19 January, 2022, 22:07

Three New Must-Try Tucson Beers

Tucson brewers are making some great beer.

I don’t know if it’s the water, the malt, or the hops that are making these specialty releases so amazing, but do yourself a favor and grab a pint of these beers before they are gone.

2nd Anniversary Double IPA

Pueblo Vida Brewing Co.

This beer, aptly named “2” since it was brewed in honor of the Brewery’s 2nd anniversary, is a double IPA.

While the word double has an explicit meaning, most double or Imperial IPAs do not contain double the hops or alcohol (ABV). For example, the standard-bearer for local IPAs is Dragoon’s, which clocks in at 7.3% ABV and 83 International Bittering Units (IBUs). (IBUs are the standard measurement of how “hoppy” a beer is.) According to the Beer Judging Certification Program (BJCP), a beer enters double IPA territory once it crosses the 7.5% ABV and 60 IBU threshold. Using this standard, Dragoon’s standard IPA could almost be considered a double or Imperial IPA. Fortunately, brewers like to go big when brewing doubles and it’s rare to see a double IPA that’s under 8% ABV or with fewer than 90 IBUs.

Pueblo Vida’s co-owner and brewer Kyle Jefferson didn’t disappoint with this latest specialty beer. 2 is a hazy, juicy, and hoppy beer that titillates the taste buds with a big grapefruit nose up front, notes of tropical fruit on the tongue, and a boozy finish. Jefferson and company brewed this masterpiece with Simcoe, Chinook, Nelson and Galaxy hops then dry-hopped it with more Nelson and Galaxy hops for good measure.

The beer clocks in at 8.2% ABV and 95 IBUs so it’s clearly an Imperial IPA, as well as a new favorite among Tucson’s burgeoning craft beer crowd. 2 is available on tap at the brewery and in 16-ounce four-packs for $16 plus tax.

More info at pueblovidabrewing.com.

Toole Avenue IPA

Borderlands Brewing

There’s a lot of talk lately about East Coast IPA versus West Coast IPA. When it comes to comparing leaders from both coasts, Russian River’s Pliny the Elder matches up nicely with The Alchemist’s Heady Topper. The main differences between the two is hop balance. Both beers are 8.0% ABV and categorized as double IPAs but its the IBUs that set them apart. West Coast IPAs tend to have more pine crispness and woodsy undertones while East Coast styles tend to be more citrus forward and more balanced with the malts.

Borderlands newest IPA is a take on the famed New England style perfected by breweries like The Alchemist, Treehouse and Trillium Brewing. Packed with 100% Citra hops, this big, juicy IPA is a winner on all fronts.

“We brewed this beer specifically to highlight the aroma and juiciness over the traditional bitterness of an IPA,” said Borderlands co-owner Mike Mallozzi. “Toole Avenue provides a soft mouthfeel, beautifully hazy color, and an explosion of hop aroma as soon as the pint is poured.”

The brewing team over at Borderlands switches up the recipe on this one, incorporating Citra, Mosaic, Amarillo and/or Mandarina Bavaria hops but this incarnation of 100% Citra hops is mind-blowing. It is now available on tap at the brewery and they are allowing growler fills.

More info at borderlandsbrewing.com.

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Barrel-Aged Bière del Bac

Dragoon Brewing

We’d be remiss if we failed to mention one of Dragoon’s latest offerings. They’ve recently released an ESB and a Doppelbock, but it’s the Belgian-Style Quad that has me salivating every December. This year, as an added bonus, they hooked up with neighbor Hamilton Distillers and aged their Bière del Bac in Whiskey del Bac barrels. This “collaboration del Bac” is about as good as it gets from barrel-aging.

Hamilton’s Whiskey del Bac earned  ‘Double Gold Best in Show’ recognition at the Great American Distillers Festival for single malts less than a year old and delivers strong flavors of caramel, molasses and marzipan. The beer blends three malts and two hops and is brewed with piloncillo sugar and dark Belgian candi syrup for an incredible deep, dark reddish beer. Dragoon Brewing’s head brewer Shawn Cochran stated that the beer has been aging in the barrels for about a year and the melange of flavors are perfect for the cold desert winters. Coming in at 10% ABV, this quad is served only in five or ten ounce pours and is not available for sale in growlers.

More info at dragoonbrewing.com.

David Bowers is a passionate and published craft beer and college athletics writer based in Tucson, Arizona.