Located at 150 W Main St, Mesa, AZ 85201
Open Mon 3p-10p, Tue-Fri 3p-12a, Sat 11a-12p, Sun 11a-9p
Arizona has a rich history and I try to learn a little bit about it each time I visit a new town while working on this blog. Today we’re in Historic Downtown Mesa, a suburb east of Phoenix and Tempe, visiting a place called Desert Eagle Brewing. I had with me my trusty pamphlet, issued by a group called the Mesa Preservation Foundation, that mapped Mesa’s Downtown Walking Tour.
I decided to hit up a couple of spots on the pamphlet on my way to Desert Eagle just to spice up my adventure. I started at the City Plaza at the corner of Main and Center St and walked to 10 W Main St where I stood in front of a Mexican restaurant. I looked down at the pamphlet which simply read, “By 1939 Showalter’s Auto Supply was in this two story building.” That was literally all it said. Not another word on this location.
Hmmm…..I guess it’s fitting for Arizona that a historic Mesa business dating back to the 1930’s was now taken over by Mexicans. My Uncle Rogelio just bought up a Dairy Queen that got shut down and now he’s turning the building into a burrito shop that also specializes in Old English neck tattoos. He says he’s taking back chain businesses for his Mexican brethren and calls it “reverse-germination” because he doesn’t know the word “gentrification.”
Anyway, I walked a block down to 30 W Main St and the pamphlet helpfully told me that “A National Dollar Store was here from 1956 to 1965. Note the dollar sign at the entry.” That may not sound very significant but you have to remember that a dollar was a lot of money back then. In the 50s and 60s a guy could take a lady out on a hot date with just a dollar. He could fill up his gas tank, cover a dinner for two, pay for a few drinks for him and his lady friend and still have enough left over to get two tickets to a local theater production of “White Guy Tap-Dancing in Blackface,” which was the most popular off-Broadway show at that time.
As fascinating as this Historic Walking Tour was so far, I was getting thirsty so I decided to book it to Desert Eagle Brewing and visit a few more historic spots a little later. The place had 13 beers on tap, which was a higher number than pretty much any other brewery that I’ve visited so far.
Flights here are served five samples at a time and they’re designated as either Regular ($8) or Premium ($10). The Regular Flight has four beers that are chosen for you and you get to pick whatever you want your fifth to be. If you’re gonna go Regular then your predetermined flight will consist of a Blonde Ale, a Hefeweizen, a Dunkelweizen and a Red Ale. The Premium Flight lets you pick all five beers of your choice. Desert Eagle has a couple of good IPAs so if you’re into hoppy beers then you’ll probably want to skip out on the Regular Flight. But I will say that even the IPAs here aren’t overly hoppy, which, to me, is a plus. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of IPAs that overwhelm you with their bitterness because I like the other flavors to shine through. We’ll talk more about that in a bit.
Desert Eagle’s flights are served in these cool, star-shaped trays. I never go into a brewery without tasting everything on tap so I made sure to pay for samples of all 13 beers. But since I also don’t delve too deeply into every single beer on tap at the breweries I visit I’ll point out a few highlights.
The bartendress poured my beers from light to dark so the first tray had two blondes, two wheat beers and a pilsner. The standouts where the Black Cherry Blonde and the Pomegranate Wheat. Both beers had just the slightest amount of sweetness to give them character and distinguish them from mass-produced light beers. Definitely a great place to introduce craft beer newbies.
The next flight tray was going to get a bit hoppy but I decided to take a break between tastings to visit a bit more of Historic Downtown Mesa.
I walked a bit west to 154 W Main St and admired how my handy pamphlet was able to condense such a long history of the building into the briefest of sentences. It said, only, “Mademoiselle women’s store had customers here from the 1940s to the early 1970s.” Considering Arizona’s history I imagine a so-called “women’s store” in the 1940s consisted solely of vacuum cleaners, feather dusters and unfiltered cigarettes that were designed to help ladies’ pregnancies go faster so their husbands wouldn’t have to go a whole nine months without sandwiches being made and brought to them.
I hopped over to 149 W Main St and looked at the pamphlet. It said, “By the 1940s, ladies were shopping here at Hayman’s Dress Shop, but it was replaced by Leo’s City Radio and TV Store in the 1950s.” I remember reading in school that Hayman’s Dress Shop went out of business because it couldn’t keep up with the high demand for dark sunglasses that “ladies” in 1940s Mesa needed to cover up the black eyes they got from “tripping and falling into doorknobs” every time they couldn’t keep dinner warm enough for their husbands when they came home from work.
Man, history is awesome. I decided to head back to Desert Eagle Brewing to continue my fight. One of the highlights of the next few samples was the Red Mountain Ale, a beer with a malty flavor that was amplified by a slightly hoppy bitterness. I was told that Desert Eagle would be canning this beer soon and I will definitely be taking some cans home when this happens.
I already mentioned that the Pale Ales at Desert Eagle weren’t overly hoppy which makes the Roman Eagle Pale Ale and the Buzzbomb IPA smooth and easier to sip than other beers in the same style that are over-hopped. But the standout here was the Grapefruit Session IPA. The grapefruit flavor is heavily increased which pairs well with the hoppy taste to give it an awesome citrusy feel in your face. Definitely one of the better beers at Desert Eagle.
The last three beers on my flight consisted of a seasonal brew called Holiday Hooch, an Imperial/Double IPA that was strong, grapefruit-y, Belgian-y and delicious. The dark beers on the flight are the Gentleman’s Porter, which has a strong, malty kick at the end that’s slightly reminiscent of a glass of scotch, and the Black Talon Russian Imperial Stout, which starts off with a chocolate and coffee-tinged taste and has hints of caramel at the finish.
I shouldn’t forget to mention that Desert Eagle has a kitchen that’s open at 4pm on Sunday and at 5pm every other day of the week. They offer, among other things, a couple of pizzas, a couple of calzones, wings, a few sandwiches and a delicious red pepper hummus plate that I had and would absolutely recommend.
Of all the wonderful, historic sites in downtown Mesa, Desert Eagle is the best one of them all (with Gotham City comics, less than half-a-mile east, coming in a close second).
I headed home feeling like I was more connected to the history of this state and was very appreciative of the Mesa Preservation Foundation for putting out the informative pamphlet that gave people an insight into Mesa’s rich history.