Southwest Brewing News February/March 2017 : Page 1
B y D arren C onner PHOTO BY BEV BLACKWOOD II Co-Founder and Brewery Manager Tristan White in Dragoon Brewing Company’s taproom in Tucson, Ariz. By Bev Blackwood II ILLUSTRATIONS BY: HANS GRANHEIM ucson has a lot to offer people of all walks of life. Tucson has over 320 days of sunshine a year, an interesting history and cultural diversity that have made it a tourist destination. The Sonoran Desert and its rugged beauty offer a lot to outdoor T enthusiasts. The rapidly growing craft beer scene is just another reason to make the trip to Tucson. What makes a city a beer destination? People want to travel there to check out its breweries and beers. How does a place make its way onto the beer map? Great beer destinations usually have a common thread of See Tucson p. 3 From the Editor ........................ 2 Event Calendar ......................... 2 Homebrew Beer Stylist .............. 6 Directories & Maps .............. 12-15 Southern California .......8 San Diego ......................9 Arkansas .......................9 Nevada ........................ 10 New Mexico ................. 16 N/W Texas ................... 17 Austin ......................... 18 S/C/E Texas .................20 Northern Arizona ........ 22 Southern Arizona ........ 22 Central Arizona ...........23 ristan White, co-founder and brewery manager of Dragoon Brewing wasn’t thinking small when he got together with co-founders Bruce Greene and his son Eric Greene to discuss their plans. “I love Tucson and I wanted to make Tucson into a beer town,” White recalls, so he asked Eric Greene, “‘What would it take to put Tucson [on the map] as a beer town?’ and he [Greene] said it would take one really good, large, production brew-ery.” That set the expectation for the com-pany. “Essentially the goal was to become Tucson’s beer,” states White. Fast forward T half a decade and Dragoon Brewing Com-pany has rapidly risen through the ranks of Tucson’s growing brewing scene. “When we decided to open a brewery, there were three breweries: Nim-bus, Thunder Canyon and Barrio,” White remembers, “and Barrio wasn’t doing a lot of business off their premise [sic], so they were still mostly a brewpub.” He continues, “After we decided that, we started working toward it, Border-lands opened up, and 1702 got their brewing license, so we were the sixth brewery in Tucson and since then, there’s eight more, nine more?” See Dragoon p . 5
Old Pueblo Becoming Bold Pueblo
Tucson has a lot to offer people of all walks of life. Tucson has over 320 days of sunshine a year, an interesting history and cultural diversity that have made it a tourist destination. The Sonoran Desert and its rugged beauty offer a lot to outdoor enthusiasts. The rapidly growing craft beer scene is just another reason to make the trip to Tucson. What makes a city a beer destination? People want to travel there to check out its breweries and beers. How does a place make its way onto the beer map? Great beer destinations usually have a common thread of great breweries, great beer cultures, great locations and knowledgeable fan bases. Tucson has all of those things and more.
The beer scene has been continually expanding since the 1990s. Barrio Brewing/ Gentle Ben’s was the first brewery, opening in 1991. Thunder Canyon Brewing and Nimbus Brewing were the next ones on the scene. The craft beer seed had been planted in the Old Pueblo. The typical offerings were available in the ale category ranging from light to dark. Thunder Canyon had a large catalog of recipes and offered a selection of rotating brews. The competition helped drive up its game, making it easy to find a tasty local beverage. Add a few GABF medals for Thunder Canyon and Barrio and the bar was set for the next wave. Dragoon Brewing came onto the scene with the goal to elevate the local beer culture and introduce the idea of beer pairings to the community. The owners began talking with local chefs and restaurateurs about bringing on specific beers to complement their food. Dragoon also has an extensive barrelaging program. [For more on Dragoon, see its feature.] Pueblo Vida Brewing has also come on strong making quality beers using local ingredients whenever possible. Kyle Jefferson, co-owner of Pueblo Vida commented, “Innovation will stop without competition.” There are breweries of different sizes and visions spreading out across the city. It is reminiscent of the days before Prohibition when there were a large number of small breweries that supplied a local market.
Iron John Adkisson of Iron John’s Brewing in front of craft beer bar, Tap and Bottle in Tucson, Ariz.
The breweries get support from beer geeks and fans that are anxious to try something new or different. There is also number of fine beer bars and tap houses that host tap takeovers or feature local beers. Chris Squires of 1055 Brewing noted, “We have a David vs. Goliath attitude; we want all the craft breweries to do well; the rising tide will float all ships.” When a new brewery starts up nowadays, the brewer(s) can reach out to the other nearby brewers or members of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild to help them get their mash paddle mojo working. Some of the breweries struggle to get the red tape cleared and the doors open on time. It is pretty common for the established breweries to host collaborative brews to help the breweries-inwaiting get some experience and their names up on the board.
Kyle Bert (L) and Ayla Kapahi pour beers at Public Brewhouse.
PHOTO BY DARREN CONNER
Location. Location. Location. Part of the experience of enjoying a brew comes down to the place. When Nimbus first opened its doors in 1996, it was in an old warehouse and had seating for six at an old bar. There were donated couches and a few bench truck seats scattered around the “taproom.” It wasn’t very fancy, but it had a welcoming vibe that reminded you of hanging out in your friend’s garage. The historic buildings and old warehouses are the venue of choice for most breweries. Exposed brick walls and open ceilings that reveal old timbers and rafters give the breweries some instant charm and character. You can wander around the downtown area and hit up a bunch of breweries. Pueblo Vida and Borderlands Brewing found historic buildings and managed to squeeze in a brewhouse and taproom. Public Brewhouse and Crooked Tooth Brewing rehabbed old warehouses off 4th Avenue. TEN55 is in the process of getting a new location on Congress Avenue. Barrio started down by the University of Arizona before moving the brewing operations to the downtown area.
The beer nerds, hopheads and maltheads are around every corner in Tucson. These people truly love their beer. When the customers you are serving are discerning, the beer had better be up to the task. Tucson has a strong homebrewing community too - the people who like to dissect a beer and figure out what makes it special. THC (Tucson Homebrew Club) welcomes brewers of all skill levels. There are a couple of homebrew supply stores available to help people get started or take their beers to the next level. Iron John Adkisson of Iron John’s Brewing used to teach brewing beginner to advanced classes at Brew Your Own Brew. The Brewers Connection caters to advanced homebrewers by filling grain orders that are phoned in and filling CO2 bottles while you wait. There are a couple breweries and fine beer bars that offer tasting classes on how to enjoy a specific style, and determine and identify defects in beers. There is no sense brewing incredible beer if the patrons can’t tell. Adkisson said, “When you get feedback from a person with a good palate it helps you improve.” You don’t need to find a brewery to come across a nice place to drink Beer here either. There are craft beer bars like Tap and Bottle, which regularly feature Tucson beers. The Tucson Hop Shop and Arizona Beer House are awesome places to stop and find a local brew. 1702 Pizzeria & Craft Beer Bar started the taproom model offering a large draft selection. It has over 40 crafts on tap, including beers from the onsite nanobrewery, The Address Brewing. Tucson also has liquor stores that carry local and other handcrafted brews. Among the best are Plaza Liquors and RumRunner. Both have very knowledgeable staff and can guide you to some great local beers.
It wasn’t very fancy, but it had a welcoming vibe…
Beer lovers are eager to talk about their favorites, whether it is a style, a beer, a location or an experience. These are the people that will plan a vacation around traveling to an area that has great beer available. These people are looking to experience the beer at the source and take bottles, crowlers or growlers back home to share with their friends. Adkisson was in Boulder, Colo. And ran into some people that tried and loved his beer. Chris Squires of 1055 said he ran into people in Washington D.C. that knew of the brewery and had enjoyed the product. These are a few examples of the world getting smaller and the craft beer industry getting bigger. Not everyone is looking to start a monster brewery and distribution network, nor is interested in starting a microbrewery and gastropub. There is plenty of room for everyone who is passionate about making beer and finding a way to get that beer into the glasses of people who are also passionate about beer.
Chris Squires and JP Vyborny of 1055 Brewing.
PHOTO BY DARREN CONNER
When you have all the ingredients come together in the right combinations and balance, you end up with a great beer. The same thing is true when it comes to a great beer destination. A place that has great beer and a great feel are key elements. The breweries that have a cool vibe or the right energy are what makes people want to go there, hang out and drink beer. Tucson is full of people that love craft beer and are willing to help anybody discover a quality beer and have a great time. If you come to Tucson looking for those things, it won’t take you long to find them.
Tap and Bottle’s Katy Gierlach loves to serve.
PHOTO BY DARREN CONNER
OTHER TUCSON NOTABLES:
Green Feet Brewing
Sentinel Peak Brewing
Fine Beer Bars & Restaurants
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar
Total Wine & More
Read the full article at http://swbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Old+Pueblo+Becoming+Bold+Pueblo/2709564/383281/article.html.
Think Local,Drink Local
Bev Blackwood II
Tristan White, co-founder and brewery manager of Dragoon Brewing wasn’t thinking small when he got together with co-founders Bruce Greene and his son Eric Greene to discuss their plans. “I love Tucson and I wanted to make Tucson into a beer town,” White recalls, so he asked Eric Greene, “‘What would it take to put Tucson [on the map] as a beer town?’ and he [Greene] said it would take one really good, large, production brewery.” That set the expectation for the company. “Essentially the goal was to become Tucson’s beer,” states White. Fast forward half a decade and Dragoon Brewing Company has rapidly risen through the ranks of Tucson’s growing brewing scene. “When we decided to open a brewery, there were three breweries: Nimbus, Thunder Canyon and Barrio,” White remembers, “and Barrio wasn’t doing a lot of business off their premise [sic], so they were still mostly a brewpub.” He continues, “After we decided that, we started working toward it, Borderlands opened up, and 1702 got their brewing license, so we were the sixth brewery in Tucson and since then, there’s eight more, nine more?”
That Personal Touch
Dragoon Brewing Company debuted in April of 2012 with a focus on distributing its beer into the local market. At the time, it had only two year-round beers: Dragoon IPA, and Stronghold Session Ale, a 4.8% American mild ale, which it self-distributed to Tucson accounts. White believes that personal touch, the relationship with accounts in their market, was one key to their success. “We did change the [Tucson] landscape a little bit because we did the production model and self-distributed.” The defunct Rio Salado Brewing in Tempe had grown to nearly 2,000 barrels following that same model, but closed in 2005. That didn’t deter Dragoon. “Being able to tell your story all of the time by yourself is really important,” White relates. And having frequent contact with the accounts they serviced solidified the business relationship that continues today. The same was true in building a community among the breweries. “When we were self-distributing, we traded cleaning lines with Pueblo Vida and 1055 because all three of us were self-distributing.” Even so, Tucson isn’t all about the new guys White acknowledges, “I look at Barrio and Thunder Canyon and Four Peaks and think ‘Thank you guys for paving the way for us’ because they developed the market to even allow us to have an IPA.”
Bartender Liam Holdsworth pours a pint at the Dragoon Brewing Company’s taproom.
PHOTO BY BEV BLACKWOOD II
Dragoon has nearly doubled its production every year, which means the brewery’s growth put an end to its self-distribution in 2015, as it approached a 3,000-barrel production limit mandated by state law. Indeed, growth has been the brewery’s boon and its bane, as keeping up with demand has always been a challenge. Roughly 90% of its production goes into the flagship Dragoon IPA, a West Coast-style India pale ale, which was its first canned product in late 2015. Stronghold Session Ale became the second when it debuted in cans on December 21 last year. “With the IPA taking off as much as it is, finding tank space [for] expansion is really difficult,” notes White. To keep up with the growth, the brewery recently put a down payment on a 30-barrel, four-vessel brewhouse and associated tankage, which should arrive in 2017. This will enable Dragoon’s distribution to extend into Flagstaff during 2017. However, if you’re looking for the beer outside of Arizona, you’re in for a wait. “We don’t really want to go out-of- state if we don’t have to, it’s a big headache,” says White, and he sees a lot of room for growth locally. “I’ve heard estimates that in Arizona craft beer is under five percent [of total beer sales]” while the national figure is closer to 13.
Tapping into Variety
A visit to the taproom demonstrates that Dragoon is not just its IPA. There are a lot of choices on the taproom’s beer menu, including barrel-aged beers and a wide range of styles. Three seasonals rotate through: Half moon dunkel weisse, Ojo Blanco witbier and Saison Blue, which all make use of local ingredients. The remainder of the taps tend to be one-off brews, some of which are designed or requested by employees upon the celebration of their first anniversary with the brewery. The taproom offers growlers and crowlers to go, and beer by the glass, or in flights in a high-ceilinged room overlooked by tanks and barrel storage. Sitting at the bar, you quickly note that the bartenders know many of the people buying the beer by name. “There’s actually a group of people on the west side of Tucson that didn’t really have a lot of options before and so we got a lot of local people that are now very much regulars,” White observes. “We don’t have food, we don’t have Tvs, we don’t have even regular tours. It was really shocking that we got that kind of regular focus. I’m kind of surprised when I walk through and I see people [who’ve] never been in Tucson before and they’ve got two flights of beer and I’m always surprised when I see that, but then I remember that’s most people’s experience in a brewery.” he laughs.
Dragoon Brewing Company’s taproom provides plenty of space for regulars and guests to enjoy a beer in Tucson, Ariz.
PHOTO BY BEV BLACKWOOD II
Dragoon Brewing Company sells growlers, crowlers and cans to go from its taproom.
PHOTO BY BEV BLACKWOOD II
That desire to be a part of Tucson’s fabric, its community both civic and brewing, is something that drives Dragoon forward. On a recent company camping trip to the brewery’s namesake, Dragoon Mountains, southeast of Tucson, the employees invited other Tucson brewery employees to join them for some rock climbing. White comments, “One of the Pueblo Vida brewers, or maybe it was the owner, Kyle, said that Tucson is a city that you get out what you put in. People come for school or to visit and they don’t take the time to go out of their way to see what’s going on. If you put a lot into the city, you get a lot out and you find really beautiful things. Crossed Arrows are a symbol of friendship and we think beer is supposed to be enjoyed with friends and family.” With Dragoon’s distinctive logo popping up in more bars and on shelves across the state, it’s clear that they’ve made a lot of friends while making Tucson’s beer.
Read the full article at http://swbnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Think+Local%2CDrink+Local/2709581/383281/article.html.