Historic Brewing Company – Flagstaff, AZ

Located at 4366 E Huntington Dr, Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Open Wed-Fri 4p-9p; Sat & Sun 2p-7p

The last time we talked about Flagstaff we didn’t stray far from downtown and the two places I visited were just a few minutes walking distance away from each other. Today we’re taking Route 66 and heading about ten-to-fifteen minutes east of downtown to find a place called Historic Brewing Company. Don’t be afraid when the activity starts to die down and you find yourself crossing train tracks and wandering into an industrial park. You’re in the right place.

Historic sounds like an odd name for a place that’s only been around since October of 2013 but the cockiness of the name is part of this place’s charm, kind of like how I used to use the word “epic” to describe my lovemaking back in my early 20s despite the fact that most lovemaking with me usually just ended with tears and beers…

(Note to self: copyright “Tears and Beers” to use as the name of my eventual autobiography.)

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It took me a minute to realize that a fairly small, vinyl sign on the side of a warehouse was pretty much the only indicator that I had arrived at my destination.

A couple of working class dudes were hanging out outside the tap room and, as usual, I got weird looks for running around Arizona wearing a suit, tie and pocket square. It’s really not a common look anywhere I’ve been in this state and I’m sure the working class folk hanging around the industrial park thought my expensive fashion choices to be pretentious and indicative of somebody that’s never had to struggle through a manual labor job. Well let’s just clear the air and say that, yes, I’m doing pretty well financially and, yes, the guys were right in that I’ve never done manual labor, have never built anything myself or even learned how to change a flat tire because I just call an Uber from the app on my phone anytime I get a flat or run out of gas because I worry about spilling gasoline on my dress shoes so I figure I can just pay the Uber guy to work the pump for me. But I promise you that I earned every single penny  of that divorce settlement I was awarded. And if you don’t think  that sounds like hard work, well, you try being married to a crazy woman who tries to bash your head in with an empty wine bottle every single time you try to have sex with her sister.

Anyway, the tap room at Historic was super cool. There was a T-Rex skeleton drawn on the wall and stickers from other Arizona-based microbreweries adorned a small area next to it.

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I always love it when our breweries show support for their craft beer brethren, even if it’s something as simple as putting up their stickers or coasters on the wall. Overall the craft beer industry people in this state seem to be pretty friendly with each other but I will say that I’ve gotten wind of a couple of folks associated with microbreweries that have either shunned or outright put down other local breweries. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna call those people or businesses out. This blog is intended to be a completely positive endeavor so I won’t ever delve into any petty conflicts between breweries. I’ve said before that anyone whose job it is to bring more beer into the world is instantly worthy of my admiration.

And just like a father can sometimes be disappointed when his children are being petulant little assholes toward their classmates I can be just as disappointed in my state’s microbrewery owners for talking shit about fellow breweries. But, ultimately, I still hold a deep love for every brewery in this state just like that father holds a deep love for all of his children. So I hope all of y’all take a cue from Historic and the many other breweries like it that make the Arizona craft beer industry feel like a family. As it should be.

Oh, also, please don’t be assholes and refuse to fill growlers that have a different brewery’s logo on them. That’s super douchey.

The flight at Historic is a sight to behold. Eight beers are served in cute little mason jars and placed on a wooden rack that gets slid down the bar toward you. Five of those beers are year-round brews that Historic pretty much always has on tap. The other three are seasonal brews that may no longer be available on tap by the time you read this. So to make sure I can give you a reasonably good idea of what to expect when you go to Historic’s tap room, we’ll talk about the year-round beers first and then we’ll talk separately about the seasonal stuff I had.

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The lightest beer of the entire flight is a lager called the Everyday Special. It’s described as “Hopped Up Pilsner.” Being a Classy Alcoholic is all about knowing just enough about beer to convince people you know what you’re talking about without you having to be sober enough to remember a shitload of esoteric beer facts so I’ll try to make this next part simple. A lager was originally a German type of beer and a pilsner is a style of lager. When you hear “pilsner,” you should expect a light beer. Budweiser and Coors and other shit like them are considered pilsners.

Lagers can either be pale (which refers to light stuff like pilsners) or they can be dark, which we’ll talk about a little later. So to keep it simple for now: Lagers can be light or dark. Light lagers are very common and popular (again, think of Budweiser and Michelob beers) and, in my experience, dark lagers a little harder to come by, at least when it comes to Arizona’s microbrews.

Normally light beers aren’t my thing but the Everyday Special has a mildly hoppy taste which gives it just enough bitterness to distinguish it from most other U.S. pilsners. Definitely a craft brew that can serve as a good starting point for non-craft drinkers.

The next taste was called The Deer Lord and is a Dusseldorf Altbier. Yes, that sounds like a super exotic, fancy drink that you want to stay away from in case anyone asks you what you’re drinking but, again, I’ll help you get through it. I won’t get into the intricacies of fermentation because we’re both way too drunk for that complicated shit. All I’ll say is that “altbier” is literally German for “old beer” because it’s made in a way that’s older than the way lager styles are made. And Dusseldrof is a city in Germany that specializes in making Altbier. So really, since we’re in the U.S., this should be called a Dusseldorf-STYLE Altbier. Feel free to condescendingly explain that to anyone.

The Joy Rye’d is a beer that mixes hops and rye to make a delicious mixture. My rye consumption usually comes in the form of whiskey, which I also love, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that spicy taste present in this beer that had just enough hops to augment the flavor instead of overwhelming it.

The Opposable IPA also knows how to use the right amount of hops to give you a bitter taste at the beginning and then finish off smooth and slightly citrusy. There’s not much about this beer that’s crazily out of the ordinary but I don’t say that to diminish the brew at all. If you like good IPAs then you’ll like this one. I just say that because the rest of Historic’s beers are much more adventurous.

Which brings me to my favorite beer from the year-round brews: the Piehole Porter. This is a dark beer that has a mixture of vanilla and cherry flavors to it. These days my palate is absolutely loving beers that try to include some fruity tastes. Keep in mind, your palate will change all the time and you shouldn’t get stuck on just one style of beer. In the past I’ve gone through phases of drinking nothing but super hoppy, double IPAs. Now I’m not really into Pale Ales that overwhelm me with hops. I’ve also gone through glass after glass of really dark, super heavy porters and stouts. And now my taste in beers are aligning with my current tastes in red wine: strong flavors with a hint of sweetness. And the Piehole Porter definitely delivers.

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Like I said, the other three beers in the flight are seasonal so I’ll run through them pretty quick.

The Everynight Special is a black lager. Remember when I said lagers can be light (like the Everyday Special Pilsner) and dark? Well this is the dark end of that spectrum. It’s inspired by a German style called “schwarzbier” which just translates to “dark beer” and has the slightest hints of chocolate and bitter hops.

The Nooks and Crannies is a cranberry spiced ale. Despite the fact that “nooks and crannies” sounds like a racist term that an Arizona gun show vendor would use to describe immigrants this was a delicious beer that was my favorite of the seasonal brew group. Just like the most expensive stripper in town, it was the perfect mixture of sweet with a little bit of spice to keep you coming back for more.

And finally, the Lumberjack Morning Snack is a brown ale with a strong coffee flavor followed by hints of vanilla. All three of these beers would be a perfect companion on a cold Flagstaff night. Unfortunately, the weather is rapidly shifting in Arizona this time of year and summer is coming.

This blog officially got going last December so I’ve pretty much been traveling within the confines of winter and the suit-weather that it brought along with it. But I’ll admit, I’m apprehensive about the weather change. As a guy who wears suits and is constantly drunk in Arizona you can imagine that I’m pretty much in a constant state of dehydration.

I was very impressed with Historic Brewing Company’s beers. Their year-round brews were a solid collection of beers and I guarantee that at least one of them will fit your tastes no matter what you like to drink. Their seasonal brews were also exciting and I very much look forward to seeing what they cook up through the rest of the year.

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