For many Valley residents, winter in Arizona means getting in the car, driving north, and seeing the snow. There's no better place to do it all than Flagstaff, a two-and-a-half-hour drive for most Phoenix-area residents and a city that's home to a bourgeoning craft brewing scene.
Downtown Flagstaff has many breweries and virtually all are within walking distance of each other, so we took it as a personal challenge to try every single beer made in downtown Flagstaff — you know, to help you filter through the "filler" and get to the heart of the area's best beers. If you're heading to Flagstaff anytime soon, check out these breweries and let this list be your guide to great craft brewing enjoyment.
5 S. San Francisco Street
The red brick and stucco interior projects a feeling of comfort in this renovated old-style building. Patrons can see the action in the brewery which is behind glass and readily visible. Lumberyard is a hot spot and definitely a destination place. Knotty Pine Pale Ale, Flagstaff IPA, and Humphrey's Hefeweizen are all recommend beers crafted to style and impressively done. These three beers are "can't miss," but try the full sampler platter to get the entire Lumberyard experience.
Historic Brewing's Barrel & Bottle House
110 S. San Francisco St.
Historic says, "We not only make great beer, we craft awesomeness." With a mantra like that, it's a must-stop on any Flagstaff brewery tour. Piehole Porter is the undisputed star of the show, a cherry-vanilla porter that drinks like a liquid cherry cordial. This beer garners buzz all over the state and there is no doubt why. Beaches and Ho Ho Holiday Ale is a delicious seasonal offering. This beer drinks like a fresh-cut Christmas tree smells, with spruce aromas dominating alongside a well-balanced array of spices. At 7.7 percent ABV, it delivers a punch along with its spicing.
16 Historic Route 66
A casual pub atmosphere awaits with a varied clientele of locals and vacationers, young and old. Blackbird Porter is the showcase here with roast and chocolate notes working well together with a firm hop backbone. This beer is, by far, Flagstaff Brewing's best offering.
Dark Sky Brewing
117 N. Beaver St.
Dark Sky is the newest member of the Flagstaff brewing scene, having opened May 1, 2015. Creativity is key at Dark Sky; they are willing to try just about anything. Their business model is to produce 100 different beers in the next year and receive public input; the most popular ones will become permanent. Hot Chocolate Serrano Stout topped the charts with big chocolate flavors and a pleasant pepper aroma and light heat with a hint of roast. Bloody Hell is a 6 percent ABV ale made with Roma tomatoes created to taste like a Bloody Mary. The creativity doesn't stop there as Marga Wheata Wheat Ale is an easy drinking, 4.3 percent ABV beer made with Himalayan Sea Salt and fresh lime, tasting like, you guessed it, a margarita.
Mother Road Brewery
7 S. Mike's Pike St.
John Steinbeck once referred to Historic Route 66 as "The Mother Road," and there's no doubt Steinbeck would have enjoyed one of these brews while crafting a novel. Groveside delivers a strong, pleasant flavor of clean, natural oranges. Tower Station IPA provides an array of hop derived aromas and flavors such as mango, pine, and grapefruit with a crisp, clean finish. The brewery also serves a cask-conditioned version of the beer, lending cantaloupe-like notes to the aroma. The 3rd Anniversary Ale is, by far, the most complex beer, marrying flavors of bourbon and vanilla on a traditional stout base. Check it out, but take it slow with this high-alcohol sipping beer.
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Beaver Street Brewery
11 S. Beaver St.
Beaver Street Brewery was the original brewery of the folks who also founded Lumberyard. The brewery features Lumberyard beers to go along with its extensive menu. While most offerings are the same as at Lumberyard Brewery, the R&R Stout is a unique offering that provides roasty, chocolate, and molasses character in a malt-forward presentation.