating from Northern Arizona University in 1984, Arnold spent several years pursuing his brewing dreams south of the border. “I was a part of a group of guys in San Diego who all wanted to open breweries,” he recalls. “We smuggled stainless steel and such [across] the Tijuana border and built brewery systems and then legally imported them.” Eventually, he and wife Tauna launched Gentle Ben’s Brewing Co. near the University of Arizona campus in Tucson and, in 2006, a much larger brewpub they called Barrio Brewing Co. south of downtown. In 2015, Arizona passed a new law allowing breweries to open up to seven retail locations – which Arnold quickly exploited by opening a 12-handle taproom with a full kitchen at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, making it the first Arizona brewery with locations in the state’s two largest markets.
Favorite food and beer pairing: Arnold recommends “our Mocha Java Stout with a scoop of our house-made vanilla bean gelato.”
Favorite Arizona beer that your brewery does not produce: “Lumberyard’s IPAs. Any of them.”
Biggest challenge facing Arizona craft beer: “Bad beer creeping back onto the scene.” He won’t name names.
Lumberyard Brewing Co.
Yes, this award-winning brewpub really is a former lumberyard. It’s walking distance from its sibling brewpub, Beaver Street Brewery, as well as Mother Road.
5 S. San Francisco St., Flagstaff, 928-779-2739, lumberyardbrewingcompany.com
Mother Road Brewing Co.
Grab a pint of Tower Station, one of Arizona’s best IPAs, and grub from Pizzicletta, the pizzeria next door, at this downtown brewery and taproom.
7 S. Mikes Pike St., Flagstaff, 928-774-9139, motherroadbeer.com
Historic Brewing Co.
Seek out this industrial-park production brewery, where the 15-handle taproom has limited hours, for the clever nomenclature (Piehole Porter, Undercover Cucumber) and crowd-pleasing craftsmanship.
4366 E. Huntington Dr., Flagstaff, 855-484-4677, historicbrewingcompany.com
Prickly Pear Paper ($10)
For your greatest beer-drinking ideas, you might need a beer-tasting notebook. The letterpressed Drinking Notes: Beer notebook is handmade in Gilbert out of recycled paper.
Brewhead baseball caps ($28)
Based in Mesa, Brewhead is the Valley’s online beer swag store of record. Choose from six baseball caps, each designed with a different logo or color scheme, for a wide variety
that any Arizona beer (or hat) lover would enjoy.
State 48 Brewery
As owner of Angela’s Kitchen in Sun City Grand and, until recently, part-owner of Il Capo Pizzeria in Scottsdale, Rana knows the importance of complementing good food with good beer. ‘‘We have always had an amazing craft beer selection at all of our restaurants, supporting other breweries,’’ he says. In 2016, Rana and his wife, Angela, decided to cross over by opening the first brewery in the city of Surprise. ‘‘The success of our restaurants helped to gain capital to start our own brewery,’’ Rana says. ‘‘[It’s] been 10 years in the making.’’ Their next one won’t take nearly as long: The Ranas recently announced a second, larger State 48 will open in the historic Welnick Building at Van Buren Street and Fourth Avenue in Downtown Phoenix in January 2018.
Favorite food and beer pairing: “State 48 Burger with house-made bun, aged cheddar, beer-battered pickles, IPA-sriracha-glazed bacon, LTO and our Sound of Freedom IPA.”
Favorite Arizona beer: “McFate Candy Bar Milk Stout.”
Biggest challenge facing Arizona craft beer: “Convincing Arizonans to choose Arizona brews over out-of-state beers.”
What’s the difference between a micro-brewery and a nano-brewery?
Mystique? A microbrewery is defined as a brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels a year. (Four Peaks produces about 80,000, for reference.) A nanobrewery is only defined as a “very small” brewery.
Brew your own beer and cider right from home with BYOB’s locally made brew system. The basic kit comes with two 6.5-gallon primary fermenter and bottling buckets, along with 10 other necessities.
Colorado River/AZ Riviera
College Street Brewhouse & Pub
It’s endless summer at this Havasu brewpub, where the flagship ale is Big Blue Van, a creamy blueberry wheat ale.
1940 College Dr., Lake Havasu City, 928-854-2739, collegestreetbrewhouseandpub.com
Prison Hill Brewing
Visiting historical Yuma Territorial Prison? Go the extra mile to visit PHB, where sandwiches have names like The Jailbird and The Bail Out.
278 S. Main St., Yuma, 928-276-4001, prisonhillbrewing.com
This brewpub also makes a popular blueberry wheat – Havablue – and a Vanilla Caramel Porter to complement its burgers.
210 Swanson Ave., Lake Havasu City, 928-453-2981, mudsharkbeer.com
O.H.S.O. Brewery + Distillery
We tipped a glass with the microbrewery trailblazer, who now runs three O.H.S.O. restaurants in the Valley and an outpost at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
How long have you been brewing professionally?
I started home-brewing in 1991, quit, then started again [around 1998]. Most of my beers turned out OK, but I hired the right people to brew for me. We opened O.H.S.O. in 2011.
What was the beer that changed your perspective about craft beer and made you interested in brewing?
I really fell in love with craft brew in ’97 and ’98 when I went to Europe… I went to Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Budapest. I don’t really remember the brand name, but it was a Flemish beer, Flemish red. It was like a sour, almost, a wild sour. It was very popular in the northern part of Belgium. I remember being like, “This is beer? Wow!” I didn’t know beer could taste like that.
O.H.S.O. stands for Outrageous Homebrewers Social Outpost. Does it live up to the name?
We were homebrewers trying to figure out how to do this thing. We wanted it to be a hangout. We wanted people to brew their own beer. We wanted it to be a communal brewing thing – homebrewers do it in someone’s garage or backyard, then have a beer and relax.
What’s your guilty pleasure beer?
Any Imperial stout that’s local… [but] my body doesn’t love those. Also our Popcycle Blonde that’s pink – a raspberry-lemon beer. A lot of hardcore brewers are like, “Why?” Some of those more feminine beers – but if they’re light and refreshing and a little sweet, I’m great.
You’ve expanded into distilling vodka, gin, rum, whiskey and bourbon. why the jump?
I wanted to get into distilling once I found out I had some issues with beer. I thought, heck, I got to have something to drink. I had crazy sinus issues that would swell up when I drank beer… so I thought, let’s make spirits.
The Brew You
Sometimes, beer people can be the worst. You know the type: hops snobs who turn their noses up at “weak” lagers and “girly” hefeweizens. Spare me. I’m a girl, yes, and I do love a good hefe, but that shouldn’t keep me from joining the good beer party.
Thank goodness for O.H.S.O. and its equal opportunity beer education. The Brew With Us classes at its Arcadia location are for everyone – snooty IPA and Imperial stout homebrewers and Natty Ice keg-standers alike – and the beer you make will actually be sold on tap to brewery patrons four to six weeks from the day you make it. Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema is a fan, with creations of Bipartisan Cold Brew stout and A Cure for What Ales Congress pomegranate pale ale recently on tap.
For $50, brewers Matt Flanagan and Dave Burke walk participants through a live, four-hour brewing session in which the students call the shots. Usually, the brewers will pick the type of beer ahead of time – IPA, amber, stout, saison, etc. – but let the guest make key decisions of flavoring. I brewed a wheat beer and agreed to hints of coconut and lime after being calmly directed away from dreams of kiwi and passionfruit. (Apparently, those flavors can get overpowered by the wheat.)
The “work” basically has me pouring several buckets of malt (usually barley) into warm water in metal kettles big enough to hold two of me, and stirring the warm, musty mush with a big spatula I assume some fraternities would like for hazing purposes. While we wait for the mixture to boil and do its thing, Dave lets me sample different types of malts that range in flavor from vaguely sweet Cheerios to bitter burnt caramel. He shows me the back fermenting room where the yeast will later work its magic before tapping.
Here’s where I admit that he threw a lot of science at me and I may have tuned out, silently brainstorming raunchy beer names. But not to worry – at these classes, you can be as involved as you’d like, sampling beer and throwing in a few hops when the time comes or asking questions about IBUs and ABVs to your heart’s content. Best yet, you get a $50 gift certificate at the end of the class to buy your own beer back. So basically: free beer.
— Lauren Loftus
Iconic Arizona Dishes & Arizona Brews
In January 2013, we spotlighted a handful of iconic Arizona restaurant dishes and persuaded their creators to divulge their recipes. For this beer guide, we checked back in with them to see which Arizona brews they’d pair with their masterpieces.
Grilled Long Beans at FnB with Mother Road Brewing Co. Kölsch Style Ale
Chef Charleen Badman retired her famous leeks, but you can experience a similar eggy veggie nirvana with her grilled long beans with feta, pea leaves, preserved lemon and cured duck yolk. “I always look for a refreshing, crisp beer when I am pairing with food,” Badman says. “The Kölsch also has a lemon flavor that echoes the preserved lemon vin in the dish. The feta adds some fat and the dry finish of the Kölsch brings balance all around.”
OMFG Salad at The Gladly & Citizen Public House with Four Peaks Brewing Co. Sunbru
“Typically Kölsch ales go well with the herbaceous qualities of the dish, especially with the citrus notes in the OMFG Salad,” Chef Bernie Kantak says of his signature chopped salad, which unites rows of smoked salmon, freeze-dried corn, arugula, Israeli couscous, black currants, toasted pepitas, asiago and Roma tomatoes with a basil-buttermilk dressing. “Plus, this beer is bold enough to stand up to the nuttiness and smokiness of the salmon, too. It’s really a great combination.”
Hanger Steak at Christopher’s/Crush Lounge with Four Peaks Brewing Co. Kilt Lifter
“The full-bodied Scottish-style ale would match up perfectly with the full flavor of a rare or medium-rare hanger steak, seasoned with smoke from the grill,” Chef Christopher Gross says of his Gallic mainstay, a gussied-up take on an oft-discarded cut. “This beer would enhance the sweetness of the sautéed shallots, and its rich, full flavor would complement the deep flavors of the reduced red wine and bone marrow sauce.”
Carne Adovada at Los Dos Molinos with Four Peaks Brewing Co. Kilt Lifter
“The hoppy beers, they pair well with any spicy dish,” Los Dos co-owner Dominique De La Paz says of her choice to pair her family’s favorite Arizona brew with their trademark roasted pork, redolent with scorching chiles. “The hoppiness, that bitterness, actually has a cooling effect and helps to put out that heat as well.”
Chiles en Nogada at Barrio Café with Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. White Canyon Blonde Stout
Barrio Café manager Antonio Cruz says he’d pair Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s chicken-, fruit- and nut-stuffed chile with Wilderness’ nontraditional light-colored stout. “The roasted chocolate notes really cut through the delicate almond cream sauce of the nogada and help the tongue enjoy the flavors of every bite. We feel it brings out the best flavors of both the entrée and the beer.”
— Leah LeMoine
Dragoon Brewing Co.
Purveyor of one of the state’s top IPAs (see page101), this venerable brewery (circa mid-1990s) also has a first-rate cask program. A good starting point.
1859 W. Grant Rd., 520-329-3606, dragoonbrewing.com
Iron John’s Brewing Co.
Located a bit east of the downtown/Congress nightlife district, it’s well worth the diversion, brewing some of the state’s top sours and exotics.
245 S. Plumer Ave., 520-775-1727, ironjohnsbrewing.com
Borderlands Brewing Co.
Centrally located, with a fetching patio and food program, this idiosyncratic, ecology-minded operation may be the state’s most underrated brewer.
119 E. Toole Ave., 520-261-8773, borderlandsbrewing.com
Pueblo Vida Brewing Co.
Located in a repurposed warehouse just steps south of Borderlands, this newbie is generating buzz for its pale ales and European malts.
115 E. Broadway Blvd., 520-623-7168, pueblovidabrewing.com
Best Brewery Food
Come for the beer, stay for the legit comestibles.
The Phoenix Ale Brewery Central Kitchen
Three words, carb lovers: mashed potato pizza. Executive chef Brad Borchardt – who trained under Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller – and his team churn out cast-iron pizzas, handcrafted sandwiches (try the house-made pastrami Reuben or grilled pimento cheese) and mains that would not be out of place in a steakhouse, like the humbly named but richly executed Steak ‘N’ Taters, which pairs prime flat iron steak with red bliss mashed potatoes and Ironwood Porter mushroom gravy.
5813 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602-313-8713, centralkitchenaz.com
Helio Basin Brewing Co.
Chefs Tamara Stanger and Irwin Hernandez keep it local at Helio – like prehistoric diet local –with psychedelic Southwestern spins on indigenous ingredients including tepary beans (in the Helio Bowl with wheat berries, veggies and toasted chile sauce); cactus (nopales whirled into a dip with pasilla peppers and served with chicharrónes); and blackberries (in dessert chimichangas, of course).
3935 E. Thomas Rd., Phoenix, 602-354-3525, helio-basinbrewing.com
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
The regular menu is packed with over-the-top brewpub classics – duck fat poutine, anyone? – but the real draws are the weekly burger, taco and #LocalWednesday specials that incorporate produce from Crooked Sky Farms and Steadfast Farm. One summer special is still dancing in our dreams: summer fruit caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes, melons, basil and burrata.
721 N. Arizona Ave., Gilbert, 480-497-2739, azwbeer.com
Four Peaks Brewing Co.
They may have gone national, but Four Peaks still keeps it local and house-made in the kitchen, with longtime favorites like beer bread (loaded with meat or veggies), 8th Street Pale Ale chicken strips and the Oatmeal Stout shake holding fast even as chef-y new items and specials are worked into the rotation.
Four Valley locations, fourpeaks.com
Mother Bunch Brewing
It’s a sacrilegious statement, we know, but the food may trounce the beer at this Downtown pub, which has vegan, gluten-free and unabashedly carnivorous options galore. Our favorites: the globe-trotting meat and cheese board, sinful MB Beer Mac Trio, house-made sweet potato and black bean burger and surprisingly addictive vegetable pâté.
825 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602-368-3580, motherbunchbrew.com
Lager vs. Ale: What’s the difference?
Yeast, mostly. In brewing, yeast converts the sugar in unfermented beer (wort) into alcohol; lagers use a “top-fermenting” yeast, while ales ferment from the bottom. Lagers’ cold fermentation yields a clean flavor; warm ale fermentation emits fruity esters.
Suds Populi: The Reader's Vote
PHOENIX magazine conducted a six-week, online readers’ poll of your favorite Arizona beers in 10 different categories. Here are the results.
First place: The 10
Second place: Swole Double Red IPA
Third Place: Keller ‘em with Kindness Pale Ale
First place: Huss Brewing Scottsdale Blonde
Second place: SunUp Bearded Blonde Ale
Third Place: O.H.S.O. Brite
Best Double IPA
First place: Wren House Hoppy Camp
Second place: Historic Brewing Alternative Facts
Third Place: THAT Brewery Batch 98
Best Flagship Beer
First place: Historic Piehole Porter
Second place: SunUp Brewing White Russian Imperial Coffee Stout
Third Place: THAT Brewery Trail Ale
First place: Huss Brewing Orange Blossom
Second place: Helio Basin Blackberry Wheat
Third Place: THAT Strawberry Blonde
First place: O.H.S.O. Handlebar Hefe
Second place: Lumberyard Brewing Humprey’s Hefe
Third Place: Barrio Brewing Santa Rita Jefeweizen
First place: Mother Road Brewing Tower Station
Second place: Mudshark Brewing Desert Magic IPA
Third place: Helio Basin Brewing American IPA
First Place: Helton Brewing Rye Pale Ale
Second place: Huss Magic in the Ivy
Third Place: SunUp/O.H.S.O./Mother Bunch Keller ‘em with Kindness
First place: Uncle Bear’s Brewery Off the Leash Blueberry Saison
Second place: SanTan Brewing Arizona Farmhouse
Third Place: Saison De Abruzzo
First place: Wren House Brewing Lady Banks
Second place: SanTan Brewing Uncle Flanders Red
Third Place: Mesquite River Brewing Ole Number 6.1 Sour Ale
First place: Huss Brewing Coffee Kölsch
Second place: SanTan Winter Warmer
Third Place: SanTan RailSlide
First place: Helton Milk Stout
Second place: SunUp White Russian
Third Place: 8-Bit Aleworks The Mayan Chocolossus
Number of Breweries by city
1. Seattle, WA: 174
2. Chicago, IL: 158
3. Denver, CO: 148
4. Portland, OR: 133
5. New York City, NY: 132
19. Phoenix, AZ: 48
Can vs. Bottle: Is one better?
“Lawd yes,” say craft brew pros. The can is the superior beer delivery system, by virtue of its impermeability. Less light, fresher beer. On the other hand, bottles stay cold longer than cans.
Mogollon Rim/White Mountains
THAT Brewery & Pub
Celebrate the great outdoors with an elk and buffalo burger and an Arizona Trail Ale on the rustic patio. THAT also has a location in Cottonwood.
3270 AZ Hwy. 87, Pine, 928-476-3349, thatbrewery.com
Focuses on traditional Belgian beers, including an award-winning Gran Cru, to go along with burgers, sandwiches and pizzas.
159 W. White Mountain Blvd., Lakeside, 928-358-1971, pinetopbeer.com
Black Horse Brewery
This farm-garage-turned-brewery, which eventually added a taproom called The Hole in the Wall, specializes in old German beer recipes, including Black Stallion black lager.
1058 Burton Rd., Show Low, 928-537-9349, blackhorsebrewery.org
Is Arizona A Good Beer State?
By Zach Fowle
California, Colorado, Oregon, North Carolina – all have long been considered craft beer destinations. Should Arizona be on that list?
If we’re talking pure numbers, the Grand Canyon State’s pretty mediocre when it comes to craft beer. The 86 breweries Arizona had in operation at the end of 2016 placed it 18th among all 50 states. Our 1.8 breweries per capita makes us the 33rd-best in the nation. In terms of production, the 147,255 barrels of beer Arizona’s breweries made last year ranks 29th.
But numbers only tell half the story. There is fantastic beer here, says Josh Bernstein, author of Brewed Awakening: Behind the Beers and Brewers Leading the World's Craft Brewing Revolution and several other beer books. The problem: Nobody really knows about it. “Arizona is a lot like Alaska,” Bernstein says. “There’s a lot of great beer, but so much of it tends to stay in the state that unless they’re traveling, people aren’t going to hear much about it.”
So until more people become aware of the killer breweries that call Arizona home, there may never be a day when travelers are arranging a beer pilgrimage to Phoenix like they are to San Diego, Denver, Portland or Asheville. But that’s okay; for the people who already live here, there’s never been a better time to be a beer geek. More for us.
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