Uncle Bear’s Brewery has kinda flown under the radar since its low-key launch in September 2013. But thanks to an expanded brewing system and a new beer that may become its flagship, the Ahwatukee brew pub seems poised to crack the top 10 Arizona breweries in terms of production by the end of this year.
The dog-focused brew pub’s new beer is Barkley’s Peanut Butter Cup Porter, an easy-drinking dark beer (5.4% ABV) that, if you closed your eyes, easily could fool your nose into thinking it’s an actual Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Perhaps that’s because head brewer Joe Baldwin used 120 pounds of the best-selling candy in the 40-keg debut batch – three pounds per keg. It’s absolutely delicious.
The porter, named after the brew pub owner’s chocolate Lab, debuted two weeks ago and was snapped up by Uncle Bear’s 300-plus bar and restaurant accounts, who just as quickly sold out of it and clamored for more. A second batch will hit lucky accounts next week. In the meantime, you still can enjoy some of original batch at the Ahwatukee brew pub and its two grill-and-taprooms in Mesa and Queen Creek.
Peanut Butter Cup Porter hasn’t been added to Uncle Bear’s core lineup yet, but the move seems likely given the beer’s tremendous reception. Besides its current bestsellers, Ocean Beach West Coast IPA and Mandarin’s Best Friend’s wheat beer, other cores include Fence Jumper golden ale, Head to Tail amber, Dog Park Dark, and The Mutt’s Nuts double IPA.
Uncle Bear’s produced approximately 150 barrels of beer (a barrel is the equivalent of two 15.5-gallon kegs) in less than four months in 2013. That increased to 1,100 barrels in 2014 and 1,800 in 2015. Late last year, the brewhouse’s five original 20-barrel fermenters were joined by three new 30-barrel fermenters (pictured above on left). Another three 30-barrel fermenters will be installed by this summer.
The jump in fermentation capacity from a total of 100 barrels to 280 barrels, a statewide distribution deal with Young’s Market, and the introduction of Peanut Butter Cup Porter have Baldwin and the Uncle Bear’s crew estimating production this year will exceed 4,000 barrels. Hardly enough to challenge Four Peak’s nearly 80,000 barrels, but 4,000 would have put Uncle Bear’s into Arizona’s top 10 in 2015.
As part of Arizona Beer Week, which starts today and runs through Jan. 20, dog-friendly Uncle Bear’s will be donating $1 from every pint sold at any of its three locations during the 10 days to the Arizona Humane Society. In addition, a dog adoption event will be held Jan 20 with 15% of all food and drink proceeds at all three locations that day being donated. And every Sunday, all year, dogs eat free.
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