When the temperatures rise, it's time to get into some drinks. We have spent many pixels on the goodness of the Valley's beer scene. But our chops with booze extend far beyond. There is good local wine. There is good local whiskey (and more coming soon). There is even good local mead. So cheers to kicking back with some friends and one of these beverages. Here are four places that will up your drinking game this summer.
Arizona Mead Company
6503 West Frye Road, #12, Chandler
At Arizona Mead Company, mead is served chilled from the bottle. Ciders and cysers are dispensed from four rotating taps. “I started doing this on the side,” says Cody Brown, the man behind the operation. Now, he’s a full-time mead master, owner, and bartender at Arizona Mead Company. Brown lets his mead ferment an average of six months. This is a long fermentation. He has gone even longer, letting some meads ferment for over a year. How does he know when a mead is ready? It's ready when it tastes good, he says. Meads currently fermenting include bourbon-barrel-aged traditional meads (just honey), a guava-berry mead, a strawberry mead, and a raspberry. Brown is prepping ingredients for a second batch of pumpkin-pie mead and coffee-chocolate mead, both of which will be ready this fall.
888 North First Avenue, #101
GenuWine Arizona is a self-serve wine bar. More than half the spot's 24 wines come from Arizona vineyards, many with names are sure to tempt you: Dos Cabezas, Arizona Stronghold, Sand Reckoner, and so on. Grape varietals are all over the map. GenuWine balances your buzz with a limited food menu. There's a build-your-own cheese board, hummus plate, and two dessert boards that source ingredients like peanut butter and honey from local suppliers. GenuWine also serve beer on tap and by the bottle or can. Add all that to the cozy furniture, laid-back atmosphere, and the local angle, and you might have just found your home away from home downtown.
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Wren House Brewing Company
2125 North 24th Street
Wren House Brewing has emerged as one of the best breweries in metro Phoenix, young or old. The 24th Street taproom seems to wipe the stresses from life, leaving you in a space that has a residential vibe, like a cool friend’s lake house where people bullshit and share pictures and drink good beer. Head brewer Preston Thoeny's most recent stunner is a sour beer series called Las Frescas. Sour beer is a sprawling beer style that spans from gently tart brews like Berliner weisse to ferociously puckering lambics and wild ales. Las Frescas starts with a sour beer base on the milder end, with Wren House’s take on Berliner weisse. Thoeny spikes this base with fruit solids and juice, creating a beer that is part beer, part sangria-like infusion, part nectar. “The original idea was it would be kind of reminiscent of those iced Mexican beverages, like agua frescas – more juice-based, super-palatable beers for the summertime,” Thoeny says.
Flying Basset Brewing
720 West Ray Road, Gilbert
Flying Basset Brewing is a realized vision of pilot Rob Gangon and his wife, Sara Cotton. They got married in 2011 and started homebrewing that year. Not long after, Gangon started placing in Arizona Society of Homebrewers competitions. According to Sara, “it’s just been a roller coaster of beer ever since.” The beer menu is written on a chalkboard adjacent to the bar. It covers the 25 brews on tap written and includes the brewery's three house beers. Flying Basset debuted with a classic copper ale. It’s balanced, malted, lightly hopped, and has a hint of caramel. The house copper was followed by a double IPA and a Hefeweizen. The beer list features local favorites like Pedal Haus and Huss. There are also 40-plus bottles to choose from. Flying Basset Brewing is quickly becoming a neighborhood favorite in Gilbert.