Heritage Square hosts first-ever Phoenix Brewers Invitational

The first-ever Phoenix Brewers Invitational presented an opportunity for beer enthusiasts in the Phoenix area to enjoy their favorite alcoholic beverages and try something new over the weekend.

The invitational, which took place Friday and Saturday at Heritage Square in downtown Phoenix, included live entertainment and local small businesses advertising alcoholic and non-alcoholic products.

Phoenix Ale Brewery co-founder Greg Fretz organized the event in an effort to bring a beer-oriented festival to the area and give local brewers the opportunity to meet and greet their customers in a more personal manner.

“Us brewers really do love this area, and we wanted to bring the fun back into craft beers,” Fretz said. “The people should feel free to come out to enjoy their drinks and try some different styles of beer.”

Fretz invited dozens of brewers from across the country to participate.

“We invited 65 breweries from other states to join us,” Fretz said. “The people like options, and they enjoy being able to choose different styles of alcoholic beverage.”

At the Summer Breeze 21 cocktail and wine mixes kiosk, general manager Rudy Pacheco handed out product samples to curious customers.

Pacheco said the festival allowed his and other small businesses the opportunity to discern what sales practices appeal most to potential customers.

“Going directly to the public is the only way we do our marketing,” Pacheco said. “That person-to-person contact afforded us by such an event is crucial to our business model.”

The invitational featured a large variety of beers and ciders from which visitors could choose.

Psychology junior Jennifer Kowalski volunteered at the invitational, distributing cider and beer at the “rare beers” section of the festival.

Kowalski said her favorite aspect of the invitational was seeing people learn about types of alcohol they didn’t previously consider.

“A lot people have just one or two favorite beers,” Kowalski said. “The beauty of this event is that it gets them curious about tasting all types of different drinks, including hard cider.”

The invitational was open to those under the legal drinking age as well.

Interdisciplinary studies senior Taylor Les volunteered at the invitational and sold raffle tickets to visitors.

The proceeds from the raffle tickets went to the Beers for Brains Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to provide information regarding brain cancer and fund preventative research.

“It’s a great feeling to be a volunteer, because it means getting out and meeting great people,” Les said. “It’s also doing work for a noble cause as well.”

Urs Riner, the head brewer at the Mother Road Brewing Company in Flagstaff, brought some of his rare types of beer and cider.

“My favorite rare beer that I brought along is called spiced mortar, which … I created just for the festival,” Riner said. “The core of our brewing philosophy is to brew beers that are not commonly found. We like to push the style.”

 

Reach the reporter at mjgordo1@asu.edu