Public and private tours to local breweries focus on sampling, pairing and creating a unique experience
It took 50 years for John Alvarado to find his passion. The Chandler beer-lover-turned-entrepreneur launched Arizona Brewery Tours with his son Johnny, in January 2013. Together, the father and son team are doing what they love: tasting, pairing, sharing and educating others on the growing craft beer industry.
Partnering with Local Breweries
Alvarado’s desire to keep local breweries in business was a driving force behind the creation of Arizona Brewery Tours.
“People may not know that a brewery exists right in their own backyard,” says Alvarado. “Arizona breweries are literally popping up all over, especially in the East Valley and downtown.”
Tours allow craft beer lovers to interface with local brewers and owners by understanding the complexities of the beer making process. They also allow a novice to learn about craft beer.
“We encourage people to expand their beer palettes by exposing them to new flavors and pairings,” Alvarado says. “We ask guests what they like and don’t like and we encourage them to try something different.”
Public Brewery Tours
Public tours are geared towards experienced and novice craft beer drinkers. Public tours are $99 per person, and are held Wednesdays through Saturdays, typically from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Included are stops to three local Arizona breweries, 15 to 18 craft beer samplings, special brewery tours, a meal, and souvenir.
Tours start with craft beer education including the beer making process, types of beer and history on Arizona breweries. Guest beer guides also make appearances.
“We sometimes get local brewers or brewery owners on board to hang out with our guests, to talk about craft beer, share their knowledge and have a good time,” Alvarado says. “We tailor tours to every group.”
Breweries are prepared in advance. Tables are reserved and beer and food is served within minutes of arrival. Everything is easy for the customer.
Shuttle service to local beer festivals is also available and guests are usually picked up at The Hungry Monk in Chandler.
Private Brewery Tours
Private tours can accommodate up to 50 people and vary in price depending on the number of guests and the experience chosen.
“It’s a great way to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, bachelor parties or corporate team building events,” Alvarado says. “We like to have fun but we’re not a party bus. We are truly focused on craft beer education.”
While Arizona Brewery Tours visits and samples craft beer at breweries in the local Phoenix-metro area, private tour excursions can travel to breweries located in the state such as northern Arizona.
“We had an amazing tour to Flagstaff with AZ Girls’ Pint Out, a local group of women who enjoy drinking and learning about craft beer,” Alvarado says. “And recently took the same beer club on a tour of the new breweries in the West Valley, such as Freak’N Brew, Dubina, Saddle Mountain and Peoria Artisan. Preparations are underway for the third year tour with the Arizona Society of Homebrewers.
Alvarado uses his love of craft beer to expose brewery tour guests to new and unique flavors to broaden their experience.
“We consider it a challenge when a non-beer drinker is on the tour,” he shares. “It’s fun to see what they taste that they do end up liking!”
North Mountain Brewing brewed ancient Egyptian-inspired ale using dates, cinnamon, sesame and hints of coriander for a special event at the Science Center. The Perch in Chandler is always brewing up popular unique flavors like Perch Belgian Peach.
“Other brewers experiment with local ingredients like honey, wheat and even harvesting yeast from the air near Flagstaff,” Alvarado says. “I’ve seen breweries add peanut butter, white chocolate and even Girl Scout cookies. There are so many different flavors and options now available.”
Arizona: A Beer Destination
Tours not only include locals, but vacationers and those looking to experience the craft beer scene in Arizona. East Valley’s own Arizona Wilderness brewing crew made international headlines for Arizona as the number one new brewery in the world.
International visitors from England, China, Germany and Canada have experienced a ride with the Arizona Brewery tour crew.
“Arizona is definitely becoming a beer destination,” Alvarado says. “People are traveling here to taste the award-winning craft beer.”
Alvarado joined the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild to promote the craft beer business. The Guild recently led efforts to pass a bill in the Arizona legislature to allow the increase of barrel production and distribution for local breweries. This is a real win for business and for the Arizona economy.
“Breweries are competing on a national level and bring in tourism, which ultimately boosts our economy,” Alvarado says. “We want to showcase Arizona as a craft beer leader and a craft beer destination.”