Best Places to Drink a Craft Beer in the Northern AZ Winter

I know that it probably happens all around the country, but it seems to me that the bipolar feelings towards heat and cold are feverently at the extremes in our state. You will get one person who relishes the heat and mild winters that lie just below the Colorado Plateau. He or she will cringe at the sight of tire chains or the thought of picking up a snow shovel even one more time! They will proudly and happily tell you about how they escaped the Midwest and came to the Sonoran Desert specifically to avoid the cursed snowblower and negative thermometer readings. On the other hand, you have the thermophobes, like myself, who seem to melt away at even the low 90’s, slowing down to a both mental and physical snail crawl through life. We see that cute little snowflake on the 5 day forecast and run to put on our pajamas (backwards of course) and begin throwing ice cubes into the toilets. I pity those who know not of this ritual…I now type with a big ol’ smile on my face because I know it is near.

Well, whichever side of the igloo aisle you sit, we can all agree that the winter wonderland that is the uplifted northern half of our state can present some of the years more fun and adventurous journeys. So, I present to you, my thoughts on some of the best ways to enjoy a craft beer while connecting to that good ol’ ice fingered boy from the north, Jack Frost.

The patio of Arizona Snowbow

Some people may disagree, but I believe that when we have a great snow year, Arizona Snowbowl has some of the best all-around terrain and tree runs in the Southwest. For having some of the driest places around, we are so freakin’ lucky to have this beautiful Stratovolcano emerging to 12.6K feet into the bluest skies imaginable. Whether you have just finished a killer day up in an untouched Upper Bowl, or are nursing the all-too-familiar bruised hindquarters of your first snowboard outing, nobody can disagree that the warm sun on your face and a cold beer in your hand isn’t a hard earned state of absolute bliss. With a patio overlooking the still brave souls, and multiple local choices pouring their gifts from the taps, you won’t have to be prodded to “smile for the camera!”

In a Yurt in the Pines

If you plan a little ahead, and are up for a magical, albeit slightly more rugged, winter adventure, you can spend a rewarding night roughing it amongst the stars, woods, and creatures of the western slope of the San Francisco Peaks. Want to take the family to a place that may just become a yearly tradition? Ready to impress that certain someone with a romantic secluded treat? Then grab some big delicious stouts and barleywines and procure a reservation for a Yurt at the Arizona Nordic Village! Seriously! There is nothing much better than snuggling up next to the wood stove after a nice snowshoe hike, with some good ol’ delicious craft “anti-freeze” in a bottle. May I suggest any bourbon barrel-aged stout from a local Flagstaff brewery, or hell, even as a brewery owner I’ll say it: a beautiful bottle of Whiskey from Canyon Diablo Distillery. Hey, it’s all love here in the crafty booze family!

Before and After the Pine Cone Drop

If your New Year’s Eve finds you up in the high country, you would be very reluctant to miss the traditional Pine Cone Drop. I would be very surprised if there has been a calendar page flipped over, since 2003, where I was not yelling myself horse at a giant evergreen seed cone. One of the greatest things about this event is that the streets are blocked and then flooded with both lifelong friends and newly formed affairs alike. With 6 of our 7 breweries within an easy ½ mile walking distance, you can pre-game and post-game your night with some Lost Highway, Opposable IPA, Knotty Pine, 928, or the Dark Sky Pine Cone Drop IPA yearly release! And for those who think there should only be one 12:00 during waking hours, don’t fret. There is a 10:00pm drop as well.

During Flagstaff BrewHaHa (Jan 20th 2018)

Each January, Flagstaff hosts the BrewHaHa Winter Beer Tasting Event. With over 50 breweries, live music, and grub, this indoor craft beer fest is just the ticket to wipe away any winter blues. Since this event starts at 2pm, you can make it a complete adventure by earning your beer on the snowy trails and slopes outside of town. There is just something about looking out of the windows at a snowy landscape while sipping on a body warming brew; even better that it benefits Habitat for Humanity! Event website:

While watching ski movies at Dark Sky Brewing Co.

So, I would be remissed if I didn’t throw in a biased, but damn worthy, plug. Those who know Dark Sky know that we LOVE the winter sports. Hell, we love all outdoor activities really! But with the changing of the nightly lows come the changing of our in house projector. After Halloween, you will start to see people in the brewery all staring over their beers in the same direction. Sometimes I feel bad when I see a group of 5 friends here to have a great conversation and all of a sudden they are all big-eyed and oohing and aahing at the screen as someone shreds across a backcountry treeline. This winter, we are teaming up once again with local ride shop owner Rich Phillips to bring ya’ll some rad snowboard premieres throughout the season. These always include huge raffles and even the occasional snowboard…whaaaat?!

See ya’ll in the Pow, and the breweries after,


Eric Walters on FacebookEric Walters on Instagram
Eric Walters
I love beer. Specifically Arizona craft beer. Oh yea, my family is pretty awesome too. An amazing wife and 2 awesome little girls make my life great. And did I mention beer?

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