Beer is the new wine. Have you heard that one lately? While northern Arizona’s wine culture has received lots of press in recent years, our seven microbreweries have flown relatively under the radar unless you’re one of the breweries’ devotees. But in other parts of the country, sophisticated beer-and-food pairings, beer festivals and microbrewery tours are all the rage. Come along with Sedona Monthly as we tour all seven brewhouses where you will meet the master brewers and sample some of the best beers in the state. We’ll also introduce you to a local beer lover who decided to take his passion a step further and try his hand at home brewing. He’ll also give you a rundown of his favorite beer at each of northern Arizona’s microbreweries. (Note: Home brewing is legal in the state of Arizona; however, the sale of home brew is still illegal.) Bottoms up!
Beaver Street Brewery and Lumberjack Brewing Co.
The 20-barrel brewhouse at Lumberyard Brewing Co. in downtown Flagstaff is pristine – the stainless steel barrels sparkle under the lights and the kegs and cans are stacked neatly against one wall. That’s not at all surprising considering the brewery only opened its doors in May of this year, but Lumberyard’s owners and head brewer are no strangers to Flagstaff or the microbrew business. Evan Hanseth and his wife, Winnie, opened Beaver Street Brewery in March 1994. In their past life, Evan was a mechanical engineer and Winnie a computer programmer; the Southern California family wanted to live in Flagstaff to be closer to Winnie’s parents. Winnie’s mom hit upon the idea of a brewery in Flagstaff after reading about brewpubs. As the story goes, one week later Evan attended a microbrew conference in New Orleans and put his house on the market.
Evan says he dabbled in home brewing and took courses on brewing at University of California, Davis. He worked as Beaver Street’s head brewer for nearly 10 years. Then, about eight years ago, Gene Almquist, the original owner of Homebrewers Outpost in Flagstaff, assumed brewing responsibilities. “Now I just get in the way,” says Evan, laughing.
The 10-barrel brewhouse at Beaver Street Brewery is tiny and located behind the bar. During summer, the brewery’s busiest season, it’s difficult to keep up with the demand for the brewery’s four mainstays and two seasonal beers, so five years ago Evan and Gene started talking about expansion. They were also interested in distributing their award-winning beers outside of the brewery, but they needed a bigger space. Then a historic lumberyard building just around the corner from Beaver Street became available. Winnie loved the idea of restoring a historic building, and Evan and Gene saw the potential in the warehouse’s high ceilings.
The two breweries both have restaurants attached and share some of the same beers, but that’s where the similarities end. Beaver Street has a cozy, turn-of-the-century feel with its wood-burning stoves, wingback chairs in the waiting area, stamped tin ceiling and an open kitchen. On a cold winter afternoon, it’s the ideal spot for creamy fondue and wood-fired pizzas. (Adjacent to the bar and restaurant and under the same ownership, you’ll find Brews & Cues, a more traditional bar complete with – you guessed it – pool tables.) The Lumberyard, on the other hand, is spacious and modern with its concrete-and-recycled-glass bar top, exposed brick walls and large glass windows that look out on the brewhouse. Both locations have outdoor seating, but Beaver Street’s is filled with picnic tables surrounded by a hop garden while Lumberyard’s patio has a view of Route 66 and downtown Flagstaff.
Beaver Street and Lumberyard share two beers: At Beaver Street, you’ll order the Railhead Red or the Hopshot IPA (both winners at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival) and at Lumberyard the same beers are the Lumberyard Red and the Lumberyard IPA. Beaver Street’s other staple brews include Bramble Berry Brew and R&R Oatmeal Stout. Right now, you will be able to partake in one of Beaver Street’s seasonal favorites – the Marzen Lager, the brewery’s official Oktoberfest lager. Over at Lumberyard, you’ll also always find the Lumberyard Gold Ale and Apricot Ale on tap. If you are really looking to have some fun, try the brewery’s seasonal Belgian Trippel Ale, which is 10.8 percent alcohol by volume.
“We’ll have beers that you can get at both locations and others that are only available at one location,” says Gene. “The breweries will complement each other. Lumberyard will be the cornerstone of our distribution, and at Beaver Street we will brew small batches in-house.”
Beaver Street Brewery, 11 S. Beaver St. in Flagstaff (928-779-0079); www.beaverstreetbrewery.com.
Lumberyard Brewing Co., 5 S. San Francisco St. in Flagstaff (928-779-2739); www.lumberyardbrewingcompany.com
Home brewer’s Pick: At Beaver Street Brewery, Hopshot IPA and at Lumberyard Brewing Co., Lumberyard Porter