Over a year ago I repented and confessed my beer bigotry. When we left Manhattan I expected to find most of the country awash in “light and refreshingly boring” American pilsners. I’ve since reformed but am still continuously amazed at the quality and variety of beer we find virtually everywhere we go.
When we rode into Tucson, Arizona, I wasn’t really surprised to find nine different local breweries. We’ve come to expect that. But one in a huge shopping mall? That was indeed a first.
After catching a rare movie at the Foothills Mall, we wandered into Thunder Canyon Brewery. In ages past, such a place would likely have served a line-up of similarly tasteless beers with various amounts of added coloring. The “brewery” a simple marketing gimmick designed to lure adults away from the food court.
No longer. Thunder Canyon is a top notch brewer,with a truly surprising depth of offerings. Their taps pour everything from light and fruity wheat beers (Strawberry Lightning) to a thick, black imperial stout (Warhead Stout). They also brew up less common varietals like a smoked Rauchbier (Up in Smoke) and experiment with unusual spiced beers (Ornamental Ale). It’s not the kind of place we expected to find in a shopping mall next to a Dress Barn.
Our challenge these days isn’t to find great brewers; it’s to choose which ones to visit with our limited time and drinking capacity. In Tucson we faced an embarrassment of riches and only had the stamina to visit about one-third of their offerings.
Sadly, many of these great places are too small to bottle and distribute. So if we miss them, we miss the boat. On the bright side, that gives us good reason to return. And you all just one more excuse for that long-overdue road trip.