Every few weeks we get a phone call at one of our two locations. It’s not the same caller — at least we don’t think it is — but the question is always the same:
“Is this the Sip Brewery?”
That’s not a sigh of frustration. That’s a sigh that says “Oh, dear friend of Sip, we want to be so much more for you than just a brewery.” And the reasons we do are as old as beer itself.
Beer can be a food and a destination
Beer is one of the oldest fermented drinks known to humankind. Something similar to beer was being brewed in China in the 8th century BCE. West of there, we know the Mesopotamians and Sumerians enjoyed popping a cold one now and then in the early-to-mid 3000s, although there wasn’t really anything to pop, and it probably wasn’t cold. Still … beer.
Beer got a big boost in popularity in Egypt around 2500 BCE thanks to a marketing scheme that gave away samples to tens of thousands of Egyptians over a span of 30 years. Of course, to claim the samples you had to help build the Great Pyramid at Giza, and hauling big blocks of stone in the Sahara makes you mighty thirsty. Also, the beer would count as most of your food ration, so it’s probably good that you would get five liters a day, or almost a gallon and a half. And that you wouldn’t be driving.
In Europe in the Middle Ages, all beers were what we’d call craft brews. No Sip brewery then, either. Sure, there was some homemade hooch. But a lot of the stuff that was worth drinking and not better suited for smearing on hitchhiking insects was made in monasteries by the monks who hung out there. Some brewasteries like those are still at it, handcrafting beer and wine the way they have for centuries. And if their product back then is anything like their product today, it could be really excellent.
But there were some serious disadvantages to both of these.
Beer today vs. back in the day
Let’s start with those Egyptians. First, to earn your daily 5L, you had to work really, really hard; sometimes with a guy that looked like a beefy extra on “Stargate” whipping your back. And sometimes when it was time to sit down with the guys at … whatever the Egyptian word for Millertime is, there’s a good chance you found yourself instead “doing shots with Anubis,” as they used to call it. (Anubis was the Egyptian god of death. Moving those stones was really dangerous. We made up the part about doing shots.)
Even if you lived to get your daily drink ration, it was the same as what you had the day before. And before. And before. Even if you lasted for 30 years on the Giza job site, every day you had to drink the same dang beer. And a gallon-plus of Old Osiris day in, day out got pretty old.
Things were better in Europe in the Middle Ages, right? Well, no. First, the high quality stuff wasn’t affordable for everybody — especially if you were trying to pay for a keg with a goat. (Money was for rich people.) Second, those monasteries could be few and far between. And even if you had the time to get to one and money to drink once you got there, there weren’t a lot of choices. It’s not like they had Monkweiser and Monk Light and Monkalobe Ultra. You ordered what they had. And you took it with you. They didn’t want you hanging around. They had prayers to do and such.
So: long way to go, not much choice when you got there, drink it somewhere else.
What does that have to do with the Sip Brewery?
Simple: That’s why there isn’t one.
First, we don’t really have room at either location. We could open a big brewery location somewhere else, but that means more dusting, and we hate dusting.
Second, the best brewers focus on one thing: beer. If we had a Sip Brewery, it would take time to get our beer as good as all the other things on our menu. (Look at our menu, BTW; some great stuff on there.) And even then we wouldn’t be able to offer the selection people come in looking for.
And that’s the third thing: the selection of beers we offer. As it says on our menu, “Choose from a fantastic rotation of local craft beers and fill your pint with perfection. Every taste. Every time.” There are some really fine people making some really fine beers around Arizona. We are proud to know many of them, and very proud to offer you their wares.
Showcasing those fine beers is a privilege we’re proud to have. Our menu also says, “Close relationships with local brewers means better beer for our community.” We have an opportunity to help out other small businesses in our state. And when we offer their best work in a rotation it means you can sample all the beers you want without having to trek from monastery to monastery over a muddy, plague-ridden landscape.
OK, that was overly dramatic. But really, if we can help you find the best beers from around Arizona, all in one place, and offer you some really tasty dishes of our own to wash down with it — or with an equally worth-the-trip custom cocktail — then finish the evening with something from our great coffee selection, that makes us really happy; much happier than having our own brewery.
Because that’s all about community: brewers and distillers, our customers, us. And we’ll take a Sip Community over a Sip Brewery any day.