In the first of a monthly series, we meet the former homebrewers behind the off-beat Flagstaff craft beer purveyor.
The Talent: Headed by owners Ryan and Larami Sandlin and head brewer Jordan Gregory
Story behind the name: In 2001, Flagstaff became the world’s first “International Dark Sky City” – a designation bestowed on communities with regulatory limits on light pollution, to preserve night sky viewing. There are now 27 communities in the U.S. with dark sky designations, including the Arizona towns of Sedona, Fountain Hills and Cottonwood.
Must-Try Beer: Astro Cookie, an imperial stout conditioned on Oreo Cookies
Dark Sky Brewing owners Ryan and Larami Sandlin know the value of being different. The northern Arizona couple started as homebrewers with a desire to bring something different to a Flagstaff beer scene that already had six craft breweries when they launched in 2014.
“We knew we were coming in at No. 7,” Larami Sandlin tells PHOENIX. “[So] we knew we had to stand out. We set a goal to brew 100 different beers in the first year and hit that every single year since.”
Brewing limited-run special releases has helped Dark Sky build a strong following. The Sandlins and head brewer Jordan Gregory (previously at Goldwater Brewing in Scottsdale) recognize that customers are always seeking out new things, so they pump out two or three new releases each week.
“I always like to say the human mind can only think about something for 10 seconds before it changes,” Ryan Sandlin philosophizes. “We try to accomplish that with new beer releases and new can art.”
Dark Sky’s dynamic brewing model has also paid off recently with packaged beer. The COVID shutdown forced them to pivot their business model, so they hired a canning company for the first time in early May and canned six new beers for distribution around Arizona.
“We went from 97 percent in-house beer sales to canning and packaging everything,” Larami Sandlin says. “We’re really fortunate that people are still buying our beer. People like packaged products.”
Dark Sky’s beers can be found at The Sleepy Whale, King’s Beer and Wine, Ground Control Litchfield, The Wandering Tortoise, BottleShop 48 and The Casual Pint.
Ryan Sandlin adds “the Dark Sky footprint is getting bigger. We’re getting our beer in the hands of more people in the Valley. When we open back up, we’ll have a bigger name to carry with us.”