Best Brewery 2016 | Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. | Food & Drink | Phoenix
Heather Hoch

There's nothing wrong with good, reliable beer that you can get just about anywhere in town — but there's something about that jog out to the distant, previously brewery-less town of Gilbert all just to wet your whistle with one of what, after a few years, has grown into a solid collection of Arizona Wilderness' very hyped small-batch brews. Their DC Mountain Double IPA is quickly gaining ground as one of America's most delicious IPAs. Loads of local produce and the occasional heritage grain prove Arizona Wilderness are progressive beer makers, with buying practices that invest heavily in the local economy — concepts that elude most other breweries, even at the small and local level.

Lauren Cusimano

Wren House could have been just like any other neighborhood bar in Phoenix — but it's special. Not only do they brew their own beer, they do it in a stylishly designed, repurposed house that dates back to 1922. That means some cool Phoenix history, and even cooler: cold craft beer. At this small scale, the brewery nimbly built a cast of dependable beers that run the gamut from Jomax Oatmeal Stout, brewed with coffee from the local Press Roasters, to the Hi Jolly American Wheat Ale, which folds chamomile and local desert honey into each batch. Finally, we've got a brewery and bar that reflects a new, tasteful, and modern vision for Phoenix.

If you took a year and dedicated it to tasting a different craft beer every day, you would still need an additional month and then some to sample all of the beers available at the Strong Beer Festival. In 2017, there will be 400 different craft beers for brewheads to taste at the festival that will take over Steele Indian School Park. Four Peaks, the Phoenix Ale Brewery, SanTan Brewing Company, Mother Road Brewing Company, and many more all participate to show that Arizona knows beer, knows how to make it well, and probably most importantly, knows how to drink it.

In a tight-knit space, Central Wine seemingly does it all — they have wine by the glass, in half-glass flights, and by the half-bottle (always a good variety, whether you want to, say, start with a skin-fermented chardonnay or end the evening with a nice Californian syrah); great local beers (i.e., Historic Brewing Company's Piehole Porter from Flagstaff — and beer flights, too, if you can't decide on just one at a time); and plenty of snacks. That means everything from burrata and balsamic on Noble Bread toast or a local Crow's Dairy cheese board, all the way down to a Patti Cakes fudge brownie. Wine has never been so much fun.

The French know their rosé. And though they swirl it in their glasses, sloshing with ice, they have never taken the drink to its logical American conclusion: Throw it in a can and add fizz. In terms of refreshment, nothing beats Dos Cabezas' canned Sparkling Pink Rosé. It exploded on the scene last year, and, due to its popularity, was scarce on the market. No other wine quite captured that same magic this year, which means that Dos Cabezas remains king of the summer. Challengers are accepted; we like our wine cooler, so long as it doesn't include wine coolers.

Be Coffee is tucked away in the monOrchid gallery and office space off Roosevelt Row. A good amount of be's coffee comes from Swillings Coffee, a Colombian roaster started by SeedSpot's C'pher Gresham — it's nice hot, but even better cold. There are many schools of thought as to what a good cold brew should be like, but these guys are keeping it classy, with a cup of java that is clean as a whistle, has great malty and chocolatey flavor, a smooth feel — and, very importantly, is plenty strong to begin with, seeing as how ice melts at rapid speeds here in the desert.

Plenty of coffee shops claim to be all about forging relationships directly with coffee farmers, but there isn't anyone in metro Phoenix doing it quite as well as Peixoto Coffee in downtown Chandler. The coffee shop gets a portion of its beans directly from Brazil — specifically from the Peixoto family farm called Fazenda São José da Boa Vista — and they're then roasted right before customers' eyes inside the comfortable East Valley storefront. Purists will appreciate the shop's single-origin coffees, which can be explored at the shop's pour-over bar, while those in search of something more playful can look forward to seasonal menus with creations such as summery coconut cold brew and rich hot cocoa made with local bean-to-bar chocolate during the cooler months.

Old Town Scottsdale didn't exactly need another good coffee shop option — but it was screaming for a little diversity (the Fifth Avenue Shops boast a Cartel outpost; Sip down the street serves Cartel as well), so we're happy we not only got a shop serving famed San Francisco roaster Four Barrel, but along with it the unexpected, delightfully Porsche-themed nature of the shop, tucked into a little garage next to a multiuse space. Fourtillfour is quality performance in a compact and sleek package, just like a classic Porsche. The menu is short, simple, and built for speed.

Slow and steady wins the race. Press Coffee Roasters is nowhere near the flashiest of roasters in town, but when it comes to a having a warm, welcoming staff and a high-quality product, Press continues to deliver. And it doesn't stop there; the roaster is also know for its cold brew, served both in standard fashion and tapped with nitrogen as well, creating a luscious, creamy texture that has us craving more.

Looking for a rare spirit? Maybe you heard good things about that quadruple nitro triple-hopped IPA from the friends who've tried everything good and bad so that you don't have to? Head to Tops. The offerings in this Tempe liquor store are piled together and overflowing — in a manner that's arguably charming — in an attempt to stock as much as humanly possible onto their shelves and into their fridges. Go ahead, dust off that bottle, create your own six-pack of everything you needed to cross off your to-drink list. You're at Tops, where pretty much anything is possible, and, thanks to the knowledgable staff, findable.

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