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Arizona is fast making its mark as a craft beer destination, and Flagstaff's award-winning breweries are contributing to this exciting scene. In fact, this month, Governor Ducey announced Flagstaff as a Leading Craft Beer City and, on February 6, a Commendation was presented by the Flagstaff City Council. The Flagstaff mayor and City Council also declared the month of February Craft Beer Month, coinciding with the 8th annual Arizona Beer Week taking place February 8-17, 2018.
All eight Flagstaff breweries, collectively known as Craft Beer FLG, have collaborated on two limited-edition specialty beers created exclusively for Arizona Beer Week. Brewed at Mother Road Brewing Company and introduced on February 8 at Uptown Pubhouse, the Flag8 is a Baltic porter with chocolate and roasted malt notes, and the Flag8 Morning Wakeup is brewed with coffee beans supplied by Flagstaff coffee roasters. Each brewery received two kegs and will have it available until it runs out.
"Flagstaff is a very collaborative community as a whole and we really want everybody to succeed. We want Flagstaff to be a beer destination and thus it really benefits all of us if everybody is making more quality beer and creating more welcoming places." - Alissa Marquess, co-founder of Mother Road Brewing Company.
Here are the eight breweries to visit to quaff a pint of this special beer and experience Flagstaff's spirit of community collaboration.
Alissa and Michael Marquess' brewery is a tribute to Route 66, or "the mother road," a term coined by John Steinbeck in Grapes of Wrath. Launched in 2011, their 3,000-square foot brewery located on Mike's Pike, originally a part of historic Route 66, is so successful that last week they opened an 8,000-square-foot brewery and tap room on Butler Avenue to keep up with the demands of their many fans.
At their Mike's Pike location, take a seat at the cozy bar in view of their fermentation tanks or on the patio where you can order food from two of Flagstaff's acclaimed restaurants - the adjacent Pizzicletta or delivery from Proper Meats + Provisions. Sample a flight of six brews, sip on their flagship Tower Station, Arizona's number one IPA, or try their limited-edition beers, such as the Anniversary Ale 6 imperial stout celebrating their sixth anniversary. "Firkin Fridays" are also popular, but during Arizona Beer Week they will be offering a different specialty cask beer daily instead of weekly.
Flagstaff's first licensed brewery was co-founded by former microbiologist Jeff Thorsett in 1994. At the time, he and his partner were the youngest brewery owners in the country, and 24 years later his brewpub still draws the crowds with a busy patio and live music in the warmer months. This Flagstaff icon can go through 30 kegs in a week of popular brews such as Agassiz Amber, Sasquatch Stout, and seasonal releases.
"Our gig is different from anyone else in town, we're very food-centric here and like to use obscure ingredients," says co-founder Ryan Sandlin. Among their 16 taps, you'll find their best-selling Mountains of Mosaic IPA and inventive beers like the local favorite Hot Chocolate stout with a serrano chile kick, a Peanut Butter Jelly Time blonde ale, Shakedown Saison with pomegranate and hibiscus, or Repeating brewed with coconut and vanilla beans and aged in rum and bourbon barrels. Hungry patrons can visit their Merge food truck offering breakfast burritos, tacos, burgers, and more (on Taco Tuesdays, enjoy your first beer for $3 with $1.50 tacos).
This experimental beer philosophy is a successful combination and they are in the process of expanding their current brewhouse, which in three years has turned out 300 different beers. For Arizona Beer Week, look for a trio of new releases:
- High Country Brunch, a collaboration with Park Plaza Liquor in Prescott: An imperial stout aged in Woodford Double Oaked bourbon barrels and rye whiskey barrels that aged maple syrup.
- Parallax: A Belgian-style Quadrupel fermented and aged in Woodford Double Oaked bourbon barrels.
- Insomnia, a collaboration with GCM Liquor in Gilbert: A golden stout aged in Eagle Rare bourbon barrels selected by GCM.
Historic Brewing Company has two locations, the Historic Barrel+Bottle House in downtown Flagstaff and the Brewery with a 15-handle taproom. In addition, sister companies of Grand Canyon Wine Co and restaurants in Bearizona Wildlife Park brings their total number of tap handles to 95. This means they're free to stray from their five core brands, which include Ocean Front Property Arizona Lager, a Mexican-style lager made with a Modelo yeast strain, and their number one seller, Pie Hole Porter, a lighter-style cherry-vanilla porter that makes up 60% of their sales.
Those beers might include the How Now Brown Sour aged in red wine barrels, Apre Three, an apricot Belgian Tripel, Undercover Cucumber blonde ale, and Brett Table Beer, a sour beer made with Berliner weissebier, barrel aged for two years and blended with a märzen - and won first place at last month's Flagstaff BrewHaHa.
Owner Nathan Friedman is a brewmaster and mechanical engineer who designs medical devices by day and brews beer by night at his small but busy brewhouse. It was during a trip to Europe after college that he had his epiphany. While Belgian beers are his passion (he has Belgian sours that have been barrel aging for four years), he also loves German-style brews, saisons, and lambics, which is what you'll find at Wanderlust. If you're hungry, look for rotating food trucks on the weekend such as 3's in the Trees and Good Times Rolling.
His Belgian-style 928 Local Farmhouse Ale is Wanderlust's flagship beer. Making up 70% of their production, it is brewed with wild yeast from apples grown two miles down the road and local Mountain Top honey. Stop in and you might also find a German Dunkelweizen, Chateau Americana, a Belgian pale ale, Pan-American Stout, or Dela Terre Vol 1, a blended barrel-soured red ale/lambic. For Arizona Beer Week, Nathan released a dry saison called Desert Gold, made with grain grown in Casa Grande, Arizona and fermented for three weeks.
Dick and Jean Wilson along with their daughter and son-in-law Winnie and Evan Hanseth opened Flagstaff's first brewpub in 1994. A downtown favorite, all the beers brewed on site by Brewmaster Steve Hendricks are kept in-house or served at the adjacent Beaver Street Brews & Cues. Order a flight and try a Hopshot Red Ale or BS Shandy, medal winners like Flagstaff IPA and R&R Oatmeal Stout, and seasonal black lagers or a smoked pecan pale ale.
Look for firkin cask specials on the first Thursday of every month, and a crowd-pleasing menu offering steaks, seafood, sandwiches, and wood-fired pizzas.
Sixteen years after founding Beaver Street Brewing, the Hespeths opened Lumberyard Brewing Company and restaurant (a Best of Flagstaff best bar food winner). Always in the tanks are signatures such as Railhead Red, Knotty Pine Pale Ale, and Diamond Down Lager, while specialty brews such as Red Rock Raspberry, Snowbound Scotch Ale, and Bright Angel Single Hop IPA are also popular. The latter is made with a different hop for every limited edition. In the past, these have included Citra and Mosaic, with the current version made with Cascade hops.
The newest addition to the Flagstagff brewing scene is Trail Crest, opened in 2017 by husband and wife Joel Gat and Turtle Wong. Currently a restaurant with a game room and event space, it is in the finishing stages of adding a brewery with 240 seats and a goal of 16 brews on tap. Devoted to supporting local businesses, the restaurant offers a large Arizona beer selection including Wanderlust Brewing Chateau Americana and Historic Brewing Pie Hole Porter on nitro, along with locally-distilled spirits, meads, ciders and wine. This support of Arizona artisans extends to the food too, featuring a made-from scratch menu using ingredients sourced from Arizona farmers, ranches, and dairies.
For a full schedule of Arizona Beer Week festivities, culminating in the ABV Beer Dinner, a nine-course charity dinner pairing Flagstaff’s breweries with local chefs on February 18, visit https://www.flagstaffarizona.org/arizona-beer-week/
The new Scottsdale Visitors Guide has just been released and in this issue I have three features. Pick up a copy to read "Behind the Scenes at Taliesen West" and my sidebar on the David Wright House, "Eat on the Fly" showcasing the local restaurants that can be found at Terminal 4 of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (page 154), and "Good Morning Sunshine" spotlighting some of my favorite brunch spots (page 184). You can download and browse the issue here: http://www.absolutelyscottsdale.com/guides/2018-DG.pdf
You can also request a free guide through the mail at https://www.experiencescottsdale.com/order-form/ or pick up a copy at the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau at Scottsdale Fashion Square.