Get a handle on new taprooms and breweries with our seasonal salute to Arizona suds. But First: 5 local releases you should try right now.
(Above) Arizona Trail Ale
From the high-country hamlet of Pine comes a toffee-toned English pale ale that takes the locavore concept to the hilt: It’s dry-hopped with AZ pine cones. Sales benefit the Arizona Trail Association. Where to find it: Angels Trumpet Ale House, 810 N. Second St., Phoenix, 602-252-2630, angelstrumpetalehouse.com
Q&A With A Brewer
Name: Jared Dubina
If Jared Dubina’s Glendale brewpub were a sitcom, it would be somewhere between Cheers and All in the Family. Dubina and his parents James and Janet founded Dubina Brewing Company as a tribute to his grandfather, James Dubina Sr., who died a year before the brewery opened in August 2014. It’s a place any beer-loving patriarch would proudly patronize: dark wood, comfy leather chairs, a big bar that invites beer-drinking and breeze-shooting, and a European pub vibe that serves as a sweet homage to the Dubinas’ Czech roots. Dubinas pepper the payroll – one uncle works as a dishwasher, another is the resident handyman (he was fixing lights during our interview). Though DBC is still a baby on the brewery scene, it’s already netted loyal West Valley regulars and even a high-profile accolade: Dubina’s Bell Road IPA earned a bronze medal at the New York International Beer Competition. We sat down with Jared Dubina to talk about brewing, family and beer cakes.
How did you come to be a brewer?
It was summer 2013 and my grandpa and I were sitting down and he was telling stories about how he used to brew beer... just home-brew stuff. It intrigued me and I knew my cousin was home-brewing. I started looking into it [and] dabbling. I had a goal to have my grandfather try my beer, but I wanted him to be proud. When I started, I wasn’t really giving it to him. He passed in August 2013 and my family set up a trip to Europe [in his honor]. When we went on our trip, we were visiting breweries in the Czech Republic and seeing fields of hops. It felt really inspirational. My grandfather never got to try my beers, so I was bummed. But I turned to my dad and I said, “Dad, would you be interested in opening a brewery?” I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. And he said, “Let’s do it.”
You forwent the investor route and raised $21,000 in startup funds using Kickstarter, but you also received help from other local brewers.
I sat with a lot of brewery owners because I wanted their insight. They were just extremely open and willing to give me advice. To this day I could still go knock on their door and they’ll help out... You have somebody like Steve McFate [Fate Brewing Co.] saying, “Ask me anything you want.” Jon Lane from O.H.S.O., he was huge into helping us. There’s too many – the Beer Research Institute, with Matt [Trethewey] and Greg [Sorrels]... I met with Anthony [Canecchia] from SanTan. You gotta think of Anthony, who has his beer sitting on store shelves, and me, opening this small brewpub. He said, “I’ll give you a loan on some grain and you can pay me back when you get the money.” Not only do we get help from the small breweries, but we get help from the big guys... This community isn’t here to tear each other down; we really build each other up.
Tell me about the beer cakes on your menu.
That’s our No. 1 seller for desserts. One of our employees, Ashley, will actually bake a cake with one of the beers here. She’ll go pour it and then she’ll go bake the cake. Right now she used our Arrowhead IPA and she did a cake that has holes in it and she did a gelatin filling inside of it. It’s good, that’s all I know. I know the beer, she does the cakes.
What’s your brewing style? You seem to pay homage to the Old World European styles of beer.
We have a couple different variations of how we brew. One of them is staying traditional and bringing out the history in beer. There’s beer styles that had never been brewed in Arizona. We had one called a sahti. It actually originates from Finland and peasants brewed it in the 1500s. Basically it was made with juniper branches that they’d use to hold the grains and they’d steep the water through it and... you’d get those flavors, the earthy and piney notes. When I was starting to research that style and reading about it, I thought, “You know, we have juniper here in Arizona, let’s use local juniper. Let’s brew it to style as close as we can and bring that history back out.” We want to keep beer traditional to the style and the history. But at the same time we’re not afraid to try something new and different... It’s kind of like, don’t fix it if it’s not broke, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be an innovator with it.
Which would be your grandpa’s favorite Dubina brew?
That’s a tough question. He loved beer, so... I don’t know. My dad and I were sitting down one day while we were still under construction and I said, “Dad, if Grandpa was still alive, do you think he’d like the place?” He said, “I think Grandpa would be here every single day.” Even during construction, I think he would’ve loved it that much that he would’ve been here every single day. He would’ve been one of those guys sitting at the bar, talking to everybody, cracking jokes. It’s something that I hope that I can pass down. Our goal is to continue to grow and be a part of the community and I really hope that I can pass this down to my kids. It’s one of those places that hopefully you can see the pictures on the wall of the different generations. That would be something phenomenal. That’s what it’s about for us – kind of keeping the legacy and doing what we love.
Beers To Go
New releases and growlers for your summer beer consumption. Plus: PM staff one-line reviews.
Now with three Valley locations, O.H.S.O. offers growlers in both standard (64 oz.) and half-standard (32 oz.) sizes. ohsobrewery.com
Angels Trumpet helped pioneer “crowler” technology in the Valley, i.e. a nifty rig that cans beer on-site, allowing you to hoard with confidence. angelstrumpetalehouse.com
Federal Pizza operates the only known drive-thru growler service in the Valley – so you can fill your 64 oz. prescription of Historic Piehole Porter without taking your children out of their car seats. Shhh. We won’t tell. federalpizza.com
DF RNT IPA from Sonoran Brewing
India Pale Ale
Niki: “Balanced. I can tolerate that.”
Craig: “Full-bodied and rich. Almost double IPA-like.”
Red Ale from Lumberyard Brewing
Extra Special Bitter
Niki: “It's got a nice, bitter bite on the finish.”
Magic in the Ivy from Huss Brewing
American Pale Ale
Craig: “That’s an ideal, easy-drinking session beer.”
Leah: “Fresh and hoppy, but not overwhelmingly so.”
Sunset Amber Ale from Grand Canyon Brewing
Leah: “Slightly sweet and malty.”
Brian: “Robust and caramelly like a Nut Brown Ale... hold up, my grill is on fire.”
Top 5 Taprooms for Arizona Beer
Craft 64: Each of the Old Town pizza pub’s 36 handles is devoted to Arizona beer. Every. Last. One. It’s an astounding commitment, and we plan to reward their daring with many drained pints. 6922 E. Main St., Scottsdale, 480-946-0542, craft64.com
Angels Trumpet: There’s never fewer than four Arizona handles at everybody’s favorite Downtown taproom, and they’re all expertly curated by owner Mat Englehorn. We had our first Borderlands beer there, and our gratitude is eternal. 810 N. Second St., Phoenix, 602-252-2630, angelstrumpetalehouse.com
O.H.S.O.: Carries a reliable supply of Papago, Huss, SanTan, et al.... along with their own excellent proprietary brews and an amusing menu of crapshoot “guest brewer” microbatches.
House of Brews: On any given day, a good number of the Gilbert taproom’s 49 handles will be occupied by the likes of Uncle Bear’s, Historic, Grand Canyon and Sleepy Dog. 825 S. Cooper Rd., Gilbert, 480-426-9787, azhob.com
Whole Foods/World of Beers/The Brass Tap: Sure, they’re mega-chains, but they grasp the local-first thing. Our favorite: 20 Highland Tavern at the Camelback Whole Foods. Truly a beer-nerd sanctuary. 4701 N. 20th St., Phoenix, 602-761-4750
Craft beer continues to explode across the Valley. Here are a handful of taprooms still in their toddler years that look to grow quickly – and tastily.
Blasted Barley Beer Co.
404 S. Mill Ave., Tempe
Opened: November 2014
Located in the old Caffe Boa space, Blasted Barley maintains multi-generation college crowd appeal, with a soundtrack of ‘90s hits by the likes of The Verve Pipe and Sublime, spacious and shaded front and back patios, and an endlessly long bar back-lit by flat-screen TVs, where servers pour 32 taps including BB’s own bright new German Kölsch, Das Blitz.
Best Beer: BB’s Orange Bomb Stout, a deliciously rich, pitch-perfect mix of American chocolate malts, and Ahtanum and citrus hops. 8.5% ABV.
Best Bar Bite: “Popcorn of Sustainability” tossed with pork belly, bacon and sage.
Happy Hour: 3-7 p.m. M-F, 9 p.m.-close Su. $3 wells, wines and select drafts; half-off select food items.
Freak’n Brewing Company
9299 W. Olive Ave., Peoria
Opened: September 2014
In this tiniest of tap rooms (three tables, a five-foot-long counter, and a bantam-size bar), someone’s always at your elbow enthusing about one of FBC’s eight fantastic drafts, which include a “nutty, yummy” Hoddy’s Mild Brown English Ale, and the “less malty than Kilt Lifter” Shaw’s Scottish Ale. Reggae and rock-folk provide a barely-audible soundtrack to the scene, and Surprise-based Oink on Wheels serves food truck fare like burgers and Italian sausages in the parking lot.
Best Beer: Sweet Thang Crème Brûlée. It looks like a dark chocolate stout, smells like a root beer float, tastes like an artisanal pie, and packs a whopping 10.6% ABV.
Best Bar Bite: Anything from Oink on Wheels.
Happy Hour: None, but they do offer $3.50 pints on Fridays.
Mother Bunch Brewing
825 N. Seventh St., Phoenix
Opened: September 2014
A wide warehouse space repurposed into a hip, brick-walled brewpub bright with big windows, Mother Bunch writes its rotating 21 taps (plus a nitro tap) on a big black chalkboard that hangs above the horseshoe bar. Safe bets among the rather daring house brews are the (more amber) McBrides Irish Red and the chocolatey Cherry Popper Stout. The pub’s sunny vibe is supercharged by friendly servers and Santana and Doobie Brothers tunes.
Best Beer: Cara Cara Wit, a bubbly, Belgian-style wit with a peppery, coriander kick and zesty orange finish. Estimated 5% ABV.
Best Bar Bite: Mini Beer Mac, given a boozy boost by MB ale.
Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m. M-F. $1 off all draft beers, wine and well cocktails; select food specials.
North Mountain Brewing
522 E. Dunlap Ave., Phoenix
Opened: March 2013
Not new – but not well-known, either – NMB may be Sunnyslope’s best-kept secret. Within its spartan, beer-hall-style environs (save for flourishes like plastic hop vines on the lamps), patrons imbibe a dozen different – but all impressive – house crafts, ranging from a snappy black IPA called Bearded Dragon (with a frothy head that never dies) to a nutty N’erotic Belgian Ale. The brewery boasts a nitrogen tap in addition to its eight regular rotating taps. Always on tap at NMB: hard rock. Expect a mix of Dio, Led Zeppelin, Ozzy and Iron Maiden tunes while sipping your suds.
Best Beer: Hefe Endings, a smooth wheat beer boasting beautiful banana-clove tones. 4% ABV.
Best Bar Bite: The North Mountain Burger. Meaty, molten cheddar perfection.
Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m. M-F, 8 p.m.-close M-Th. $1 off all house beers.
Peoria Artisan Brewing
107 W. Honeysuckle St., Litchfield Park
Opened: September 2013
PAB’s tiny, maize-colored tasting room is beer nerd nirvana. Hop heads fill the four tables and line the small bar, comparing the house-brewed Haboob Black IPA to the IPAs they had on tap in San Diego, and commenting on the “malty richness” of the Peanut Butter Porter. From earthy Heritage Red to piney Savannah Marie American IPA, there’s nary a bad beer among the eight taps here.
Best Beer: Spry and malty Honeysuckle Spring Ale. Delicious and consumable in volume at 5.4% ABV.
Best Bar Bite: Cheese Tray for Two, which includes salt-cured Genoa salami and five artisanal cheeses potently led by horseradish-infused white cheddar.
Happy Hour: 3-7 p.m. everyday, 12-7 p.m. F-Sa. $1 off all house beers.
The Perch Pub & Brewery
232 S. Wall St., Chandler
Opened: February 2014
Part prolific beer pub, part bird rescue sanctuary and aviary, The Perch provides “garden seating” across abundant tree-shaded patios, a rooftop lounge and blues tunes punctuated by squawking parrots. Among the 40 beers on draft served in this surreal setting are bold house brews like the slightly spicy Perch Desert Blossom Saison and the creamy, full-bodied Sandarac Amber.
Best Beer: The effervescent, biting Perch Ginger Mofo. Like a spicy soda, but with 5.1% ABV.
Best Bar Bite: Garlic and goat cheese tater tots. Watch out for the birds.
Happy Hour: 2-6 p.m. M-F. $1 off draft beer, well drinks and wine; select food specials.
Scottsdale Beer Company
8608 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale
Opened: January 2015
Judas Priest and Ted Nugent songs serenade sippers through the speakers at this family-friendly brewpub boasting industrial chic décor with a side of upscale sports bar. Ceiling fans and space heaters keep the patio comfortable year-round. SBC’s 15 beers on tap run the gamut from fruity (Orangedale Wheat Ale) to hellishly hoppy (Black Hole Sun Black IPA).
Best Beer: Rich and roasty Texas Tea Double Chocolate Imperial Stout, made with 11 pounds of cacao nibs. 10.5% ABV.
Best Bar Bite: House-made beef jerky marinated in Sriracha, served with a side of horseradish crème fraîche.
Hapy Hopur: 3-7 p.m. M-F, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sa-Su. $1 off SBC beers, well drinks, wines by the glass and small bites.
Uncle Bear’s Brewhouse Grill
4921 E. Ray Rd., Phoenix
Opened: September 2013
Under-the-radar Uncle Bear’s sounds like a redneck sports bar, but its namesake is a late labrador. This is a dog-themed drinking hole, down to the canine-friendly patio, dog-bone-shaped high-top tables and paw-print light fixtures. UB’s pours several house crafts among their 14 taps, including the four-hop blend-infused Head to Tale Amber and the slightly peppery, lemongrass-infused Farmhouse Dog Imperial Saison.
Best Beer: Citrusy, summery Mandarin Wheat, made with Saaz hops and coriander. 5.1% ABV.
Best Bar Bite: Jumbo Bavarian pretzel, glossed with garlic butter and parmesan.
Happy Hour: 3-7 p.m. M-F, 10 p.m.-close Su-Th. $3 house craft pints, domestic bottles, wells and house margs; $2 off small bites and
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