Driving down Butler Avenue on a dark evening, the vast windows of Mother Road Brewing Co.'s new brewery and taproom are a golden beacon to a thirsty traveler. In the relatively short span of six years, Mother Road’s Mike’s Pike location has become a popular hangout and its beer a local favorite. But space at Mike’s Pike soon ran out and the company started looking to expand.
The location on Butler Avenue was chosen because it offered Mother Road the space to brew a lot more beer, said Operations Manager Oliver Adams. “We could not produce enough beer at Mike’s Pike,” Adams said.
Despite the more industrial surroundings, the vibe at the new location is quintessential Mother Road with intricately folded maps as lights, vintage car ads and car doors on the wall.
The name Mother Road was chosen by founders Michael and Alissa Marquess. Author John Steinbeck called Route 66 The Mother Road in his American classic novel The Grapes of Wrath. The road has achieved the status of a cultural legend, taking nomads toward new beginnings. In the name, the founders wrapped their love of road trips, travel and hope.
The Butler Brewery Production and Taproom will allow Mother Road to expand from its current production capacity of 4,400 barrels a year. Right now, they have the equipment to produce 8,000 barrels at year at the Butler location, with room to grow. The goal, Adams said, is to be producing 20,000 barrels a year by 2020.
And while the explosive growth of the craft beer industry has slowed, it’s still an expanding market. The Brewers Association recently reported that 2017 craft beer sales were up 8 percent over 2016.
“People do want our beer,” Adams said.
He said Mother Road is focusing expanding into more Arizona markets. Brewers at the Butler location will focus on the brewery’s main beers: Tower Station IPA, Kolsch Style Ale and Lost Highway Double Black IPA. Meanwhile, brewers at the Mike’s Pike location will be able to craft experimental and seasonal brews.
Both taprooms, Adams said, provide a tasting experience he calls “the greatest marketing you can do.”
The gleaming equipment custom made by Colorado Forgeworks and the entire brewing process is visible from the taproom. Spent grain is given to local ranchers to feed cattle. The finished product goes into recyclable cans and kegs. The new machinery is nice, Adams said, but it's no substitute for personal attention.
"There’s a lot of care that goes into brewing," he said. "The machines do a lot of the heavy lifting, but brewers are integral."
The grand opening for the Butler brewery was Feb. 7. The first beer brewed there was a citrus-y Daily Driver low octane IPA that is now on tap.
Launching the new location has been "quite the wild run," Adams said. It's also been an opportunity to reinforce the company motto, "Finding joy in the adventure." The adventure that started with three employees and a small brewery, has now expended to 22 employees and a large new space.