Craft Beer Scene in Flagstaff, Arizona
In between the mountains, desert and forests of Arizona is the bubbling craft-brewing scene of Flagstaff. Many of the breweries are within walking distance, so the competition is fierce and the people are proud of their beers.
By Haley Kieser on Aug. 11, 2017
Beers from Flagstaff breweries have won awards in the Great American Beer Fest, one of the top competitions for brewing in the United States. For those planning a beer-tasting trip, there are many options for things to do in Flagstaff as well.
Try a beer while watching how it’s made at Lumberyard Brewing Co. This brewery was launched in 1994 after owner’s Winnie and Evan Hanseth decided to quit their day job and pursue their passions. Now they produce award-winning flavors in one of the last remaining buildings from Flagstaff’s lumber era. One beer to try is Humphrey’s Hefe, a German style wheat beer. The Hefe was a gold medalist at the Great American Beer Festival in 2007. Another beer to try is their Railhead Red, another gold medalist in the special bitter category.
A few steps away from Lumberyard is their sister brewery Beaver Street. The location is known for the wood-fired pizzas and the dog-friendly patio. Their on-site brewer makes their ales and lagers right behind the bar and their beer garden has great views of the San Francisco Peaks. For those that enjoy a darker beer, they serve an award-winning R&R Stout. This beer has chocolate and oatmeal flavors, and it was a gold medalist at the Great American Beer Festival in 2015.
Located in a more low-key destination is Historic Brewing Company. Sherrill Kennelly and her two children, Carole and Johnny, launched this business in 2013. Carole is known for creating the names of the brews and Johnny is the master beer taster who approves the flavors. Historic Brewing features 15 handles on tap, and it serves growlers and flights. The company has also expanded to locations in Williams and Sedona. Historic made their mark last year when they became the only Arizona brewery represented to receive an award from the Great American Beer Festival. The beer recognized was their Avant Chard, a chardonnay barrel-aged Berliner Weisse.
Mother Road Brewing Co. plucked their name straight from “Grapes of Wrath,” where author John Steinbeck gives the name to U.S. Highway 66. This location lives by their motto of “finding joy in the adventure.” Owners Michael and Alissa Marquess started the brewery in 2011, and they eventually had so much demand that they struggled to keep their beers on the shelves at bars and restaurants. Some of their notable varieties include the Lost Highway IPA and the Kolsch Style Ale.
Flagstaff has several restaurants that also have an impressive craft beer selection. For starters, there is the Gopher Hole Pub in the basement of the Weatherford Hotel. This location made a name for itself in post-Prohibition Flagstaff and still retains its original rock walls. Flagstaff Business News describes this bar as a “beautifully restored rustic space” that still pays homage to its past. This bar serves many local craft beers and is a cozy place to warm up during the winter months with its real wood fireplace.
Another place to try a variety of Flagstaff brews is Hops on Birch. There is a more laid-back atmosphere here, with frequent live band performances. The bar describes itself as the city’s original dog-friendly craft beer destination. It has an impressive 34 rotating taps, including several options from the local Wanderlust Brewing Co.
For everything all-Arizona, try The State Bar located on the historic Route 66. This location has 30 beers on tap, and it serves wine, cider and mead. The bar opened in 2014, but the building’s ceiling dates back 132 years. Come for the beer, but stay for the live music and local artwork. The bar also hosts classes, including the Wanderlust Brewing beer school and how to save local bees.
There are a few local stores that sell Flagstaff craft beers. The first is McGaughs located on South San Francisco Street. Here you can mix and match a six-pack of beer and refill growlers. The store also sells resealable aluminum can growlers and crowlers. Their knowledgeable staff is great to ask for questions about a specific beer or suggestions on something new to try.
Another popular craft beer store is the Pay ‘N’ Take on West Aspen Avenue. With a wall full of craft beers, this store has plenty to choose from. While you can get beer to go, the store’s downtown market makes a great environment for sipping a bottle slowly. There are also food options and a friendly staff to help answer any questions. With their laid-back atmosphere, Pay ‘N’ Trade makes for a great place to get a feel for the local scene in Flagstaff.
If you align your trip to Flagstaff with Arizona Beer Week, you’ll get an exclusive taste of what Flagstaff craft beer is all about. For the past two years, every brewery in Flagstaff has come together to create a brew for Arizona Beer Week. The magical and all mysterious brew is released at each brewery and served at the event dinner.
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