It’s Beer O’Clock!

Continued (page 3 of 6)

But what makes Mogollon’s brewhouse so unique is that it also serves as High Spirits Distillery. Dana brews beer about half the year, and the other half is devoted to the distillery’s prickly-pear- and chili-flavored vodkas. High Spirits recently introduced a cactus liqueur and has plans for an agave spirit and specialty gin later this year.

Dana, who is originally from Phoenix, studied landscape architecture in Colorado until he realized he would be doomed to a life of wearing suits. He’d been an avid home brewer, so he decided to turn his passion into a career.

“I brew for beer connoisseurs,” he says. “These are real big beers with big flavor and high alcohol content – they aren’t for the timid. I brew for myself and hope others will like it.”

Without a tasting room, the brewhouse was probably the quietest one we visited. It’s obvious that Dana likes it that way. His Class 3 liquor license doesn’t allow him to sell beer or even offer tastings. You’re better off heading to The Green Room, which sits in the same location as Mogollon’s former pub on Agassiz Street. There you’ll find all of Mogollon’s beers on tap.

Mogollon Brewing Co. and High Spirits Distillery, 4366 E. Huntington Drive in Flagstaff (928-522-9215);

Home brewer’s Pick: Wapiti Amber Ale

Oak Creek Brewing Co.

Fred Kraus holds two master’s degrees – one in environmental engineering and one in business – and spent 14 years working in Germany as a civilian engineering manager for the U.S. Army, so it’s not surprising that he meticulously planned Oak Creek Brewing Co. before the microbrewery opened in February 1995. Fred fell in love with beer – and his future wife and Oak Creek Brewing co-owner Rita Kraus – while living in Germany. He started home brewing and began considering opening his own brewpub in the mid-1980s. The St. Louis native grew “tired of working for colonels and generals,” so he spent his last two years in Bavaria apprenticing for a 200-year-old brewery.

When it was time to return to the states, Fred wanted to live in Arizona, where the majority of his family had relocated. Rita and Fred immediately set about opening a brewpub, which evolved into a microbrewery with a 10-person tasting room located in the same off-the-beaten-path location where it stands today. The brewhouse expanded to include a beer garden that seats 100 and a 50-person tasting room that’s open seven days a week. It’s unique to other northern Arizona breweries in that you are sipping your brew within inches of the gurgling stainless steel fermenters. Clipboards containing head brewer Jim Strelau’s notes hang from each tank. The walls are lined with German beer steins and glass cases that house mugs from the brewery’s Mug Club.

For the first three years, Fred distributed kegs of Oak Creek beer himself. The brewery hired a distributor 12 years ago and began bottling their beers eight years ago. Today, the 15-barrel brewhouse produces 4,500 barrels each year. Oak Creek brews are sold throughout Arizona. And in 2001, Fred and Winnie finally realized their dream of a brewpub when Oak Creek Brewery and Grill opened in Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. Underneath the second-level bar and restaurant sits another seven-barrel brewhouse that produces beers only for the grill. (There’s a window near the elevators that allows visitors a peek at the brewhouse.) Oak Creek produces three to four styles of beer solely for the restaurant.

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