There's a new craft beer place popping up every few minutes in Scottsdale. Or it at least seems that way. Right now, I can think of five in south Scottsdale alone, and another in central Scottsdale. So, let me tell you a few of my observations about them ... and pitch in with your own thoughts or suggestions for Scottsdale craft beer bars I may have missed. (I'm leaving the super-delicious Fate out of this because they're not exactly new anymore ... but damn, they had a mint-grapefruit IPA that I loved.)
The minds behindÂ Craft 64 know what they're doing. They have wood-fired pizza, big salads, charcuterie and legit desserts (I've hounded the staff atÂ Papago Brewing for years about dessert, to no avail). So you can have a full meal, a light snack or a dessert to go along with your craft beer. The beer menu is focused mostly Arizona beers, which is great for out-of-town visitors who might not get a chance to sample so many in one sitting; Craft 64 doesn't brew its own, but that may come in the future. The staff has also been very friendly on all three of our visits.
Oh, and there's no live music or overly loud noise to get in the way of a nice conversation. This could be the Scottsdale craft beer house that gets most of our business.
Like so many others who found their way to Arizona, Two Brothers Tap House and Brewery originated in Illinois. It set up shop inside the former Famous Pacific Seafood Company, an open, two-story brick building with a great ambiance. The Outlaw IPA is terrific, and the Night Cat is the most surprising-in-a-good-way wheat beer I've ever tasted.
On our first visit, the server was knowledgeable, fast and friendly. The second time around, the entire staff seemed thoroughly disinterested. It took forever to get a beer, and they were out of many of the selections we wanted to try. And the kitchen was already closed, so no dessert to go along with the stout. Blah. I'll give it another shot, of course, because another viable Scottsdale craft beer house is always welcome.
I'm really not sure how to feel about Union Barrelhouse. It has a huge craft beer selection, good food and at least one super-tasty dessert (one of the better takes on a half-baked mound of cookie dough). But the service can be really slow and indifferent. I haven't recognized a single staff member during my multiple visits. That's not a great sign.
Union Barrelhouse does have some good beers on tap, but avoid the Oil Can Porter. It had a really unfortunate blue cheese flavor that just doesn't belong in any beer on this planet.
Scottsdale Beer Company
This new addition slid into the same plaza that once had some national chain brewery that went under and got turned into yet another Culver's. I want to say it was a Rock Bottom. But anyway, onto Scottsdale Beer Company. Nothing I had set my world on fire – we did a sampler flight of all the higher-strength hard-hitters. Even the more allegedly hoppy ones of the bunch had more of a grainy taste. If I had been taste-testing without knowing what they were, I would have rated none of them above a pale ale.
The food was good, though, and that counts for something. They also had some fine guest beers, and the server knew her stuff. Scottsdale Beer Company has potential, but it's not there yet.
Sip Coffee & Beer House
This new Scottsdale craft beer hangout is close to greatness. It serves coffees and teas in addition to the brews, which is very nice. And the selection generally has some winners – this is where I discovered the wonder of the Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin IPA.
But Sip Coffee & Beer House needs to stay open later, and it must, must, must get some dessert. Dry muffins don't count. I also like the people here. I'm willing to keep coming back, but I'd love to see its few shortcomings get a little attention.
Goldwater Brewing Company
Just a few steps between Sip and Union Barrel House, a new Scottsdale craft beer brewery is set to open. I'm not sure what to expect from Goldwater Brewing Co., but the place looks great. There's always room for more, and I for one look forward to meeting these new craft beer overlords.
I left Bad Water Brewing out because I haven’t been there, and I’m not likely to go. Their beers (listed under the “Products” heading of their website, which is incredibly bad word choice) sound too bland … saisons, lagers, a 5.5-percent IPA? What’s up with that? That’s a pale ale, folks.
Coming in a future episode, I’ll break down what’s what with craft beer on the west side of the Valley – it’s really picking up out there!
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