The Shop Beer Co. blossoms from coffee house-experiment to brand new brewery

What initially began as a project within Cartel Coffee Lab has quickly expanded from a small tasting room to a full-fledged, Arizona craft beer landmark. The Shop Beer Co., formerly Cartel Brewery, is set to open this Saturday at its new location near First Street and Hardy Drive near Tempe Town Lake.

Owner Dave Arnce said the brewery began four years ago as an experiment within Cartel before rapidly taking on a life of its own. Arnce said the collection of “different people with different passions” lead to splitting from Cartel entirely.

 “Not everyone wanted to continue with beer,” he said. “It just worked out better that we split the two things.”

The brewery moved out of Cartel in 2015 to a space right next door to the coffee shop’s University Drive and Ash Avenue location, but it didn’t take long for the space’s limitations to become apparent.

“In about 18 months, we just outgrew the facility,” he said. “We had no idea that it would grow that fast. Our whole beer crew decided to make a leap of faith, so that’s why we’re opening the new location; new building, get new gear, because we literally couldn’t produce enough at the old location.”

The new facility features a large 20-barrel brewhouse, along with a tasting room, bar and patio.

Arnce said The Shop Beer Co. enjoys a “mixed bag” of Tempe customers, which includes not only students from ASU, but local residents from all walks of life.

“The craft beer folks … they have something in common that’s broader than just this one campus," he said.  "It’s a really cool cross-section of people that come in and support, and they become friends. It’s kind of like this meeting place where people get together and share their stories and tell their jokes.”

Arnce said popular beers include the double IPA “F.Y.I.T.M” (pronounced “fight ‘em) and the favorably reviewed tropical IPA “Sunset Daydream,” with the name taken from the Grateful Dead song “Sunshine Daydream” and the Sunset neighborhood in Tempe in which the brewery is located.

Also offered is the "Coffee Brown," an American nut brown ale made with coffee beans, a reminder of the brewery's coffeehouse heritage.

Director of Operations Jason Calhoon, who is also an assistant brewer, said he is excited for the company's growth without losing the quality brew they are so passionate about.

“We hope it continues to grow, but still remains relatively small to where it’s a family,” he said. “We want to do as much as we can, but not grow to the point where we’re Anheuser-Busch.”

Head bartender Amanda Madsen said she loves that the members of the beer crew puts their “heart and love” into the product, and strive to support the community and its needs.

“I love working here,” she said. “I love building our regulars and building that sense of community with them. I love the fact that they built (the new building) from the ground and put their blood, sweat and tears into it, and that there’s a story to tell in every room.”

The Shop Beer Co. will hold its grand opening at its new facility on Aug. 27 at 10 a.m.

Related Links:

Former ASU student spreads love for craft beer through Valley

Pedal Haus Brewery brews up craft beer, bratwurst and fun 

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