Over the past three years, Marana, the sleepy little farm town anchoring the northwest end of the Tucson valley, has become a craft-beer haven.
Four taprooms have opened, pouring a combined 125 different beers including from brewers throughout Tucson. Also represented in that mix: beers from a pair of Marana microbreweries that opened in the same period in an industrial park off Ina Road not far from Bedroxx.
Next year, the craft-beer-centric restaurant Serial Grillers will add dozens more taps when it opens off Interstate 10 and Cortaro Farms Road in a medical plaza that also will bring Dutch Bros. Coffee to the northwest side.
The focus on craft beer is deliberate and a natural outgrowth of the town’s agricultural roots, says Marana tourism and marketing manager Laura Cortelyou.
“Marana has its share of locally owned restaurants and having craft beer makes sense because we also grow some of the ingredients,” Cortelyou said, including white Sonoran wheat from BKW Farms, which supplies some of the heritage grains used by popular Tucson bakery Barrio Bread. The idea is to build on the farm-to-table movement. Think of it as grain-to-growler.
“We are the breadbasket of the Tucson area, and now we’ve got the craft beer to accompany that,” said Cortelyou, whose résumé includes serving on Tucson’s City of Gastronomy board and launching Marana Gastronomy Tours, one of the first culinary tours to highlight Tucson’s UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation. “It’s the perfect place for that. It’s a really great fit.”
Cortelyou said the town has quietly been focused for several years on making food and beverage a business focal point. And Marana has been largely successful, due in no small part to the town’s business-friendly approach and “highly efficient process.”
“The town of Marana is very easy to deal with, very easy to work with. They are friendly,” said Dawn McMillan, whose family opened Growler’s Taphouse a year ago at 8275 N. Silverbell Road after initially scouting out locations in Oro Valley.
Elyse Hammett, who opened Marana’s newest taproom, Caps & Corks, in late September. seconded that.
“People actually answered the phone,” she said.
Hammett and her husband, Ty, partnered with Ty’s brother and sister-in-law, Tad and Dulce Hammett, on Caps & Corks at 3830 W. River Road, in the Marana Marketplace shopping center. Elyse Hammett said the partners looked at other areas around Tucson, but homed in on Marana because “there wasn’t a lot in the area, so we thought it was a good location.”
Cortelyou said this is only the beginning of Marana’s beer boom. She wouldn’t give specifics but said there has been a lot of interest from breweries and other craft beer-centered businesses.
“I think culturally Marana is very social and people love to have places that they can hang out in their own neighborhoods,” she said. “I think the craft breweries are going to keep opening in Marana.”