When it’s hot in Phoenix, nothing tastes better than a cold, craft beer. The rest of the year, nothing beats sitting outside on a brewery’s patio, glass in hand, enjoying the sunshine. Luckily, almost every neighborhood in the Phoenix metropolitan area has its own brewery or taproom, so no matter where you are in the Valley, craft beer is close at hand.
Phoenix’s booming craft beer scene is more about quality than quantity, though. Some of its breweries have been recognized as the best in the nation while many others are busily collecting World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival medals for their efforts. With that in mind, singling out the top 10 is a challenge, but these are a few of the best breweries in the Valley.
Helton Brewing Company
Located in an industrial neighborhood in Central Phoenix, this neighborhood brewery is one of the Valley’s best-kept secrets. Head brewmaster Brian Helton is not only a certified cicerone (a trained beer professional) but has decades of brewing experience, including multiple World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival medals. You can’t go wrong with any of his standard brews—Scottish Ale, IPA, Milk Stout, Valley Venom Pilsner, or Boysenberry Sour—but don’t miss his seasonal offerings, like the Imperial Stout released at the start of AZ Beer Week. The menu features tacos, mac ‘n’ cheese, and vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Huss Brewing Company
One of the state’s largest independent brewers, family-owned Huss Brewing Company produces not only its own label but, after bringing Papago Brewing Co. under its wing, the Papago Brewing brand, too. On tap at the Uptown and Tempe locations, you’ll find Huss favorites Koffee Kölsch and Huss Nitro Milk Stout, Papago standouts Papago Orange Blossom and Papago Coconut Joe and other year-round beers. Both taprooms have unique offerings, like the 2020 Barrel Aged Rio with Ecuadorian cacao nibs, and Doug & Jeff’s Cashmere Sweater IPA, a collaboration with Odell Brewing Company. Food is served at Uptown but not at Tempe.
OHSO Brewery + Distillery
Great beer, great food, and a large, dog-friendly patio at all four of its locations have made OHSO (Outrageous Homebrewer’s Social Outpost) Brewery + Distillery one of the most popular breweries in the Valley. It’s also received quite a bit of national and international attention for its award-winning 89Ale, Boom Dynamite, and barrel-aged Ales from the Crypt: Te Quiero Wood. OHSO doesn’t stop with beer, though. It also distills vodka, gin, and other spirits at its Scottsdale location, where you can take a distillery tour. At the brewery’s original site on Indian School Road, aspiring brewers can sign up to help brew beer.
Wren House Brewing Company
Housed in a 1920s bungalow in the Green Gables neighborhood, the 10-barrel Wren House Brewing Company brews international-style beers, IPAs, and experimental releases like Yellow Giraffe, meant to mimic the flavors of horchata. Standout regulars include Valley Beer, a 2019 Great American Beer Festival winner in the American Lager category; the highly-regarded IPA Spellbinder; and Jomax, an oatmeal stout made with beans roasted at one of the best local coffeehouses, Press Coffee. Given the limited space, food isn’t served, but you can bring your own, have food delivered or satisfy yourself with the brews made in collaboration with Valley restaurants, like Little Miss BBQ.
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
Named the best new brewery in the world by RateBeer.com when it opened in 2013, this Phoenix favorite still receives national recognition for its creative brews, sour ales, and flagship Refuge IPA. Founders Jonathan Buford and Patrick Ware go local as often as possible, adding everything from Arizona-grown grains and citrus to locally-baked pies to their beers and using Arizona-raised cattle in their burgers. Expect to wait for a seat at the bar or a table in the dining area, especially after work and on weekends. Arizona Wilderness recently opened a beer garden serving a limited food menu in downtown Phoenix.
Pedal Haus Brewery
This lowkey brewery near Arizona State University’s Tempe campus often flies under the radar despite recently being named the best brewery in the United States at the Copa Cervezas de América competition for Latin America and North America beer makers. Perhaps that’s because instead of pushing the envelope, head brewer Derek “Doc” Osborne focuses on “beer that tastes like beer.” Try the award-winning Day Drinker Light Lager, Biére Blanche witbier, Belgian-Style Tripel, or White Rabbit hazy IPA. Pedal Haus also serves burgers, pizzas, and gluten-reduced beer in Tempe and at its second location in downtown Chandler.
The Shop Beer Co.
Formerly Cartel Brewery, The Shop Beer Co. is turning out some of the most exciting beers in the state. In addition to its standards—a double IPA, juicy IPA, blonde lager, and American nut brown ale—the 20-barrel brewhouse produces its Neonic Series of fruit-infused sour ales. It gets creative with a Randall, a small filtration system allowing infusion of an already made beer with fresh ingredients. Past Randall Series beers have included a golden ale infused with a gin-soaked lemon peel, honey taffy, and fresh lemon, and a coffee brown ale infused with smoked malts, graham crackers, cocoa nibs, marshmallow, and bakers chocolate.
The Beer Research Institute
Featuring Erlenmeyer flasks in its flight lineups and the overhead lights illuminating the bar, this science-themed brewery got its start in 2014 after owners Matt Trethewey, and Greg Sorrels spent years perfecting their homebrew recipes. Beers on tap change weekly, but Morning Sex, a sweet stout made with coffee from local Peixoto Coffee, and Lolli, a Belgian blonde, are almost always on the menu. The brewery also gets high marks for its Southwestern influenced fare like the Green Chili French Dip made with Hatch green chiles, Arizona grass-fed beef burgers, and its salty-sweet bacon appetizer, Meat Candy.
Desert Monks Brewing
Opened in 2019 by five Intel employees, this small-batch brewery is already creating a buzz with straightforward beers like the Kodiak brown ale and experimental ones like the holiday flavor-infused Thanksgiving in a Glass. It also produces a hard kombucha, Bouji Booch, that sells out quickly, the occasional hard seltzer, and a house-made root beer. Although the brewery doesn’t have a kitchen, it hosts food trucks on weekends, and you can have food delivered. Munch on your meal at a table while playing one of the brewery’s board games or chill on one of the couches.
Four Peaks Brewing Company
The brewery that spearheaded the craft beer movement in the Valley when it opened in 1996, Four Peaks Brewing Company is home to the Kilt Lifter, a Scottish-style ale with a kick, and its light counterpart, the Gilt Lifter. Although you can purchase its core beers including Hop Knot IPA, 8th Street Pale Ale and Peach Ale at local grocery stores, visit the original Tempe location, formerly a dairy along the railroad tracks, for its ambiance. Tempe also offers tours of its facility and bottling operation, and all three locations (Tempe, Scottsdale, and Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport) serve an outstanding, beer-inspired menu.