It's a pretty exciting time for craft beer in Arizona. Not only does Phoenix have more and more local bars offering craft brews from around the country, there's an abundance of breweries popping up around town. Ten years ago, we couldn't have made a list of our 10 favorite Phoenix area breweries because there just weren't that many. Now, we can put our beer-geek boots on and drink down all the local brews in town to tell you which are the absolute best.
San Tan Brewing Company Since 2007, San Tan has been making some of the most unique brews in town, served up at its Chandler brewery and restaurant. Classics like the Devil's Ale and Epicenter can be bought year-round, but seasonals like Mr. Pineapple wheat ale keep us coming back. We also love San Tan's weekly cask list, with offerings like the Super Galactic IWA and Desert Jade Hibiscus beer. The bar menu also includes some seriously tasty eats, like the sinful SanTan Slingers, a combo of bacon, jalapeño, and cheese inside of an egg roll.
Desert Eagle Brewing Company Don't be surprised if you haven't heard of Desert Eagle just yet. After all, the Mesa brewery just opened less than a year ago in October 2012. However, since then, the young brewery has made a name for itself with inventive drafts in every style you can think up. We love the fruitier options that Desert Eagle offers, such as Pomegranate Wheat and Black Cherry Blonde. The taphouse might not look like much now, but we're sure that, with time, its subtle Southwesten décor will evolve into a cozy spot to have a drink.
Four Peaks Brewing Company Seventeen years of great beer is no small feat in a town that had little in the way of local craft brewing before then. That's why it's hats off to Four Peaks. You pretty much can't call yourself a Phoenician until you've had a Kiltlifter. The Scottish red ale is prolific and can be found in pretty much every bar around town. Plus, no autumn would be the same without the Four Peaks Pumpkin Porter, which has a tendency to sell out pretty much the moment it is released. We have it on good authority that the brewers plan on making more of the coveted pumpkin spice beer this season than any before it. What a relief!
Papago Brewing Company Three words: Orange Blossom Ale. If you haven't had Papago Brewery's take on this beer, you haven't lived. The creamy, floral and slightly fruity brew is on the lighter side and is absolutely perfect to sip down one after another in semi-rapid succession until you've had your fill of the near-perfect draft. We also love the Coconut Joe, which is surprisingly drinkable and refreshing in terms of stouts and can even be a good summer beer. Papago is also committed to serving a range of other craft beers from all over, so even if you don't like the Papago beers, there's likely to be something you like at the Scottsdale brewhouse.
Phoenix Ale Brewery Phoenix Ale's most popular beer, Fretzy, an unfiltered ale, is named after brewery co-founder Greg Fretz. Earlier this year, the 44-year-old brewer lost his battle with cancer, leaving brewers and beer lovers saddened by his passing. Stop by the taphouse, located off 30th and Washington streets in Phoenix and crack open a Fretzy in his honor. It's guys like Greg Fretz who make Phoenix a tastier, happier place for all of us beer aficionados -- especially with the seasonal Watermelon Wheat and last year's spicy Phoestivus Ale.
North Mountain Brewing North Mountain Brewing opened just a few months ago with a solid list of brews and a "beer-centric" menu. However, we think the brewers at North Mountain really excel in the art of beer naming. Funk 49, Hugh Hefeweizen, Soiled Dove Dirty Blonde Ale, "Neurotic" Belgian Ale, and James Brown Ale are just a few examples of the ever-changing, but always entertaining beer list at the brand-new brewery. We also love its commitment to using local ingredients in its menu. The kale salad and Brussels sprouts salad were two instant (and healthy) winners, but who can say no when met with the $7 grilled cheese with pork belly and a side of tomato soup?
Cartel Coffee Lab We don't know who should be more excited about Cartel's recent brewing endeavors --beer lovers or the coffee-obsessed. However, here at Chow Bella, we put ourselves in both camps, so we were ecstatic when Cartel released the Desert Pale Ale and Coffee Brown Ale. Since then, the beer lineup at Tempe's numero uno coffee institution has changed up a bit, but we're still happy we can get all of our main vices in one spot. . . Now, if only they started making cheese or foie gras.
SunUp Brewing Company With 12 years in business, SunUp definitely is one of the more experienced breweries in town. The brewery and restaurant on Camelback road just east of Seventh Street serves up classic bar food with a Southwestern twist, like the tasty Tavern steak served with jalapeño lime butter. While SunUp has a range of rotating drafts, our favorite has to be the staple Light Rail Cream Ale, which is a very mild and drinkable beer perfect for hot summer days. We're also pretty crazy about the in-house brewed root beer, which makes one wickedly delicious root beer float.
Fate Brewing Company Fate is kind of like all of Phoenix's bigger brewpubs shrunk down to a miniature. While that means it isn't supplying its beer all over town just yet, but it does mean that Fate is constantly brewing new and different beers to sample every day. It also means you have a front row seat to the brewing process because it takes place pretty much dead center of the small restaurant and bar. It's hard to say just which Fate beer is our fave because the list changes so often, but in the past, we've enjoyed the Rye ESB and Belgian Wit. We also can't get enough of their snackable pizza bread, which ideally accompanies the craft drafts.
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O.H.S.O. Eatery and Nanobrewery O.H.S.O. has championed pretty much every bastion of hipsterdom. The dog-lovin', bike-ridin' crowd is pretty loyal to the Arcadia joint, probably because, as a nanobrewery, you have to hit up O.H.S.O. at least once a week to be sure you didn't miss any brews. However, what really makes O.H.S.O. a winner for us is its weekend Beer Brunch menu, in which $10 gets you breakfast and a local beer. The O.H.S.O. French toast with agave syrup and a berry marscapone pairs well with the beer equivalent of strong, black coffee--the OHSO Black IPA.