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The ultimate beer-lover's guide to breweries, taprooms and bottle shops in the West Valley

Arizona Republic logo Arizona Republic 6/6/2021 Tirion Morris, Arizona Republic

Metro Phoenix strip malls are often home to some of the Valley's best hidden gems. And in the suburbs of the West Valley, this is definitely the case.

From Peoria to Avondale, breweries and taprooms find homes nestled in industrial plazas or wedged between a barbershop and a dentist office. Tan colored storefronts give way to colorful bars serving top-notch craft beer.

a cup of coffee and a glass of beer on a table: A flight of Taildragger craft beer, brewed on premise at Saddle Mountain Brewing Company in Goodyear. © John Samora/The Republic A flight of Taildragger craft beer, brewed on premise at Saddle Mountain Brewing Company in Goodyear.

The West Valley offers everything from large taprooms serving beer from all over the country to tiny nano-breweries brewing a few gallons at a time.

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Here are eight can't-miss destinations for craft beer fans searching for the perfect pint west of Interstate 17.

These spots offer great food as well as beer 

Saddle Mountain Brewing Company, owned by Jacob and Laura Hansen, celebrates Jacob's love of all things aviation and many of the brews are named after airplanes. The brewery may be best known for its Trail Dragger Clan-Destine Scottish Ale, a three-time gold medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival, but this Goodyear spot also offers a full restaurant. Sit outside on the shaded patio and share a pretzel or much on a "Holy-Yum" bison burger while sampling the brews.

Tucked into the corner of a strip mall of Lake Pleasant Parkway, Peoria Artisan Brewery might be one of the best hidden craft beer spots in the West Valley. But the corner spot is worth seeking out. The modern brew pub, decorated with black and white photographs, gets a touch of warmth from wooden tables and stools. While food is available all week, the smell of barbecue wafts over customers and their dogs sitting on the patio near a large smoker that operates Thursdays through Saturdays. The brewery focuses on IPAs and other hop-forward brews with 14-16 house-made beers and another four to six guest taps. 

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From the outside, Ground Control Craft Food & Drink looks quite small. But passing through the doors, customers will find an expansive space with high ceilings and multiple concepts inside. At the entrance, a coffee bar occupies the left portion of the building and a small hallway to the right is home to multiple fridges packed with beer to-go. Keep walking and you'll find a large, open seating area with a wood-burning pizza oven drawing you closer. The extensive food menu features burgers, salads, wraps and pizza. At the far corner, a small bar serves pints of craft beer. Ground Control is a taproom, not a brewery, so there are no in-house beers but the rotating list features craft brews from around the Valley and the country. 

Details: Saddle Mountain Brewing Company, 15651 W. Roosevelt St., Goodyear. 623-249-5520, saddlemountainbrewing.com. Peoria Artisan Brewery, 10144 W. Lake Pleasant Pkwy #1130, Peoria. 623-572-2816, peoriaartisanbrewing.com. Ground Control, 4860 N. Litchfield Road, Litchfield Park. 623-535-9066, groundxcontrol.com.

Meet the brewer at these great local spots 

Brandon Richter wanted to open his brewery in an old auto garage. But when he couldn't find one in his hometown of Peoria, he settled into a strip mall corner unit off Lake Pleasant Parkway. The theme of Richter Aleworks is obvious, however, as the space is decorated with road signs, car parts and tap handles made from connecting rods from engines. 

a sign on the side of a building: Transplant City Beer Company currently occupies a tiny building in Litchfield Park. © Tirion Morris Transplant City Beer Company currently occupies a tiny building in Litchfield Park.

At the brewery, there's a good chance of meeting someone in the family; Richter brews the beer, one son runs the bar and another leads the kitchen. The cozy brewery offers seven to eight house brews along with a few guest beers for a tap list total of 13. Most of Richter's brews are translucent as he doesn't "like the haze-craze." An in-house kitchen offers a variety of pub food along with food trucks that park outside.

Currently, Transplant City Beer Company, or TCBC is so little you might easily miss it. But the small brewery, located across from the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, is soon to get a big upgrade. The white-painted brewery and its dog-friendly patio are in the process of moving next door into a large, historic building with exposed beam ceilings and a wrap-around patio. But for now, a cast of regulars from nearby Luke Air Force Base can enjoy a military discount at the tiny taproom on Honeysuckle Street. Catch brewers and co-owners Justin Egbert and Paul Power crafting their newest release while you sip on the latest at this nano-brewery.

When walking into 8-Bit Aleworks, strings of green twinkle lights and flashing Double Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac-Man arcade games might catch your eye before the beer list. But this retro game-themed brewery offers a selection of brews that are worth a look. Co-owner and brewer Ryan Whitten says he's "known for throwing weird stuff in beer" as he infuses his brews with with creative flavor combinations such as boysenberry with vanilla and Fruity Pebbles cereal with lime leaves. Whitten and his wife Krystina own the brewery, located in a business park on 127th Avenue north of Van Buren Street. Regulars and first-time visitors alike often get the chance to meet the owners who run the bar and brewery. 

Details: Richter Aleworks, 8279 W. Lake Pleasant Pkwy #109, Peoria. 602-908-6553, richteraleworks.com. Transplant City Beer Company, 107 W. Honeysuckle Street, Litchfield Park. 623-535-3911, tcbcbeer.com. 8-Bit Aleworks, 1050 N. Fairway Dr., Building F, Suite 101, Avondale. 623-925-1650, 8-bitaleworks.com.

Grab some beer to-go at these taprooms

Along with plenty of fantastic West Valley breweries, craft beer fans also have a few options when it comes to picking up cans to-go. Tap Savvy, a long, skinny taproom wedged in between a barbershop and a dentist, offers beers on tap and to-go. Stop by to peruse the beer fridge and stay for a pint at this modern strip mall bar. To-go options include four and six-packs of local and national craft beer along with mix-and-match options to build your own selection. Some local offerings include Wren House Brewing Company, Tombstone Brewing Company and Supersititon Meadery.

About 15 miles north, Cactus Taproom offers a similar service for the northwest Valley. Bright orange-painted walls, a small bar top and an indoor-outdoor booth area invite customers to grab a beer and stay awhile. Beer fridges jammed with colorful cans keep local and national craft brews perfectly cold and ready to take home and enjoy. 

Details: Tap Savvy, 13000 W. Indian School Road, Suite A-6, Litchfield Park. 623-248-8561, tapsavvy.beer. Cactus Taproom, 20429 N. Lake Pleasant Road, #104, Peoria. 623-440-9316, cactustaproom.com.

Reach the reporter at tirion.morris@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter at @tirionmorris, on Facebook at Tirion Rose and on Instagram at tirionrose

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: The ultimate beer-lover's guide to breweries, taprooms and bottle shops in the West Valley

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