Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
Arizona was late to the craft beer scene, but is now home to a bustling craft brewing community with local breweries medaling in world class competitions regularly. For people looking to dip their toes into the desert’s craft beer, or those just looking to try a new watering hole, here are four breweries worth visiting in the Grand Canyon State.
First is Dragoon Brewing Company in Tucson, Arizona. Dragoon is barely a decade old, young for breweries, but their mastery of the IPA style beer made them a hit right from the start. The brewery was founded in 2011 by Bruce Greene, his son Eric Greene, and Tristan White. In 2012 they opened with just two beers on tap: Dragoon IPA and Stronghold Session Ale. The same year, Dragoon IPA won “Best overall beer” at “Born and Brewed: Tucson’s Beer Cup,” then won it again in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, Dragoon IPA won the “Judge’s Best Flagship” award at the Tuscon Beer Cup, and in 2016 Food and Wine named the Dragoon IPA the best IPA in Arizona, listing it in the top 50 IPAs in the country. Their tap list has expanded since 2012, but Dragoon IPA is still what they are best known for.
If IPAs are not your style, then Historic Barrel + Bottle House in Flagstaff, Arizona could be worth a visit. Another young company, Historic began brewing in 2013, and has recently started winning awards for their fruit beer. Their Salt River Lager won gold for American-style fruit beer at the Great American Beer Festival in 2019. The Salt River Lager also won gold this year for the same category in the inaugural Arizona Craft Beer Awards, cementing it as a consistent contender for fruit beer competitions.
Next up is one of the most decorated breweries in Arizona, Four Peaks Brewing Company in Tempe, Arizona. They describe their Kilt Lifter Beer as the “number one locally made beer in Arizona,” adding that it makes up 60 percent of what the company brews each year. It has won seven awards across the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup, more medals than many breweries have in total. All together, Four Peaks has medaled 25 times at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. Check out their Hop Knot and Hopsquatch beers, each of which also has multiple medals at both of these competitions.
The final brewery on this list is the Outrageous Homebrewer’s Social Outpost, or OHSO for short. OHSO is a restaurant, nano-brewery, distillery, and dog-friendly social spot with locations in Arcadia, North Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, and Gilbert, Arizona. OHSO is on a bit of a hot streak in the craft beer scene, having won awards at the 2019 and 2021 Great American Beer Festival and at the 2018 and 2022 World Beer Cup. They only missed the podium in 2020, though the World Beer Cup was canceled that year due to COVID-19. Surprisingly, their five medals are for five different beers and in five different categories, potentially signaling that OHSO is a brewery that emphasizes experimentation rather than specialization.