Tucson Breweries: Downtown

After exploring the western Tuscon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park, what to do but wet my whistle at a local brewery?!

Thanks to a Seattle beer snob group, I had decided to go to two recommended breweries in downtown Tucson, and to wing later on in the trip at some in East Tucson after hitting the eastern Rincon Mountain District. I figured a Tuesday would be the perfect quiet day to sit at a bar and chat with the beertenders. My hotel (the quiet and adorable Hotel McCoy) recommended I start at Borderlands Brewing for their Taco Tuesday promotion. An Uber ride later and I walked inside the jam-packed brewery.

The taplist in early March.
My short and sweet sampler at Borderlands.

Unbeknownst to me, Borderlands is the Tucson headquarters for Bernie Sanders, and in addition to being Taco Tuesday, it was Super Tuesday. Seats were very limited, so I put in a food order and poached a seat at the bar. My dream of a quiet evening of chatting with fellow beer snobs was clearly gone. I ordered a sampler (I felt like such a jerk doing this during a rush but the beertender swore it was okay!) to try to get a sense of their beer.

First up was a peach-mango infused version of their Toole Avenue IPA, followed buy the original to best compare. Third was their churro cream ale, followed by their prickly pear wheat. Now, I’m not an agoraphobe, but the place was getting more packed by the second by people who clearly didn’t appreciate beer or seem to know what a brewery was (people ordering cocktails and Miller Lites left and right). I was also having well-meaning people approach me asking if I was registered to vote and who I voted for. “I’m from out of state,” I practically begged off. “I’m just a tourist!” This is all no fault of the brewery itself, but it definitely hampered my enjoyment of the beer and made it impossible to give this place my normal write-up. My favorite of the four was the churro cream ale, and the tacos were stellar, but as soon as I finished my beer I had to just nope on out of there.

In summary (to the best of my knowledge)…
  • Full kitchen: No but there is a food truck station just outside that you can even order from at the bar
  • All-ages: No
  • Dog friendly: Yes
  • Merch: I only had a quick glance but appears apparel and glassware
  • Coasters: No
  • Outdoor seating: A large outdoor area with bocce ball courts
Merch included a frisbee and even a camping hammock with their beautiful sunset and saguaro logo.

Luckily, my second stop was just an eight-minute walk away. Pueblo Vida Brewing Company was mercifully exactly as full as you’d expect a brewery to be on a Tuesday evening, and I spent a good minute or two just breathing and enjoying the relative silence. I was able to actually take in my surroundings–the seating is a U-shape around the bar, which I happily took a seat at, with local art on the walls and merch at the bar, a fridge with to-go cans right by the entrance. One look at the menu and I was in IPA heaven. I could see why this place came recommended! They sadly don’t do samplers, so the best I could do was half-pours of whatever I wanted to try, which was a lot, but hey–I was on vacation and not driving anywhere til morning!

 

Hope you like hops! If not there are other options, but I was in hop heaven.

I ended up having six half-pours, all IPAs. While it may have been Taco Tuesday at Borderlands, Tuesdays at Pueblo Vida are their Infusion day, with a favorite being infused with something new. Today being a release of their Ember Pale Ale infused with fresh Pineapple and Mango juice. It was delicious and amazing, but I think my favorite of the six I tried (which did end up running together a bit, as IPAs can do) ended up actually being the Benthos IPA, which was packed with strawberry flavor. I’ve had many fruity IPAs in my life, but I think this is the first strawberry IPA I’ve ever had–and if they’re all as good as the Benthos, I hope not the last!

 

In summary (to the best of my knowledge)…
  • Full kitchen: No but they sell some small snacks
  • All-ages: No
  • Dog friendly: Yes
  • Merch: Besides the usual products, they had branded frisbees, chubbie sunglasses leashes, and even a camping hammock!
  • Coasters: No
  • Outdoor seating: No

I do with I had one more day in Tucson to better explore, but for one night downtown, I think I did alright with visiting these two breweries.

2 Replies to “Tucson Breweries: Downtown”

  1. Mama Boots says: Reply

    The Churro Cream Ale sounds amazing. I hope to try it one day.

    1. Peddler Brewing in Seattle makes a similar one!

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