Thought Arizona Beer Week was canceled this year due to COVID-19? Think again.
It is not only happening this year but the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild has extended it throughout February to encourage social distancing.
“COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to the Guild with events – like Strong Beer Festival, Baja Beer Festival, Real Wild & Woody – being their main source of revenue. We are asking for all Arizona breweries and brewers far and wide to raise a glass with us and participate in this collaboration,” said Rob Fullmer, guild executive director.
Arizona Beer “Month” includes more than 20 craft breweries throughout the state – including 12 in the East Valley – that are selling a special Rebuild the Guild Benefit Beer.
Proceeds benefit the guild, established in 1998 that represents nearly 100 breweries, breweries in the planning stages, craft beer bars, partners and distributors across Arizona.
Working from the same recipe, each brewery will add their own signature touch to the Rebuild the Guild Benefit Beer.
Fate Brewing Co. in Scottsdale, for example, made a “Cold IPA” using their lager yeast with Chinook, Citra and Loral hops. It is already so popular that Fate has sold more than half of its 15-barrel batch.
“Since the pandemic, the Guild has not been able to host any of the usual beer festivals, which are the largest sources of income for them. It is important as a local brewery to do what we can to help them out in times of need,” said Adam Schmeichel, head brewer and part owner of Fate, a Beer Week participant for nine years.
In Gilbert, microbrewery Desert Monks Brewing Co. celebrates three years of partnering in Arizona Beer Week.
“We are calling our beer ‘High Tide’ — as ‘High tides raise all ships,’” Desert Monks partner/owner Sommer Decker said. “It is a West Coast-style IPA dry hopped with Sabro and Hbc472 creating fruit and citrus notes with a touch of coconut – a tropical experience.”
In Chandler and uptown Phoenix, SanTan Brewing Company brewed what sales manager Alejandro Fontes describes as a “very tropical fruity IPA.”
“SanTan will be using El Dorado and Idaho-7 hops to accompany the recommended Azacca hops,” Fontes said. “We also added our own little SanTan touches by using the same yeast as our wildly popular Juicy Jack IPA along with minor adjustments to the grain bill.”
Arizona Beer Week is especially important in keeping the guild afloat.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep our doors open and our programs running,” Fullmer said. “The guild provides important education, advocacy and promotion for brewers throughout the state.”
Different regions of the state will celebrate the annual event during different weeks of the month.
Northern Arizona celebrated Feb. 1-7; central Arizona celebrates Feb. 8-21; and southern Arizona will celebrate Feb. 22-28.
Historically, Arizona Beer Week boasted about 200 events a year that would draw a combined attendance of 18,000 to 20,000 people annually.
“We’re asking people to take money that they may have used on tickets and spend it on supporting craft beer businesses in the state during the expanded Arizona Beer Week month,” Fullmer said.
The Rebuild the Guild Benefit Beer is the second step in a plan to save the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild.
The guild previously sold RECOUPON Arizona Beer coupon booklets through December and January and raised enough operating cash for about six months.
“The money raised went to direct services to our members and employee wages,” Fullmer said.
Direct services include providing guidance policy support to the guild’s brewery and retail members and supporting lobbying efforts for the 2021 legislative session.
“We’re currently tracking 16 bills in the Legislature, when we normally see one or two,” Fullmer said.
“We’ve already been working in opposition to one that is a direct threat to our breweries – one that favors large out-of-state interests at the expense of the small Arizona producers of beer, wine, and spirits,” Fullmer continued. “Your support matters if you want to see your favorite hometown businesses survive.”
For Schmeichel, the guild has been vital in equipping local breweries with necessary protocols, updated laws and information throughout the pandemic.
“The understanding of how we could and could not operate through pandemic shutdowns and restrictions has been an absolute lifesaver,” Decker said.
Beer Week brews are available on tap and to-go, with growlers and four-packs available for purchase.
For participating locations: rebuildtheguild.com.