A Batch Made in Heaven
This article first ran in Sonoran Quarterly in 2019. Take a look back at our first beer collaboration.
One look at the Arizona’s rolling desert terrain is all it takes to fall in love with its natural beauty. That is all it took to inspire the creators of Arizona Wilderness Brewery Co.
The idea for the company began on a backpacking trip in Arizona, when the founders wanted to combine their entrepreneurial spirit with their love for the Grand Canyon state. Owner and founder Jonathan Buford says their beer actually tastes like Arizona, too, because all their beer’s barley is grown and malted in the Verde Valley, which is about 100 miles north of Phoenix.
“We always source raw ingredients from Arizona— citrus, dates, honey, herbs and spices, prickly pear and many more,” says Buford. “We love supporting the diversity of this state.”
From the get-go, these Arizona flavors have impressed worldwide. Shortly after opening, Arizona Wilderness Brewery Co. garnered international attention when it was ranked as the Best New Brewery by Ratebeer.com, beating out brewers from Ireland, Austria, San Diego and more for the coveted number-one spot.
But this isn’t just good-tasting beer—it is feel-good beer. Arizona Wilderness Brewery Co. partners with Sinagua Malt, an Arizona benefit corporation created to provide a market solution for declining rivers and streams. They work with the farmers to grow low-water-yield crops like barley instead of the high-water-use crops, including cotton, alfalfa and corn.
“We have learned that a major portion of water issues start with farms upstream,” says Buford. “We continually work to understand their needs and ensure they work on drip systems and low- water-intensive crops.”
These steps prove to be making an impact too. Buford says Singua Malt saved 50 million gallons of water during the low-water-reserve summer season, and this was simply tied to shifting what the farmers grow.
“We continually strive to support Arizona and to make low-impact decisions that benefit the state,” says Buford.
With a second location in Downtown Phoenix under its belt and these impressive conservation partnerships and sustainable practices in their toolkit, Arizona Wilderness Brewery Co. is ready to share their story and beer with Garden guests.
“We believe we’ve earned our seat at the table to represent this state that we love,” says Buford. “We want to build the excitement and add value from our own experiences. Honestly, we want to share our love of this state and influence people’s decisions to choose local first.”
Arizona Wilderness Brewery Co.’s’ next partnership is one that Garden-goers can get excited about. The brewery is creating a Garden-inspired beer, using indigenous desert ingredients. Arizona Wilderness will begin serving the Garden beer at their locations and Garden events, including Think & Drink and Devour Culinary Classic.
To learn more about Devour at home this year, visit Devour at Home — Devour Week (devourphoenix.com)
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. Co-Owners Patrick Ware (left) and Jonathan Buford