Sorry Thrillist. You’ve Got Arizona’s beer all wrong

America has become obsessed with lists. Look online and you will find a list for everything. Even The Brewmance created a list, ranking our favorite road snacks (Sour Patch Kids!).

Sometimes lists are fun. Sometimes they are cute. Sometimes they are filled with problems like Thrillist’s list titled, Best Beer States. What’s the problem you ask? Arizona ranks 38th out of 50.

Wait, what?

Arizona, home of The Brewmance and many, many fine breweries is the 38th best beer state? Come on, man!

Here’s why Thrillist thinks the Copper State near the bottom of the brew barrel:

Arizona’s beer scene has been steadily rising, and it makes sense, considering the heat’s so hot that all the $1 iced tea in the world can’t quench the average thirst. Tempe’s Four Peaks still reigns supreme, but it’s found great company in the likes of Huss, SanTan, Arizona Wilderness, and more than 70 others.

Ok, we get it. Thrillist sold out for the easy “Arizona Heat’ joke. Most people from outside of this great state land at Sky Harbor Airport and expect to see tumbleweeds, Tombstone, Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. Phoenix is the 6th most populated city in the nation and for great reason, it’s awesome here.

Come to think of it, maybe the heat is the key to the Arizona breweries success. Brewers presumably would rather spend time near their brew tanks and storage refrigerators making liquid gold rather than being outside in heat hot enough to melt the sun.

We kid. Sorta. #StayIndoors

To their credit, the authors of this Thrillist list admit their rankings are meant to be debated.  So, here’s our humble(ish) retort. 

Start by moving Arizona WAY up the list.

The Brewmance has spend countless hours in the field researching, trying different beers from Arizona and many different states. All of this ‘research’ has led us to a simple truth: Arizona beers are some of the best (and most underappreciated) in the good ole’ drinking U.S.A.

Brewers across AZ may never get the accolades of those in Oregon or Michigan, as they will remain the critics favorite, but here in Arizona there are as many styles of craft beers as there are variations in our climate. Not all of Arizona melts pavement in the summer.

At almost 7,000 feet elevation, Flagstaff is like New England in the winters. Flag is also home to an amazing brew scene. It’s tight knit, like the city itself.

Dark Sky Brewing brewed 100 different recipes in their first year alone as they continue to experiment with everything from blonde stouts to beers brewed with yams. Their current beer count is close to 400.

Dark Sky’s tap list on Jan. 15, 2019

Also in Flag, you’ll find one of the best IPAs in the country in Mother Road‘s Tower Station. Check out The Brewmance’s Tower Station review below.

Rob and Mike review Mother Road Brewing’s Tower Station IPA

Wandelust and Historic are also receiving praise for their brews in Arizona’s High Country.

How about IPAs? Overall, AZ’s IPA game rivals any other state’s. We here at The Brewmance admit we are partial to the hoppy goodness of the India Pale Ale. So we know what we are talking about.

In Phoenix alone there are several amazing brews for hop heads. Try Helton Brewing‘s NE IPA and their Black IPA, Wren House‘s numerous offerings, AZ Wilderness‘ Refuge or San Tan‘s Moon Juice.

In Southern Arizona, there’s Dragoon‘s IPA, 1912’s Brewing‘s Random Voices series and Thunder Canyon‘s Sky Island IPA.

Need more variety?  OHSO is making beers that run the gamut from light beers to heavy stouts and porters.  All three of The Brewmance’s charity beers were brewed there. Shout out to brewer Matt Flanagan.

Craft beer drinkers get so excited about Tombstone Brewing‘s beers they post pictures in Facebook beer groups almost daily making the rest of us jealous.

Oh there’s more. How about Boderlands and Barrio and Sentinel Peak?

Need a cool atmosphere while you drink? Pedal House in Tempe or The Perch in Chandler have plenty of that.  

The Perch, Chandler, AZ

8-Bit Aleworks sticks with a video game theme. The Avondale brewery is powered up with great beers and old Nintendo consoles to play throw-back games while you drink.

Mike Tyson’s Punch Out at 8-Bit Aleworks.

Maybe Thrillist forgot to check into Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal winners, Saddle Mountain Brewing. Their Clan-Destine took top honors in 2017. McFate won a gold at the same festival. Four Peaks and OHSO were awarded bronze medals.

Goldwater Brewing stores their barrel-aged beers in their basement, which is an old gun range. Their Hop Chowda IPA also happens to be one of the best beers in Arizona.

Additionally, The Beer Research Institute is just fun. It’s a combination brewery/mad science lab filled with awesome people.

And yet still, those are just the tip of the Arizona craft beer iceberg. New breweries are opening up all the time. New styles are being offered at places like Helio Basin, Uncle Bear’s, Scottsdale Beer Company and Dubina Brewing to name a few.

It’s not just Arizona’s most populated spots offering great brews. Rickety Cricket Brewing is getting the old mining city of Kingman noticed for their beers. Lake Havasu has a solid brew scene as well.

Point is, there are so many fantastic craft breweries across Arizona we can’t possibly detail all of them here (no disrespect). But, The Brewmance is on a mission to try them all (for a full list of Arizona breweries visit the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild website here).

AZ brewers stay true to the character of the state and just like Arizona’s statehood, its craft beer game didn’t happen overnight. Prescott Brewing, Sonoran Brewing, Oak Creek and Four Peaks got things pouring through taps in Arizona in the 90s. Over the past few years the craft beer community in Arizona has exploded and the competition has become fierce (and more delicious by the day). Local juggernauts San Tan Brewing and Huss Brewing have exploded in growth over the past couple of years alone.

This fierce competition is uniquely supportive and collaborative. It’s because AZ brewers are some of the smartest in the field. Talk to Brian at Helton or Doc at Pedal Haus about beer. They, and so many other Arizona brewers, have earned their expert badge and are sharing their knowledge with each other and up and coming brewers. These entrepreneurs live and breathe hops, malts and yeast. And they are gifting Arizona with incredible beer and for it, The Brewmance is grateful.

We are craft beer fans who encourage others to drink local. And we just want Arizona to get the proper credit for brewing variety, quality and innovation. We love it here and call it home. While the rest of the country, Thrillist included, continues to sleep on State 48 (which is also a great brewery), we will continue our #NoFakeBrews mission. A mission inviting everyone else to join us at the these amazing Arizona breweries, pints full, and tasting what all of this desert and high country magic is about.


Please Subscribe to The Brewmance YouTube Channel for all the latest (and see the older) craft beer reviews and adventures from AZ and beyond. Catch our #NoFakeBrews podcast here or on iTunes or Google. We are also on Facebook and Instagram.

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