Living in San Diego, I decided to take a road trip to Phoenix for New Years Eve and New Year Day at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016. We rented a car and drove through Alpine out past El Centro, and stopped by Yuma on the way for Prison Hill Brewing before crashing in Phoenix and hitting four breweries the first day, Papago, Fate, Goldwater, and Huss. We then hit 2 more breweries on the following day, Arizona Wilderness and Beer Research Institute. At each brewery I found something interesting that I appreciated or found to be impressive. This first part of the tour will cover the first four breweries while the second part will cover the last three. I had the most tasters at Arizona Wilderness so it fits that they fall into part 2.
Prison Hill Brewing Yuma Arizona
Prison Hill Brewing was a place we stopped mostly because we needed somewhere to eat on the long drive from San Diego to Phoenix. We left San Diego around 3 and so if we waited 5 hours or more until we got to Phoenix we would have eaten at 8 or later, so we stopped by Prison Hill for dinner and beer. Prison Hill is a brewpub so I had a few tasters while I was there plus we both had dinner. I had four tasters, the Oatmeal pale ale, pumpkin chocolate brown, IPA and Double IPA. The Oatmeal pale was smooth with a nutty malt backbone and mellow hops that balanced nicely. It was quite tasty and worthy of ordering a pint. The pumpkin chocolate brown was smooth and spice forward with more pumpkin spice than chocolate with some hints of caramel malts on the back. The chocolate is quite subtle here and mostly on the bitter side. This is a beer for those who like a lot of spice.
The IPA had aromas of fresh guava on the nose and that was mostly what I tasted as well in the taster. It is a sweet and sticky IPA with other fruit flavors that come through at the end. I ended up ordering a pint of this one and I quite enjoyed it until the end. The double IPA was boozy and sweet with tropical fruit notes towards the end. It wasn’t too bitter and was nicely balanced. Though I found the boozy notes to be a little much, it was still a quite solid double and it could have been a lot worse. Food wise, I really enjoyed their burger and my husband enjoyed his blackened salmon. Both were done properly. It is a nice little place to stop on your way to Phoenix or back to San Diego. Prison Hill also has a full bar available and plenty of bottles available for those who don’t like craft beer.
Top 2 at Prison Hill:
Papago Brewing Scottsdale Arizona
Papago brewing is a brewpub in Scottsdale that serves a few house beers, brewed by Huss (see part 2) and has a decent selection of guest beers and a solid lineup of bottles from all over. Word from the locals is that they started out as one of those bars serving mostly imported beers. When I visited I tried the four house beers, the Coconut Joe, Orange Blossom, IPA, and Oude Zuipers, a Belgian strong ale.
The Coconut Joe is a coconut coffee stout with a light body and a nice mix of mild nutty coffee flavors and stronger coconut. It reminded me of Death by Coconut from Oskar Blues though I don’t know that I would drink a full pint of either. The Orange Blossom is a Mandarina Wheat with vanilla added, and seemed to be a crowd favorite when I visited. It was quite crisp and light with vanilla and orange flavors that balanced nicely with a sweet but not too sweet beer. I could certainly see myself ordering a larger pour of this.
The IPA was very citrus forward and seemed to be a clone of Stone IPA with a strong bitterness and fruity aftertaste. The Oude Zuipers Belgian strong was intensely fruityi and quite sweet with flavors of fresh apple and a nice effervescent carbonation. It hid the high alcohol quite well and I may have gotten a growler fill of it if I had brought along any 32oz growlers. Papago has a solid lineup of both house and guest beers and is worth a visit. I wouldn’t have hit Goldwater Brewing if I hadn’t been suggested by a few guys in the bar.
Top 2 from Papago:
Oude Zuipers Belgian Strong
Fate Brewing Scottsdale Arizona
Next up is Fate Brewing. They have a new restaurant location called Fate Brewing South and a tasting room location at Fate Brewing North that was closed the day I visited. The restaurant has a lot of seating and a good number of seats at the bar. Besides their house beers they have a full bar and a number of guest beers available though it seemed like most people were there for their house beers. I had a flight of six tasters and mostly found their beers to be quite well done. The flight included a single-hop simcoe sour, English pale ale, SPA2.0, American style Pale Ale, brown ale, and export stout.
The single hop sour is light and refreshing and mildly tart with a light hop kick. The beer is mildly bitter like grapefruit with some good fruity flavors, a solid sour. The English Pale is surprisingly light color for the style and had some nice crisp tropical fruit flavors mixed with earthy hops. This was one of the highlights for me. The SPA2.0 was super delicious 5.5% pale bursting with hop flavors, low on bitterness and finishing nicely with grapefruit. I was going to fill a growler of this but the brewery said they decided not to fill outside growlers. I brought 4 San Diego growlers with me to fill along this trip and ended up filling 3 elsewhere.
The American Pale Ale was peach forward in flavor and more malt balanced than the previous two pales. It was also a bit more bitter. I didn’t like this one as much but it was still quite well done. The brown was super smooth thanks to oatmeal added and was nice and thick with plenty of roasted malt flavors. I could have almost mistaken this for a stout. The export stout was nice and lightly smoky with some bitter chocolate finish and a fairly light body. I would have preferred it a little more sweet and thick but it was well done.
Top 2 from Fate:
Goldwater Brewing Company
After Fate my husband drove me to my next stop, Goldwater Brewing, not too far away. He went to do a few other things while I enjoyed the beers there. Goldwater is a proper tasting room not offering food or guest beers. It has a nice laid back atmosphere and I really enjoyed chatting with the people I met there. I tried 5 tasters there, the Desert Rose cactus ale, Dynamite Pale, Birthday Suit IPA, What a Day IPA, and Brutus Imperial Stout.
The Desert Rose is a delightful pink-colored beer slightly sweet with a very mild tartness. You can taste the cactus fruit. I ended up filling a growler of this beer and everyone back home loved it too. The Dynamite Pale is a balanced pale ale bursting with melon and passionfruit. The beer is balanced nicely with some smooth oatmeal with the malts and it finishes with a solid bitterness. The Birthday Suit IPA is poured fresh from the tanks, a quite tasty fruity IPA with notes of pineapple with a nice dank finish and medium bitterness. I also filled a growler of this one to take home. It was quite nice two days later, though a little more dank.
The What a Day IPA was more balanced and pine forward than the Birthday Suit. It was slightly sweet and tasted like it had similar malts to the Dynamite pale. Those who like the West Coast style of IPAs will likely prefer the delicious Birthday Suit. The Brutus Imperial Stout is a super thick and smooth imperial stout with light caramel and chocolate flavors that balance nicely. It was quite impressive. One thing to note is that aside from filling outside growlers Goldwater Brewing also has a Crowler machine so they can offer you beer to go in a large 32oz can if you prefer.
Top 2 from Goldwater:
Birthday Suit IPA
In the second part of the Arizona Breweries list I will discuss Huss brewing, Arizona Wilderness, and Beer Research Experiment.