I’ve been watching the Arizona craft beer scene since the mid-1990s and have always been able to find local craft beer of excellent quality. However, it often puzzled me that there are so few breweries in this state considering our large population centers. Eventually, more breweries entered the scene, but the pace of growth was glacial.
The recent evolution of the Arizona brewing scene has been exciting to watch. Breweries are popping up everywhere and it seems like every time I turn around, people are telling me about a brewer they know or introducing me to someone who is trying to start a brewery. I’m not surprised by this—I’m just glad it’s happening.
In this article, I will name drop some breweries that are in the very early stages of development. Normally I’d like to try a beer before I write about it, but the focus of this story is the future. The future is unknowable but, if funding from Kickstarter is any indication, Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company will be serving us amazing beer in the not-too-distant future. I’m intrigued by their interest in Belgian and wild ales and look forward to tasting their creations soon.
In the past, I was left to wonder how Arizona craft beer would mature. Would Arizona emulate another region? (Pacific Northwest, Midwest, Northeast, Colorado, Northern California, San Diego, etc.) Or would it define its own regional style? It is becoming apparent that the style of the region is developing from distance and diversity. Everyone is bringing something back from another place. This makes perfect sense considering that almost everyone who lives in Arizona is from somewhere else.
Wanderlust Brewing Co. has a name and inspiration that exemplifies this way of thinking. Nathan Friedman (Brewer) enjoys travel and adventure. Stylistically, beers that he plans to brew mirror that adventurous spirit. He lists Belgian-style, imperial, balanced and hoppy, malty and funky beers as possible for the first releases.
Others are taking cues from different places and times. North Mountain Brewing Company cites the old public houses of Colonial America and Britannia, as well as the iconic beer halls of Europe as influences. They mention the sense of community that beer used to engender, along with a love for traditional and eclectic food and beer pairings.
Veritas Brewing Company also has community as a core concept for its development. With the slogan “True Beer, True Food, True Community,” Veritas makes it clear that they take ‘casual’ seriously. “We believe that quality comes from purity, simplicity and authenticity.”
Catalina Brewing Company keeps it local in concept with “We bike, We brew,” as their battle cry. Inspired by the great outdoors, the Mesquite Agave Brown Ale sounds like a great recipe.
Other upcoming breweries that I look forward to learning more about include Freak’N Brewing Company, Mischief Brewing Co., Mesquite River Brewing Company and Fate Brewing Company. It’s possible that some of these names will change, but for a young business it’s all part of growing up.
So that’s a small glimpse into the future. I’m sure there are many more out there working up plans for breweries in Arizona. I hope all of these upstart ventures make it to completion. It’s a daunting task to start any new business, but their success will mean more beer and more choices.
By the time you read this Desert Eagle Brewing Company in Mesa should be open for business. Check my blog on the Arizona Vines & Wines website for more information about the upcoming breweries mentioned here. If you are starting a brewery or know someone who is, please tell me about it and I’ll add it to the ‘watch list.’ We need to treasure every moment we spend with these new breweries. They grow up so fast!
Article and Photo by Thomas Ale Johnson
Originally Published in Arizona Vines and Wines Winter 2012 Issue