Marana will receive its first brewery west of Interstate 10 when Wicked Monkey Brewing Company opens next year.
Set to open mid-2020, Wicked Monkey is the work of local brewer Shawn Cochran and his wife Karen, who’ve been involved in the Tucson brewing community for many years. Cochran first became interested in brewing when he tried some less than stellar craft beers and realized he could probably do better. Ten years of home brewing later, he’s more than excited to open his own microbrewery.
Wicked Monkey Brewing Company is partially named after the flying monkeys in the “Wizard of Oz,” and will open at 7701 N. Business Park Drive in the Peppertree Ranch Business Park. The site boasts more than 8,000 square feet of indoor space on a 9,500 square-foot property. Remodeling of the location begins next month, with a projected completion date of summer or fall 2020.
Cochran is opening Wicked Monkey with years of experience. After receiving a degree in biochemistry from the University of Arizona, and a subsequent master’s in business administration, he attended the American Brewers Guild in Vermont. This education led to an internship at Dragoon Brewing, where he’s now worked for seven years.
All the while, the idea for Wicked Monkey brewed. While Cochran has many recipes from his years of home brewing, he said one of the main goals for Wicked Monkey will be aligning to customer wants and interests.
“The system we’re going to get is designed for flexibility,” Cochran said. “I like Belgians, ambers, saisons. There are so many types of beer, but we’re not going to specifically target one. Ultimately, the customer will dictate the styles. If there’s one they really want, we’ll make them.”
Cochran said they don’t plan on doing a lot of distribution, and instead plan on making most of their sales on site. There are plans with local retailers, such as Tap & Bottle, to host their brews. There is also the opportunity for Wicked Monkey to do ‘contract brewing’ for larger local breweries, like 1912 Brewing Company.
“We’re going to lean a little more towards the ‘sessionable side,’” Cochran said. “If we open in fall, we’ll make a pumpkin saison, and so on.”
Their large property is one of the key assets of the business. Aside from brewing and entertaining guests, Wicked Monkey has rental space for private events.
“The model for breweries is a bit different now,” he said. “It’s more hyper-localized, rather than focusing on distribution. We want to become a kind of community center… Marana’s an up-and-coming town, and definitely way more business-friendly than Tucson.”
Although starting his own brewery after years of working at Dragoon Brewing, Cochran said there are no hard feelings between the two businesses, and in fact, they’ve been fully supportive of him. As soon as they open, Wicked Monkey and Dragoon plan on making a collaborative brew. But first, they need to open.
“We need to get through construction first before anything. I’m sure it’ll be my wife and I doing most of the work first,” Cochran said. “We just really want to create a cool space where people are going to want to come. I just can’t wait to open. The sooner, the better.”