Beer hunting in the Valley of the Sun


The first time I went beer hunting in the Phoenix area was 2005, when I discovered that good beer was woefully rare in the Valley of the Sun. I mean, it was like a vast beerless wasteland; a vacuous black hole of beerlessness. That was a long time ago and things have changed, especially in recent years. Hope springs eternal and dozens of new breweries have emerged in the past two or three years alone.

Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.

To wayward beer travelers from places like Seattle, Portland, Denver or San Diego, good beer may still seem a bit scarce around Phoenix, but a little bit of work offers some great rewards. Whether you’re headed to Arizona for Mariners Spring Training, or just to escape the gloomy, grey skies of the Pacific Northwest, you will find good beer in the desert.

For the record, Arizona is now home to about 90 breweries operating at over 100 locations. The Arizona Craft Brewers Guild has a great website that can help you find AZ-brewed beer.

Here is just some of what we discovered on our recent visits to the Phoenix area.

State 48 Brewery – If you are headed south for Spring Training, you’ll likely opt to stay somewhere on the west end of the valley, probably in Peoria or Surprise. If you do, get familiar with State 48 Brewery right away. This large brewpub has solid beers and great food. It is five minutes from the ballpark in Surprise (home of the Rangers and the Royals), 15 minutes from the ballpark in Peoria (Mariners and Padres), and 20 minutes from Camelback Ranch (Dodgers and White Sox). We were very impressed by the Sound of Freedom IPA as well as the Hefeweizen.  Yes, really, the Hefeweizen was exceptional. Pizza, burgers, and other pub grub. All-ages welcome.

State 48 Brewing
13823 W Bell Rd
Surprise, Arizona 85374
(623) 584-1095

Pedal Haus Brewing –  Located in downtown Tempe, quite near Arizona State University, this brewery and pub has a sporty vibe with lots of TVs and outdoor games like corn hole. We adored the American Hoppy Lager, as well as the GABF medal-winning Light Lager. Location can be a bit tricky for your satellite navigation to pin down. It’s at a mall and the GPS will get you that far. Park in one of the two garages and find it on foot. Park in the Hanover garage and Pedal Haus will validate your parking. Salads, burgers, pizza, sandwiches, you know the deal: pub grub. All-ages welcome.

Pedal Haus Brewing
730 S Mill Ave, #102
Tempe, Arizona 85281
(480) 314-2337

Pedal Haus Brewing - Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.
Pedal Haus Brewing – Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.

Freak’N Brewing – This brewery, located in a light-industrial complex, will remind Northwesterners of home. It’s not a big, fancy, glitzy brewpub. Nope. It’s just a good-old brewery with a cozy little tasting room that at times is packed to the rafters. No food, save for some basic bar snacks (pretzels), but you are welcome to bring in your own food and sometimes there’s a food truck parked outside. Very friendly, family-operated place with really good beer. Only open Thursday through Sunday. All-ages welcome, but not a lot to entertain the kiddos at this place.

Freak’N Brewing
9299 W Olive Avenue, Suite 513
Peoria, Arizona 85345
(623) 738-5804

Freak'N Brewing. Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.
Freak’N Brewing. Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.

Arizona Wilderness Brewing –  If I had to pick a favorite, this would probably be it. Not just because the beers are excellent, but because the atmosphere at this spacious brewpub is fantastic and the food is amazing. The menu even shares information about where the kitchen sourced your meal’s ingredients. And then there’s the beer! Creative, imaginative, Belgian-style, and various forms of wild ales are served alongside more traditional beers like IPAs and Pales. The Blood Orange Gose blew our minds. When we were there, they were serving a collaboration beer brewed with Mikkeller Brewing. Serious stuff. AZ Wilderness is a must-visit for any hardcore beer geek. All-ages welcome.

Arizona Wilderness Brewing
721 N Arizona Ave, Ste 103
Gilbert, Arizona 85233
(480) 497-2739

Arizona Wilderness Brewing. Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.
Arizona Wilderness Brewing. Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.

Wren House Brewing – This small-batch brewery and beer-only taproom is located on a main drag in a slightly downtrodden part of town, but don’t let that deter you. Wren House Brewing occupies a “wrenovated” house that now serves as a destination for the area’s beer geeks. On a recent visit, we found the beer menu leaning heavily towards IPAs, with two triple IPAs and one double IPA alongside a regular, west coast IPA (Wrenovation IPA). We dug the Kolsch, too. Some of the best beer in the valley for sure.

Wren House Brewing
2125 N 24th St
Phoenix, Arizona 85008
(602) 244-9184

Mother Bunch Brewing – I’ve been told that downtown Phoenix has been undergoing a renovation in recent years. Mother Bunch Brewing is part of that resurrection. Located in the city’s Roosevelt Row arts district in a cool, old brick building on 7th Street, this brewpub serves up an array of its own house-made brews along with a food menu heavy on eclectic burgers and sandwiches, along with decadent appetizers like house-made pork rinds and bacon-fat popcorn. As for the beer, we were refreshed by the Golden Ticket, a New England-style Pale Ale, and we were nourished by the Oatmeal Chocolate Milk Stout served on nitro.

Mother Bunch Brewing
825 N 7th St
Phoenix, Arizona 85006
(602) 368-3580

Mother Bunch Brewing. Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.
Mother Bunch Brewing. Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.

The Perch Pub and Brewery – We are including this one only because we’ve never seen anything quite like it. In all honesty, we were not overly impressed by the beers, but we loved the birds. Yes, birds. In addition to a brewpub, Perch Pub and Brewery is a bird sanctuary—a home for rescued exotic birds. As you drink your beers, you are surrounded by squawking cockatiels, parrots, macaws, and so on. What’s more, because these birds are housed in outdoor pens that surround the beer garden, there is plenty of opportunities for the neighborhood’s birds to stop by or a free meal and a drink of water. It’s a bird nerd’s paradise and a very fun place to drink a beer, even if that beer doesn’t knock your socks off.

The Perch Pub and Brewery
232 S Wall St
Chandler, Arizona 85225
(480) 773-7688

Perch Pub and Brewery. Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.
The Perch Pub and Brewery. Photos by Kim Sharpe Jones.

One comment

  1. Having moved to Arizona in 2005, I find this article to be spot on. The craft beer scene is finally exploding and we are getting some great pubs. It’s no longer a beer desert.

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