From homebrewing to Goodyear’s first brewing company, Saddle Mountain Brewing Company has come a long way in six years.
But the company’s history goes back 20 years, when owner Laura Hansen bought a homebrew kit for her husband, Jacob. At the time, they owned the small town of Wintersburg, about 15 miles west of Buckeye.
After selling Wintersburg, semi-retiring and trying to decide what to do with the money, Laura flippantly said to Jacob, “Hey, you like brewing beer. Why don’t we open a brewery?”
To her surprise, Jacob took the idea to heart and looked into it. Laura was set on retiring and settling down after having their third child, but the opportunity called her back to start a sixth business.
“I wasn’t looking to do that again, but he found this place in Goodyear and it just kind of fell into place,” Laura says. “I said I would come out of retirement and run the business for us and as a legacy for our children.”
In October 2014, Saddle Mountain Brewing Company opened for business with the plan to have a drinkable, traditional beer that can be enjoyed by people who like the top-name and craft beers. The Hansens are confident customers will find something that is clean and consistent in taste.
Laura says the brewery’s name came from the Tonopah mountain near where the Hansens grew up.
“He grew up in Arlington and I grew up in Tonopah,” Hansen says. “Both of us could see Saddle Mountain from basically our backyards, separately but together.”
Hansen was originally opposed to the name because of its length.
“In my past I have owned so many businesses, and people like long names,” Hansen says. “I am not one of them because it’s hard for branding.”
Jacob is a former pilot and his favorite aircraft was a Taildragger, now a name of one of his beers.
“We brew a line of beers—all of which are named Taildragger—and then they have their own individual fun-style name,” Laura says.
Other names include Taildragger Moo-n Landing, Taildragger Otter Hop and the three-time Great American Beer Festival award-winning Taildragger Clan-Destine.
Laura’s favorite brew was a special patch that head brewer Neal Huttenhow created for her fifth-year wedding anniversary. It was a Belgian quad with plum added to it.
“Huttenhow wasn’t super happy with me having to brew it because he’s very traditional and didn’t want to put plum into beer,” Laura says. “But since I had him do it, we named it She Made Me Brew It.” The beer is gone but Laura hopes it will return.
Laura credits the brewery’s success to Huttenhow.
“He’s extremely clean and diligent on recipes. He will not put something out if it’s not good,” Laura says. “Granted, in the five years that he’s worked for me, we’ve never dumped a batch of his beer.”
Last year, Laura began the Taildragger Craft Beer Challenge Coin as a way to offer discounts to returning customers. With the $10 coin, customers can receive that day’s discount. Laura hopes that in addition to serving as a yearlong coupon, the coins will become a collector’s items.
“It’s been very well received, selling almost 500 coins in the first year,” Laura says. “I will do it again and will develop a new coin every anniversary in October.”
Saddle Mountain Brewing Company, 15651 W. Roosevelt Street, Goodyear, 623.249.5520, saddlemountainbrewing.com.