(Phoenix, AZ) — The owners of The Phoenix Ale Brewery today announce the opening of a new brewery located three miles east of downtown Phoenix at 3002 East Washington Street. Company partners Gregory Fretz and George Hancock will hold a sign-raising media event Tuesday, September 27th at 7 a.m., as their signage is hoisted onto the building’s facade, to announce that the brewery is open to the public. The event will include brewery tours and beer tastings.
The brewery, bottling facility, administrative offices and visitor center are housed in a 15,700-square-foot building on 1.1 acres of land directly adjacent to the Phoenix Metro light rail system. The company has selected Alliance Beverage Distributing Company for their statewide distribution, and the brewery’s first beer — its flagship Fretzy’s Unfiltered Ale — is currently shipping out to a variety of retail locations, including Bevmo, Total Wine & More, AJ’s, Basha’s, Tops & Sun Devil Liquors, as well as Arizona restaurants and pubs.
Fretzy’s Unfiltered Ale is also available at Chase Field, where it recently debuted at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Phoenix.
The successful launch of the new brewing company is the result of Co-Owner Greg Fretz’s long-held ambition to own a brewery.
“I was a beer sales guy for fifteen years selling other people’s beer, but I always dreamed of having my own brewery right here in Phoenix,” says Fretz. Fretzy’s Unfiltered Ale was named in honor of its founder, affectionately known in the industry as Fretzy. “It’s a lot of fun selling a beer with my own name on it, and to have a team that can produce such high-quality beer enables me to have passion and pride about it,” comments Fretz. “Fretzy’s is a malt-forward unfiltered English-style ale that is well-balanced and smooth. It’s very drinkable and refreshing.”
Fretz’s partner in the brewery is craft beer pioneer George Hancock, who founded Pyramid Breweries, one of the largest craft breweries in the country, where Fretz and Hancock first met and worked together. “George brings a wealth of expertise to the organization as its general manager,” says Fretz, “and I knew with his industry knowledge and track record, he was the person to make Phoenix Ale Brewery a success.”
The Brewery will showcase its ales to the public in a new Visitor Center. The brewery will conduct brewery tours and beer tastings, as well as selling beer “to go” in bottles, growlers (a 64oz glass container), 15.5 gallon kegs and 5.17 gallon kegs. Brewery tours will be held weekdays at 4 pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm. The Brewery Shop will be open from noon to 5 pm weekdays and noon to 3 pm weekends.
The Phoenix Ale Brewery LLC, was founded in 2010 by Fretz and Hancock while brewery operations are led by Head Brewer John Donehower. The brewery specializes in traditionally-brewed, English-style ales made with the finest malted barley, hops and purified city water, which is treated onsite in their brewing facility.
“Water is an essential element in the brewing process and our brewery, in effect, re-designs the water to make it ideal for our ales and other beers,” explains Donehower. Once the brewing stage is complete, Donehower prefers to let Phoenix Ale Brewery’s beers clarify by gravity (known as “dropping bright” in brewing parlance) rather than forcing them through a filtration process. “This means the beer can be a little cloudy, but they taste better that way,” Donehower adds. This method also preserves more of the naturally occurring nutrients in the beer.
Donehower is releasing the brewery’s latest beer — Camelback IPA — Sept. 15th at an event at Papago Brewing Co., and PAB’s newest creation, Watermelon Ale, a wheat beer fermented with an extract of watermelon — will be released in October. More seasonal and year-round styles are planned for the near future.
The brewery has a current annual brewing capacity of 4,800 barrels (31 gallons per barrel), but is designed for an eventual capacity of 25,000 barrels. “Arizona needs more breweries,” comments Hancock. “There are currently about 26 breweries in the state, which may sound like a lot, but states like Washington and Oregon have two and three times as many. Four and a half million barrels of beer are consumed in the state every year, but more than 99% is brewed elsewhere. Local breweries like ours ensure that the economic benefits of brewing, particularly the jobs created, accrue to the state.”
Local breweries also provide environmental and beer freshness advantages. Beer is a heavy product, so not having to ship kegs and bottles hundreds or even thousands of miles avoids significant pollution. “Most importantly for the consumer, the beer gets to them in fresher condition,” says Donehower. “For most beers, the fresher it is, the better it tastes. Locally brewed beers have a tremendous freshness advantage.”
The Company also has plans for a small pub and restaurant in the same building to open in late 2012.