The second wave of the craft brew industry hit Tucson this year.
Breweries have become well established in Tucson over the past few years. But the opening of Tap and Bottle, 403 N. Sixth Ave., in June signaled the maturation of craft beer’s place in Tucson.
Tap and Bottle is the first free-standing place in Tucson to feature only craft beers on tap. (Whole Foods at East River and North Craycroft roads has a 24- tap bar within the store).
Rebecca and Scott Safford had a dream to get in the craft beer business. After visiting several breweries and beer bars in the West they decided they wanted to be involved in the “culture of beer,” but didn’t want to open a brewery.
Rebecca worked in higher education at the University of Arizona and Pima Community College, but had waited tables and bartended while in college. Scott is the manager of Trader Joe’s at Speedway and Wilmot Road (and is the “retail guru” for the bottled wine they also sell).
Rebecca said they “felt there was a need for a beer bar in Tucson.” After looking around Tucson, they decided the time was right, and downtown was the place to be. They found the Sixth Avenue space in January 2012 and signed a lease the following June. They didn’t open until the following June, in 2013.
The couple “took time to think through the process.” Although it took longer than planned to open, Rebecca said it was for the best. When they opened they were totally ready. The building had to be approved to house a bar (it was built in the early 1900s). The parking requirement had to be modified. Rebecca said everyone at the city was “wonderful” and “extremely helpful.” The process just took a long time.
When they opened in June, friends asked “why are you opening in Tucson in the summer?” Rebecca said they were ready and thought any revenue would be better than none. She said, “It’s been great,” and added that July has been their best month so far.
They utilize 10 distributors as well as local breweries to keep the taps supplied. Rebecca and the staff research and pick the beers to order. Some beers will sell out in a few hours, while others might last two weeks.
Rebecca said, “It’s exciting to see the growth of the craft beer world in Tucson.”
It wouldn’t surprise me to see more beer bars pop up in Tucson. The new Whole Foods coming this summer at Ina and Oracle roads will have a beer bar similar to the River Road Whole Foods.
Good news from the Sentinel Peak Brewing Co. Jeremy Hilderbrand reports they anticipate a Jan. 11 opening at 4746 E. Grant Road. That’ll make for a happy new year!