Brew enthusiasts can visit what Arizona Craft Brewers Guild’s Rob Fullmer calls “Beer City” this February when the Arizona Strong Beer Festival and Arizona Beer Week team for the ninth year.
Sitting on 9 acres at Steele Indian School Park, the Arizona Strong Beer Festival will house roughly 130 breweries as well as educational demonstrations.
“It is a Beer City we put on for a single-day event,” Fullmer says about the afternoon that kicks off the 10-day stretch of hundreds of craft beer events that make up Arizona Beer Week.
“Over the last 20 years, it has been the festival where breweries launch new beers and where breweries will launch their distribution in the state,” Fullmer says.
In addition to offering more than 500 craft brews to festivalgoers, the Arizona Strong Beer Festival will feature live music, restaurant and food truck offerings by Bang Bang Dumplings, Doughbros, Drivewood Grill, Farmboy Foods, Funky Food Concessions, Sally’s Barbecue and Tom’s Barbecue, and Strong Man Games.
Standout selections abound in the stout category, like THAT Brewery’s Goat Milk Caramel Stout, Kohi Imperial Coffee Stout from Helio Basin and the Chocolate Chipotle Oatmeal Stout from Loco Patron Mexican Brewery.
Hoppy selections such as the Hazy Angel IPA from Lumberyard Brewing Co. in Flagstaff or Two Sons Citra DIPA from Tucson’s Ten 55 Brewery and Sausage House will make “hop heads” happy, and major cross-state collaborations are set to be the highlight at this year’s fest. Tempe’s Huss Brewing is collaborating with Durango’s Ska Brewing and Denver’s Great Divide, while Tempe’s Shop Beer Co. will pair with San Diego’s Burgeon Beer Co. and Lafayette’s Odd 13.
“We’re continuing to see not only the number of beer submissions increase but the quality of the submissions, as well,” Fullmer says.
“Our craft beer community is growing not just throughout the state, but across state lines. The collaborations among breweries and support for the festival are growing exponentially and we are thrilled to see increased support.”
Along with Strong Beer Festival, Arizona Beer Week will play host to dozens of smaller events at local breweries and taprooms. Twelve Fry’s Food Store Wine Bar locations across the Valley will host tastings and offer rare pours from Arizona breweries participating in the Arizona Strong Beer Festival.
“Arizona has become a pretty robust and desirable place to make beer,” Fullmer says.
With so many breweries and vendors attending the festival, Fullmer says they will use the Untappd app so enthusiasts can see the list of breweries, and post ratings and feedback about them.
SanTan Brewing Company event supervisor Alejandro Fontes says the festival is, indeed, strong.
“It’s a bunch of breweries flexing their muscles,” Fontes says. “All these breweries will typically bring out some rare beers and let the public try it out.”
In addition, Fontes says Strong Beer Festival is “a huge exposure opportunity.” It is not every day that brewing companies get to have 10,000 people look at their brand, Fontes says, and it helps the smaller breweries promote their businesses.
“We take part in it because it benefits our guild and our guild’s efforts to protect the Arizona brewing scene and make sure we are all regulated fairly,” Fontes says.
With roughly 10,000 people attending, Fullmer says it is special to serve so many people who enjoy beer culture in one place.
“I think that’s what drives the beer culture: People,” he adds.
Arizona Strong Beer Festival, Steele Indian School Park, 300 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, 480.586.6711, arizonabeerweek.com, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, February 9, $60 general admission, $100 “super VIP” and $20 designated driver.