Forget chug-a-lugging for a quick buzz; these East Valley beer-sampling options offer a learned approach to discovering new brews and cultivating a classier palate for cold ones.
Arizona Brewery Tours
Pick-up and drop-off points in Chandler and Tempe
(480) 382-4677 or AZBrew.com
Father-son duo John and Johnny “Boi” Alvarado offer shuttle tours to Valley breweries beyond the big local beer names everyone knows by heart. “Hop-On” tours ($89) are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and include a meal and stops at three breweries over four to five hours. You’ll learn about types of beer and the beer-making process, get behind-the-scenes tours, and sample 18-20 different suds along the way. Wednesday “Barrel-Aged” tours ($75), are geared to the 45-and-older crowd and include lunch and visits to two breweries. Fees for both tours include food, beer, tips, taxes and a souvenir pint glass. Private tours are available starting at $49 per person.
Cellar Pub Beer Tastings
Sun Devil Liquors
235 N. Country Club Drive, Mesa
(480) 834-5050 or SunDevilCellar.com
From the outside, it looks like the kind of place where a stalled car engine could lead to your own personal “Judgment Night.” Or, at the very least, an offer of “party favors” from a dude in a trenchcoat who calls himself “your Candy Man.” But descend to this mom-and-pop liquor store’s basement, and you’ll find the Cellar Pub, a cozy lounge that hosts live musicians, local artists’ work, and $5 beer tastings. Certified cicerone, or beer expert, Greg Eccles curates the store’s 350 keg beers and 1,000 specialty brews, making it a refuge for beer fans, who can also get 64-ounce growlers to go.
Beer Class Fridays
The Watering Hole at Whole Foods Market, 2955 W. Ray Road, Chandler
(480) 821-9447 or WholeFoodsMarket.com/stores/chandler
With 31 craft beers on tap and walking local-beer encyclopedia James Swann at its helm, this in-store bar is the place to hone your appreciation for hops-inspired happiness. Informal and fun Friday-night beer classes ($5), where samples are poured about every ten minutes, accompanied by a lesson on each beer’s flavor and aroma attributes, are packed, and the Hole’s recent homebrewing class topped 40 students. On June 29, nine breweries will bring more than 50 beers for sampling during the Beat the Heat Beer Festival. Admission is $15 and includes 15 tasting tickets; additional tickets are $1 each.
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