Tucson’s Top Ten Beers
One man’s opinion, sure, but if you’re looking for what to drink, here’s a solid start.
by Christian Cortes
It seems like only yesterday that Tucson’s craft beer scene was in its infancy. Not so many years ago, most of the beers available around town today were merely concepts or test batches at best, leaving beer lovers with only a small handful of local brewpubs available to appease their craft beer cravings.
Yet, flash forward just a few years and one finds Tucson’s beer scene thriving with at least 14 active breweries and another dozen on the way, each producing a spectrum of styles ranging from lagers and IPAs to coffee stouts and barrel-aged sours.
To celebrate a blossoming beer scene poised to become a haven for craft beer in the southwest, we’ve compiled a list of ten of Tucson’s most signature brews. Available year-round, these beers display some of the best of what Tucson’s breweries have to offer in an emblematic gesture of what it means to drink craft beer in the Old Pueblo.
Sentinel Peak Dewpoint Dunkel – 5.7%
A beer for dark beer drinkers who want their beer to finish up clean rather than linger, Sentinel Peak’s Dewpoint Dunkel is a smooth and deeply layered brew that showcases the sweet and toasty character of a dark ale while still cleaning up like a lighter style. Gentle smokiness and mild fruitiness on the nose play off gentle noble hop flavors to create a medium-bodied beer reminiscent of an easygoing brown ale. Offering a sweeter flavor profile as it warms up, Dewpoint Dunkel will find favor with those looking for a flavorful yet quaffable departure from pale lagers and aggressively flavored ales.
Sentinel Peak Brewing Company, 4746 E Grant Rd., (520) 777-9456
Public Brewhouse Poppy IPA Series – 6.5%
Earthy hops accented by bright pine resin collide with bold sweet citrus notes in Public Brewhouse’s rotating tribute to classic west coast IPA styling. The latest iteration, Happy Poppy, greets the nose with a sweet bouquet of cantaloupe and honeydew melon while its medium-bodied malt base offers a juicy explosion of tangerine, pineapple and pine-spice. At 6.5%, it goes down easy even as it warms while maintaining its clean, candy-like hop character. When all is said and done, the Poppy IPA series is the essence of Arizona sunshine in a glass.
Public Brewhouse, 209 N Hoff Ave., (520) 775-2337
Ten 55 XoXo Coffee Stout – 4.7%
It’s no secret that Tucson loves its coffee, and Ten 55’s beloved XoXo takes everything we enjoy about a fresh cup of Joe and transforms it into a coffee-addled ale. Sitting at just 4.7% ABV, XoXo drinks like a bigger, medium-bodied beer thanks to the addition of lactose and single-origin coffee sourced from local coffee roaster Exo Roast Co. Devoid of roasty bitterness and offering gentle notes of semi-sweet chocolate and medium-roast coffee beans, XoXo works as a year-round drinker that will find adoration in caffeine lovers and anyone willing to cast aside notions of what a low-alcohol dark ale can be.
Ten 55 Brewing, 3810 E 44th St., (520) 461-8073
Pueblo Vida Brewing Company Bavarian Hefeweizen – 5.4%
Long regarded in the American craft beer scene as a gateway style, the Bavarian Hefeweizen has brought countless beer drinkers into the fold with its anything-but-beer-like flavors and striking unfiltered appearance. Showcasing the classic characteristics of German wheat beers, Pueblo Vida’s rendition offers a fragrant blend of banana, clove and refreshing tropical fruit flavors that that can be enjoyed year-round. With one of Pueblo Vida’s new-added 20-barrel fermenters dedicated exclusively to this hefe, expect to see it on tap around town with increasing regularity this year.
Pueblo Vida Brewing Company, 115 E Broadway Blvd., (520) 623-7168
Borderlands Brewing Co. Citrana (Gose) – 6.5%
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