Craft beer lovers, are you ready?
Because the second location of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co., one of the most awarded breweries in the state, opened on Monday, Feb. 18. The beer garden’s grand opening is March 1, but the public already can flock to the Roosevelt Row brewpub for a cold pint of beer.
In addition to offering a range of their own beers on tap and in bottles and cans, the new location will serve wines and cocktail on tap alongside a menu that highlights burgers made with grass-raised local beef.
Owner Jonathan Buford hopes the space will become a gathering place for the community: whether it’s for a quick lunch, a casual dinner or family-friendly gatherings on the spacious patio.
“We really want to be a ‘choose your own adventure’ place,” Buford says.
What’s the big deal with Arizona Wilderness?
Local beer aficionados likely are familiar with Arizona Wilderness. The brewery is based in Gilbert, where founders Jonathan Buford and Patrick Ware first began putting out wildly creative beers often made with local ingredients in 2013. In the first year, the pair threw six whole pecan pies into the mash to make their Picacho Pecan Pie Brown Ale.
A few months later, beer review website RateBeer.com named Arizona Wilderness the best new brewery not only in the country, but the entire world.
Since then, the brewery has become a mecca for craft beer fans. Thanks to collaborations with world-renowned brewers like Danish “gypsy” brewer Mikkeller, Buford says beer lovers often come to the pub from places near and far.
The downtown Phoenix location, however, will offer the chance for even more fans to get a taste of their deeply Arizona-inspired beers.
Austrian beer garden inspiration
And there’s space for quite a lot of guests at the new location. There’s seating for about 250, but Buford says the space can pack in up to 650 people at any one time.
A covered outdoor patio takes up much of the square footage, but there’s also a spacious open dining room inside. All seating will be community style, and guests will order their drinks at the bar and their food at a counter in the back corner of the interior.
A second outdoor bar off the patio — it’s made up of four shipping containers for extra cool points — will have the same number of taps as the main bar so guests don’t have any reason to go inside if they don’t want to.
Creating a comfortable, user-friendly outdoor space was a priority for Buford, though it took at lot of effort to rip up asphalt and replace it with handsome decomposed granite and natural desert landscaping.
He hopes downtown residents will get to know each other over a pint of beer.
“We got this idea sitting at a really amazing beer garden in Austria,” Buford says. “Everyone was out and they were talking. There was a roar of everyone enjoying their conversations and we said, ‘That’s what we want to bring downtown.’ ”
Burgers made with grass-fed Arizona beef
By day, Buford says, the brewpub will be a family-friendly place. Dogs also are welcome to enjoy a designated portion of the patio.
The food menu ties in with the brewery’s reputation for sourcing top-quality local ingredients. The focus is burgers, all of which are made with beef from Arizona Grass Raised Beef Company. The company raises its cattle on acres of Arizona ranch land before processing them at their own USDA plant.
“That’s one of the coolest projects I’ve ever been a part of — and I’ve been a part of some really cool projects,” Buford says. “(The burger) is going to be the heart of our kitchen.”
Other items on the food menu will include a Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich, pulled pork and, for late-night hunger pains, beer cheese with pretzels.
“We know what’s going on down here after 10 p.m.,” Buford jokes.
A third space for the downtown crowd
Buford hopes the brewpub will become a “third space,” the place community members go that’s not home or work.
That’s why the team made efforts to preserve the history of building, which most recently housed a wholesale florist but was once a private home in the mid-1930s. While digging up the asphalt to create the patio, Buford says the construction team even stumbled upon an old hand well.
“One of the things we’re super proud of is we kept the soul of this building,” he says.
There will be a small retail section where customers can pick up cans and bottles of Arizona Wilderness beers before heading home or out to a party. There also will be growler fills available.
Buford was inspired in part by the mural on the west side of the building. The mural, painted by Carrie Marill in 2012, is an homage to another artist, the late Margaret Killgallen. It’s something of a landmark in the downtown arts district, so Buford says it only made sense to install two large bike racks on the north and west sides of the building.
“We’re trying to send a message. To me, the dream is a pilsner on that patio. Maybe you rode your bike. It might even feel like a European experience.”
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
What: The downtown Phoenix beer garden is open for limited hours until Friday, March 1. Check social media for current hours.
Details: 201 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix. azwbeer.com.
By: Lauren Saria, AZcentral, azcentral.com, February 19, 2019