The sophomore slump seems to be nowhere in sight for Tap & Bottle’s second annual Invitational Beer Festival. Not only will the event host multiple local brewers, but breweries from multiple other states will attend as well. And brand new this year, whiskey and wine will be on the roster.
Continuing last year’s theme, the festival focuses on unique and one-off beers in order to present as diverse and unique a selection as possible.
“When we first set out to start a beer fest, we wanted it to be more intimate because the beer festivals we liked were more intimate,” said Rebecca Safford, co-owner of Tap & Bottle. “We also really wanted to bring beers that people don’t see all the time, beers that you might not have had the opportunity to try before.”
The second annual Tap & Bottle Invitational Beer Festival takes place this Saturday, Nov. 9 at the MSA Annex, and will host local breweries like Dragoon Brewing and Harbottle Brewing, as well as Phoenix-area brewers like Arizona Wilderness Brewing. California will have a presence with Burgeon Beer Company, Abnormal Beer Company, Almanac Beer and more. There will even be New Mexican brewers La Cumbre and Marble Brewery.
But one of the most interesting exhibitors at the event might be MotoSonora Brewing Company, a local brewery that hasn’t even opened its taproom yet, meaning this is one of the first opportunities Tuconans have to try MotoSonora craft beers.
This year also features wine from Rune Wines out of Sonoita, and whiskey from Tucson’s Whiskey Del Bac. Rune Wines seeks to produce wines that resemble and tell the story of Arizona, while maintaining sustainable practices in everything they do.
Whiskey Del Bac produces small batches of single malt whiskey using house-malted, mesquite-smoked barley from the Sonoran Desert.
“It’s definitely something bigger than we’ve ever done before,” Safford said. “Our location is not really an event space. We can usually only host around 100 people. That’s why the MSA Annex is a great location for us.”
Dragoon Brewing will bring three specialty beers to the event, including a never-before-released brew. Dragoon will bring the Palomino IPA released just last month, which is a pale ale brewed with Galaxy hops, ranking at 6.5 percent ABV with 60 IBU. The Pony Express American pale ale will come in specialty cans for the festival. The Pony Express is a “dry beer with tropical fruit, earthy and spicy aromatics” with 6.2 percent ABV and 25 IBU.
But Dragoon’s big star for the festival is their Barrel-Aged Siete. An (obvious) successor to the Cinco and Seis beers, the Barrel-Aged Siete is a Russian Imperial Stout, aged in bourbon barrels, that clocks in at over 10 percent ABV, and has never before been released.
“They’re three very different beers we do well. They’re definitely all unique, and range from fruity to hoppy,” said Dragoon co-founder Tristan White. “They asked us to bring something unique, and we said ‘why not’?”
Harbottle Brewing is bringing two heavy hitters to the festival: the Oat ‘n’ Rye American Stout and the Harbottle IPA.The Oat ‘n’ Rye American Stout is a dark, rich brew that features hints of fruit and chocolate malt, with a 6.6 percent ABV and 50 IBU.
“Our stout is seasonal, and it’s one of our best beers,” said Harbottle co-owner Mike Figuiera. “New that it’s getting colder, and since the festival is outside, a stout is perfect.”
The Harbottle IPA is their flagship pale ale, and features citrus elements with heavy use of hops. Described as “dank, dry, and dangerously drinkable,” the Harbottle IPA is 6.3 percent ABV with 60 IBU.
“This IPA is one of our best beers, and it’s turning heads all over Tucson. We’re gunning for our friends at Dragoon who have quite a hold on the local IPA scene,” Figuiera says. “We’re one of Tucson’s youngest breweries, but we want to show we can still make a damn fine beer.”
Aside from the breweries, the festival will also host the local food trucks Black Market BBQ, Pops Hot Chicken, and Ciao Down Pizza. Live music includes DJs, mariachis, a presence by Wooden Tooth Records, and a performance by the instrumental desert trio Hey, Bucko.
“A lot of beer festivals focus on a certain style, but ours is to have a little bit of everything,” Safford says. “There will be barrel-aged saisons to IPAs to easy drinking beers, that way there’s something for everyone.”