Thursday, September 29, 2016

Quick Bites: Arizona's Oldest Craft Beer Turns 25

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 2:45 PM

It’s time for the 25th birthday of the longest continuously brewed craft beer in the state of Arizona: the iconic Barrio Blonde. 

Ah, 25—a great age. If the Barrio Blonde were, say, a young, craft-beer-loving University of Arizona co-ed (a blonde, of course), she’d probably celebrate this birthday by gathering friends for a few rounds at her favorite local brewery.

But the Barrio Blonde is a beer, not a person … and in fact, the brewery that brews the Blonde is the very entity that’s celebrating the beer’s birthday. Oh, and the brewery—housed at both Barrio Brewing Company and Gentle Ben’s, both owned by brewmaster Dennis Arnold—is basically celebrating its birthday, too.

Gentle Ben’s—which Arnold purchased in 1991—has long been located in the heart of UA territory, on North Tyndall Avenue, in a building once serving as the Pi Beta Phi sorority house and Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house (not to mention, previously, as the official residence of the university’s presidents. In 1994 Gentle Ben’s moved to its current location on University Boulevard in Main Gate Square—still smack in the middle of UA stomping grounds—with Barrio Brewing Company launching 15 years later (at a not-too-far-away separate location) to increase Arnold’s brewing capacity.

Actually, the birthday party planned for the brewery (and the birthday beer, the Barrio Blonde) isn’t too different from a bar-party gathering ... but it will run for seven straight days.

Starting Sunday, Oct. 2, and continuing through Friday, Oct. 7, Barrio Brewing Company and Gentle Ben’s are both hosting anniversary dinners at the bars. Anyone who shows up to celebrate at either venue will get a special appetizer, a choice of entrée (and beer!) and a gelato dessert, plus a commemorative T-shirt and pint glass, all for $25.

There’s no special seating situation or mandatory times of arrival—just come when you feel like it. (You can still go to the bars between Oct. 2 and Oct. 7 and order anything off their menus, of course—but to officially participate in the party, just pay the 25 bucks and get the special course and souvenirs, OK?)

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