Borderlands Brewing Co. closes its doors for bigger and better things
Robert Alcaraz / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Borderlands Brewing Co., located on Toole Avenue in Tucson.
Borderlands Brewing Company, located in downtown Tucson off of Toole Avenue and Seventh Street, has seen an “unexpected positive response” from the community in its first year of business, according to Mike Mallozzi, co-owner of the establishment.
In fact the brewing company has been so successful that it’s already undergone an expansion, now with larger tanks that can brew more than three times as much beer.
“We’re profitable for our first year, which is astronomical,” said Blake Collins, head brew master of Borderlands. “Most businesses struggle for the first three years to get through and we’ve done it in one. I think it’s just Tucson’s ready for craft beer and is excited about what we’re doing here.”
Mallozzi, who has a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Arizona, and Myles Stone, a medical student at the UA, started the company in 2010 and asked Collins to join the team shortly after.
Although the brewery draws business and provides beer to a distributor in Tempe and three local businesses, the owners had to sacrifice their salaries in order to be profitable.
“Salary is one of the biggest expenses for a business,” Mallozzi said. “And so we were willing to sacrifice some of that salary in order to get this up and running.”
The brewery’s beers are inspired by the local community.
“We really wanted our brewery to sort of embrace Tucson culture,” Mallozzi said. “And we feel like that culture is really centered down here in the downtown, Fourth Avenue area.”
The brews are made with local ingredients that reflect the city’s culture, such as citrus and prickly pear fruit. Collins said he likes experimenting with ingredients and being creative while brewing.
“I enjoy rearranging things and using new ingredients and really trying to put a new spin on what beer can be,” Collins said.
Natalie McGee, owner of Arizona Cactus Ranch, said she’s been selling prickly pear concentrated nectar to the brewery since June 2011. The nectar is used to make Borderlands’ Prickly Pear Wheat Beer, one of six beers that the company makes.
“I thought it was very unique on their part to come up with something original like that,” McGee said. “Not everybody makes beer with prickly pear.”
The brewery also helps the local community by participating in charity events and donating beer and money. Even the brewery’s spent grains, which are already used wheat and grains soaked in water, are donated to the Tucson Community Food Bank, where they’re used as compost for the food bank’s farm.
Borderlands donated beer and served it at the Tucson Children’s Museum’s annual “An Evening of Play” adult fundraiser event this year. Daniela Siqueiros, the museum’s marketing and membership manager, said the beer was well received and the owners were great to work with.
“People loved the room and the beers that were being tasted,” Siqueiros said.
Siqueiros said she had visited the brewery before and likes its different takes on beers and its attempt to use ingredients unique to the Southwest.
“So much of our culture here in Tucson has that connection tied to it,” Siqueiros said. “Why not create products that are local and find inspiration from within the area that we’re at? I think it’s great.”
The rest of the beer community likes to say what’s on its mind too, according to Collins, who said 98 percent of the customers’ feedback is positive.
“When you create something, you put your heart and soul into it and you want it to be well received by people,” Collins said. “At the end of the day, I brewed the beer that I want to brew and I know it’s what I want it to be and when somebody enjoys it, that’s pretty satisfying.”
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