Flagstaff, Arizona Brewery Guide

An established craft culture gives the City of Seven Wonders an eighth marvel to lure beer tourists

Nestled within the world’s longest contiguous Ponderosa pine forest on historic Route 66 in the shadow of the San Francisco Peaks lies quaint, inviting Flagstaff. This rail- and-lumber borne City of Seven Wonders is home to a wealth of draws for outdoor enthusiasts (skiing, hiking, biking), multifarious Native American tribal influences, a solid music scene and one of Arizona’s most enduring craft-brewing communities. It currently boasts eight brewery-owned venues, almost all of which are located within walking distance in or near downtown, making for an easy day of suds sampling. Whether heading to the Grand Canyon, taking a side trip from Sedona or a Cactus League spring training excursion, Flagstaff is worth sipping in year-round. Just grab a brewery trail passport and map online and be on your way.


Dark Sky Brewing
117 N. Beaver Street, A | darkskybrewing.com

Named for Flagstaff’s status as the world’s first international dark sky city, Dark Sky Brewing (or “DSB” to locals) is dim yet colorfully convivial. Despite its cavernous environs, the brewing team isn’t living under a rock. With IPAs of every ilk, pastry stouts and a variety of lagers, they clearly understand trends. But unlike fad fermenters, they don’t let them dictate everything they’re doing. DSB’s brewers take on their experiments as the mood strikes, dipping their toes in seemingly every style, often adding tweaks via mixed-fermentation, barrel-aging (including wine, spirit and hot sauce barrels) and various other methods.

Since opening in 2014, this beer lab of sorts has churned out more than 700 different creations and regularly releases as many as three new beers a week. DSB’s brew crew regularly takes big swings and that daring pays off in beers like DSB’s rotating line of Cielo Oscuro imperial stouts. A recent edition was matured in Willett bourbon barrels with guajillo peppers and cassia bark, while a past iteration aged in Buffalo Trace barrels incorporated smoky chipotles, Chinese cinnamon and Brazilian coffee. Balanced versus confectionery, with vanilla beans and oak-supplied vanillins dovetailing beautifully in each, these stouts are definitely worth seeking out.  

Meanwhile, a spritzy, funky mixed-fermentation ale called Steep On It is dry-hopped with Chinook, Mandarina Bavaria and a coconut oolong tea, resulting in a sweet earthiness followed by celery and cut-grass greenness. A blonde stout called Wide Awake bursts with java aromas while subtlety is the prime asset of Burn In Helles, a smoked German-style lager, as well as Still Smokin’, an oak-smoked wheat beer of Polish origins called a Grodziskie that’s as good and drinkable as any U.S. version you’ll encounter. But it’s not all esoterica. DSB brews more traditional styles, such as a (fouder-aged) pilsner featuring rotating hops and multiple IPAs. Just don’t expect more than one or two at a time. Variety is the name of the game, and this is the place for those seeking something different—current but not cliché.

The food situation: An atomic-temped pizza oven is front and center. Run by locally loved Pizzicletta, it puts out bubbly, beautifully blackened pies that don’t disappoint.

Pro tip: When converting its tasting room to a seated venue due to the pandemic, DSB installed lights at each of its tables for patrons to summon wait staff to take their orders.

Beaver Street Brewery
11 S. Beaver St., #1 | beaverstreetbrewery.com

Flagstaff’s first-ever brewpub keeps chugging along a quarter-century after opening directly south of Route 66. Featuring a railway-station thematic and clear views of both the brewery and the kitchen, Beaver Street is both open and welcoming. Enjoy a few pints and some people-watching at the main bar or set your sights on a hearty meal in the main dining room. Either way, you’ll get a taste of the business that not only helped enhance the then-underdeveloped South Side, but also built a foundation for the city’s now vibrant brewing scene.

Beaver Street has won more Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and World Beer Cup (WBC) medals than any other Flagstaff operation. Railhead Red, an old-school amber with flavors of dark toffee and toasted pine nuts, won gold at GABF in 2009 and silvers at WBC in 2010 and 2014, while semisweet chocolatiness and delicate tinges of anise and blueberry helped R&R Oatmeal Stout nab GABF gold in 2015. Impressive even without hardware is Midnight IPA, a black IPA that presents as dark chocolate with minty evergreen notes, and Lager Del Sol, a newly introduced Mexican-inspired brew that has quickly become one of the brewpub’s best sellers.

Beaver Street’s success was enough to inspire the family that owns it to open a second brewpub two blocks away called Lumberyard Brewing. Though its offshoot’s brewing capabilities are greater, Beaver Street brews a healthy supply of small-batch creations for both venues, some of which are sold exclusively at Lumberyard.

The food situation: An open kitchen pumps out wood-fired pizzas, salads and a worldly array of entrees (pot pie, shrimp and grits, tacos), including gargantuan, golden-brown pretzels.

Pro tip: Carom to next-door pool hall, Brews and Cues, and get 22 ounces of Beaver Street beer for $5 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Lumberyard Brewing
5 S. San Francisco St. | lumberyardbrewingcompany.com

Though Beaver Street’s hipper, more modern sibling, Lumberyard has a decade of history as a spot popular among locals, including students of nearby Northern Arizona University. Much of that youthful clientele is drawn by a bustling bar, live music, line-dancing classes held right in the brewery and the venue’s late-night conversion into a dance club on weekends. It’s a versatile spot and a far cry from the eyesore of a building it replaced.

In renovating an old lumber facility in severe disrepair, ownership configured the space to house a 20-barrel brewhouse with room for multiple 80-barrel fermenters, with the intention to package and distribute beers beyond its brewpubs. Now, Lumberyard’s canned offerings are available throughout Arizona, the most popular of which is Hazy Angel IPA. Citra and El Dorado hops combine with a soft, almost dairy-like creaminess to make for a drinking experience akin to an Orange Julius. A new, on-trend addition to the packaged portfolio is the clean, crisp First Light Lager, which joins flagship Flagstaff IPA. That piney, spicy IPA took GABF silver in 2009 and 2012, and a bronze medal at both the GABF and WBC in 2010.

Awards from Lumberyard and Beaver Street share wall space on the wall behind a bar constructed of reclaimed wood and metal from the building’s old roof. The sidebar is often busy, but additional space is available on a fire-pit-equipped patio looking out onto busy railroad tracks, the Flagstaff Visitor Center and downtown’s historic buildings against the San Francisco Peaks.

The food situation: The menu here blends fun fusion (Irish egg rolls, hummus Reuben, Vietnamese burger) with barbecue platters, plus classics like wings and nachos.

Pro tip: $9.99 will fetch you a “yard jar,” a glass receptacle filled with a whopping 32 ounces of Lumberyard beer (or cocktails).

Historic Brewing
110 S. San Francisco Street | historicbrewingcompany.

It’s ironic given its moniker, but with current-day tastes and youthful enthusiasm, Historic Brewing is one of Flagstaff’s most modern beermaking interests. Birthed in 2013 in an industrial park in the city’s eastern expanses, it was less than two years before public demand encouraged ownership to construct a bar and restaurant in downtown’s South Side. As with Historic’s brewing program, its kitchen utilizes local products, such as grass-fed beef, Arizona wine, spirits and guest beers.

Historic is currently focused on a recently reconfigured quartet of core beers, but a three-barrel pilot system keeps its tap list perpetually varied. The company’s most well-known beer is Piehole Porter, a delicately sweet, all-natural cherry-vanilla porter, multiple versions of which are released during the holidays (pumpkin spice, chocolate-vanilla), but Salt River, a lime Gose that took gold in the Fruit Beer category at GABF in 2019, is picking up serious steam. And after years of retro, uber-bitter profiles, Historic’s IPAs are now lower on IBUs and bigger on hop flavors and aromas. This is exemplified by Spare Moment IPA, a zesty update from its pithy predecessor, and Cashmere Cutie, a Cashmere dry-hopped IPA that smells and tastes like tangerines with a touch of peach. Nouveau hops are also brilliantly spotlighted in Lost In The Stratasphere, an imperial pale lager that’s bold but not aggressive and packed with flavors of pineapple, grapefruit zest and cantaloupe.

Last year, Historic’s eatery was expanded to include a “barcade” with Skee-Ball and video games, plus a bar doling out house brews and cocktails, including beer-tails. One such concoction incorporates a Piehole Porter reduction into an Old Fashioned for a deeper, more complex tipple. Bottoms up!

The food situation: The downtown taproom offers up burgers, sandwiches, mac and beer cheese plus assorted bar snacks, all of which utilize thoughtfully sourced ingredients.

Pro tip: Every two months, Historic devises house beer-tails (and sometimes one-off beers) to support Flagstaff area charities.

Wanderlust Brewing
1519 N. Main Street, #102 | wanderlustbrewing.com

Inspired by Old World brewing traditions, this interest is an outlier in every sense of the word. While all of Flagstaff’s other breweries are based within or operate public venues in or near the downtown core, Wanderlust’s brewery and tasting room is in an industrial complex two miles east in the Sunnyside neighborhood. Further differentiating the operation is a tap list stocked with Belgian-inspired beers and more obscure styles, including barrel-aged sours.

Wanderlust’s liquid calling card is 928 Local, a farmhouse ale anointed with the Flagstaff terroir care of a native strain of yeast, one of three isolated from the brewery’s spontaneous fermentation R&D projects. With earthy, honey-like sweetness and inherent citrus flavor, the base beer is reminiscent of a Belgian tripel, with the yeast adding a slightly tangy ranginess. It’s a Flagstaff original. So, too, are Westfork Guava, a kettle sour with reserved tartness and pronounced fruit-driven funk, and Pan American Stout, a well-balanced oatmeal stout that delivers savory notes from Mexican vanilla beans.

Wanderlust’s founder once vowed not to brew an India pale ale, but eventually launched a seasonal-only IPA series to appease the hop-deprived. But in doing so, he wanted to offer something uniquely his own, Vermillion Red IPA, a dry, malt-driven IPA hopped with Amarillo and Sorachi Ace that tastes like the beer equivalent of iced tea. Even in concession, this brewery marches to the beat of its own drummer, gaining appreciation from a similarly against-the-grain clientele. It’s a great spot to visit on the way to or from hiking at Sunset Crater Volcano (where Neil Armstrong and other NASA astronauts learned to drive lunar vehicles) or exploring Native American ruins at the Wupatki or Walnut Canyon national monuments.

The food situation: The brewery books various food trucks two weeks out and guests are welcome to bring in their own edible fare.

Pro tip: Ask what’s on the cask engine, where even the already-exotic 928 Local is made further interesting with additions of citrus, peaches and more.

Flagstaff Brewing
16 W. Historic Route 66 | flagbrew.com

Affectionately known as “Flag Brew,” the city’s namesake brewery has been open since 1994. In many ways, walking in feels like being transported to the nineties, when microbreweries were on the rise behind finite selections of largely English- and German-influenced beers. Seven house taps are installed in a bar area outfitted in wood and augmented by fun bric-a-brac, including a pirate flag, canoe and stickers, stickers everywhere. It’s old school—even kitschy—and built to last.

Crafted by a former regular who fell in love with beer at the pub he now supplies, Flag Brew’s beers are a blend of venerable mainstays and new creations. The former includes a straightforward ESB and the malted-milk-chocolaty Blackbird Porter. Those are offset by Germanic and new American styles, such as Ba-Dunkel-Dunk, a dunkelweizen that bursts with banana and clove and is perfect for Flagstaff’s cold-weather months, and FBC Kölsch, an everyday drinker well known among locals. And though Southwest IPA is Flag Brew’s answer to West Coast IPA fans, its Pacific Northwest pine-and-grapefruit hop profile will speak mostly to those who prefer hoppy beers from yesteryear. 

Even with an extensive floorplan that includes a main dining room and bar, back room and outdoor patio, Flag Brew packs them in, especially on weekends when live music is offered. Still, it maintains the type of easygoing, lived-in atmosphere both in- and out-of-towners can appreciate.

The food situation: They have burgers, sandwiches and stick-to-your-ribs items like wings, poutine and bagna calda (buttery garlic confit) plus a coffee sister-op next door.

Pro tip: In addition to beer, Flag Brew’s bar is stocked with one of the largest selections of Scotch whiskey in the city.

Grand Canyon Brewing & Distillery
1800 S. Milton Road | grandcanyonbrewery.com

The newest entrant to the Flagstaff suds scene is no stranger to Arizona’s brewing industry. Grand Canyon Brewing was established in nearby Williams in 2007 and its cans are available throughout the state, including its eponymous landmark, Phoenix’s Chase Field and Glendale’s Gila River Arena. The latter is the home of the Arizona Coyotes NHL team, for which Grand Canyon brews and cans its Kachina Wheat. After making their mark on a statewide level, the company is looking to do the same.

Grand Canyon’s new digs and increased manufacturing capabilities allow it to focus on a septet of core beers, including its classic English-style amber ale, which is biscuity with a buoyancy on the palate. On the other end of the spectrum is a popular American wheat ale incorporating prickly pear. That indigenous fruit lends an accentuating sweetness and finishing funk to this dry, Cascade-hopped everyday refresher. On the seasonal front, Deep In The Green double IPA is a here-and-gone gem regulars clamor for during PTY season. An abundance of Centennial hops render it dank, tacky, resinous and packed with fir-tree woodiness. But the year-round workhorse of the portfolio is Trail Hike, a session IPA brewed with Amarillo and Hallertau Blanc that throws off cantaloupe, apricot and peach notes.

The company added a distillery 2019 and is already one of Arizona’s largest firewater forgers, producing rum, gin, whiskey and vodkas (straight, prickly pear, orange blossom). In addition to diversifying its offerings, spirit production will allow the distillery and brewery to share barrels for aging of high-gravity and sour beers.

The food situation: Charcuterie and assorted fried delights (pickles, cheese curds, avocado, prickly pear) precede flatbreads, salads, burgers and a bevy of composed dessert dishes.

Pro tip: Check out Grand Canyon’s award-winning spirits, including a newly introduced line of canned, ready-to-drink cocktails.

Mother Road Brewing
7 S. Mikes Pike St. | motherroadbeer.com

Over the past decade, Mother Road (which shares Route 66’s historic nickname) has grown into Flagstaff’s biggest (and Arizona’s third-largest) beer company. Two years ago, primary production was transferred from a humble South Side space to a full-fledged manufacturing facility ownership thought would meet its needs for the next five-to-ten years, but the popularity of its beers is such that they are already scouting out a new, larger spot. Despite Mother Road’s big-man-on-campus stature, accommodating, knowledgeable staffers keep things grounded and downhome at its taproom, which houses an R&D brewer and was recently revamped to include banquette seating and a greatly expanded patio with indoor and outdoor service areas and Mother Road’s (fan-named) “Roadside Stove” food trailer.

Mother Road’s best-selling beer is the ubiquitous Tower Station IPA, which, at this point, qualifies as Flagstaff’s liquid mascot. Leaning heavily on Citra hops (including Cryo Citra), it has bright citrus and tropical character with just enough bitterness to balance everything out. Another hoppy creation, Daily Driver Low Octane (session) IPA, packs a mimosa-like punch so orangey its almost pulpy thanks to a bill of Cashmere, Motueka and El Dorado hops, and they have trouble keeping their popular Limited Visibility hazy IPA in stock. On the darker side, Model A Porter delivers a blend of mild chocolate and cola flavors, coming across extra smooth and luxurious on nitro. Equally dark but far bolder is Sean Duffy’s Lost Highway, a double black IPA with plenty of piney, citrusy punch against a dark-chocolate backdrop.

Though plenty driven, Mother Road isn’t all about growth and expansion. Giving back to the community is also at the forefront of its business plan. To that end, the company brews Conserve and Protect Kölsch, donating a portion of sales to the Arizona Game and Fish Department to help with its initiatives to conserve more than 800 wildlife species.

The food situation: The aforementioned Roadside Stove, a collaboration with Satchmo’s BBQ, pumps out tasty burgers, tacos, tots and more.

Pro tip: Ask the staff about beer blends, hybrids worked up by the brew team, servers and regulars alike (Texas T, anyone?).


Standout beers sampled during a recent visit to Flagstaff:

  1. Still Smokin’ Grodziskie, Dark Sky Brewing
  2. Daily Driver Low Octane IPA, Mother Road Brewing
  3. Weight of Sound Pilsner with Nelson Hops, Dark Sky Brewing
  4. R&R Oatmeal Stout, Beaver Street Brewery
  5. Cashmere Cutie IPA, Historic Brewing
  6. Sean Duffy’s Lost Highway Double Black IPA, Mother Road Brewing
  7. Lost in the Stratasphere IPL, Historic Brewing
  8. Westfork Guava Fruited Sour, Wanderlust Brewing
  9. Get Shacked Kettle Sour with Mango, Passionfruit & Coconut Oolong Tea, Dark Sky Brewing
  10. 928 Local Farmhouse Ale, Wanderlust Brewing
  11. Hazy Angel IPA, Lumberyard Brewing
  12. Deep In The Green Double IPA, Grand Canyon Brewing


Flagstaff Hullabaloo (August 14-15, 2021)
Wheeler Park, 212 W. Aspen Ave. | flaghullabaloo.com 

This two-day summer festival brings together music, art, food and local beer in a family-friendly environment while raising funds for various Flagstaff charity initiatives.

Flagstaff Oktoberfest Festival (October 2, 2021)
Wheeler Park, 212 W. Aspen Ave. | flaghullabaloo.com 

Each fall, Flagstaff channels the spirit of Deutschland with lederhosen, dirndls, polka music, brat-eating contests, stein-holding competitions and, of course, plenty of beer.

Arizona Beer Week (February)     

This statewide celebration of #AZBeer spans 10 days starting the first weekend of February, bringing about events, deals and promotions at breweries throughout the Grand Canyon State.

Flagstaff Blues & Brews Festival (June 10-11, 2022, pictured above)
Continental Country Club, 2380 N. Oakmont Dr. | flagstaffblues.com

It’s a different kind of B&B when blues musicians and craft brewers converge for a “jam”-packed weekend at one of Flagstaff’s most anticipated events of the year.

Arizona Snowbowl
9300 N. Snow Bowl Rd | snowbowl.ski

Enjoy a day of skiing or snowboarding on the slopes, take in a stunning sunset on an air gondola climbing to 11,500 feet or just kick back and enjoy Arizona craft beers at Agassiz restaurant and bar.

Lowell Observatory
1400 Mars Hill Rd | lowell.edu

Gaze at the stars in the clear dark sky from an open-air deck and marvel at historic telescopes, including one used to discover Pluto in 1930. Last year, Mother Road Brewing celebrated the 90th anniversary of that feat by brewing Pluto Porter.

Grand Canyon National Park

Marvel at the majesty of a natural wonder like no other. Descend and examine out up close or remain along the rim where you can check out tribal-inspired architecture or savor a meal and some local beer at the El Tovar Hotel’s dining room.


Modern Accommodations

Residence Inn by Marriott
100 N. Humphreys St. | marriott.com

Dark Sky Brewing’s back patio abuts the parking lot and the hotel just is a short walk from five breweries and brewpubs as well as craft-beer spots like Hops on Birch, a bar replete with Arizona beers and imports from exotic locales like San Diego.

DoubleTree by Hilton
1175 W. Rte 66 | hilton.com

Sonesta ES Suites
1400 N. Country Club Dr. | sonesta.com

Little America Hotel
2515 E. Butler Ave. | flagstaff.littleamerica.com

Historic Digs

Hotel Monte Vista
100 N. San Francisco St. | hotelmontevista.com

Motel DuBeau
19 W. Phoenix Ave. | modubeau.com

This article’s header image, Flagstaff Blues & Brews, Historic Brewing, Grand Canyon and Hotel Monte Vista photos are courtesy of Discover Flagstaff,, and all imagery included in this piece was provided by the businesses represented with the exception of Flagstaff Brewing.

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