The location isn’t glamorous. 8-Bit Brewery is located in an office park in Avondale, where the buildings are broad and the walls consist of steel frames and plate glass. "Is there really a brewery out here?" you may ask yourself.
But 8-Bit isn’t meant to be glamorous — it’s meant to be nostalgic. The establishment takes its name from the early Nintendo game console that owner Ryan Whitten purchased in his youth and continues to play.
“We’re really trying to embrace the geeks and the nerds,” Whitten says. “It’s who my wife and I are.”
8-Bit is the first microbrewery in the West Valley suburb of Avondale. Whitten and his wife, Krystina, worked closely with the city government to get their business under way. City officials even offered to help them find investors. After nearly two years of planning, the Whittens opened 8-Bit to the public on June 6. And the small storefront already has attracted a steady stream of fans.
8-Bit consists of a single large room with high ceilings and big windows. The art on the walls mimics the old 8-bit games with pointillist graphics and squat little characters. The taps are topped with vintage controllers, and Casio-like soundtracks of old RPGs play subtly in the background. Soon, the owners will install a pair of “gaming cabinets,” which were developed locally and will recall the Ataris of yore.
Turns out, the Whittens actually wanted to locate 8-Bit in an office park. Ryan grew up in Avondale and has spent most of his life there. He remembers this very property when it was open field. Whitten toured many breweries for market research, particularly in San Diego, where he says such stark interiors are common.
“We wanted to give it that industrial feeling,” he says.
The Whittens didn’t even want to place their brewery in the front of the park, but deep inside, because this would enable them to expand.
“It gives us plenty of room to knock out the wall and grow," Whitten says. "I think we’ve got something like 200,000 square feet of space that we can grow into.”
Most importantly, there is the beer itself, and the Whittens have been experimenting for years. The brews are heavy and hoppy, and the proprietors can talk at length about their past and future recipes. Each concoction has its Nintendo references, such as “Black Mage” stout, “Hopsassins Creed” IPA, and “Legend of Zymur” double IPA. To accompany these flagship beers, the Whittens will brew a rotating selection of seasonals.
The most revolutionary idea of all is the food: There isn’t any. Instead of a menu, the Whittens encourage visitors to bring their own snacks, like a reverse BYOB. Eventually, they hope to attract food trucks, which will be able to vend snacks in the ample parking lots.
“Business is going really well so far,” says Whitten. “It’s surpassed our expectations. There were a couple of nights that we worried we would run out of beer, but we haven’t yet.”
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1050 Fairway Dr., Avondale
Hours: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday.