Well Tucson beer fans, the cat’s out of the bag.
Tucson’s own Tap & Bottle has been named one of the top 100 beer bars in the United States by Draft Magazine, one of the most widely read beer publications in the country.
The story will not hit the public until next month, but sources at the magazine and at Tap & Bottle confirm the designation. Tap & Bottle will be the second Tucson beer bar to be named a Top 100 beer bar by the magazine, following 1702’s designation in 2014.
The bar is also the only Arizona beer bar named in the magazine’s Top 100 this year.
Just on the heels of their third anniversary, Tap & Bottle owners Scott and Rebecca Safford have continued to focus on their humble notions that a beer bar should be a place to hang out and enjoy the community. There are no televisions at the bar, but rather, long tables, board games, and plenty of opportunities to meet new people over a great pint of beer or draft wine.
“Creating a different environment helped make it a destination for beer lovers but also became a social house for people who work downtown and live close by,” said Rebecca Safford. “Although Scott and I are fans of many places with TVs — and watch a lot of UA basketball elsewhere — not having TVs was a choice we made to encourage people to talk — and talk about beer.”
Since opening their doors in in June, 2013, Tap & Bottle has revolutionized the craft beer bar world in Tucson. It was the first major bar in Tucson to combine the bottle-shop model similar to Plaza Liquors & Fine Wines with the draft craft beer offerings of 1702. After opening, Tap & Bottle staff faced complaints about bottle-cap fees, small-glass pours, and other craft beer bar normalities.
Being the first of its kind, years ahead of its time, may have had something to do with it. Since opening, nearly a dozen similar concepts have opened in Tucson, all of which follow the same model.
“At the time, there were no bars only serving beer (and) wine and also combining it with a beer (and) wine store in Tucson,” Rebecca Safford said. “Now, three years later, T&B is recognized among many bars that have been around for many more years.”
Within the local and state beer community, Scott and Rebecca Safford have few equals, according to many in the beer industry. They are known to support all local brands and are keen on educating new entrants to the craft beer world.
Draft Magazine, which plans to run their Top 100 story July 11, was a major figurehead in the beer world for Tap & Bottle, Safford said.
“When Scott and I traveled to get inspiration for T&B before we opened, we used the Draft Magazine, Best Beer Bars List to help guide us to some of the best places,” she said. “We made it a goal to make this list in our first 5 years and even read the opening paragraphs of the 2015 best beer bars publication at a staff meeting.”
Not to rest on their laurels, Tap & Bottle is still looking forward. The Saffords are still looking at new and innovative events to serve the growing population of craft beer drinkers while opening doors to those on the cusp. While there are no plans to change the existing location, on the southwest corner of Sixth Street and Sixth Ave., there is talk of an expansion near the Mercado san Agustin just west of Interstate 10.
In the relatively short amount of time since they opened their doors, the Saffords every-so-often take a look back upon the footsteps behind. Although humble, the two understand that they now have a responsibility to the many people whom have entered the craft beer world because of their efforts.
“In order for Tucson to be a beer town and a beer destination we need great breweries, beer bars and restaurants with a beer focus,” Rebecca Safford said. “I think that T&B and other beer focused bars and bottleshops in Tucson all help to make Tucson an even better beer town.”