Before it became a brewery, the space that now houses Four Peaks churned out ice cream. Built in 1892, the brick building began as Pacific Creamery, transformed into Bordens Creamery, and finally traded hands to a band of local beer enthusiasts. A few things haven't changed though––today, guests will still see the same wooden ceilings and glass clerestory,, and while there aren't any cows wandering around, there is a silo. That's where more than 45,000 pounds of two-row malted barley—the base of all Four Peaks’ brews—wait to be milled and infused with specialty malts in different colors and flavors, from black coffee to red candy. Brewers then transfer the milled grains, or “grist”, to a hopper, where a computer weighs and divvies out the appropriate amount for each batch of beer. The meticulous process results in some of Arizona’s favorite beers—at least according to reviews by Frommer’s and Local Eats. Which was exactly what its founders, a crew of beer lovers, wanted to achieve. Some of their award-winning “regular” beers include Arizona Peach—light and fruity, with a subtle peach scent—and Oatmeal Stout, a thick, heavy English-style brew traditionally eaten with a spoon. They also pour seasonal beers along with naturally carbonated cask ales that rotate every Wednesday. And since the kitchen and brewery are next-door neighbors, many dishes––Angus beef burgers, chicken enchiladas––pair seamlessly with the pours, while others––pub fish and chips, Oatmeal Stout-soaked tiramisu––have the brews baked right in.
Though a steady rain fell on the 2014 Great Arizona Beer Festival, the sun still shined on Sleepy Dog Brewery, which took home the event's People's Choice Award, beating out beer crafters from throughout the state. The popular support for their beers should come as no surprise to anyone who has visited their tasting room, where guests kick back and sip from a venerable selection of handcrafted brews, from the malty Red Rover Irish Ale to the hoppy Tail Chaser IPA. A casual vibe permeates the high-ceilinged pub, where guests are encouraged to play board games or build a palatial house of cards as a monument to their favorite draft.
Beneath the gaze of the numerous chimps painted on Nimbus American Bistro N' Brewery’s walls, the Tuscan-based brewery's craft beers mingle with gourmet versions of pub favorites. Chef Josh Tomczyk and his kitchen crew simmer fresh seafood and meats in beer-based sauces before transforming them into burgers, pasta dishes, and steaks. Their wood-fired oven bakes artisanal pizzas, pairing with specialty cocktails or pints of Nimbus pilsners, stouts, and ales. In the expansive dining room, warm lights and vibrant brewery-inspired murals dazzle eyes from the ceiling, and rows of tables and booths scatter the hardwood floors. A patio hosts outdoor dining, welcoming patrons to bring along their dogs or goldfish disguised as dogs. The restaurant hosts special events throughout the week, including pool tournaments on Tuesdays and live entertainment on Saturdays.
Papago Brewing Co.’s Orange Blossom Ale is a symphony of subtle flavors. Bright citrus powers the opening movement, which gives way to a surprisingly creamy mouthfeel laced with hints of vanilla. It’s no wonder that the light wheat ale is the brewery’s most popular, but the others are hardly slouches. Elsie’s Irish Coffee Milk Stout packs the delicate punch of a dark roast, and the Oude Zuipers—Flemish for “Old Drunk”—lives up to its name with a hefty 11% ABV. Such offbeat styles could only be crafted by people who love beer, and Papago’s founders certainly fit that description. They started the brewery as a modest bottle shop and brewing supply store, but their passion for the “craft” in craft beer led them to open a full-scale restaurant with more than 30 beers on draft. Among these are representatives from all over the world, including Germany, England, and Belgium. The focus, however, is definitely on American craft beer, and the brewery features six of its own varieties for drinking year-round. Pair a Coconut Joe coffee stout or a Hopago IPA with one of the restaurant’s signature hand-pressed pizzas, but don’t be surprised if you get more beer than you thought you ordered. Each pizza features a draft beer baked right into the crust, though the pint glasses are still large enough for dipping.
Old World Brewery ferments European-style brews with the occasional American twist ranging from light honey wheats to chocolaty dark porters. European malts give the crisp and light Nitro Blonde ale a semi-sweet taste and cryptic accent, and Columbus and Saaz hops characterize the floral essence and malty finish of the Four-Leaf Irish Red Ale.
The Czech Republic might be the best place to find a drinking buddy. After all, its residents consume more beer per capita than any other country. For those unable to book an international flight or compete in an intercontinental triathalon, Dubina Brewing Co. provides an excellent substitute for the central European country. The father-and-son team behind the brewery, Jared and Jim Dubina, focus on making brews inspired by their Czech ancestors. They craft a variety of traditional beers that include plenty of nods to their roots, such as the Zizkov k?lsch and the Havasu hefeweizen.