This time around it was Rick Lyke’s of Lyke 2 Drink turn to pick the subject for beer blogging Friday. A hat tip to him for making “The Brew Zoo” the topic.
Molly and I just sent our oldest off to college at the University of Arizona a couple of week’s ago. The UA is in Tucson, Arizona’s second largest city, a six hour drive east of San Diego. It is also home to the state’s largest microbrewery, Nimbus Brewing Company, who’s monkey mascot makes it the subject of our post.
Located in a non-descript industrial park pushed up against railroad tracks south of downtown, Nimbus’ building frontage is adorned with eye-popping art featuring wild beer labels and dancing apes in top hats. A giant orange and yellow grain tank emblazoned with the brewery’s signature monkey head stands out front as well.
Inside the brewery the walls are painted purple, yellow and orange and adorned with paintings and decor in a sort of weird mash-up of Mexican folk art, religious iconography and monkey heads.
Side Note:: I asked about the origins of the brewery’s atmosphere, but nobody really seems to know how it came about. A Nimbus is the halo disc you see above a saint’s/holy person’s head in early European art. The folk art stuff may be from their first beer, Dirty Güera (sort of Spanish slang for “blond girl”) Ale, and the Mexican influence in Tucson. And the monkey seems to be from their old slogan “people should be more like monkeys.” (Add plenty of beer and see what you get.)
The taproom is in the front portion of the building, gated off from the brewery proper, but still with a clear view of the brewing operation. There’s also a patio area at the front where you can sit outside when it’s not too hot and watch the trains go by.
We were there mid-week around 1pm and the taproom was populated by an eclectic collection of businessmen, college students, hippies and bikers enjoying a cold pint on a hot desert afternoon.
- Dirty Güera — Southwestern-style Blond Ale
- Pale Ale — Northwestern-style Pale Ale
- Red Ale — Classic American Amber Ale
- Brown Ale — American Brown Ale
- Oatmeal Stout — Specialty Stout
- Old Monkeyshine — English Strong Ale
Also in the flight were four seasonals, India Pale Ale, Belgian Gold, Smoked Porter, and Hefeweizten. (Sadly, there are no links to these on the website.)
While none of these beers pushed the limits of their style (which is often the case with the breweries here in San Diego), I have to admit, all were very refreshing and drinkable — a nice attribute given the 104 degree temperature outside. My favorites turned out to be the Dirty Güera and Belgian Gold. Molly (naturally) enjoyed the Smoked Ported the most.
Nimbus head brewer Scott Schwartz was kind enough to come out, give us a tour and chat even though a malfunctioning bottling line was giving him trouble. (I think we cheered him up with a bottle of Judgment Day from Lost Abbey.)
Afterwords we picked up a couple of mixed cases to take home (Nimbus isn’t available in San Diego), said goodbye to Scott and the other Nimbus folks, and headed back out into the mid-afternoon heat of the Sonoran desert. We plan on dropping by again though. We’ll be back for the Great Tucson Beer Festival in late September.
Nimbus Brewing Company
3850 E. 44th Street
Tucson, Arizona 85713