As a lot of our readers know, we recently did a Route 66 roadtrip to Arizona from Los Angeles. The main reason behind this was to get away pre Christmas and also to see the Grand Canyon (which was amazing, more about that in a different post). What did surprise us however, was Flagstaff.
Flagstaff is the closest ‘city’ to the Grand Canyon. Yes there are other towns and accommodations much closer, but Flagstaff is really the closest place that isn’t catering to just Grand Canyon tourists. Flagstaff also sits where the I-40 freeway, old route 66 and the Amtrack train line all pass through it, so unlike many of the old route 66 towns, the new freeway doesnt really seem to have changed or impacted the town itself.
Flagstaff only has a population of around 70,000, but a big majority are students at Northern Arizona University (NAU) so it has a lot of really cool bars, coffee shops and other sort of stores that hipster students seem to frequent these days.
We spent virtually a whole day in the town itself. We started off with an early lunch at Proper Meats + Provisions (http://propermeats.com/), which is a relatively new butcher shop and is amazing. It reminded us of the kind of butcher you would get back in Melbourne. Sean and his team were really helpful and as well as lunch we bought a heap of rare breed steak and bacon to bring back to LA with us.
Since it was Chrissys day to drive we then started a brewery tour of Flagstaff. There are 5 or 6 different microbreweries, most of them within walking distance of the town centre. We started out at Lumberyard Brewing (http://www.lumberyardbrewingcompany.com/) which has a large bar and restaurant and a great outdoor area which would be great in summer. Quite a few of their beers are award winning and in particular the Diamond Down Lager and Knotty Pine Pale Ale stood out for me. The lager was a great session beer but still with some complexity, much as you would find in a good micro-brewed Aussie lager (Think Little Creatures Rogers’ even though that is technically an ale), while the Pale was just very well balanced with a nice crisp hop. The only downside i would say is that it seems as though Lumberyard caters more as a general bar and not as a ‘brewery’ per say as there wasnt a huge focus or knowledge of the beers.
We then moved on to Flagstaff Brewing Company (http://www.flagbrew.com) via Fire Creek Coffee (http://firecreekcoffee.com/). I dont drink coffee [personally but Chrissy said it was one of the best she has had here in America, and it was proper barista made rather than just the general terrible pot coffee you tend to get virtually everywhere in LA. The top for me at Flagstaff Brewing was again the Pale Ale. More bitter than Lumberyards but very good. The Kolsch also had an interesting almost bubblegum flavour which reminded me of a few Czech beers i have had in that past.
Next up was Beaver Street Brewery (http://beaverstreetbrewery.com/) , which despite having a fantastic name is actually affiliated with Lumberyard and doesnt brew their own beers. IT seems to be where the older locals hang out, as we didnt see anyone student aged in there as opposed to all the other places. They do however have some great pool tables.
Finally we went to Mother Road Brewing (http://www.motherroadbeer.com/), which is named obviously after Route 66. This was the most authentic brewery experience as they only serve their beers and you are actually drinking it in amongst the tanks while the workers create the beer around you. This was by far my number 1 out of the 4 and i would suggest a visit here for any beer lover in Flagstaff. The Kolsch for me was their top beer and i have a 6 pack here waiting for when my Aussie friends come to visit next week.