Tucson Craft Beer Crawl brings business back to local breweries

Over 25 breweries had chance to serve and welcome community after two-year hiatus.
Tucson Craft Beer Crawl returns downtown after being cancelled the past two years due to the pandemic.
Published: Feb. 26, 2023 at 10:50 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) -The Tucson Craft Beer Crawl returned to the downtown area after being canceled the past two years due to the pandemic.

This day brings in major revenue for Tucson’s local breweries and businesses.

“It just adds to the love of craft beer and just to have people out celebrating it. I think just this area, in general, is going to get a lot of extra business, people are going to be out and they’re going to be excited, and it’s going to be fun,” said Ben Vernon, co-owner of Crooked Tooth Brewery.

Crooked Tooth was just one of over 25 breweries to benefit from the day’s event. In 2020, the day impacted their sales by 15%, and the owners expect to exceed that number this year.

“So last time, in 2020, we looked to see about how much, and it did impact our sales by about 15%, increasing it for the day, which is wonderful,” said Julie Vernon, co-owner of Crooked Tooth Brewery. “Today, we hope that means, and I kind of think it might exceed that with the anticipation and excitement in the community.”

This year’s event brought in 1,400 people, a 150% increase in participation from 2020, according to Shane Reiser, owner of Tucson Foodie, this year’s event host. The large number of people involved in Saturday’s event in turn means more revenue for the local businesses.

“I think all of downtown, the small business are going to be positively impacted by today’s event,” said Ayla Kapahy, head brewer at Borderlands Brewing. “We’re just bringing in folks who maybe are not the typical clientele to downtown, just to really see how downtown has positively changed.”

The event pulled in $71,000 from ticket sales, plus some additional money through sponsorship from Rio Nuevo. Apart from ticket sales, the event brought in even more for downtown.

“Events like the Tucson Craft Beer Crawl are important for the city and for the community because they do create a large economic impact,” said Reiser.

And not only did the event benefit the local businesses, but two Tucson nonprofits.

One of these nonprofits was Watershed Management Group, which will be using the proceeds for its River Run Network. This program is aimed at restoring Tucson’s rivers and creeks.

“I think it’s really important that we give back in everything that we do. And water is important for the local craft beer industry. So it makes a lot of sense to have watershed management group as our nonprofit partner for this event,” Reiser said.

The money will be used for cleanup projects, removing invasive species, restoration workshops, and educating the community on how to conserve water at home.

Lisa Shipek, executive director of the group, said it means a lot to get some of the proceeds from this event.

“We were so excited to be contacted to do this, again, after a three-year gap, because it was an important part of our budget to get the proceeds from this to support all our programs, and be able to offer those programs for free to the community,” Shipek said.

And while this year’s event may be over, the local breweries are already looking forward to next year.