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Point of Brew

Story and Photos by Stephanie Peters

TOP: Alex Goetting brewing. BOTTOM: A tasty burger with side of onion rings and a nice cold brew from Verde Brewing Company.

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Verde Brewing Company “Beer & Burgers in Camp Verde”

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Camp Verde, Arizona is filled with secrets. It is the only place to access Arizona’s last two wild and scenic rivers, Fossil Creek and the Verde River, and it is home to a vibrant agricultural community. Fields of corn, grape vines, alfalfa, and other staple crops grace the landscape of the valley to create a green oasis. Residents of Camp Verde know its many secrets and allure, but for others, Camp Verde is a pit stop – a place to get gas on the way to somewhere else. However, one determined, hardworking, history-loving millennial might be changing that “pit stop” image, one beer at a time. Alex Goetting, a twenty-something graduate from University of Arizona, is the owner and visionary behind Verde Brewing Company, Camp Verde’s farm-to-mug brewery. This talented, up-and-coming brew master has turned locally grown pecans, hops, barley, and prickly pear – yes prickly pear, grown on his own backyard farm – into handcrafted beers that are worth traveling for. Indeed, Alex Goetting’s inventive beers are quickly tapping out at his restaurant, Verde Brewing Company’s Burgers and Beer. But before the restaurant, and even before the first beer was brewed, Verde Brewing Company was an idea, if not a scribble between college history notes, for Alex Goetting. “In college, my brother introduced me to brewing beer, and quickly, time in the library went from studying Middle Eastern history to researching brewing techniques, equipment and business models,” Goetting recalled as we sat and talked in his bustling restaurant recently. “After I graduated, I moved back to Camp Verde to help my parents run their restaurant, The Horn, but I spent my free time trying to figure out ways to start a brewery.” At the end of summer 2012, the roof of The Horn collapsed from monsoon rains, consequently closing the restaurant for six months. For anyone in Camp Verde at the time, this was the disaster of the year, but the Goetting family took the crisis and saw opportunities. Instead of sitting back in defeat while the roof was being repaired, Alex Goetting and his friends spent their time crunching numbers and looking for funding opportunities to start a brewery that would build on the strengths of the community. “Crowdfunding was starting to take off at that time, and our goal for the brewery was to create and share our community’s strengths,” said Alex Goetting. “What better way to enter that community, than to crowd fund a brewery with our community? In the six months while the restaurant was closed, we managed to launch a Kickstarter campaign that raised roughly $15,000 to start a craft brewery.” Alex raised the money with the intention to start a nano-brewery that would harvest, produce, and distribute beer from the Verde Valley. The budget was for a small system that could produce several kegs per week, brewed from local agriculture, in order to supply the renovated Horn restaurant with beer. He raised money by offering prizes like putting contributors’ names on brewery bricks and hosting personal tapping parties. By April 2013, the Kickstarter campaign was a success, and Goetting established his nano-brewery in a small commercial space on Main Street in downtown Camp Verde, next to his parents’ restaurant. Flash forward to a recent, warm June afternoon inside his busy restaurant where local beef burgers are served with at least five beers always on tap. Alex was looking over plans to install his brewing equipment in the back of the historic Boler’s building, when a server interrupted him to say that yet another beer was out. Obviously, his AZWINE lIfEstylE lifestyle . com


weekly newsletters. “Camp Verde is the perfect town, located right off the highway, with abundant hiking, river rafting, and Fossil Creek,” stated Steve Goetting. “We are proud of what Camp Verde has to offer, and our way of sharing it is to capture the flavors of our town in our food and beer.” Alex Goetting keeps five staple beers on tap at all times: Honey Pot Stout, made with local honey; Pecan Dunkelweizen, made with locally grown pecans; Off to Jail Ale, made with seasonal hops and honey; Red Neck Rodeo, made with local mesquite; and Gold Buckle Ale, made with local alfalfa and honey. His other taps rotate among experimental, flavored craft beers, like the Mogollon Rim ale that was brewed with prickly pear and juniper berries. Alex admits that not every beer he makes is for everyone, but most have a following with customers who fill up growlers to take home. His beers might sound unusual and his experience might be limited, but Alex Goetting is doing something right, and customers from all over are taking notice. One customer took to Facebook to describe the beer as “better beer than any other brewer in Northern Arizona.” An Untappd user described Off to Jail Ale as a “surprisingly good beer! I expected a mouth full of cascade, but this is great! Good balance, lots of malt... Great!” With its growing fan base, Verde Brewing Company has no plans to stop. “Over the next year, we look to continue bridging historic local resources into high-quality, American-made, artisanal products with our expansion into the historic Boler’s building,” said

Verde Brewing Company 325 S. Main St., Camp Verde, Arizona 86322 verdebrewing.com.

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Alex Goetting. He continued, “Every beer will be steeped in over 75 years of Camp Verde history.” Alex is making sure that Camp Verde’s history stays alive in every beer he sells. He has plans to register the Boler’s building on the National Register of Historic Places, and grace the walls with black-and-white photographs of his parents’ house being built in the early 1900s. It is safe to say, this entrepreneurial spirit loves history, and that’s quite evident from one look around his brewpub. Alex Goetting even offers “beer for life” discounts to people who are interested in financially contributing to what he calls Camp Verde’s most important assets – beer and history. This marketing plan will help him to create the perfect destination at the historic Boler’s building, and to continue his farm-to-mug philosophy. A place for tourists and neighbors alike to enjoy burgers made from local beef, and flavorful farm-to-mug beers daily, Verde Brewing Company’s Burgers and Beer could easily be Camp Verde’s biggest and best secret. And the beer is excellent.

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plans for a nano-brewery did not last long and instead morphed into a microbrewery, struggling to keep up with demand. “When I launched the Kickstarter campaign, I started working at local microbreweries to see operations firsthand,” Goetting recalled. “It soon became clear that to create the kind of operation we had in mind, the kind of energy we wanted to invite people to experience and be a part of, we needed more equipment, more beers, and more crops than we had available.” In August 2013, Alex launched a second Kickstarter campaign to help local farms expand their crops to include brewing ingredients. This second crowdfunding project successfully raised $4,000, and helped to plant hops, barley, and other staple ingredients around the Verde Valley. Farmers also planted and harvested additional crops to create new beer flavors. Over the next year, Verde Brewing Company became known for its uniquely flavored beers including the Pecan Dunkelweizen, made with locally grown pecans, and Zander’s Chili Porter, made with locally grown chili peppers. “We used the renovated Horn as our tasting room and by July 2014, we occupied six of the 16 taps, garnered 60 percent of the beer sales, and The Horn was featured in that month’s Arizona Highways’ restaurant spotlight,” Goetting recalled. “Then at 7 p.m. on July 23, 2014, an electrical fire broke out at The Horn.” The electrical fire subsequently wiped out the entire electrical system at The Horn, closing it down for repairs once again. “By February 2015, after more than six months of new landlords, insurance companies, lawyers, and still no progress or timeline for the completion of The Horn; fermenters, kegs, and our walk-in filled to the brim with nowhere to sell; and employees asking for work… we had no other option but to risk it all and try to go at it on our own,” explained Alex. “We then made plans to move into the historic Boler’s building.” The historic Boler’s building is a staple in Camp Verde. Covered in red barn paint, this wooden building with an aluminum roof was built in 1933, and obtained the state’s third liquor license in 1934 to become Boler’s Bar. With a rowdy reputation across the state, Boler’s Bar was an institution within the Verde Valley until closing its doors in 2010. Due to his love for history, Alex Goetting acquired the building in 2012, and immediately rented it out to a local wine and art gallery for the next two years. After the gallery closed in fall of 2014, Alex started looking at it as the place to expand his brewery operations. And, like most things in his life, that happened sooner rather than later. “By March of 2015, we had successfully renovated the kitchen, gotten our restaurant license, and opened to the public, serving local beef burgers and handcrafted beers. Our grand opening was March 14,” Goetting said, as if that was years ago – when in reality, it was merely months ago. How did a quickly established brewery-turned-restaurant become so popular in such a short time? Alex did not have time to answer, as he rushed off to brew beer. His father, Steve Goetting, promptly answered, “It’s the beer.” Alex Goetting’s philosophy of creating flavorful craft beers out of fresh ingredients might be the secret to his success. This farmto-mug approach was intended to build on the strength of Camp Verde’s rich agricultural community, and combine it with a local way of doing business. By sourcing from Verde Valley farms, for both the beers and the menu of burgers, salads and other lunch and dinner entrees, Verde Brewing Company is directly supporting its local economy. The Goettings’ interest in their community does not stop at the economy; they support local arts and recreational activities, and even drum up reasons for people to visit Camp Verde through their

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AZWINE - Verde Brewing Company  

Camp Verde, Arizona is filled with secrets. It is the only place to access Arizona’s last two wild and scenic rivers, Fossil Creek and the V...

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