In Flagstaff Arizona, you will find a microbrewery on every corner (and that’s not a bad thing.) But for those who are searching for a truly unique craft beer tasting room, a visit to Dark Sky Brewing is a must.
To date, this brewery has had over 300 different recipes in their arsenal. They generally have about 15-18 selections on tap on any given evening. Laws of probability would make ordering the same flight of beers on 2 separate visits virtually impossible.
Dark Sky Brewing Company caters to craft beer enthusiast that are looking to push the limits of flavor combinations. Not all the recipes are hits- some of the interesting on-tap options will leave you more perplexed than satisfied, but finding a gem that suits your flavor and style preference is half the fun.
On my last visit, Dark Sky was pouring the “Don’t Pok’e me mon!”, a copper colored IPA brewed with lemon drop hops and beets, the “Knife Fight”, a dark and bitter black IPA brewed with citra and Amarillo hops, and the “Hi-Line Jalapeno”, a spicy pale ale that starts smooth and has a fiery finish.
In addition to crazy brew combos, a food truck attached to the patio is serving burgers, tacos, nachos, salads and other items that pair well with beer.
– AZ Survival Guide
A recent Groupon adventure led me to the heart of Cottonwood, AZ. The town is best known for its abundance of wineries and wine tasting rooms. But you would be remised if your day trip to Cottonwood did not include a visit to THAT brewery.
THAT brewery is located in the back of a small industrial park. The warehouse-style building, parked tractor-trailers, and pallets of empty kegs leave no doubt that authentic craft beer is being brewed and canned onsite.
The tasting room comfortably seats a couple dozen patrons. There are several wooden picnic tables spread throughout the bar area and production floor. The walls appear to be adorned with reclaimed hardwood. You also see a couple of chalkboards displaying what’s on tap and a string empty beer cans that have been converted into lights. The wood cabin décor is fitting for this small town mountainside brewery.
Word of caution; the Cottonwood THAT brewery location does not have a kitchen so I recommend carbing up before your arrival. Small prepackaged snacks are available from behind the bar, and complimentary popcorn is typically available (unfortunately the popcorn machine was out of order on my visit).
The brew will not disappoint. With 12 beers on tap, you are bound to find something to your liking. I opted for the RoadRash IPA. This American style IPA weighs in at 7% ABV. It has a vivid clear amber hue crowned with a thin foam head. Before your first sip, you will pick up on subtle floral and citrus aromas. Grapefruit, pine, and pleasantly dank hops are the most prominent flavors in this well-balanced IPA.
A day trip to the north is mandatory to escape the sweltering summer heat of the valley. Make sure your road trip itinerary includes a stop at a small town craft brewery. Don’t forget THAT!
-AZ Survival Guide
I’ve spent most of my life marveling at photos of Antelope Canyon. I can remember seeing these awe-inspiring images featured on computer screen savers, magazines and Instagram feeds. But it wasn’t until recently that I even knew where the canyon was located. After discovering that the canyon was just a mere 290 miles away from my front door, my wife and I began to plot out a road trip to Page, Arizona.
To my surprise, I learned from some quick internet research that you can’t just take a leisurely self-guided stroll through the canyon. The canyons (there are actually 2- an upper and lower section) are located on Navajo grounds. There are only a few Navajo owned companies permitted to give guided tours. Tours will run you about $25 per person, and you are also charged an $8 (per person) parking fee. All and all, it’s a fair price for the opportunity to look upon the most beautiful collection of rocks on earth.
My co-pilot and I embarked on our road trip at 4:30 AM on a cool late November morning. A cooler filled with Red Bull, snacks, and a bagged lunch stayed within arm’s reach. The Hamilton the Musical soundtrack filled the space between conversation for most of this 4-and-a-half-hour drive. At that hour, the highways were dead, and the frequent changes in elevation caused the Honda Fit’s thermometer to dip south of 32 degrees periodically. Around 6:30 AM the desert landscape awoke with a vivid pastel sunrise. Hues of cotton candy pink and purple painted the sky. I regret not stopping to take a photo, but we were on a relatively tight timeline.
We booked a 10:00 AM tour with Ken’s Tours. I recommend booking your tour as far in advance as possible since whole days sell out quickly. Two people in line in front of us did not have reservations, and they were told the next available time for a tour was in 5 hours. I also suggest booking the earliest time slot available. As the day grows so does the line to enter the canyon. We waited about an hour to enter the mouth of the lower canyon. Our guide told us that during the spring and summer on the weekend, afternoon wait times could be just shy of 2 hours.
Once in line, time moved quickly. Our knowledgeable tour guide filled the minutes with stories of rats, giant snakes, and cougars that he as personally encountered in the depths of the canyon. He then gave all 14 of us in our tour group a quick impromptu photography lesson. He had specific instruction for the ideal camera settings for an iPhone or Samsung smartphone. He also had some advice for slightly more complicated cameras. If your goal is to leave this experience with some highly likable Instagram photos, you can rest assured that your mission will be accomplished.
At 11 AM we entered the lower Antelope Canyon by descending a winding metal staircase that took us five stories below the earth’s surface. I was immediately overwhelmed by the majestic rock wall formations illuminated by beams of light trickling in through the canyons surface. Millions of years of rush water currents have sculpted countless beautiful soft edged nooks and crannies in the rock’s face. Every surface of the canyon is wallpapered with tiny endless horizontal lines leading you deeper into the canyon. The experience was somewhat like venturing through a giant wrinkled corduroy blanket in the middle of the desert. The total length of the lower canyon trail is less than a half mile, and with stopping to take photos and admire a multitude of different rock formations, it took us about an hour to walk the distance of the canyon.
After exiting the Canyon and taking a moment let our eyes adjust to the daylight we then embarked on the short 8-mile drive to Horseshoe Bend. No trip to Page, AZ would be complete without also visiting Horseshoe Bend. This destination is also an iconic natural wonder that’s located less than 10 minutes away from the canyon.
No tour guide needed for this spot. We parked in the dirt lot which is free of charge for the time being (rumor has it there will soon be a fee to access this national treasure) and we next followed the crowds up a loosely packed dirt trail. It’s about a quarter of a mile mostly downhill walk to reach the brim of this canyon. By this time of day, the temperature had reached the mid-80s, and the skies were clear blue. There were hundreds of people gathered at the edge of the bend to gaze upon this geological wonder.
Looking down the 4,200 feet to the turquoise ribbon of the sparkling Colorado river will take your breath away. As I approached the edge of this mammoth gorge to execute the mandatory selfie, I became keenly aware that there are no fences, guardrails or safety nets to interrupt an unwanted plummet. This canyon is best-observed mid-day due to the harsh shadows cast by the early morning sunrise and late afternoon sunset.
We found that 45 minutes was enough time to take in the beauty of Horseshoe Bend adequately. We then set off for the quarter mile uphill trek back to the car.
Similar to the small towns surrounding the Grand Canyon, the town of Page offers little to no thrills. We were hard pressed even to find a restaurant located close to any of the main roads we were on. Page, AZ is the perfect one day adventure. If you are attempting to make a weekend out of this road trip, I suggest securing lodging in Flagstaff or Sedona, AZ. These towns may be a couple of hours away but offer much more in regards to dining and nightlife.
Regardless of where you live, I strongly recommend planning a trip to one of the most majestic locations on the planet. A journey through Antelope Canyon will never be forgotten. My only regret was not embarking on this adventure sooner.
-AZ Survival Guide
You wouldn’t find a shortage of places to grab a drink in Old Town Scottsdale and most offer some pretty cool ambiance. But if you are searching for the best brew with a view, I recommend a visit to Goldwater Brewing Co.
With so many quality original brews on tap, you really couldn’t go wrong with any choices. A flight of 4-6 samples may be your best option.
If you are seeking one of the most unique beers being brewed in the Valley, I suggest ordering up their Crimson Clouds. This limited release ruby red hazy IPA weighs in at 6.3% ABV. This beer features captivating citrus and ripe tropical fruit aromas. I’ve been told that their are strong prickly pear flavor notes in this IPA but to the best of my knowledge I don’t recall every eating a prickly pear. I would describe this complex beer with flavor elements of honeydew melon, papaya and hints of grapefruit. It might be hard to describe but it’s easy to drink.
All of their distinctive craft beers are best enjoyed on their upstairs patio (preferably at sunset). Next time you find yourself in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale and you are in search for some tasty brews and complimentary jalapeño popcorn, stop by Goldwater Brewing Co.
Monday – Thursday: 4 PM – 11 PM
Friday: 4 PM – 12 AM
Saturday: 1 PM – 12 AM
Sunday: 1 PM – 8 PM
-AZ Survival Guide
If you have the good fortune of finding yourself in the modern mecca of micro-brew known as Flagstaff, Arizona make sure you swing by Mother Road Brewing Co.
I strongly recommend setting aside a sunny Saturday afternoon to embark on a self-guided tour of all the amazing breweries that Flagstaff has to offer. Just make sure a stop at Mother Road is on your agenda.
This brewery features ample dog-friendly outdoor seating and access to gourmet pizza served up by Pizzicletta (attached to the brewery).
Mother Road is also pouring a delicious beer that is showing up on taps all around the greater Phoenix area, Tower Station. This IPA weighs in at a hefty 7.3% ABV. It’s extremely cloudy with an orange and copper hue. It has a fresh citrus and tangerine aroma with tropical papaya and apricot flavor notes.
Mother Road Brewing Co. is a must visit tasting room for all Arizona craft beer enthusiast.
-AZ Survival Guide
Lions, tigers, and beers, oh my!
Roars and Pours has returned to the Phoenix Zoo.
After an extremely successful run in the spring of 2017, this event has come roaring back to Phoenix. On Thursday October 5th, Boston based brewery Sam Adams brought their brew to the zoo.
Your $10 entrance fee granted you general admission to the zoo and access to a plethora of free Sam Adams samples! This 21 plus event featured some great tunes piped in by the on site DJs of 93.3 ALT AZ, a fascinating animal show and an entertaining Oktoberfest themed stein hoisting contest.
But what would a zoo experience be without the animals? Dusk seemed to be the magic hour for the animal kingdom. All the animals were fully awake and active. I can only assume that the animals were extra active in an attempt to persuade someone to let them sample the delicious craft beer (a gesture strictly prohibited by zoo staff.)
If you missed this epic evening of ales and tails you need not fret – there are currently 4 more opportunities to enjoy this unique kid-free zoo experience. Roars and Pours events are scheduled through May 19, 2018.
The next scheduled event will be on Thursday November 2nd and will feature samples from Huss Brewing Co. Click HERE to purchase tickets
– AZ Survival Guide
Located just a mere 3 miles from The Sky Harbor airport you can find a brewery that should be your first destination when you disembark your flight into Phoenix. Set in a renovated electrical distribution warehouse, The Phoenix Ale Brewery is the ideal place to spend a Saturday afternoon. The large tasting room is lined with windows that overlook the inner workings of the brewery’s production floor.
There is more than just great ambiance available at this establishment, you can also obtain some pretty delicious craft beers! With up to 14 Beers on draft (at least 7 of them brewed in house) you are bound to find your next favorite brew.
On this visit I opted for a pint of their flagship beer, the Camelback IPA. This English style Indian Pale weighs in at a 6.1% ABV with a cloudy amber appearance. It has a well-balanced hoppy, bitter flavor with a captivating floral and citrus aroma. A 32 oz Crowler of this IPA makes the perfect souvenir. The Watermelon Ale and Orange Peel IPA are also both worth a sample.
Are you looking for a unique place to celebrate a life event? The tasting room is also available for private parties and here is the best part… Typically there is no charge – just a minimum tab requirement per person and you provide the food. The space is available Monday – Saturday after 7 PM and Sunday after 6 PM (call for details).
Taproom Hours: Monday – Saturday 12 -7 PM, Sunday 2 – 6 PM
Visit the Phoenix Ale Brewery website
-AZ Survival Guide