On tap: Arizona beer industry on the rise

Posted at 7:00 PM, Sep 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-25 22:00:40-04

Derek Osborne used to be a chiropractor, until he decided to make his hobby into his job.

Now, he’s the head brewer at a new microbrewery in downtown Tempe, Pedal Haus. And, the new 14,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art operation is a lot different than brewing beer in his garage.

It’s just one of a slew of new breweries, microbreweries and craft beer bars that has popped up around the Valley in the last few years.

In 2011, there were 33 brewers licensed in Arizona. Now, there are 74, according to Rob Fullmer, Executive Director of the Arizona Craft Brewer’s Guild.

In 2014, the Arizona beer industry had an economic output of about $4.3 million, according to a report from the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

It also employed about 38,600 people and generated about $800 million in federal and state taxes.

Nationally, the beer industry contributed about $252 billion in economic output and employed nearly 50,000 Americans in 2014, according to the study.

“It signals that Arizona is open for business, especially when it comes to brewing,” Fullmer said.

And, after the Governor signed the so-called “Arizona Beer Bill,” this year, Arizona breweries will be able to expand in ways they couldn’t before. The law lifted a production cap on local microbreweries.

Osborne said that opens up the path for investors and growth for Arizona beer.

“We don’t really compete with each other,” he said. “If another brewery opens up next to us, we’re going to do better for it.”

Pedal Haus is set to open Friday night with a big Sundown Septemberfest, and Osborne said beer drinkers something to look forward to. 

“It’s going to taste like a unicorn flying over a rainbow and landing on the moon and bringing a little moon dust back to you,” he said, laughing.