"I didn't want to do what was right. I didn't want to do what was wrong. I just wanted another beer." - Don Younger
We have three stories this week about starting up, starting over or coming to an end.
Old World 2.0
Last weekend I attended the re-opening of the Old World Brewery tasting room at the former Phoenix Capital Station Post Office. The brewery is not yet operational, according to Jeff Olson. They are waiting for a certificate of occupancy before Southwest Gas will connect their service which could take a few weeks. Still, there was beer- Nitro Blond and 4Leaf Red provided by a contract brewing arrangement with Flagstaff's Mogollon- and some things to celebrate.
Old World's move into the hardscrabble neighborhood of 25th Avenue and Van Buren is somewhat metaphorical of its Rock and Roll existence. It's hard enough to get a brewery up and running, tougher still to move so shortly after you get up and running. It seemed to be a move into a good deal of unknown. At the opening, it was clear that there was still a long road ahead, but Jeff seemed to have the team on a managed growth regimen. We can all debate the circumstances of the move and reports of some lactic character migrating into the Wit and the Red in the latter days of the Deer Valley days, but craft beer can be about redemption too. Last weeks beers were clean and flavorful. I'm going to give them a clean slate and well wishes. Craft beer in the Estrella neighborhood certainly would be an indicator that Phoenix is ready for a cultural change.
A New Brewing Landmark on the Horizon
We've seen a surge of craft beer bars in the last year including recent newcomers The Garage on Bethany and Flanny's in Tempe. It seemed like we might be due for some new brewery start-ups. After a few months of running down some brewery-in-planning rumors, I picked up the trail for North Mountain Brewing.
Apart from the window graphics on the smallish office suite near the tri-corner area of Dunlap, 7th St and Cave Creek Road, there is nothing that indicates that this will be the site of Sunnyslope's first brewery. You need to talk to Robert Berkner to understand how the recently gutted shell will be transformed into neighborhood focused brewpub.
Robert, a native Phoenician, recounted how the seeds of his current vision began some 20 years ago during the micro-brewery boom. He spoke about how he almost chose to go down the craft beer path about the time that Coyote Springs had just closed and Four Peaks was just starting up. There were some opportunities and possibilities, but he was led back to family business. Success in other areas, led to a successful small business of his own and a lifestyle that allowed him to begin a family and raise 3 children.
|North Mountain Brewing|
Outside, he paints in gestures where the wrap-around patio will go and the site of the future outbuilding that will house a 15 barrel brewhouse sometime in the next 8 months. He walks me over to the adjacent suite and points out the landmarks of the space's former seedier past. "It used to be a massage parlor and yes, it was raided. I'm not sure how much of that we're going to discuss with customers" he jokes as we laugh about the possibilities.
The possibilities. It's early in the process and Robert begins to reel back in a bit on what might be changing with his plan and some of the details are still in flux. Construction, permitting and market forces will certainly impact the timetable and influence the vision. He returns to the the principles that will he feels will make this brewpub successful. There is a strong desire to have a beer-centric pub that integrates into the village of Sunnyslope. He credits his family and past experiences owning and running businesses and believes that will carry through any of the gaps that he might have as a first-time brewery owner. His passion when he speaks is steady and measured. If the timetable seems ambitious to you then you are in agreement with some of the local industry people that I've talked with, but you can't help but get excited about the picture he's painted.