A PBS special earlier this year declared craft beer is the new wine. And never before have beer drinkers had so many choices of small-batch ales and lagers produced right here in the Valley at a growing number of brew pubs that also offer full menus of food. Here are five to check out:
Four Peaks Brewing Company: The best-known and most-honored Valley microbrewery for the past 13 years makes eight mainstays, led by its popular Kiltlifter Scottish-style ale and British pub-inspired 8th Street Ale. It also has concocted more than two dozen various seasonal ales, such as its current Pumpkin Porter. 1340 E. Eighth St., Tempe, (480) 303-9967.
SanTan Brewing Company: This downtown Chandler brew pub (pictured at right), launched in 2007 by the longtime brewmaster from Four Peaks, showcases an every-day roster of six ales, plus a seasonal selection or two (currently, Strawberry Wit and SanTamber). Look for its most popular seasonal, Winter Warmer, to return later this month. 8 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler, (480) 917-8700.
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery: This California-based chain operates 87 locations nationwide, including ones in Chandler and Mesa. The beer list includes seven standards, plus a seasonal selection (currently, Pumpkin Ale) that changes every two months. 3155 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, (480) 917-0631; 6622 E. Superstition Springs Blvd. Mesa, (480) 324-1675.
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery: This Colorado-based chain, which also owns Old Chicago restaurants, has 40 brew pubs, including one in Ahwatukee. The beer list features five standard ales and lagers, plus a monthly seasonal (the next, London Smoked Porter, will be tapped Thursday). 14205 S. 50th St., Phoenix, (480) 598-1300.
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant: The Gordon Biersch Bottling Company actually sold off its restaurant group – which now numbers 46 locations, including Gilbert and Tempe – to Tennessee-based Big River Breweries a decade ago. The beer list offers five standard selections, plus a seaonal (currently, an Oktoberfest). 2218 E. Williams Field Road, Gilbert, (480) 722-0883; 420 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, (480) 736-0033.