Colorado, California, and the Pacific Northwest all seem to have special monopolies on craft brewing, with wide distribution nets sending their IPAs, Steam Ales, Pale Ales, and Stouts across their regions and even the entire country.
While the Southwest might appear to be a craft beer desert in comparison, the illusion is untrue. Arizona and New Mexico have their own thriving craft brew scene, which comes on the tail of the Southwest’s wine boom in the early 2000s. Read on to learn more about the beguiling beers coming out of our region.
No fewer than 71 breweries call Arizona their home, while at least 60 brew up a storm in neighboring New Mexico. In our own state, the brew houses can be broken down by Northern Arizona (22 registered craft breweries), Central Arizona (31), and Southern Arizona (18). Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson lead the state in the number of registered craft breweries. This is no surprise, since each of those areas is the largest in its region of the state. There are, of course, plenty more breweries in places like Bisbee, Yuma, Pinetop, and Lake Havasu City.
Here in the southern part of the state, the original restaurant-brew houses like BJs, Gentle Ben’s, Nimbus, and Thunder Canyon Brewing have made room for newcomers like 1912, Barrio, Beast, Borderlands, Cartel, Catalina, Dragoon, Iron John’s, Old Bisbee, Public, Pueblo Vida, Sentinel Peak, Ten Fifty-Five, and 1702. There are also at least 15 other breweries openly being planned in the Grand Canyon state, and probably more still that are flying under the radar.
Just like in the Pacific Northwest, IPAs tend to lead the game in local craft brews in our region. From Dragoon Brewing Co.’s (Dragoon, AZ) Dragooon IPA and Four Peaks Brewing Company’s (Scottsdale, AZ) Hop Knot to SanTan Brewing Co.’s (Chandler, AZ) HopShock IPA and Lumberyard Brewing’s (Flagstaff, AZ) Flagstaff IPA, Arizona is the Southwest’s own hop central. That said, there are plenty of sweet stouts, American strong and pale ales, Hefeweizens, and red ales to go around. There are even a few Barleywines, brown ales, and Kölsches.
While most the beers tend toward American types (e.g., Grand Canyon Brewing’s Sunset Amber Ale, an American ale from Williams, or College Street Brewhouse’s Sweet Devil Stout, which is an American stout being brewed in Lake Havasu City), there are a few brewers basing their beers on Belgian and English types. For example, there’s Papago Brewing’s (Scottsdale, AZ) Oude Zuipers Tripel, an ode to the Belgian beer Tripel ale, Four Peaks Brewing’s The Raj IPA, which is an English IPA, and Oak Creek Brewing Co.’s (Sedona, AZ) Oak Creek Nut Brown Ale, which is an English brown ale.
By far and wide, Arizona is definitely an ale state—and that is a-ok by us! Not only can you taste these Arizona beers where they’re made, but they are on tap in many of the state’s independent bars and restaurants. There are also plenty of beer events—such as local and regional beer festivals, Arizona Beer Week in February, and the Southwest Festival of Beers every April—to help you get your taste buds on these brews.
NobleHops’ rotating beer menu serves up quite a few hyper-local brews alongside the large selection of regional and American craft brews on tap. Come on in and see what we’ve got on draft—Four Peaks and Barrio Rojo at the moment—and then compare our local beers to the best from Fort Collins, San Jose, and Hood River.