The best places for craft beer in Tempe

If you need a fix for craft beer, here's where you need to go

While there are numerous places on and around the Tempe campus for wine, liquor and domestic drafts by the pitcher, craft beer is steadily gaining ground around the area, both inside and outside Mill Avenue.

Bars specializing in the popular beverage have risen in recent years, becoming hotspots for students and locals to pick up a pint of their favorite India pale ale or stout.

For those who don’t want to travel too far for their hops, here are some of the best places to drink craft beer around Tempe campus:

Pedal Haus Brewery — 730 S. Mill Ave. #102

The bicycle-themed Pedal Haus Brewery and restaurant has been a recent fixture on Mill Avenue after its opening in 2014. After a renovation, the locale re-opened in October of last year.

The brewery specializes in European craft, including quads and duvels, and the staff brew their own beers in-house. Manager Michael Dorr said that the bar currently has 12 beers on tap, and highlighted an unfiltered chappelle-style craft, with “clove aromas and light citrusy undertones.”

He also spoke of a barrel-aged quad and imperial stout, the latter of which should be available at the time of publication.

Pedal Haus’ happy hour runs from 3-6:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, with a “Sunday Funday” that includes discounted beers, mimosas, and half-priced wings.

Sleepy Dog Brewing – 1920 E. University Dr. #104

Per its namesake, Sleepy Dog Brewing keeps a constant round of themed brews named after different aspects of man’s best friend. Their Wet Snout Milk Stout, brewed with milk sugar, is seen in several local stores, while their taproom also serves their flagship “Red Rover” Irish-style ale and “Scootcher Amber,” amongst others.

The taproom is open every day other than Sunday and Monday, and has happy hour from 4-7 p.m., with a “reverse” happy hour after 10 p.m.

The Handlebar – Centerpoint on Mill, 680 S. Mill Ave. #109

The spacious Handlebar is a consistent destination for an evening crowd in downtown Tempe, and was named “Best Hipster Bar” in 2014 by AZ Foothills. General manager Corrie Elizabeth said the bar has held court on Mill Avenue for four years, and gets its namesake from bicycles.

“Our original owner loves anything to do with beer,” she said, “So he themed this after a German beer garden.”

She said that the bar has 24 beers on tap, and well over 200 options in bottles, cans of craft and craft cocktails. According to their website, the beers are hand-selected by manager and “resident beer geek” Nick Nitz. The beers are of local American and European styles and include ales and porters.

The Handlebar holds happy hour from 3-6:30 p.m. every day (all day on Wednesday), with $2 off all available beer. The kitchen serves a range of food, including house-made sausages and pretzels.

“The whole thing revolves around being local-friendly (and) bike-friendly," Elizabeth said.

Spokes on Southern – 1470 E. Southern Ave.

A seven-minute drive from Main is Spokes on Southern Avenue, another bike-friendly bar that caters to locals and those in need of a craft beer fix, with an array of comfort food and parking for those on two wheels. Their beer selection of 25 drafts contains local and national brews, with crafts from San Tan Brewing, Colorado’s New Belgium and California’s Sierra Nevada. They also hold in-house events featuring popular breweries and their latest releases.

The hangout has all-day happy hour every Saturday.

Now that's a real beer flight #stonebrewing #breaksidebrewery #wakethedead #blastedbarley #downtowntempe #lostabbeybrewing

A photo posted by Blasted Barley Beer Co. (@blastedbarleyaz) on

Blasted Barely Brewing Company  404 S. Mill Ave.

Nestled on a small side street of Mill Avenue, Blasted Barley Brewing Company has operated for two years, opening in November of 2014. Backed by its in-house brewery, the bar and restaurant carries a line of 29 beers on tap.

“We try to focus on getting nice allocated beers that you won’t see everywhere,” said Jake Bertino, Blasted Barley’s general manager.

Both house-made brews as well as craft beers are from both local sources and around the country.

“You’ll see a sampling of some of the top Arizona beers and some of the national favorites, but we really want to get people something that they can’t find anywhere else,” he said.

Blasted Barley’s in-house brews range from dunkeweisses, browns and stout dubbed the “Xtreme Bean Milk Stout,” an espresso vanilla milk stout made with Madagascar vanilla beans, according to their website.

“We really try to push the envelope and do some big, bold beers,” Bertino said. 

In the past, the staff have dabbled with various flavorings of IPA-style beers, including a double-rye and a blood orange.

Bertino said that the location strives to get people interested in the different styles of craft beer by providing samples and comparisons of their beers to other brewers.

“We’re not going to tell you what kind of beer to drink, we’re going to try to find a beer that you’ll love," he said.

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