Jeff Bryant and Joe Campbell admit they heard it more than once when they decided to open Desert Eagle Brewery in downtown Mesa last October.
“I can’t believe the City of Mesa is letting you do this downtown,” they were told, time and again.
Contrary to the tone of the inquisitors, Bryant explained that the city itself was rather helpful to the cause he and Campbell brought forward; from the mayor on down, getting the craft brewery, located at 150 W. Main St., off the ground was a group effort.
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“The city’s been great. They’ve been a great ally to us,” Bryant said. “We like downtown. We’re Mesa guys.”
The way the pair’s passion for beer became Desert Eagle Brewery is more unlikely, but Bryant said it may have been “meant to be.”
“The whole time we’ve been doing this everything just kind of clicked and worked,” Bryant said. “It was like it was meant to be. We haven’t really struggled on anything at all with this.”
Bryant is an engineer for Boeing, and Campbell is in the airport security field.
The two met about three years ago while at nearby Sun Devil Liquors, and it turned out they only live a half mile from each other.
Campbell, who already had begun to brew his own beer in his garage converted Bryant — who was instead a wine connoisseur — by using unique flavors from quality ingredients. Campbell had done some home brewing in college at ASU.
“Joe has a real knack for putting together really good recipes,” Bryant said.
The rest, Bryant explained, is history: “We became friends and the beer got really good, so we began bottling it at home and then we started giving it to our friends.
“Our friends started going ‘Wow, this is really good. You guys should do something with this.’”
At Desert Eagle, it’s all about the beer. The partners are certified to serve food but so far they are just concentrating on getting their uniquely branded beers of the ground before they try to break focus for anything else.
But if customers do get hungry while enjoying an Oatmeal IPA, never fear: there are plenty of nearby restaurants, many of whom will deliver to the brewery.
In that sense, Desert Eagle operates like a public living room where one can select from 12 different, locally-crafted beers in rotation at all times — with plans to add even more tap handles — watch a game and mingle with a diverse crowd that Bryant said ranges from age 21 to 60.
The décor inside the brewery is what Bryant described as a casual, industrial feel that embodies the history of the brewing profession and some of the activism that sprang up around it during the prohibition era and beyond, via several historic photo prints on the wall.
But Bryant said that with influence of Campbell’s father, who is a western artist and collector, and Bryant’s own mother’s art, the setting has been modified.
The two owners looked at locations in both Scottsdale and Tempe before settling at their Mesa spot; nothing fit like the one they chose, they said.
Bryant says the brewery fits well into a larger philosophical push to add destination and entertainment venues to the downtown Mesa landscape.
“We kind of fit into their global plan of rebuilding downtown and building up the businesses down here,” Bryant said. “I think we’re on the ground floor of that. I think with the light rail coming through, that’s really going to be a game changer.”
Downtown-area resident Mike Keller said he’s lived in the area 26 years. He agrees the brewery follows the larger direction of the city’s scheme to enhance economic development.
“It’s kind of an indication of the direction downtown is going,” Keller, a Desert Eagle regular, said. “There were a lot of older families and businesses in the area and they’ve kind of handed it off to younger ones.”
Keller, 54, said so as he pointed to a group of about eight 20-somethings on the outside patio.
“It’s part of a trend like the (Mesa) Arts Center. It’s fresh, it’s new, it’s bringing some vital culture to the downtown area,” Keller said. “It’s a place where younger people or any people can sit and enjoy life.”
The brewery is open 3 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
Along with serving its beer at Desert Eagle, the company is seeking distributors, grocers and bar and restaurant customers who wish to carry its product.
“We fill a niche. We’ve got a lot of people who walk here, ride their bikes here,” Bryant said.
For more information about Desert Eagle Brewery, visit www.facebook.com/DesertEagleBrewingCompany or call (480) 656-2662.
Contact writer: (480) 898-5647 or firstname.lastname@example.org.