Chow Bella

Will You Give Peat a Chance at Mesa Nanobrewery?

Chuck Wennerlund, co-owner of Oro Brewing Company.
Chuck Wennerlund, co-owner of Oro Brewing Company. Chris Malloy
Oro Brewing Company in Mesa brews a pretty wild beer called Give Peat a Chance.

Peat refers to the smoke-bomb flavor that lights up your central nervous system when you sip a smoky Scotch. Give Peat a Chance is a peat-smoked extra stout. The beer brings the chocolatey and malty notes of your typical stout, but, from early on, sings with a nice round smoky flavor. It’s a little offbeat. It’s pretty cool.

So, too, is Oro.

The owners of Oro started as homebrewers. Like many Americans, Chuck Wennerlund and David Valencia simply loved beer. So one day they decided to seize the dream and open Oro. Oro started serving beer to the public in October 2016. The technical minutiae, finer work, and chemistry of brewing has been delegated to Jesse Kortepeter, head brewer. Oro has a three-barrel brewing system, making it a nanobrewery.

In the beer world, nano is smaller than micro.

Generally, breweries that use a three-barrel system or smaller are considered nanobreweries. The three-barrel system Oro uses to boil wort and hose grainy liquid to fermentation tanks (where it transforms into beer) only makes 93 gallons at a time. That’s 744 pints of beer per batch. When you consider how many pints one crew of friends could put away on a Saturday night, 744 pints doesn't seem like much. Commercially, it's a minute quantity of beer.

Naturally, Oro is microscopic next to your typical tasteless macrobrewery. On a more local scale, Oro produces one-half to one-fifth the output of your average Valley microbrewery.

Another thing that puts Oro into the nano category, according to Wennerlund, is a calculated lack of effort put into social media and marketing. A third thing is that Oro brews aren’t for sale beyond Oro. Not unless you walk away with a 32-ounce growler or two.

click to enlarge Oro Brewing Company's bar - CHRIS MALLOY
Oro Brewing Company's bar
Chris Malloy
Oro started off brewing in an English style. Since, its brewing has migrated to more amorphous, a-stylistic turf, the house-brewed beers ranging further and wider.

Most of Oro’s 12 taps pour beers made in the back room. The beauty of such small batches is that they run out often, meaning fresh beer is being finished, kegged, and hooked up all the time. The taps line fresh beer. Even the limited beer selections from outside Oro are local.

Oro beers tend to be solid takes on standard styles. An English-style IPA called Boot to Brits tastes tame and rounded, pleasantly toothless when it comes to pale ale's bitter bite. Hopiphany, a 6.4 percent ABV IPA, brings the dank, floral, juicy flavors that mark a good IPA (regardless of coast).

Oro rotates hops once a month for a pale ale as part of its Singularity Series. For these pale ales, just one hop varietal is used throughout the brewing process of each installment. The Singularity pale ale on tap now was hopped with Amarillo.

This nanobrewery makes some fresh brews. Its neighborhood vibes run as thick as peat-smoked stout. Grab a barstool, order, catch some baseball on the tube, and grab a Worth Takeaway sandwich from next door. You can’t beat sipping a crisp local beer.

Oro Brewing Company. 210 West Main Street, Mesa; 480-398-8247.
Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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Chris Malloy, former food editor and current food critic at Phoenix New Times, has written for various local and national outlets. He has scrubbed pots in a restaurant kitchen, earned graduate credit for a class about cheese, harvested garlic in Le Marche, and rolled pastas like cappellacci stuffed with chicken liver. He writes reviews but also narrative stories on the food world's margins.
Contact: Chris Malloy