Our Top 5 beer lists in Phoenix, we’ll admit, is first and foremost about quantity, rather than quality. However, fortunately for us, people in the Southwest take brewing very seriously, which is why we’ve still ended up presenting a list of discerning locales when it comes to the beer they’re willing to pour. Which makes a lot of sense, actually. Because if you’re passionate enough about beer to put together a drink menu a mile long, you’ve probably learned a think or two about what tastes good and what doesn’t.
1 Yard House
The Yard House has three locations in the Phoenix area, as well as restaurants across the U.S., so it isn't exactly a venue we can claim is exclusive to our city. But regardless, there's no denying it tops the list when locals rattle off restaurants with great beer lists. Whatever you're in the mood for, no doubt they have it here in one of the more than 100 brews available. If you like ales, you'll have to decide among the blondes, honeys, whites and Belgians, or there are also the ambers and reds, brown and pale ales, IPAs, and pub cream ales. And don't forget the porters and stouts. Lagers, too, range the full spectrum, from light to dark, plus they'll always have a pilsner or bock or two. And if you want something different for a change, there are ciders, hybrid ales or extra-unique fruit beers. "Black and Tan" drinkers, don't fret: The Yard House has that combo and many other classics, such as a Half & Half, Greatness, Great Ape, Eclipse, Dark Castle and Black Velvet.
2 Papago Brewing Company
As the name suggest, the Papago Brewing Company is a restaurant that makes and serves its own beers in addition to others. Two of the most popular are the light Papago Orange Blossom Wheat Beer and the dark Papago El Robusto Porter, but they also have a red ale and, our favorite, an Irish coffee milk stout, as well as others that rotate in and out throughout the year. The list of additional draft beers is about three dozen deep, with brews from Colorado, California, Minnesota, Maryland, Delaware and in and around Phoenix. And you don't even have to hop the pond to try European beers from Ireland, Belgium and several straight from Germany, including a brew or two from Weihenstephan, the oldest still-operating brewery in the world. Admit it. You just have to try some.
7107 E. McDowell Road
3 Culinary Dropout
Culinary Dropout is a self-described gastropub where we feel just as comfortable grabbing an afternoon beer as we do an evening cocktail. It's like the "dress it up, or dress it down" of downtown Scottsdale venues, which is why it has to have an equally eclectic beer list. What do we mean by "eclectic," exactly? Let's see ... tecate from Mexico, an Oak Creek Hefeweizen from Sedona, ambers from Alaska, Hawaii and Colorado, German Hopf Helle Weisse, Unibroue Le Fin du Monde tripel from Canada, stout from Cali and Australia's Coopers Vintage, as well as standard Guinness, brews by the local Four Peaks Brewery, and the awesomely named Rogue "Dead Guy" IPA and Big Sky "Moose Drool" on tap. And many more. So pull up a chair, close your eyes and point to the menu to pick. You can't go wrong.
7135 E. Camelback Road
4 The Roosevelt Tavern
Opened in 2006 by Matt Pool, who also owns Matt's Big Breakfast in town, The Roosevelt Tavern is a casual watering hole with class located inside a turn-of-the-century home in downtown Phoenix. The restaurant serves some four dozen different brews from the local area and beyond, and Tempe-based brewery Four Peaks even crafted a special signature potion to be dubbed the tavern's house brew. Draft beers are chilled with a glycol cooling system and poured directly from the venue's glass-encased keg room, ensuring your Lost Abbey or other selection is as cold as they come upon arriving at your table. Fans of harder-to-find beers such as Boddington's Ale, Rogue's Hazelnut Brown and Stone Arrogant Bastard will be happy to know that these and other rarities can often be found at The Roosevelt. Be forewarned, however: Hit this spot just before or just after busy hours in order to avoid queuing, as seating space is extremely limited. (We did say it was an old converted home, after all).
5 The Lost Leaf
The Lost Leaf is a unique and funky bar and art gallery combo that's open seven days a week, 365 days a year, from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. There's also live music every night (shows are always free) starting at 9:30 p.m. The Lost Leaf claims to have more than 100 beers, wines, sakes, lambics, ciders and meads available, including more than 10 organic brews and wines, and at least four gluten-free beers and ciders, effectively making them the Yard House's hippie counterpart. For the most part, the lagers and pale ales will look familiar, but there is an enticing Peroni lager from Italy, and the dark beers are for sure where things get interesting. If you're looking for a destination for the evening and are the adventurous type, enjoying the music, art and brews here is a good way to spend a night.
914 N. Fifth Street