With Southern Arizona small batch breweries popping up faster than we can say "Another round, please," there has to be a place—or a few places—where you can sample all that frosty mug goodness.
Sure, most breweries feature their own tasting room, some even with a full beer bar. And those taprooms are worth the visit to sample quality craft beer. And now we have tap rooms opening to serve both local brew and imports from some hidden European village you pretend to know about because the oatmeal stout they produce once every third Wednesday after the winter solstice can only be described as "Dude, so good." Just like a taco truck on every corner or pizza parlor in every neighborhood, I find nothing wrong with an ever-increasing number of beer joints installing rows of unmarked handles to pour out frothy cascades of delicious—albeit sometimes challenging—microbrews.
Travis and William Miller know a bit about beer, as well as pizza. They are the owners and operators of the local chain Serial Grillers. Of course, the food is the main focus and biggest seller, but a very close second is their beer sales. The Millers always have an impressive rotation of brews at their three locations, but needed an extension to showcase their habitual purchases of kegs and bottles filled with enticing ales and lagers.
Enter: Craft, a modern drinkery.
Situated in the old Terry and Zeke's spot, on Speedway near Swan, Craft is a more-than-welcome addition to a neighborhood. The old dim dive bar has been transformed into a clean, open and well-lit taproom.
"We've been looking for spaces to open Craft, but nothing really worked out," explains Travis. "No one wanted to rent out the old Terry and Zeke's because of the poor condition of the property but we wanted it because the Sprouts behind it is number one in craft beer sales in the region. Plus, there is nothing like this in the neighborhood and it's near our Speedway location."
Beyond the usual can and bottle sales, Craft features 46 tap handles, 40 of which are dedicated to beer, with four set aside for wine and two delivering kombucha fermented tea. Craft, even among its beer-centric draw, is actually family friendly. Not just because of the non-alcoholic options, or the fact that food trucks park there on a regular basis, or that you can totally bring in outside food. Nope. It all comes down to three very fun words: Free video games.
Lining one wall are old-school systems hosting classic games from the original Nintendo and Super NES era. As you sip a passion fruit cider from Seattle, a white coffee stout from Temecula or a seasonal Saison from Tulsa, you and your friends can battle it out with Zelda, Mario Brothers and that stupid dog from Duck Hunt. On top of that, the internet jukebox is free, too. All you have to do is download the app and you're the DJ for the day.
Miller says while he and his brother have three restaurants and two more on the way, Craft will be their only tap room.
"Right now, the only international beer we have is from Germany, but we are working on a larger global beer menu," Miller says. "There is beer from all over the states here, including Tucson. We love supporting local, but we just want the best available products for our customers and for people to come in and try something you can't get anywhere else."
The Miller brothers are also teaming up with breweries in California and Mesa to create their own line of craft beers to be sold exclusively at Serial Grillers and Craft. Not too shabby for a couple of guys who started out with a food truck business and appetite for drinking cold beer after a good day's work.