After a tough year of shutdowns and isolation, Grand Canyon Brewing and Distillery in Williams is hoping to raise Arizona’s spirits with new brews — Prickly Pear Wheat Ale and Deep in the Green Double IPA.
A subtly sweet, crisp and flavorful wheat beer, Prickly Pear Wheat Ale was the first of the two beverages to be released.
“We were talking about how prickly pear was getting some national recognition, as far as flavor goes,” says Sales Director Alexander Phillips.
“As always, we love things that represent Arizona, and had done a few seasonal prickly pear beverages before, so it just hit us that we should make a prickly pear wheat. We wanted to add something brighter and sweeter that could really represent poolside culture. We didn’t really have anything like that in our portfolio, and we thought it would be perfect for summer.”
Deep in the Green Double IPA is described by Phillips as a bright, West Coast-inspired IPA that stays away from the current haziness trend.
“We wanted to get back to the basics of what got us into craft beer — something clean, floral, hoppy and bitter,” he says. “The kind of West Coast-style IPA that you could sip in the summer, or really year-round.”
Grand Canyon Brewing and Distillery opened its first location in Williams in 2017. Phillips says the facility stands out because it makes everything from scratch — even its ethanol and botanicals.
“We source everything we can from Arizona, and everything we make is from grain to glass,” Phillips says. “We’re able to build our own flavor profiles in a way that a lot of other distilleries can’t.”
Phillips says the brewery staff is inspired by Arizona and folds that into its beverages, which range from bourbons to beers.
“What inspires us is our backyard,” Phillips says. “We’ve got inspiration on tap all around us. We’re personally obsessed with Arizona here, and it really drives a lot of what we do. From the giant hole in the ground, to the Sonoran Desert and the amazing forest ranges, it really is Arizona that keeps us inspired to want to keep creating fun liquids.”
The new brews are a triumph for the distillery, after the pandemic threatened to put it out of business. To stay afloat amid lockdowns, the distillery turned to hand sanitizer.
“We were going to lose everything,” Phillips says.
“We decided to make sanitizer, and with the help of our beer distributor, we were able to sell enough to keep the lights on, keep our brewers paid, keep our materials paid for. Eventually, we were even able to donate 1,500 gallons up to the Navajo Nation.”
This summer, Grand Canyon Brewing and Distillery is planning to open a second location in Page. The staff is hoping to come closer to the Valley to reach more Phoenix-area residents. Phillips describes the company as being “in aggressive acquisition mode.”
“Not a single restaurant or brewery going out of business does me any good,” Phillips says. “However, there will be a lot of opportunities on the market right now, and to not take advantage of that would be a disservice to those who weren’t able to. So, we’re going to be keeping our eye on expansion for the future.”
Phillips says the brewery has spent the last several years rebranding, bringing in a full-time graphics designer and overhauling every aspect of the business.
“We’ve spent the last three years and nearly $1 million improving everything — our properties, our processes, our personnel,” Phillips says.
“We’ve invested to make everything as top notch as we could. We’ve got the quality on lock, the talent on lock, and now it’s time to start releasing new products.”
Phillips encourages beer lovers to come by the brewery.
“Unless you’ve had Grand Canyon in the last 24 months, you’ve really not had it,” Phillips says. “We’re a whole new brewery with better quality, better approach to market and brand-new branding. The last two years, we’ve become a whole different operation over here. So, if you haven’t tried us recently, come on over and give us a shot.”
Grand Canyon Brewing and Distillery
301 N. Seventh Street, Williams
1800 S. Milton Road, Flagstaff