Summer is sizzling in Arizona. A perfect time to escape with a chill, thirst-quenching afternoon of brewery hopping. I shared a couple of Tucson favorites recently and I will share more in the future. For today however, let’s take a day trip north to Gilbert, AZ.

Gilbert is 25 miles southeast of Phoenix. From Saddlebrook, you can get there avoiding Phoenix traffic. This little farming community was once known as the “Hay Capital of the World”. Today, Gilbert residents and visitors are drawn to the local, fresh and authentic experiences of this community.

Local, fresh and authentic all sound like great principles for brewing beer as well. Our first stop will be 12 West Brewing Co, located in the little neighborhood called Agritopia. That is a big claim, to be a “utopia’ of any sort. This little cooperative-style neighborhood delivers, with shared garden plots, tree-lined streets and a gathering place of food and drinks.

In this oasis sits Barnone, a simple quonset hut housing several local businesses. Fire & Brimstone, offering wood-fired pizza, Uprooted, a plant-based bistro and 12 West Brewing Co, a brewery dedicated to creating the beer the neighbors love.

12 West Brewing Co’s taplist is IPA heavy but they do keep a few taps open for some fun and funk. With beer names like Hazy Cat Lady, of course it is going to be FUN. Last month, in this column, we took a look at the IPA style of beer. This is a good spot to try out your new knowledge. My favorites were K-Lax, a New England IPA with plenty of grapefruit and haze, and Frontside, a West Coast IPA with a bright and bitter hoppiness.

If you can pull yourself away from the relaxed and neighborly Barnone, our next stop is 4 miles west on Ray Rd. Flying Basset Brewing is a more typical brewpub, serving a good selection of traditional beer and delicious beer-inspired food. Their taplist offers several variations on a carmelly amber and easy drinking Blonde. My favorite was the 747 a double IPA made from their flagship Copper Ale a beautiful Amber.

The beer at Flying Basset Brewing is high-quality and a good selection, however, the real treat is how they use their beer in food and cocktails. The beertender had a lovely list of innovative beer cocktails and Joe, the chef, turned the Copper Ale into amazing culinary treats. I tried the pretzel with Copper Ale cheese, the blue mussels steamed in a Copper Ale, chorizo and tomato sauce, and the BLT with Copper Ale candied bacon.

Needless to say, I needed a nap after these two stops. But Gilbert has much more. Just 3 miles into neighboring Chandler you will find San Tan Brewing. A hugely popular Arizona brewery that offers one of my favorite IPAs, Juicy Jack. The Heritage District is also packed with trendy dining and new taprooms of some of the popular Phoenix breweries such as O.S.H.O. Plan your brewery tour day trip to Gilbert soon.

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