Bartender Elizabeth Montoya fills a growler of craft beer for Ryan Duffy at the e.River Bar inside Whole Foods, 5555 E. River Road. The full-service bar lets you drink while you shop.

Photo by Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

We recently visited 1702 for a beer and pizza. What a great place. It’s so popular we hadn’t had good luck getting in in the past. But we got there on a Saturday a little before five, and the University of Arizona was still largely out for summer. In addition to good pizza, they have a dynamite beer list.

An added bonus is chatting with Eric Lepke who has a bit of history in the Speedway location, 1702 E. Speedway. He opened an ice cream store, Eric’s Fine Food & Ice Cream, in the same building in the ’70s. Lepke is involved in the current operation and his caricature graces 1702’s T-shirts. He is an interesting guy and a great host.

With over 40 beers on the beer list, I felt like a kid in a candy store. The beers rotate, so there’s always something new. There’s also a hard-to-find bottle shop on the west side of the building. It’s worth finding as there are a lot of obscure beers, including the Bruery from California.

  • We’re fortunate in Tucson to have a handful of taprooms with a huge variety of beers we don’t usually see here. In addition to 1702, there’s Tap & Bottle, 403 N. Sixth Ave., and the newer Whole Foods Markets at Craycroft and River roads and the soon-to-(re)open location at Ina and Oracle roads.

Peeking in the window of the new Whole Foods reveals a nice-looking bar and seating area that looks out onto Oracle Road.

  • A self-service beer station was in operation at the All-Star game in Minneapolis in July. The machine, called DraftServ, dispenses beer by the pint. The customer buys a pre-loaded beer card from a vendor (while showing ID) and then uses the card to self-serve what the customer wants (up to 48 ounces every 15 minutes). The per-ounce price for the game ranged from 38 to 40 cents.
  • The American Homebrewers Association has named Pliny the Elder as the “best commercial beer” in the country. The Imperial IPA is brewed by Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, California.
  • The beer business is good! The value of craft beer sold in 2013 totaled $14.3 billion, up 20 percent from 2012. The volume of beer sold was up 8 percent. The number of breweries increased 15 percent to a total of 2,822.
  • Lastly, a Gallup Survey on alcohol
  • consumption
  • shows 41 percent of the
  • respondents
  • preferred beer; a good number but one that has
  • essentially
  • stayed flat for a decade.

Paul Pedersen writes a monthly column on Tucson’s beer scene. Contact him at