Working as a firefighter often requires a person to think quickly and adapt to changes. It’s a skillset that has served former firefighters Jeremy Hilderbrand, Matt Gordon and Taylor Carter well as they operate Firetruck Brewing Company.
Firetruck Brewing Company is the new name for Sentinel Peak Brewing. It’s largely a cosmetic change with the same owners and employees operating the business. However, the company is expanding their locations and their offerings in Southern Arizona. It’s a move that’s been in the works for the last year and a half, according to co-owner Carter.
“We wanted to have a landmark name,” Carter said. “But we found really quick that nobody knows what Sentinel Peak is … [So] we decided to go with a name that was more true to our character of being firefighters.”
Under the old name, which had been used since first opening in 2014, the company was already using plenty of firefighting imagery in their branding, complete with a ‘40s Rio Rico fire truck they purchased and restored.
Firetruck Brewing Company recently expanded to its third location by buying out Growler USA at 9630 N. Oracle Road in Oro Valley. Its previous purchase was in January 2019 at 9155 E. Tanque Verde Road near Catalina Hwy.
However, its maiden and flagship location remains at 4746 E. Grant Road, which has some big changes coming. Firetruck Brewing is finalizing plans to convert its old brewing system at the Grant location into a distillery, and when it launches, Carter says it will likely be focusing on gin and vodka.
Two additional Firetruck locations are planned for 2021— at Fort Lowell and Country Club in Tucson and a to-be-determined site in Vail. Carter says these new sites will be unique because they’ll have a drive thru with a coffee shop.
Firetruck will be operating these five locations and continuing their collaborative brew space “Voltron Brewing” with Borderlands Brewing. Voltron Brewing is located at 330 S. Toole Ave. Ste. 200, which opened at the beginning of the year.
Further down the line, the company is looking at ways to expand beyond Pima County.
“We’d love to move into other markets,” Carter said, “We have some friends out in Texas that want to pull our brand out there and do a Firetruck concept out there.”
While the company has experienced great success, the entire restaurant industry has faced huge challenges because of the pandemic.
“When everything first hit back in March, myself and the main partner, we went without pay for about five months just so that we could make sure that we keep everybody else paid,” Carter said. “Our numbers are down quite a bit compared to years prior but we have an optimistic attitude.”
Recently, a new obstacle was placed in front of Firetruck, according to Carter. A Nov. 9 ruling by the Maricopa County Superior Court reversed an executive order issued by the governor that allowed establishments to sell alcohol to-go.
“That’s a huge revenue loss,” Carter said. “Not just for us, but for all the restaurants in the state right now and when we’ve already been kicked when we’re down, this was just another another kick to the gut.”
However, the Oro Valley location is licensed to sell beer cans to-go to thirsty customers.
Catering has been an additional revenue stream for Firetruck. They sold-out full and half smoked turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving. However, the recent court decision also impacted this area of their operation, because many of these holiday meals had alcohol orders alongside. Firetruck Brewing has plans for a similar promotion for Christmas.
Joseph Giddens is a Pima Community College journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.