Popping Off: Tap & Bottle Serves as a Crossroads of Brewing From Tucson and Beyond

One of the biggest supporters of the Tucson brewing scene doesn’t produce any craft beer at all. Tap & Bottle serves as a hub for all things alcohol in Southern Arizona, and that includes hosting multiple events for Arizona Beer Week. Tap & Bottle has two official locations in north and downtown Tucson—as well as an affiliate location at the MSA annex—offering everything from wine to spirits to mixers. But the core of their business remains beer, in as many varieties as local brewers can dream up. 

“We’ve always wanted to champion and focus on craft beer,” said Tap & Bottle co-founder Rebecca Safford. “We’re not brewers ourselves, but we’ve always traveled to visit breweries and appreciate the craft. So we see our place as a hub for craft beer. Oftentimes local brewers will come over and say something like, ‘We’re brewing a beer with banana, and we want to get some samples of other beers with bananas to get ideas.’ We have hundreds of different beers, so we really are a resource.” 

Tap & Bottle is using Arizona Beer Week as an opportunity to support other craft breweries. Throughout the week, they’re hosting events in partnership with breweries from Tucson, Phoenix and beyond. In light of the pandemic’s toll on the restaurant and serving industry, the week is a way to show support. And with that in mind, many of Tap & Bottle’s events are outdoors. 

“We’ve been doing Arizona Beer Week for a long time, and we focus on supporting local, but we also have some really good relationships with breweries from outside of the state that come to town for Beer Week. So we want to do a balance of everyone,” Safford said. “Really, we just want to plan fun events with our friends.” 

The week kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 17, at Tap & Bottle’s north location with special tappings from Bottle Logic Brewing out of Anaheim, California. There will also be team trivia featuring some special beer-themed questions. 

On Saturday, Feb. 19, Tap & Bottle’s downtown location will host a three- to five-mile fun run led by The Running Shop, touring by the many murals of downtown Tucson. After the run, guests can stop by to check out beers by Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company out of Gilbert. 

On Sunday, Feb. 20, at Westbound in the MSA Annex, Tap & Bottle is hosting a special “This Is Not A Race” Bikes & Beer Crawl between Pueblo Vida, Westbound and Dragoon brewing. Safford says the trio originally hosted a similar event last Halloween, and it was such a hit they’re bringing it back. 

“The locations aren’t too far from each other, so it’s a nice loop. And we had a great turnout for the first one, so we wanted to bring it back,” Safford said. “What’s really nice is that it’s self guided, so that’s why we’re calling it ‘Not a Race.’ It’s very casual, and you can start at any location. All of our locations are pretty close, so it encourages people to get out and enjoy a beer at one, two or three places.” 

Each location will give participants a map with tips on the easiest ways to get around, and every stop will offer $1-off coupons for drinks. 

On Wednesday, Feb. 23, Tap & Bottle’s north location is partnering with Phoenix-based Wren House Brewing and chef Maria Mazon of Boca Tacos for a special beer and salsa pairing day. 

On Thursday, Feb. 24, Tap & Bottle’s downtown location is hosting a Pizza Port Party with special taps and swag. They will be pairing San Diego-based Pizza Port beers with wood-fired pizza by Family Joint Pizzeria. Tucson folk rock band Golden Boots will be masquerading as Tropical Boots to play some special vacation vibes. 

Finally, the week will conclude on Sunday, Feb. 27, at Westbound. Tap & Bottle will host a Beer Mile with Firestone Walker Brewing. This ticketed and timed event challenges participants to “take on the greatest feat: to drink four beers, and run four laps.” That’s a serious challenge, and a wild way to end Arizona Beer Week. 

“One of the things we talk about a lot is how collaborative Tucson is. There doesn’t seem to be a competitive feeling,” Safford said. “Everyone is supportive of each other and of the entire community. And because we’re a City of Gastronomy, there’s also a focus on ingredients and where people get those ingredients. So, not only will it taste special, but it will utilize ingredients special to Tucson. There’s some really fun stuff going on.” 

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