They say that the mandibles of a Palo Verde Beetle (Derobrachus hovorei) can chew through a credit card. They say that spotting the first Palo Verde Beetle of the season (ideally not near your credit card) means the monsoon storms are right around the corner. They also say that the season is going to be substantial and arrive early. Unfortunately, while we wait for the harbinger of this meteorologic phenomenon we must also get through what they say is an "excessive heat warning."
I’d opt for the beetles.
I’m sure my fellow Tucsonans will agree that never is this heat more truly excessive than while driving around town, which is exactly what I found myself doing on day one of the heat advisory. Specifically, I was on a mission to procure some heat-busting, thirst-quenching local brews, and nothing short of my Jeep's tires melting to the asphalt was going to deter me. My deodorant was pushed to its limits, but I ultimately completed my quest, which made enjoying those sought-after beers all the more satisfying.
Whether you’re hiding under a rock or floating in the pool, here’s my summer short list of the best local brews to enjoy while you beat the burn of an Old Pueblo heat wave.
Foodie Tip: All of these can be found at small, local businesses and breweries, so show them some love by shopping with intention.
Nothing hits the spot of a hot happy hour like a well-crafted IPA, and Dragoon makes them masterfully. Palomino is a west coast-style IPA (no haze here) and as crisp as the day is long. A modest 33 IBUs reads as tropical and fruity rather than aggressive, thanks to a hop bill that stars Australian Galaxy hops. Juicy refreshment is at the forefront of this drinking experience (7.5% ABV).
I purchased this crafty brew at Plaza Liquors located at 2642 N. Campbell Ave.
Like fresh corn on the cob in the summer, this beer is an absolute treat. Super clean and crisp, which is representative of the American Blonde style, but with added mild sweetness and creaminess at the back end.
This feat is accomplished by the brilliant addition of a 60-day maiz produced by the Tohono O’odham community and procured from San Xavier Co-op Farm. 60-day corn is a fast-growing corn variety that goes from seed to harvestable in about 60 days when planted in the heat of the southwestern monsoon season, so Viejo Pueblo Blonde Ale gives a nod to the Tucson summer while also offering reprieve from it (4.8% ABV)
This one can be picked up at Borderlands Brewing Company located at 119 E. Toole Ave.
Refreshing doesn’t even begin to describe this one. The Rice Cream IPA series (brewed with jasmine rice for a deliciously creamy mouthfeel) has long been a favorite of mine. My love for this beer really kicked off in 2020 with the Margarita variety — weird flex, but so delicious. That version was released at about the time when the excruciating heat of the summer was asked "Oh, you think you’re hot" by the burning Catalinas, and the monsoons apparently had better things to do.
One sip of Rice Cream IPA tasted and felt like sweet relief from the burning around us, and it still does. The newest release of this unique hazy IPA is infused with passionfruit, orange, and guava, and is a delicious representative of the rice cream-style perfected by Pueblo Vida. The orange was the most prominent flavor I picked up on, although I’m not sure if I would know a passionfruit or guava if you walloped me with them. Drink, and be transported somewhere cool and tropical (6.5% ABV)
You can grab a cold one at Tucson Hop Shop located at 3230 N. Dodge Blvd., Unit H.
After all the driving in the heat, I needed a watering hole and Crooked Tooth provided. Their owner, Julie Vernon, recommended I cool down with their Pride month sour release, called Prickle Juice for the prickly pear added to the brew. If there’s something more representative of a Tucson summer than a plump prickly pear fruit with that gorgeous fuchsia flesh crowning spiky green pads of cactus, I haven’t seen it.
Putting prickly pear in a beer is essentially serving a desert summer in a glass. Cool, perfectly tart (no puckering necessary), totally refreshing, with prickly pear sweetness at the end and a surprisingly malty aroma. A beautiful rosy amber beer that seemed to glow from the inside out, and a perfect refreshment for anyone that's spent too much time in the saddle (6.7% ABV)
I enjoyed this beer in the Crooked Tooth Brewing tap room at 228 E. Sixth St.
Jessie Jean Mance was born in Tucson and never met a riparian area she didn’t like. She is a lover of lightning, sunsets, mezcal, music, and other intoxicating experiences. Mance resolutely believes that fresh air is medicine, burritos are the...