This Week in Craft Beer

Craft Beer in Tucson: A 2014 Retrospective

Another year has come and gone, and as with most aspects of life, the craft beer world has gone through tumultuous evolutions in some regards and remained fundamentally unchanged in others. Beer laws have changed, breweries have opened, new beer has entered the state and local beer just keeps getting better. Though 2015 is sure to bring an array of new beer happenings to the Arizona market, here's a recap of some of the biggest Tucson beer moments of 2014.

Three New Breweries Open Their Doors to the Old Pueblo

A beer scene is nothing without its local breweries, and 2014 provided Tucson with three new ones to help satisfy its ever-growing thirst for local brew. Starting the year on the right note, Sentinel Peak Brewing Company opened in January with an assortment of accessible and refreshing ales that continues to grow through each season. Iron John's Brewing Company followed in early summer with its weekly releases of hand-bottled brews spanning the style spectrum, from whiskey-soaked stouts to a spicy-yet-refreshing holiday ale brewed with spruce tips, orange rind and cinnamon. Pueblo Vida Brewing Company wrapped up the year with its October opening, offering a small but divine selection of well-made beers served in a cozy taproom nestled into the heart of downtown.

Sour Beer Reigns at Tap & Bottle's "Sour Fest"

For years, the realm of sour beer has been enjoyed primarily by beer geeks, world travelers, and beer professionals, but Tap & Bottle's first-ever "Sour Fest" gave Tucson its first major taste of what many bigger beer cities have been hogging for themselves. Flocks of thirsty beer aficionados and curious drinkers alike descended on T&B over one May weekend to experience the spectrum of infectious flavors offered by sour ales through guided tastings, beer education classes, and exclusive tappings of sours from around the world, marking the beginning of what is sure to become an annual tradition to kick off the Tucson summer.

Dragoon Taproom Expansion

After years of enjoying Dragoon's signature IPA and expertly crafted array of seasonal brews, Tucson got an early Christmas gift with the December opening of Dragoon's new and improved taproom at 1859 W. Grant Road. Bringing a taste of the San Diego taproom experience to Tucson, Dragoon's new space features exposed rafters, one of the longest bars in Tucson and a clean look accented by views of oak barrels and new fermenters. Upon entering, patrons' attention naturally flows toward the bar and eventually to a massive chalkboard detailing the vitals of Dragoon's impressive beer lineup. Significantly larger than the previous space, which will still see use during special events, the new taproom's streamlined design harmonizes with Dragoon's minimalist aesthetic and hammers on one resounding idea: It's always been about the beer.

Without a doubt, 2014 has been a monumental year of growth and transition for the Tucson craft beer community. Though our local beer businesses remain a part of the greater Arizona craft beer industry, the local-first attitude that thrives in Tucson has made this town a place where beer lovers can not only exercise their passion, but transform that passion into successful businesses. Looking forward, one can rest assured that 2015 will bring new beer, new collaborations and perhaps a few surprises to our blossoming beer scene. Cheers to the unwritten stories they inspire!

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