Behind-The-Scenes Brews 3

Arizona Brewery Tours Stirs Up The Valley’s Craft Beer Scene

Growing up in San Francisco, John Alvarado fell in love with craft beer at an early age. However, after moving to Arizona and starting a family, for a number of years the closest he ever came to craft beer was what he could find on a grocery store shelf.

An engineer by trade, John eventually found himself in the corporate world, where he was asked to help out at a handful of beer events. They reinvigorated his passion, and he found himself in awe of not only the beer, but also of the brewing community in general, and knew it was something he somehow wanted to be a part of moving forward.

While having some pints on vacation in San Diego with his son, John noticed a tour as it made its way through the brewery. The group was having a blast, so the pair signed up for one the very next day.

“We had one of the best evenings ever as father and son,” remembers John. “We had done all sorts of things together, like concerts and such, but this tour was just a blast, and we talked about it for a good two or three weeks after. And when we came back home, we looked around and saw that what the Valley needed was a brewery tour all its own.”

After approaching many different breweries, however, John’s idea was met with a great deal of skepticism. Most simply tried to talk him out of the idea, telling him he was nothing short of crazy to think it might work. But John persisted, creating Arizona Brewery Tours (ABT) just over three years ago. Now, those would-be skeptics are happily eating their words, having embraced John and his company as an integral part of the state’s brewing community.

“We are a business, of course, but this is not about the money. Rather, our mission is to introduce people to craft beer in Arizona,” explains John. “We want them to understand how talented these brewers are and how much work goes into each glass of beer. We get people behind the scenes, touching the stainless steel and tasting samples straight from the fermenters.

“There is nothing better than when we get a group who had no idea that there was a brewery less than a mile from their home. We introduce them to it, the processes behind it, and the next time we stop by, we see those same people sharing the place with their friends and family. It gives me goose bumps, and that is at the core of what we want to do.”

Public tours offered by ABT include a visit to three local breweries. Each stop will include a behind-the-scenes tour guided by a resident brewer, accompanied by a variety of different samples. Lunch will be served during one of the stops as well. Up to 13 seats are available on the bus for each tour, all of which are led by an ABT driver who is not only knowledgeable about beer, but also the city, and is quick to share some history and point out local landmarks as the group navigates their way from one stop to the next.

Arizona Brewery Tours also offers a selection of private tours for groups of 2-50 people and is able to customize their tours for any occasion, from birthdays to corporate outings, weddings, reunions, bachelor/bachelorette parties, fraternity/sorority functions or anything in between.

Both public and private tours usually last just shy of five hours. There is always plenty of water and ice on the bus to stay hydrated in between stops (always a good idea), and there’s even an ABT souvenir to take home at the end.

More information on Arizona Brewery Tours, including how to reserve a seat on either a public or private tour, can be found by visiting their website at, or by calling them at 480.382.4677.