Tucson is a city rich in character, especially when it comes to craft beer. With an abundance of locally made brews in town, it can be hard to know which ones to try first. Luckily, the local bartenders have got you covered.
Breweries are located all over the Old Pueblo, from University Boulevard to downtown Tucson. Gentle Ben’s Brewing Company is the premiere stop on campus for those over the age of 21, and the bartenders certainly have some great opinions when it comes to which ales to try at this hot spot.
“We are a microbrewery at Gentle Ben’s. We do all of our brewing over at Barrio [Brewing Co]," said Jackson Pinney, bartender at Gentle Ben’s for two years. "That’s our sister restaurant. Everything on tap here is our own local microbrews.”
Tucson Blonde is a light beer that’s particularly popular at Gentle Ben’s. The Rojo is a red Scottish amber and Pinney's personal favorite.
Gentle Ben’s also makes a few great mixes between their selection of beers.
“Our Blanco White [India Pale Ale] we like to mix with our [Rae's Ruby] Raspberry IPA. It’s not on the menu, but we do like to get creative and mix up our beers,” Pinney said.
Located just across the street is another on-campus bar, Illegal Pete’s. Illegal Pete’s opened on University Boulevard last year and has quickly become a prime spot to spend Saturday afternoons.
Of the local brews, Illegal Pete’s carries two barrios, the Tucson Blonde and Ruby Rae’s IPA, a Dragoon IPA, the Heatwave Hefeweizen and the Kilt Lifter.
“The Barrio Blonde is our most popular local beer," said Austen Berens, who has worked as a bartender at Illegal Pete's for eight months. "I’d most recommend the Avery White Rascal."
Sky Bar, located on Fourth Avenue, is another popular spot for grabbing a beer. The bar is home to the Dragoon IPA and a few Barrio Brews.
“The Barrio Blonde is good—it’s the most popular," said Nikki Bellm, a bartender at Sky Bar. "Of the IPAs, Dragoon is most popular. ... In regards to beer, local should always be supported. Small businesses are important.”
Sky Bar also has a rotating handle on tap, currently featuring the Half Moon Dragoon. The Barrio Blonde is clearly a town favorite when it comes to local brews. Of the IPAs, the Dragoon and Ruby Rae’s are definitely high up on the recommended list.
There are a number of local breweries to check out in town, including Public Brewhouse, Pueblo Vida Brewing Company, Thunder Canyon Brewery, Ermanos Craft Beer and Wine Bar, among more. Many can be found near Fourth Avenue and in the downtown area.
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