The craft beer scene in Tucson has grown at a rapid pace in recent years with breweries popping up all over town. Beer lovers have lots to love these days thanks to the passionate work of local brewers.
Recently though one long-time brewery along with the statewide collective of women brewers showed that they have heart when it comes to giving back to their community.
Barrio Brewing Company recently announced that sales of their commemorative State Bird Double IPA have raised $10,000 for women’s shelters statewide. Most remarkable is the fact that this goal was raised a mere five days after distribution began with the help of Hensley Beverage Company. State Bird was distributed to over 130 bats and breweries statewide.
Back in my college days, Gentle Ben’s was a cool place to hang, swill a few beers and enjoy a cheese board. Located in a stately old house that had once been the Yucca Tea Room (a very popular UoA gathering spot in the ‘20’s and ‘30’s – see page 136 in ‘Lost Restaurants of Tucson.) Ben’s was always fun.
I graduated, got married, moved away and moved back; Gentle Ben’s changed hands, changed names and in 1991 changed back to Gentle Ben’s with a new owner, Dennis Arnold, who had a vision to make craft beer.
When Arnold started brewing craft beer was a rarity; craft breweries were few and far between. But Arnold persisted, growing his craft little by little. These days he owns not just Gentle Ben’s, which is now located a couple of blocks south of the original) and Barrio Brewing Company, where he now brews a full assortment of brews. Barrio is located south of Downtown in and refurbished factory.
This year Barrio & Gentle Ben’s celebrate 25 years in business.
And they are doing it up in style.
From October 2nd to October 7th – at either location – you can get a special 25th Anniversary meal – a appetizer, an entrée, gelato and, of course a beer of your choice (we like the Barrio Blonde, which is the longest, continuously brewed craft beer in Arizona). You also get a commemorative t-shirt and beer glass. At $25 (plus tax and tip) it’s a bargain and a half.
Barrio Brewing Co. brews ten year-round and three seasonal beers and is one of the first craft beers in Tucson that is available in cans. There ae now several canned brews that can be found at liquor stores and other outlets.
Arnold promises more information and other “interesting facts” as the Silver Anniversary nears.
On Saturday, one of my most favorite foodie events, Viva La Local Food Festival, takes place at Rillito Park. Viva La Local is a gathering of food, wine, beer, music and joy where locals can celebrate locals in a comfortable, relaxing, family-friendly atmosphere.
People can taste foods from over 25 local restaurants including Tavolino, D’s Island Grill, Pasco, Rod’s KC BBQ, Prep & Pastry, Renee’s Organic Oven and many more. Beer will be poured by Borderlands Brewing Company, Barrio Brewing Company, Dragoon Brewing Company, Sentinel Peak Brewing Company and Thunder Canyon Brewery. Wine is from Arizona Stronghold Vineyards.
Tastings for food and drink cost $5.00 each. What with an entry ticket at $6.00, you can have a smorgasbord of flavors without breaking the bank. Plus, this gives you the opportunity to check out places you’ve been wanting to try (or nosh on goodies from your favorites.)
The event is part of the Heirloom Farmers’ Markets (the monies raised benefit this fab group) and as such the market is a key part of the fun. You can shop for your groceries, stash then at the “Veggie Valet” and then enjoy the rest of the festival.
Music ranges from jazz to blues, rock to funk and something for the kids called Mr. Nature’s Music Garden where families can “build positive foundations for social interaction and motor skills through song, dance, storytelling and art!” and a petting zoo. Sounds like fun.
These photos don’t do the event justice but make plans to attend.