From Yuma to the Utah border, we sipped our way across Arizona to bring you this region-by-region guide to the state’s burgeoning craft brew scene, with beer-crawl maps, brewer profiles, merch picks and other actionable info. Bonus: an early glimpse of our fall beer festival and statewide beer awards!
By Sara Crocker, Jessica Dunham, Matt Johnson, Craig Outhier & Maddie Rutherford
Photography by Angelina Aragon, John Burcham, Brian Goddard, Mirelle Inglefield, Puspa Lohmeyer & Danny Upshaw
The East Valley is home to the OGs and all-around heaviest hitters in the Arizona craft beer scene. Four Peaks Brewing Co. launched the movement in the 1990s, which picked up momentum when SanTan Brewing Company opened in 2007 and now includes more than a dozen breweries pushing wild styles and award-winning ales.
Beer Crawl: Downtown Mesa
Nowhere in the Valley can you walk more easily between a working brewery, two brewery taprooms and a cidery than Main Street in Mesa. Add in some of our favorite local eateries and Downtown Mesa emerges as arguably the crown jewel of the Valley’s craft beer scene.
B.R.I. Taproom & Arcade
Where else can you race past the competition on Sega’s Out Run arcade game and have Morning Sex afterward? (We’re referring to B.R.I.’s popular stout, of course.) thebeerresearchinstitute.com
Oro Brewing Company
Head brewer Jesse Kortepeter’s diverse lineup of draft beers includes a London porter, a foreign export stout and an English strong bitter on tap year-round. We love the Singularity pale ale series and Trigo Suave, the tangerine wheat beer that recently medaled at the World Beer Cup. orobrewing.com
In addition to making the Best Cider in the Valley (see Best of the Valley 2022), brothers Jason and Josh Duren are collaborating with Oro Brewing and Chupacabra Taproom on a yet-to-be-named sour prickly pear margarita beer (using their cider) to celebrate Oro’s anniversary this October. The spacious Cider Corps building is also home to Myke’s Pizza and Pair Cupworks coffee shop. cidercorpsaz.com
12 West Brewing Co.
Fresh hop beers are one of the best things about fall, and 12 West’s seasonal Hot Off the Press IPA is one you don’t want to miss. Enjoy one on the dog-friendly patio or inside the massive two-story restaurant and taproom. 12westbrewing.com
EV: The Downtown Factor
Downtowns rock! Besides the glorious Mesa beer scene, Downtown Chandler also has a number of craft beer destinations in close proximity. You can walk from SanTan Brewing Company (santanbrewing.com) to The Perch (perchpubbrewery.com) and more without wearing out your flip-flops.
And is Tempe part of the East Valley? The Central Valley? Its own deal? One thing is certain: It’s got a tight little troika of craft beer trailblazers, encompassed by regional granddaddy Four Peaks Brewing Co. (fourpeaks.com), which holds onto its experimental spirit with a seasonal “Innovation Series” at its two Tempe locations; The Shop Beer Co. (theshop.beer), slinging its fantastic hazies and sour ales out of the Valley’s most disarming taproom setup near Tempe Town Lake; and the original location of Pedal Haus Brewery (pedalhausbrewery.com), Mill Avenue’s only microbrewery and home of Bier Blanche, an aromatic, easy-drinking Belgian Wheat that pulled a gold at the 2022 North American Beer Awards.
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
American Presidential Stout
The barrel-aged version of AWB’s Russian Imperial stout uses chiles grown in San Tan Valley to give this boozy sipper some wild heat on the finish. This spicy release is only around in February. azwbeer.com
New Breweries in the EV
Patent 139 Brewing Co.
Owner Tim Hass leans on his years of brewing experience at Ballast Point in Southern California and his great-grandfather’s now-expired Hass avocado patent as the inspiration for his Chandler brewpub that opened in January. patent139brewingco.com
This new beer bar/bottle shop is on track to open in Gilbert’s new Epicenter development near Agritopia. Brought to you by Justin Evans, the same force behind The Sleepy Whale, The Wandering Tortoise and The Theodore. beerbarnaz.com
Look brewing Co.
Embedded inside Look Dine-In Cinemas in Chandler, this unique craft brewery isn’t technically new – it opened right before the pandemic – but we’ll give it props based on brewer Marisa Bernal’s deft touch with blondes and wheats. lookcinemas.com
Sleek, new craft styles won’t be found at this small East Mesa brewery. Lochiel specializes in Old World styles such as Scottish, English and Irish ales – all Scottish family recipes, some up to 300 years old. Ian Cameron, the owner and ninth-generation brewer, is deaf but can read your lips to take your order, so don’t go in with a mask unless you know American Sign Language. 7143 E. Southern Ave., Mesa, 480-666-0915, lochielbrewing.com
Oro Brewing company
Homebrewing since he was a 21-year-old ASU student, Jesse Kortepeter learned the ropes working for SanTan Brewing Company and Flagstaff’s Wanderlust Brewing Co. in his early career. In October, he’ll hit six years at Oro, where he authors every recipe, including Trigo Suave, a fruit beer he reluctantly made that ended up winning a silver medal at the 2022 World Beer Cup.
What was it like when the silver medal news came down?
Initially, it was kinda shocking. Trigo had made the medal round before at GABF and World Beer Cup, so we kept entering, hoping it would break through. I’m not a big fruit beer guy, but customers kept asking for it. The thing I like about Trigo is it has a lot of tangerine but still finishes like a wheat beer.
What’s your favorite beer you make?
Right now, I really like the Session IPA, but I’m drinking a Singularity, which is probably my second favorite beer. It was the first recipe I got to write when I got here. It’s really fun, because we just change the hop… [and] the malt stays the same. It gives you an in-depth look at what certain hops will bring.
Which local restaurant dish do you like to pair with your beer?
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken has some of the best fried chicken in the world. One of my favorites to pair with it is Give Peat A Chance foreign export stout. It’s a contrast, but makes things better. With the slight smokiness and dark, rich flavors, the beer cuts through the greasy aspect of the fried chicken.
— Matt Johnson
No other part of Arizona has improved its craft beer station to a greater degree than North Phoenix over the past two years. Once bereft of breweries, the area around the I-17 and 101 freeways now sports four in close proximity. And more are coming.
The North Valley Triangle
Located in the old Joe’s Grotto concert venue on 32nd Street, Fire + Fury Brewing radiates a scrappy, DIY energy, from the mobile Craftsman tool cabinets in the taproom to the unfinished space on the north end that will ultimately serve as the kitchen. Meanwhile, the brew, crafted by co-owner Mike Mathis, is deliciously polished, from the AZAF red ale to a balanced SFO hazy. fireandfurybrewing.com
Talk about on-point. Long-beloved for the pro-canine policies at its four Valley restaurant-taprooms – and for its diverse brew selection and emerging barreling program – O.H.S.O. Brewery offers this branded dog leash. $12
New Breweries in the NV
Kitsune Brewing Co.
Scottsdale home brewer Tyler Smith partnered with Simple Machine to release his first canned offerings last year, and is due to open Arizona’s first black-owned brewery on 33rd Street and Bell Road later this summer. kitsunebrewingco.com
Coriega Beer Company
Currently contract-brewing with Throne in Glendale, this veteran-owned brewery is due to hang a shingle in the Deer Valley Airport area later this year. coriegabc.wixsite.com/coriegabeer
Simple Machine Brewing
Simple Machine founder Marshall Norris did not plunge into brewery ownership without looking. Before opening the brewery with co-owner Matt Wright in 2019, the Valley native worked on every conceivable side of the business, first as an intern (Borderlands Brewing Co. in Tucson), then as a brewer (the late Dubina Brewing Co. in Peoria), then sales (Borderlands again), then for a mobile canning company, then back at Borderlands again as head brewer before launching the Valley’s most exciting new brewery, located kitty-corner from Deer Valley Airport.
You sure hopped around a bunch!
I wanted to learn every side of the three-tier system. It gave me the opportunity to work in packaging, sales and production.
What kind of beers are floating your boat right now?
What’s really got me going is our lager program. I enjoy lagers because you have to be more careful – you can’t rely on adjuncts like fruit and huge hops to hide your mistakes. The Helles we made last October won silver [at the Arizona Society of Homebrewers Pro-Am], which was cool. We also make a light lager for the Paradise Valley Country Club, which is also cool… replacing Coors with a craft light lager.
What’s your favorite local food pairing with your beer? You’ve got a Habanero’s next door, right?
Yeah, I’m a really big taco and beer guy. It would probably be their red beef taco either with our Mexican amber or our Blueprint light lager with pork or chicken.
— Craig Outhier
SCOTTSDALE & NORTHEAST VALLEY
Though long associated with the volume-consumption, cranberry-vodka-and-Corona crowd, Old Town is where you’ll find Scottsdale’s liveliest concentration of craft breweries. The beer scene thins out considerably as you travel north – Cave Creek, for example, has no breweries – but a handful of gutsy pioneers are holding the line.
Beer Crawl: Old Town
Cruise down Scottsdale Road in “Arizona’s Most Livable City” for a course in some of the Valley’s most crushable beers.
Goldwater Brewing Co.
Start your crawl at this family-owned brewery’s super-immersive Goldmine Basement Taproom, a converted underground shooting range. Staying on theme: Order a smooth, subtly nutty Machine Gun Teddy brown ale. goldwaterbrewing.com
Few things complement each other quite like a piping-hot pizza and an ice-cold beer – and Craft 64 has both elements of this dynamic duo dialed in. Stop by for a 30-strong tap lineup consisting exclusively of Arizona beers, including around a dozen of its own drafts like the Smooove Hoperator IPA brewed with Citra hops. craft64.com
Fate Brewing Co.
What started as a small, seven-barrel operation in 2012 has since expanded to a bustling brewpub with 15 barrels and a slew of award-winning beer styles. This October, fans can look forward to the annual release of Fate’s famous Candy Bar Milk Stout, which snagged a GABF silver medal in 2013. fatebrewing.com
Local culinary juggernauts Alex Stratta and Jeremy Pacheco teamed up last year to conceive Campo Italian Bistro and Bar, an approachably elegant Italian eatery dedicated to such local, seasonal dishes as braised short rib rigatoni and Wagyu carpaccio. campoitalian.com
Bone Haus Brewing in Fountain Hills ties a little Arizona history into everything it does – whether it’s real or legend. Each of its beer can labels includes a brief backstory with unique artwork to illustrate the narrative, much of it centered around the fabled Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. As such, the brewery hides the number 13 somewhere on every beer can label. “There’s still a couple of cans where I can’t find the 13, and no one will tell me,” Bone Haus’ marketing manager Morgan Ringwald admits. “That’s the fun… you have to find it yourself.” bonehausbrewing.com
PHX Beer Co. Bourbon Barrel Copper Morenci
Turns out, the brewer’s flagship copper ale thrives in an arranged marriage with a Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel, picking up strong dark honey and floral notes along with some extra ABV points. Find it at PBC’s “Lakeside” location in McCormick Ranch. phxbeerco.com
New Breweries in Scottsdale
Yo Bro Brewery
Beyond announcing a location in Scottsdale’s tony Windsong neighborhood and a cryptic social media post teasing their first brew, the owners of this new nanobrewery have remained relatively mum. Follow @yobrobrewery on Instagram for updates. yobrobrewery.com
Hundred Mile Brewing Co.
Boasting 24 taps focused on hop-forward beer styles and a beautiful space styled by the same design firm as Postino, this female-owned brewery on Scottsdale Road is already making its mark. hundredmilebrewing.com
State 48 Lager House
State 48 Brewery owner Mario Rana says he strives to evoke a different vibe and drinking experience in each of his six Valley locations. To wit: The Scottsdale outpost boasts the chain’s biggest brewing system (a 20-barrel setup and nearly a dozen 40-barrel fermenters), which is used exclusively for its lauded lagers, including fan favorites Chingona, Desert Vibes and Heaven Helles. state48brewery.com
THE WEST VALLEY
In a sea of beige homes and strip malls, where chains are king, a small but mighty craft scene is thriving. You’ll find precision at stalwart Saddle Mountain Brewing Company with its award-clad Clan-Destine Scottish Ale, creativity at upstarts like Transplant City Beer Company and Throne Brewing Company, and big taproom energy at 8-Bit Aleworks. It’s a craft oasis.
Beer Crawl: West Valley
Lining the westbound stretch of Interstate 10, a crawl through Avondale, Goodyear and Litchfield Park – with a finishing jaunt up to Glendale’s Westgate Entertainment District – offers everything from funky nanobreweries to brewpubs.
Transplant City Beer Company
TCBC has settled into its larger space, giving customers and the brewery more room to stretch. Vibrant with conversation, pop art and playfully named beers, like hoppy red Tiffany Amber, it’s an affable hang. tcbcbeer.com
State 48 Funk House
The Surprise-founded brewery has outposts across the Valley. Funk House produces its barrel-aged and higher-ABV beers, like Hell Bitch Belgian Tripel. It also brings the party with bowling, billiards and easy access to State Farm Stadium. state48brewery.com
Opening in 2014, Saddle Mountain whetted the regional appetite for craft beer and has amassed GABF awards aplenty. Don’t miss its first fruited sour, Nuclear Sour Plant, conditioned on 450 pounds of mango, tangerine and pineapple. saddlemountainbrewing.com
Reverence and nostalgia for all things gaming are on display in Avondale’s first and only brewhouse. Take your pick of flagship, seasonal and small-batch “betas,” all with on-the-nose names like Hopsassin’s Creed, a citrus-forward session IPA. 8-bitaleworks.com
TCBC Pepino Sunset
Transplant City’s session IPA is lush to start, with juicy honeydew and cucumber, but still packs a well-balanced bite with Key lime, Simcoe and Citra hops to finish – offering plenty of nuance in a crushable format.
There’s a piece of Arizona in just about every glass at 7-year-old Peoria Artisan Brewery & Gastropub – the brewers exclusively use Arizona-grown Sonora White Wheat in their brewing. You’ll find it in “approximately 85 percent” of its beers, according to owners Matthew and Kristina Frosch.
The WV: Awards Central
The West Valley is home to the only Arizona brewery to three-peat a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival: Saddle Mountain’s Clan-Destine Scottish Ale took golds in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Brewed with recycled water as part of the Arizona Pure Water Brew Challenge, it was intended to be a one-off. Luckily for us, it wasn’t – the brewery is now canning. saddlemountainbrewing.com
In 2018, at the ripe age of 23, Phoenix bottle shop owner Carlos Toma bought Dubina Brewing in Glendale and rebranded it as Throne Brewing Company. You’ll find plenty of creativity on tap, with an IPA-forward selection, as well as a showcase of fellow Valley brewers through a well-edited guest tap list. Toma also has locations in Downtown Phoenix and Peoria. thronebrewing.com
Tucked away in an Avondale business park, 8-Bit is perhaps the state’s most unique and whimsical taproom, with nods to ’90s Nintendo-centric nostalgia everywhere – hand-painted pixel art, gaming consoles at tables and the synth-y chiptune of vintage arcade games. Head brewer Ryan Whitten, a special effects designer in his previous life, founded the brewery in 2015 with his wife and co-owner, Krystina. He shared their cheat code.
How do you balance the brewery’s gaming theme while keeping it approachable?
It took us a good year or so to really find the sweet spot. When some people see our name, they immediately have the game theme in mind, so we have to make sure that they walk into exactly what they were hoping for without going overboard.
Talk to us about how you approach designing beers – your flagships, seasonals and betas – and what people can expect at 8-Bit.
Flagships are really important to us, especially since I like to make lots of fun, off-the-wall beers. Personally, there’s nothing worse than going to your favorite brewery and not having anything on tap that you want to drink. Most betas are one-off beers, but some of our more popular ones make repeat appearances every year or two.
Which local restaurant dish do you like to pair with your beer?
Our Black Mage stout goes great with Eric’s Family Barbecue, so much so that they made a sauce with it for our anniversary. Black Mage has rich roasted flavors and a little sweetness that complements the smoky and sweet barbecue.
— Sara Crocker
What started as a trickle – SunUp Brewing Co. on Camelback Road, Phoenix Ale Brewery (now PHX Beer Co.) on Washington Street – has turned into a geyser-like craft beer revolution in the Valley’s urban center. Fittingly, many of the new breweries and taprooms are clustered in Downtown’s two arts districts, where a new generation of beer fans are happy to sustain them.
Beer Crawl: Downtown
Starting on historical Grand Avenue and snaking through the heart of the Roosevelt Row arts district, this Downtown Phoenix ale trail showcases the city’s thriving cultural hub – and the diverse and dynamic beers it produces.
Roses by the Stairs Brewing
Located in the old Easley’s Fun Shop building, with a name inspired by a Blink-182 song, Jordan Ham’s fledgling brewery is long both on nostalgia and farmhouse-style ales, including a saison brewed with spruce tips foraged in Flagstaff by head brewer William Hampton. rosesbythestairsbrewing.com
Grand Avenue Brewing Company
Don’t let the unassuming warehouse setting and old-school chalkboard menu fool you – this no-frills brewery consistently creates some of the most complex and distinctive beers in the Valley, like the hemp-centric Heart of Dankness black IPA or Belgian-style Currant Event brewed with black currants. grandavebrew.com
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. DTPHX
Continue your crawl at the Downtown outpost of the famously eco-minded Gilbert brewery, where beers like Cactus Juice – a fruity, floral sour featuring locally sourced prickly pear juice and hibiscus tea – hit the spot while you soak in the expansive beer garden. azwbeer.com
Huss Downtown PHX Brewpub
Craft beverage power couple Leah and Jeff Huss have expanded into the Phoenix Convention Center, where folks can sip enduring favorites like the signature Papago Orange Blossom Ale and ever-popular Scottsdale Blonde Kölsch. hussbrewing.com
Crawl II: The Beermuda Triangle
The “rising tide” ethos is strong in the East Phoenix/Arcadia Lite area, where three highly respected breweries – Helton Brewing Co. (heltonbrewingcompany.com), Wren House Brewing Co. (wrenhousebrewing.com) and Tombstone Brewing Company North (tombstone.beer) – create a sipping circuit that industry folks affectionately refer to as the “Beermuda Triangle.” The mutual respect is high. “There is a heartbeat amongst the brewery community, and it’s so infectious. You can’t help but love those environments,” says Helton Brewing Co. taproom manager Kilie Garrett. “It’s family.”
If you’re looking for a charming neighborhood hangout to cool your heels and grab some grub, perhaps no Downtown eatery does it better than The Vig Fillmore. Nestled in a 100-year-old house in Roosevelt, the hip haunt serves up Southwestern staples made with local ingredients. thevig.us
Many Phoenix taprooms allow patrons to bring their pups with them to enjoy a cold one, but according to Walter Station Brewery manager Matthew Keehen, their space is “not dog-friendly, but dog-encouraged.” For the past two years, Walter Station – located in an old fire station on Washington Street – has partnered with the Arizona Animal Welfare League to debut a dog-centric lager that raises funds and awareness for Arizona’s oldest and largest no-kill shelter. walterstation.beer
SunUp Brewing Co. White Russian Imperial Coffee Stout
This bold, full-bodied beer is the brainchild of longtime SunUp brewer Uwe Boer, who has been at the forefront of the local brewing scene since the mid-’90s. Clocking in at 9.2 percent ABV, this stout supplies strong notes of coffee, chocolate and cream despite it being devoid of any dairy, and thus a great option for vegan drinkers. sunup.beer
North Mountain Brewing Company (northmountainbrewing.com) keeps customers on their toes by doing more than just brewing beers in consistently creative and thoughtful ways. The Sunnyslope microbrewery frequently utilizes leftover ingredients to make beer-infused desserts like spent-grain cookies and chocolate stout cake, and it recently rolled out a house-made hard seltzer bar with nearly 20 innovative flavors made from real fruit.
New Breweries in CenPho
Throne Brewing Company
A second location of this nascent West Valley brewhouse opened in the former Pizza People Pub space in Downtown Phoenix last summer. The taproom maintained much of the restaurant’s menu items.
Homeland Brewing Company
Central Phoenix is one of three potential locations for this brand-new brewery focused on advocating for vulnerable populations and collaborating with local farmers to “create a true American craft brewery,” according to owner Mike Biel. homelandbrew.co
Within a year of receiving a home brewing kit as a gift, Megan Greenwood had built a microbrew system in her Chandler garage and was plotting to leave a comfortable career in industrial engineering for the unpredictable world of beer. She opened Greenwood Brewing in Downtown Phoenix in 2020, joining the 3 percent of solely female-owned breweries in the country. Along with head brewer Kristin Luparello, Greenwood hopes to change the narrative with beers like their Herstory Pale Ale, Purpose Pilsner and Essence Rosemary IPA.
Greenwood Brewing’s slogan is “Power of the Purposeful Pint.” What do you feel is your purpose in life and how are you using beer as a catalyst to achieve it?
I feel my purpose in life is to help people feel empowered, included and confident. I am a builder. I like to build things and watch them thrive. This spreads from business to people. I love to help and inspire people to act on something that they’ve dreamed about and build it into something they’re proud of.
What beer trend would you like to retire?
I’d like to retire the notion that beer is a masculine beverage. We believe that this industry needs to shift to include women, and at Greenwood our goal is to change the perception of women and beer and craft a beer that she drinks on her terms.
Which local restaurant dish do you like to pair with your beer?
One of my favorite beers at Greenwood is our Rosemary IPA, and we like to pair that with rich, delicious [proteins] from Chula Seafood and Arcadia Meat Market.
— Madison Rutherford
TUCSON & SOUTHERN ARIZONA
Where other regions might cater to the casual beer sipper with brewpubs offering full kitchens and lining the walls with TVs, Southern Arizona breweries take their beer seriously. From craft pioneer Barrio to women-led breweries like Borderlands and Copper Brothel, you’ll find no-frills taprooms staffed by passionate souls crafting some of the most interesting beers in the state.
Beer Crawl: Downtown Tucson
With ambition (and a designated driver), you could cast your beer crawl net far and wide in Tucson. But downtown Tucson is your craft-beer hub, where seven breweries cluster around the city’s core from Sixth Street south to 16th Street, and Toole Avenue west to Sixth Avenue.
Borderlands Brewing Co.
Borderlands earned a 2022 Certified Artisan nod from the nonprofit that manages Tucson’s UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation. Taste why in the Coconut Pineapple Infused Hazy IPA or the coriander and cardamom Citrana Gose. borderlandsbrewing.com
Iron John’s Brewing Co.
You’ll find solid IPAs on the tap list, but don’t overlook the 1891. Rosy, robust and with aromas of apple, this malty beer might be the best amber in town. ironjohnsbrewing.com
Pueblo Vida Brewing Co.
Like all legendary collaborations – David Bowie and Queen, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga – a meeting of the minds makes powerful art. Or outstanding beer. Try Pueblo Vida’s Highly Compatible, a Double IPA collab with Wren House, or Tmavé Pivo, a lager made in partnership with Pedal Haus. pueblovidabrewing.com
Thunder Canyon Brewery
With several GABF awards to its name and nearly 30 years staying power, Thunder Canyon pours expertly made beers in go-to styles. Fan favorite: Deep Canyon Amber. thundercanyonbrewery.com
Barrio Brewing Co.
Formerly known as Gentle Ben’s Brewing Co., Tucson’s first brewery is also Arizona’s first employee-owned brewery. Start with the iconic Blonde, a crisp and creamy ale that’s also – of course – the state’s oldest beer. barriobrewing.com
A simple operation – eight beers on tap, hidden in a strip mall – Dillinger shows how creative experimentation can lead to perfection. Case in point: The Serrano Seduction, an American wheat with Serrano peppers and Hatch green chiles. dillingerbrewing.com
Crooked Tooth Brewing Co.
Crooked Tooth leans into local flavors with its Sonoran Sour Series. Like bright oranges and lemons with dried plums in Poquito Saladito, or a sweet and sour tang from tamarind in Cloud People. facebook.com/crookedtoothbrewing
The oh-so-Tucson bicycle theme at Catalina Brewing Company in rural North Tucson takes inspiration from its location off The Loop, a paved trail system some 135 miles long. Ride your bike to the brewery for a discount on beer. catalinabrewingco.com
Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink’s artisanal pies hit the spot – chewy-crispy crusts bubbling with cheese and laden with toppings like pickled Fresno chiles, fennel sausage or foraged mushrooms. reillypizza.com
Old Bisbee Brewing Co. Pilsner
Long one of Arizona’s top champions of classic beer styles, Old Bisbee does it again. With Czech Saaz hops, the brew presents a brilliant golden hue, notes of toasted bread and a snappy bitterness. oldbisbeebrewingcompany.com
The Sonoran Connection
One thing Tucson brewers do undoubtedly better than anyone else in Arizona – incorporate Mexican culinary themes. From the chiltepín-pepper-infused Irish Red at Button Brew House (buttonbrewhouse.com) to Dillinger’s mangonada-inspired gose, you’ll find a lot of Latin love in local beers.
New Southern Arizona Breweries
Iron John’s Brewing Co.
Fans are anticipating Iron John’s third location thanks to the brewery’s merger with Monkey Burger – and its promise to serve up the popular stacked patties at the brewery. ironjohnsbrewing.com
MotoSonora Brewing Co.
Opened during the pandemic south of downtown, this brewery earned Silver at GABF for its malt liquor, Gokart Mozart. motosonora.com
Ten55 Brewing Co.
After closing its downtown brewery, Ten55 will be the new kids on the block in its soon-to-be-opened spot in midtown Tucson. 1055brewing.com
The microbrewery at this brand-new Willcox farm, dairy and guest resort features eight beer taps. tirritofarm.com
Tombstone Brewing Company
New location – 16 taps plus food – coming to Sierra Vista in fall 2022. tombstone.beer
Head to the dustiest, most remote part of Elgin to find Copper Hop Ranch & Microbrewery, where horses and donkeys greet you, the land sprouts 14 hops varieties and the owners brew IPAs, ambers and lagers, plus a cider or four. copperhopranch.com
Tombstone Brewing Company
On paper, it might have seemed like another Tombstone novelty: “A brewery in The Town Too Tough to Die.” But owner Matt Brown has silenced all skeptics since opening Tombstone Brewing Company in 2016. The musician-turned-lawyer-turned-brewer brings a concept-album approach to beer-making (see Father of the Pils, part of a historical series of brews) and has quietly built an empire (top rankings by BeerAdvocate, industry awards and big love from beer nerds). “The weirdness of our location definitely helps,” Brown says. “There aren’t any preconceived notions in Tombstone.”
Describe the brew scene in Southern Arizona.
We beat to our own drum in Cochise County. There are brewers here who are very much aware of the trends in bigger markets, but are doing their own thing, like Copper Brothel (copperbrothelbrewery.com). Their beers are traditional styles with a wink – clean, well-done, with a twist.
You’re known for IPAs, but what’s the beer that surprises folks the most?
The Strawberry Shortcake has 2,000 pounds of strawberries, plus vanilla, and the nose smells like Smucker’s jam. It’s a pink, desserty sour and people can’t believe it exists. Our lagers are like that, too. People are surprised we have super bright, clear lagers.
Which local restaurant dish do you like to pair with your beer?
Our Helles with barbecue from Puny John’s BBQ (punyjohnsbbq.com). The barbecue uses a lot of mesquite, so it’s intensely smoky. The Helles is ultra crisp, with a rounded malt profile and clean finish. It scrubs the smoke and salt off your palate.
Two locations including East Phoenix, tombstone.beer
— Jessica Dunham
PRESCOTT & THE VERDE VALLEY
Cradled by cottonwood trees, the red rocks of Sedona and the riparian-rich Verde River, most breweries here take advantage of their surroundings. You’ll find patios and expansive windows, and beers reminiscent of the environment. Perhaps that’s the draw for new innovators in the area, like Will Walthereson of Ad Astra Brewing Company or Travis Smith of Lazy G Brewhouse, who join an entrenched and storied brewing scene. No matter where you toast with a cold one, make sure it’s somewhere with a view.
Beer Crawl: Downtown Prescott
Its moniker might be Whiskey Row, but downtown Prescott embraces beer makers, too. Branching off Montezuma Street like boozy tentacles, three stellar breweries make for a doable drink-around – i.e., within less than a mile. Conclude the day with a visit to Prescott Valley’s Lonesome Valley Brewing (lonesomevalleybrewing.com) on your way back to I-17 by way of SR-69.
Ad Astra Brewing Company
Owner Will Walthereson brews a lineup of experimental beers that cater to craft beer aficionados. Think Triple Hazy IPAs (Quasicrystal) and sours made with mochi green tea (Green Limousine). adastrabrewingcompany.com
Lazy G Brewhouse
Come for the IPAs – the hoppy Six Hour Drive, the fruity Wounded Lion, the GABF-awarded Pedal Pounder – and stay for the delicious food. Looking at you, tater-tot poutine. lazygbrewhouse.com
Technically speaking, mead is closer to beer than wine – which is why owner and chief brewer Jeff Herbert has been free to amass a trove of awards from RateBeer, including No. 35 on the website’s 2018 list of the 100 Top Brewers in the World. superstitionmeadery.com
Well, maybe not so fun: Until closing its doors earlier this year, Prescott Brewing Co. was the state’s oldest beer brand, having launched in 1994.
Tuck into tasty bites at tapas resto El Gato Azul. The menu of share plates runs 50 items deep and includes goodies likew lamb kebabs, chorizo hash, sticky chicken and fried goat cheese. elgatoazulprescott.com
Oak Creek Brewing IPA
The pride of Sedona earned a GABF Silver medal and, according to BeerAdvocate, is one of the best beers in the state. It’s not reinventing the wheel – just a perfectly balanced, well-made IPA. oakcreekbrew.com
Perhaps taking a page out of the region’s winery playbook, breweries in the Verde Valley try to source local ingredients whenever possible. Sedona Beer Co. (sedonabeerco.com) uses base malt grown at Hauser & Hauser Farms in Camp Verde; Insurgent Brewing Co. (insurgentbrewingco.com) in Chino Valley adds prickly pear juice to the Punta De La Lanza Porter; Verde Brewing Co. (verdebrewing.com) sweetens its Gold Buckle Blonde with local mesquite honey; while Cottonwood’s Belfry Brewery (belfrybrewery.com) also taps local honey in its malty Honey Pecan brown ale.
News Breweries in the VV
Ad Astra Brewing Company
After time spent at Wren House and The Shop Beer Co., brewer Will Walthereson moved north to open Ad Astra in 2021. (See Crawl.)
Doors opened in 2020 on this Old Town Cottonwood brewery set in a 1920 chapel. Find weekly live music and a food menu of wood-fired eats. belfrybrewery.com
Smelter Town Brewery
Owners Craig and Becky Backus gave Clarkdale its first brewery (pictured right) in the middle of the pandemic, honoring town history with beers like The Morning Wake Vanilla Coffee Porter, a nod to the building’s previous incarnation as an undertaker’s parlor. smeltertownbrewery.com
Smelter Town Brewery might be the only brewery in Arizona with guest lodging. Book a room with Mingus Mountain views at the adjacent Park Hotel (from $225/night, clarkdaleparkhotel.com), then order a cold one from its surprisingly delicious Sluice Box Sour Series – each beer sips like a fruit smoothie.
Verde Brewing co.
Virginia-raised, University of Arizona-educated brewer Alex Goetting found his way to Camp Verde by way of, all places, Turkey. Traveling to small towns throughout the Middle Eastern country via a study-abroad program ignited a desire to explore Arizona’s small communities. “Camp Verde is beautiful, centrally located and with a lot of state land,” he says. “I thought: If I put a brewery here, I can live and play.” Which he did in 2015. Verde Brewing Co. opened with eight excellent beers on tap, most showcasing a local ingredient or two.
Describe the brew scene in the Verde Valley.
We are right off I-17 in the middle of the state. Our visitors are 50-50 tourists and locals, so we really try to be a community gathering spot, a place for the families to get together for food and beer and great service. I see other breweries, especially in Sedona, being oriented to that as well.
What beer surprises people the most?
Because we’re in wine country, a lot of wine drinkers visit us. That changes what people are interested in, what flavors they’re looking for. So, when someone says they don’t like beer, I always recommend our Raspberry Lemon Sour, which uses local fruit. People are surprised by how much they like it.
Which local restaurant dish do you like to pair with your beer?
Our BullPen Bourbon Stout with a local steak. Babe’s Round Up (babesroundupaz.com) is a barbecue place with great steak.
— Jessica Dunham
FLAGSTAFF & NORTHERN ARIZONA
If there’s a spiritual epicenter of brewing in Arizona, it might be Flagstaff. Home to paleo-brewpubs Beaver Street Brewery and Flagstaff Brewing Company – both founded in the 1990s – and a modern wave of award-winning microbreweries, the Coconino County mountain town boasts the most beersmiths per capita of any Arizona city. The rest of Northern Arizona isn’t bad, either.
Beer Crawl: Downtown Flagstaff
Behold, the truest, purest beer crawl in all of Arizona, with six brewery taprooms within a four-block walk/stroll/stumble. And we added a not-so-far-away seventh for kicks.
Mother Road Brewing Co.
Housed in the same high-ceiling, industrial-chic brewing facility in which it debuted back in 2011, MR needs no introduction where its paradigm-shifting IPAs are concerned. But you need to visit to taste tap-only treats like the Muscles from from Brussels strong golden ale. motherroadbeer.com
Beaver Street Brewery & Whistle Stop Café
Veer west to this much-beloved, old-school beer monger, where the Railroad Red Ale – moderately hopped with crystal and caramel hops – has picked up virtually every award known to man, including gold at the 2000 GABF. beaverstreetbrewery.com
Flagstaff Brewing Company
The venerable brewpub (est. 1994) keeps chugging along behind brewer Stuart Howe, who programs his eight native handles with sturdy favorites like the nitro-smooth Sasquatch Stout and Chinook-hopped Bitterroot ESP. flagbrew.com
Lumberyard Brewing Co. Tap Room & Grill
Crossing historic Route 66 lands you at this longtime outdoor-drinking favorite, known for its seminal Humphrey’s Hefe and Hazy Angel IPA. Also look for the Oktoberfest Märzen this fall. lumberyardbrewingcompany.com
Historic Brewing Company Barrel + Bottle House
Known for it Piehole Porter, Undercover Cucumber and other catchily named, crushable canned brews, this upstart brewer has also drawn critical accolades for offerings like the Salt River light lager, which picked up a gold medal at GABF. historicbrewingcompany.com
Dark Sky Brewing Company
Embarking on the north side of downtown, we start at this 7-year-old pizzeria-brewery combo, named for Flagstaff’s International Dark Sky designation, and known for its heroic devotion to hazies, sours, fruited beers and other murky delights. darkskybrewing.com
Virtually all the taprooms on the crawl have food programs, but for something special, check out Atria (atriarestaurant.com), the new small-plate wonderland from James Beard-nominated chef Rochelle Daniel. Get grilled bone marrow and make sure to do the “luge” whiskey add-on.
The Grand Canyon Brewing Company
Based in Williams down the I-40, the respected brewer and distiller opened a taproom in the university district less than mile south of downtown in 2019. Check it out for the state’s best American Pilsner, plus a vast selection of seasonals and take-home canned cocktails. grandcanyonbrewery.com
Wanderlust Brewing Co.
Sorry to load you with more work, but no Flag beer visit would be complete without a sip at Wanderlust Brewing Co., which – to our great pleasure – tends to lean hard into Belgian and sour styles. Start with this muscular, 8% ABV heat-beater, the best farmhouse ale in the state, we reckon. wanderlustbrewing.com
Wanna get really wild? Jog west a few miles on the I-40 and have a crawl in Kingman, the high-desert jewel of Mojave County. Rickety Cricket (see: Arizona Riviera), Black Bridge Brewery (instagram.com/blackbridgebrewery) and Dirty Dough pizzeria (facebook.com/dirtydoughkingman) are all splayed within three blocks on the same stretch of Route 66… and they all make beer.
Edge of the World Brewery
Colorado City native Raymond Hammon didn’t have much competition when he opened Edge of the World Brewery in 2018, and for good reason – until just a few years earlier, his hometown on the Utah-Arizona border was effectively ruled by the polygamist FLDS Church, and breweries were not particularly in fashion. Once a judge seized the FLDS-controlled land trust that kept entrepreneurs such as himself at bay, head brewer Hammon and business partner Nick Dockstader were free to launch Arizona’s most remote – and culturally significant – brewery.
How did you manage to learn beermaking in a town where it was essentially contraband?
[Nick and I] started brewing 15 years ago in his apartment on his kitchen stove. Until then, I worked for a school in various capacities, from janitorial to substitute teacher, and [I’ve] done work in the mortgage industry. And briefly tried to start a newspaper.
Was there demand when you opened?
On day one, we were selling out of beer. We were running a little half-barrel system… making maybe 15 gallons at a time. Then we got a six-barrel system, and then the pandemic hit, and we went on hiatus for a few months. But that new system makes all the difference… before, it was like trying to cook on a hot plate.
What beer styles do you favor?
I don’t have a preferred style, [it’s] more experimental and driven by necessity a little bit. For example, our flagship beer is a porter, and a lot of that has to do with the water we have, which is deep-well and harder [and] does well with a porter. We also had a hard time getting standard house yeast, so we did a Belgian blonde and pale ale, that kind of thing.
How is the town doing, overall?
Really good! It’s beautiful here. And a boom in new business. As time went on, tourist traffic started coming through here… from the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Lake Powell and those places. We want people to visit.
— Craig Outhier
The small but spirited fellowship of breweries situated on Arizona’s side of the Colorado River stretch from the boating mecca of Lake Havasu all the way south to the border burg of Yuma – each one a fort of craft beer civility on Arizona’s western frontier.
Beer Crawl: Lake Havasu
Show us your cans! Beginning on “the island,” your Havasu beer crawl will take you over the fabled London Bridge, into Havasu City proper, then up US-95 to a denouement in the rowdy resort town’s two best-known breweries.
Mudshark Brewery and Public House
Gliding a mile up US-95, we find the home of Full Moon orange wheat (8.5% ABV!), Scorpion Amber and other canned offerings commonly found in the Valley. Less common: a fleet of special tap-only seasonals such as Lunacy, a 12% ABV witbier. mudsharkbrewery.com
Barley Bros. Brewery
Set on “the island,” Havasu’s oldest brewery also scored its first GABF award: a silver in 1998 for its JennaGrace Hefeweizen, a lemony, unfiltered blonde wheat beer. Find it among six native BBB taps along with a sprawling food menu. barleybrothers.com
College Street Brewhouse & Pub
Known to Valley beer fans for Big Blue Van, its ubiquitous blueberry wheat, College Street also has a robust tap program with admired mainstays like Jessie’s Lager, a high-gravity (7.1% ABV) golden lager with a sweet back end. collegestreetbrewhouseandpub.com
Rickety Cricket Brewing
Come for the raucously warped Disney-esque artwork (think: Slim Pickens riding his H-bomb in Dr. Strangelove... only he’s a mango), stay for the vast selection of wheat and blonde styles – perfect for hella hot Havasu. ricketycricketbrewing.com
Lots of taps here, but perhaps more intriguingly: Peruvian- and Cuban-inspired gastropub fare such as house-battered fried frog legs in sweet soy; and rabo encendido, a Cuban braised oxtail dish. babaloolounge.com
Prison Hill owner Chris Wheeler’s great-grandfather did time in the eponymous prison, and the brewery’s English-style bitter, Bierre de Jesus, is named after him.
As the lone brewery in Yuma – “the sunniest city on Earth,” the owners remind us – Prison Hill Brewing Co. has a sacred covenant to keep. Founded in 2015 by medical-industry burnout Chris Wheeler, the brewery pays homage to the nearby territorial prison that survives as a tourist magnet today, but more importantly, it pours thirst-quenchers like Jailbait Blonde, a citrusy session pale ale. To battle all that sunlight. prisonhill.com
College Street Brewhouse
Winner of a bronze medal at the GABF, this barrel-aged brown ale – brewed with local dates and Arizona wildflower honey – is available only at the brewery, starting in November. collegestreetbrewhouseandpub.com
A brewery wasteland, Eastern Arizona is not. It boasts two of our favorites in THAT Brewery and Pinetop Brewing Co. But it’s also true that beer entrepreneurism has lagged behind in Gila, Navajo and Apache counties relative to other parts of Arizona. The remedy: Drink more beer when you come here.
Beer Crawl: Pine to Pinetop
It will take you two hours to complete, but a crawl on US-260 will net these three taprooms.
The pride of Pine (see Spotlight below) has a rustic pub menu (think: elk chili) to go with its 11 native handles, featuring mainstays and seasonals (think: Goat Milk Caramel Stout brewed with caramel from The Hoppy Goat Farm in Cornville) alike. thatbrewery.com
Black Horse Brewery
Three siblings – all veterans – launched this brewery in a converted Show Low ranch in 2015, specializing in IPAs and red ales. They also spice up the experience with lobster boils and corn roasts and such. blackhorsebrewery.org
Pinetop Brewing Co.
Squirreled away in the White Mountains of Navajo County is nothing less than Arizona’s preeminent maker of Belgian-style beers. Employing European brewing techniques and esoteric ingredients like Belgian “candi” sugar, brewer Joshua Ratliff turns out dubbels, saisons and fig-toned quads that are aromatic, nuanced and potent. pinetopbeer.com
THAT is the only brewery in Gila County, which also includes the towns of Payson, Globe and Superior.
Steve & Tamara Morken
Leaving their aerospace careers in the Valley, Steve and Tamara Morken “followed a dream” and opened Rimside Grill and Cabins in the mountain town of Pine in 2004. Expanding into brewing about a decade later, they scored an immediate hit with THAT Trail Ale, an easy-drinking English Ale that benefits trail preservation in Arizona and powerfully endeared the brewery to the state’s hiking and biking community. Today, the Morkens sponsor a charity mountain bike race (psfuelreduction.org/fireontherim) and make a whole mess of interesting suds.
Why go from the restaurant business into brewing?
Tamara: In 2008, when the economy hit rock bottom, we looked at how we could make Pine-Strawberry into a destination… and what industries survived in recession. So, on a visit to Fruita, Colorado, we saw that dynamic. When the brewery started, people came… and combined with the mountain biking, we saw that anytime [a town had] that combination, businesses thrived.
Was it gradual, or did you go all in?
Steve: We went all in. We closed half the restaurant, and ran it as the brewery on a Franken-brew system that we slapped together. Within a year we were making too much beer, so we opened a production facility in Cottonwood.
What’s your favorite beer-food pairing in Pine?
Steve: My favorite meal would probably be our baked mac and cheese with our Arizona Trail Ale.
— Craig Outhier
CRAFT BEER WINNERS
Earlier this year, while conducting our online 2022 Best of the Valley readers’ vote, we asked Arizona beer fans to pick their favorites in a wide variety of styles. Here are the BOV winners in 11 key categories.
by Matt Johnson
BOV CRAFT BEER Winners
See the full list of 41 BOV readers’ picks winners at phoenixmag.com/BOVbeer.
Best Barrel Aged
Arizona Wilderness Brewing
American Presidential Stout
This barreled variant of AWB’s Russian Imperial dominated the field in 2022 courtesy of its boozy bite on the front end followed by heat in the throat on the back end. The 11-percent-ABV stout is a seasonal favorite for us and a must-try for any fan of high-ABV beers.
Best Belgian Quad
O.H.S.O. barrel program manager Brody Hoffman put a Quadrupel inside Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels and let it sit for a whopping 26 months, The result was this 17.4-percent ABV slow sipper with an insane amount of flavor that was well worth the wait.st party in August, attendees were treated to pours of this delightfully light and sweet treat that makes the Valley summer heat bearable. Remember to look for the hidden number 13 on the can art of every Bone Haus brew.
The Shop Beer Co.
Available at scores of bars, restaurants, bottle shops and grocery stores around the Valley (it’s also the best beer available on tap at Phoenix Suns home games), the popularity of this tropical hazy cannot be denied. It received the most votes of any single beer in our BOV vote.
Arizona Wilderness Brewing
Don’t F#%k It Up
The light and refreshing summer crusher named Don’t F#%k It Up blonde ale from Arizona Wilderness came in a close second place in the online voting to Huss Brewing’s Scottsdale Blonde. But upon further review, Scottsdale Blonde belonged in the Kolsch category, so we transferred the votes and gave it the win there. We promise not to F#%k it up again.
Best Helles Lager
Bone Haus Brewing
At PHOENIX magazine’s BOV-themed Best Fest party in August, attendees were treated to pours of this delightfully light and sweet treat that makes the Valley summer heat bearable. Remember to look for the hidden number 13 on the can art of every Bone Haus brew.
Best Black IPA
Oro Brewing Co.
All or Nothing
Not many breweries in Arizona dare to tackle this tricky style, but Mesa-based Oro does it, and does it well, making the smoky sipper a fixture in the microbrewery’s award-winning lineup.
Best West Coast IPA
Mother Road Brewing Co.
Tower Station IPA
Easily our most competitive category, American/West Coast IPA had 35 nominated candidates in the running. Mother Road stood tallest, outlasting the runner-up: Refuge from Arizona Wilderness.
Best Triple IPA
Wren House Brewing Co.
No trip-IPA deserves more approbation than the Wally’s World series. Named after one of the brewer’s beloved mutts, they’re the easiest drinking 10-percent ABV beers you’ll ever have, each variant brewed with certain seasonal themes, such as Holly Jolly Wally at Christmas and Lover Boy Wally at Valentine’s. Perhaps we could talk them into a Best Boy Wally for Best Fest next year?
Best Scottish Ale
Four Peaks Brewing
Four Peaks Brewing put Arizona on the craft brewing map in 1996, and nearly 30 years later, there’s hardly a single grocery store in Arizona that doesn’t stock its flagship beer Kilt Lifter. The brewery’s acquisition by global beer giant AB InBev is a big reason for that, but it’s still the most popular pick for our readers in this category by a long shot.
San Tan Brewing
“60 percent of the time, it works every time.” Quoting Brian Fantana from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was arguably a lot funnier a decade ago when the comedy was still fresh in theaters, but that shows how long this San Tan porter has been a Valley staple and a voter favorite.
Now that you’ve had your fill of craft beer knowledge…
LET’S DRINK SOME CRAFT BEER!
In partnership with the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild and its 100-plus members, PHOENIX magazine is helping organize and adjudicate the very first Arizona Craft Beer Awards, judged in September by some of Arizona’s most educated and knowledgeable beer fans. The results of the judging will be announced in October at an ACBG convention in Glendale.
Then Valley beer fans will have a chance to taste the winners and sip the day away at the Arizona Craft Beer Awards festival on October 22 in Glendale. Join us!
Tickets on sale now!
Saturday, October 22
Heritage at Sportsman’s Park in Glendale
Dozens of participating Arizona craft breweries, including O.H.S.O., Huss, Simple Machine, PHX Beer Co., Bone Haus, Look Brewery & many more!
Food and entertainment in one of the Valley’s coolest new indoor-outdoor party venues at the foot of State Farm Stadium in Glendale!