I thought it might be nice to show a different side of the process today. I’m getting ready to take a trip to Phoenix, AZ and that means that I have to do some prep work to figure out which breweries I want to try to get to while I’m there. Here’s what I do.
Step 1: Get a list of breweries in the area from BeerAdvocate. There are 33 breweries listed on this page. Definitely have to start culling down. If you look close, 2 of these breweries are Gordon Biersch and one is a BJ’s Brewhouse. Nothing against these places, but they are national chains and I can visit them anywhere. They get culled down right away.
Step 2: Go to the website of each of the breweries on this page. Check out the beer selection and try to cull out places that don’t look like they are either closed or not open yet. In this case, the very first brewery on the list (Cartel Brewery) comes up with a dead website and is listed as permanently closed on Google Maps. Better to find this stuff out ahead of time.
Step 3: How does the place come off based on their website? Do they have a good beer selection? Do they look like they might have some interesting twist that would make them good to talk about on the blog? When you look at 30 or so brewery websites, it can get extremely repetitive. Even I can lose interest after a while. So, I try to find distinguishing things like odd beer styles or something that makes the brewery stand out. In this case, there were two notables. The first is The Perch Brewery. On the down side, I can’t find any information whatsoever on their website about their beer. Not a good sign. But they have a collection of tropical birds that I’m sure will make for an interesting blog post. So they will sit high on the list. The second place that stands out is Helton Brewing. First, they have a 1 year anniversary party on a night that I will be in Phoenix. That’s a good sign. Second, they have a really interesting video on their site that tells me they have a fantastic sense of humor.
Step 4: Does each place serve food? This is a way for me to sneak in extra brewery trips (or sometimes any brewery trip at all) when I’m on travel. I tend to travel with other people. If I have a list of breweries that also serve food, I can suggest them when the group is looking to go to dinner. For this trip, I am traveling alone. But I’m attending a conference and sometimes a group at the conference will want to go to dinner. Same trick applies. Not having food doesn’t take a brewery off the list or count in the rack and stack phase. It’s just something that I can reference when I need to find a place fast that has food.
Step 5: How far is the brewery from the hotel? If I’m stuck on a trip without a rental car, this step is critical as I’ll only be able to hit the breweries super close. However, I will have a car for this trip. So, it’s more of a lower key decision maker. Do I want to drive 20 minutes to get to brewery A or 15 minutes to get to brewery B? In other words, does brewery A looks so much better than brewery B that I’m willing to drive more.
Step 6: Double check Google Maps. BeerAdvocate is a good site. But, they aren’t perfect. Often going to the general area where the hotel is in Google Maps and simply typing in “brewery” will show a few additional breweries that I would otherwise have missed. I still have to be careful here as I can still find places that don’t look open yet, such as Grand Avenue Brewing Company.
Step 7: Get advice. In the case of Phoenix, I know a good number of people there and can have them chime in on the list that I’ve made. They may have insider information that I’m not aware of.
Step 8: Rack and stack. Time to go through my list and prioritize. I don’t like to take anything off the list at this point. Just put them in some sort of order. This way if I’m (for example) hanging out with people in Scottsdale or Tempe, I can look at what is close by and see what I have on the place in my handy dandy list.
So, what does the actual list look like for Phoenix? Why, it looks much like this at the moment:
Pearch Brewery – 232 S Wall St, Chandler, AZ 85225
26 minutes from hotel – Have food – Have tropical rescue birds! – Interesting styles such as cinnamon honey nut brown and grilled lemon cream ale
Mon-Fri 11am -1am Sat-Sun 9am-1am
Helton Brewing – 2144 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016
7 minutes from hotel – Have food – 1 year anniversary party May 20 – Funny beer fairy video on website – good selection of beer
Tue-Fri: 3pm-10pm, Sat: 12pm-11pm, Sun: 12pm-8pm, Mon: Closed
Sun Up Brewing Compnay – 330 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85014
10 minutes from hotel – Have food – Wide selection including interesting names like May The Schwartz Be With you and interesting styles like Barrel Aged Plum Barleywine
Sunday – Thursday 11:00 – 11:00, Friday – Saturday 11:00 – 12:00 midnight
Pedal Haus Brewery – 730 S Mill Ave #102, Tempe, AZ 85281
16 minutes from hotel – Have food – Really interesting beer selection including Japanese style rice lager
Mon-Thu: 11am – 11pm
, Fri-Sat: 11am – 1am, Sun: 11am – 10pm
Wren House Brewing – 2125 N 24th St, Phoenix, AZ 85008
6 minutes from hotel – No food, but allow deliveries – Historic building, “scour the earth for recipes”
Fri-Sat: 12pm-11pm, Sun: 12am-9pm, Mon: 4pm-9pm, Tue: 12pm-10pm
Beer Research Institute – 1641 S Stapley Dr, Mesa, AZ 85204
23 minutes from hotel – Have food – Interesting name, not sure it’s more than just a regular brewery
Fri-Sat: 11am-12am, Sun-Wed: 11am-10pm
Goldwater Brewing Co. – 3608 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
18 minutes from hotel – No food – Interesting looking, brewing equipment off to the side of the bar – good selection (have a scotch ale)
Fri – Sat: 12pm – 12am, Sun: 12pm – 8pm, Mon – Tue: 2pm – 10pm
North Mountain Brewing – 522 E Dunlap Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85020
22 minutes from hotel – Have food – Good selection of beer including belgians and scotttish ales
Fri-Sat: 11am-11pm, Sun: 11am-9pm, Mon-Wed: 3pm-10pm
Arizona Wilderness Brewing – 721 N Arizona Ave, Gilbert, AZ 85233
21 minutes from hotel – Have food – Wide range of styles – Hard to tell anything else from website
MON-THURS: 11AM-11PM, FRI-SAT: 11AM-1AM, SUN: 11AM-10PM
Helio Basin Brewing Co. – 3935 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018
10 minutes from hotel – Have food – new brewery – featured in beeradvocate, but styles don’t range much
Tue – Thur: 3pm – 11pm, Fri- Sat: 11am – 11pm, Sun: 10am – 9pm, Mon: Closed
McFate Brewing – 1312 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85257
13 Minutes from hotel – Have food – Pretty sure I’ve been there before when they were Fate Brewing – Don’t have any growlers or bottles
Sun-Thurs 11am–10pm, Fri-Sat 11am–Midnight
Four Peaks (8th St) – 1340 E 8th St #104, Tempe, AZ 85281
15 minutes from hotel – Have food
Mon-Thurs : 11AM-Midnight, Fri : 11AM-2AM, Sat : 9AM-2AM, Sun : 9AM-Midnight
Huss Brewing Co. – 5042 N 2nd St, Phoenix, AZ 85012
14 minutes from hotel – apetizery food
Fri-Sat: 12pm-10pm, Sun: 12pm-8pm, Mon-Thur: 3pm-9pm
Mother Bunch Brewing – 825 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006
11 minutes from hotel – Have food – reasonable beer selection
Mon-Thurs: 11a – 10p · Fri: 11a – 12a · Sat: 10a – 12a · Sun: 10a – 10p
Papago Brewery – 7107 East McDowell Road, Scottsdale, Arizona 85257
18 minutes from hotel – Have food – Only 2 of their beers on tap, rest is other breweries
Sun-Thur: 12pm – 12am, Fri-Sat: 12pm-2am
Sleepy Dog Brewing – 1920 E University Dr # 104, Tempe, AZ 85281
15 minutes from hotel – Have food – OK beer selection – not a lot of info
Sun-Mon: Closed, Tue-Wed: 4 pm – 11 pm, Fri: 4 pm – 12 am, Sat: 2 pm – 12 am
The Phoenix Ale Brewery – 3002 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85034
8 minutes from hotel – Not sure if food or not (strange Central Kitchen link on website) – Only 4 beers (IPA, Pale, Hef, Watermelon)
Mon-Sat: 12pm-7pm, Sun: 12pm-6pm
Sonoran Brewing Company – 3002 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85034
8 minutes from hotel – no food – looks like only 2 beers – deliberately nearly no information about anything on their website (like hours of operation or anything useful)
Mon-Sat: 12pm-7pm, Sun: 12pm-6pm
Uncle Bear’s Brewery – web site not working, not sure if operational
17 minutes from hotel
Grand Avenue Brewing Co. – No information on hours of operation, only a nearly empty Facebook page. Think they are not open yet.