READERS' PICK: While there is no doubt that the Nimbus Brewing Co. is our best local brewery, it might be argued (and with no slight to Nimbus) that it is technically really our only local brewery. The other brewers in this category are more precisely brew pubs, turning out their product solely for the customers at their own establishments. Nimbus beer, on the other hand, is sold not only at the tap room but is bottled and kegged, and then shipped to an impressive number of stores, restaurants, bars and brewpubs statewide. Credit goes to owner and prime mover Nimbus Couzen for the rapidly growing, statewide popularity of Nimbus beer. This popularity has necessitated the recent acquisition of increased-capacity brewing equipment (more in physical proportion to the size of the space) to keep up with the demand, which includes long-awaited, heavily trafficked Nimbus taps at Tucson Electric Park.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Thunder Canyon Brewery, 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd. Raise a pint to the departed local breweries of the last couple of years. Maybe its time to think globally, drink locally. In spite of the fact that this brewpub is in the Foothills Mall, it's heart is in an English pub. The Pale Ale has the right hoppiness, the Extra Special Bitter (a bitter is less bitter than a pale ale; I guess you have to be English to understand) is smooth and rounded, and they pour their Stout to a nice frothy head with nitrogen the way it's done in Dublin. The food ranges from traditional pub fare like bangers, mashers, and fish and chips to wood-fired pizzas and pasta, with inexpensive happy-hour specials on oysters, shrimp and wings.