As far as some are concerned, it all started in the Northern California town of Sonoma in 1976. While Americans were gravitating toward lighter-flavored beers such as Lagers and drinking less of the robust styles from overseas, an industrious homebrew aficionado opened The New Albion Brewery; this was the genesis of the craft beer brewery.
Today there are more than 5,300 U.S. microbreweries fermenting everything from Ale to Zwickelbier. Arizona alone is home to more than 70 of these establishments which are helping to fill some of the commercial buildings in Phoenix that have long been left vacant.
My office is at 24th Street and Camelback, which puts me just outside of the Beermuda Triangle. I would be happy to get lost in this wondrous trigon that features The Wren House Brewing Company, Helton Brewing Company, and Helio Basin Brewing Company.
After Advanced Auto Service Tire Center closed its warehouse at 2144 E. Indian School Rd., Brian Helton renovated the space into 10,000 square feet of hop-and-barley goodness where great food is being served up complemented by craft beer. I recently stopped by for a drink and struggled to choose between their standard IPA, the Northeast IPA and the Rye IPA. I will be sure to try the savory Belgian waffle with pork, peppers, cheddar and sriracha on my next visit.
Sailing southeast from Helton will land you at 2125 N. 24th St., which is a 1940s single-family residence rezoned for commercial that was the home of Simply Bread bakery before Preston Thoeny, Drew Pool, and Bill Hammond opened the Wren House Brewing Company. Here I had choices such as the Hi Jolly honey wheat, Who Hit John imperial porter and the Night on the Sun Berliner Weisse sour. The black currants, grape skins, and berries in the latter made for a nice respite from my usual India Pale Ales and Imperial Stouts.
To complete the triangle, you have to disappear into Helio Basin at 3935 E. Thomas Rd. This site sat vacant for eight years after Clicks Billiards shut its doors. Mike Conley and brewmaster Dustin Hazer have created a space with some eclectic dishes and a good selection of beer styles including one of my favorites, an imperial coffee stout.
At 10 percent alcohol by volume, twice the amount in a standard beer, this chocolatey, caffeinated colossus is not to be taken lightly and is rightfully served in a smaller glass. After glancing over the menu, I couldn’t leave without trying the special of the day. I indulged in a taco whose handmade tortilla was stuffed with a Tender Belly sausage and mash potatoes along with bacon jam and candied jalapenos. Yum.
The folks sitting next to me were sharing one of Helio’s beer and ice cream paired flights which looked sensational; I will definitely be back.
With Gov. Doug Ducey signing House Bill 2337 last April loosening liquor laws for craft breweries and distilleries, Arizona’s commercial real estate market will certainly see more adaptive reuse projects and fewer vacancies along with new opportunities for you to enjoy your favorite “nippitaty.”
Derek Parker is a native of Phoenix and has been in the title business for 27 years. He is passionate about commercial parcels, bicycles, and cars. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org