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.
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. Their mobile Grub Shack trailer doles out baskets of beer-battered fish ‘n’ chips that patrons can enjoy at picnic tables outside or in the cavernous taproom.
As its name would suggest, Carefree is a laid-back town, with a sense of humor to boot. Look out for quirky street signs (Ho Hum Road and Nonchalant Avenue) and keep in mind the town’s motto (“home of the cowboys and caviar”). Phoenix lies about 30 miles to the south, and the Continental Mountains rise just to the north and create a nice backdrop opposite the Black Mountain range. There are a handful of hiking trails in the area, but for those who prefer the comforts of saddle, you can rent a bike from the hotel or sign up of for a guided horseback ride through the desert. Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.
Although tumbleweeds don't breeze down its street and there's no hitching post on which to secure your horse, Brix Wine Spot swaps the valley for the Old West while helping visitors earn their sommelier spurs. A 20-foot copper bar corrals patrons as they stampede through the door, surrounding them with country tunes and over 500 of the bar's vintages.
Weekly tastings introduce palates to new bouquets, and every day a minimum of 18 wines are available by the glass, each served at an optimal temperature and right after naptime to ensure cooperation. When stomachs begin to rumble, guests can snack on artisan cheeses, salami platters, and handcrafted cheesecakes, or even bring in their own food—a practice Brix encourages as long as a glass of one of their wines is incorporated.
Grapes don't usually grow in the desert's dry heat, but the owners of Oak Creek Vineyard and Winery found a way. They nourish vines of syrah, merlot, zinfandel, and chardonnay grapes with pure water from an aquifer 425 feet beneath the earth's surface. Moisture isn't everything, though; western Arizona's brilliant sunlight helps the grapes to develop ideal sugar content. The combination of warm days and chilly nights further brings flavor to life beneath the grapes' dusk-purple skins.
White curtains swirl around the outdoor patio of an adobe tasting room, where visitors pair sips of wine with meats and cheeses. A jaunt through the grounds reveals views of flowering cacti and tumbleweeds wearing pearls on the sun-browned hills.
Though Casavino Custom Winery carries up to 40 of its own wines at any given time—including blackberry, shiraz, and white-chocolate port—its main attraction is giving patrons the ability to make their own. During the winemaking experience, visitors sample the winery's many vintages, then decide which variety they'd like to ferment under the guidance of an expert winemaker. Budding sommeliers even create their own label design with help from an in-house graphic artist. The experience culminates in a group tasting for family, friends, and wine glasses over the age of 21, an event which occurs in a tasting room lined with barrels and jugs of busily fermenting wine.