By Niki D’Andrea
Lake Havasu City, aka “Arizona’s Playground,” is a well-known for a few things. First, it’s home to London Bridge, relocated to the city piecemeal from England in 1968, reconstructed over the course of three years, and inaugurated in 1971.
The city also sits along a stretch of what we’ll call the Arizona Riviera, making it a boating mecca beach town in the middle of the cactus-dappled desert. LHC is also an aviation-crazy town, with a bustling municipal airport.
Lake Havasu City’s sprawling parks and hiking trails see plenty of action, especially October through April, when the weather turns balmy and breezy and sweltering summer temperatures start to subside. Outdoor recreation is abundant, and few things are better after a hike on a hot day than a cold craft beer. Luckily, Lake Havasu City’s also known for its budding brewery scene.
The oldest brewery in town, Barley Brothers Restaurant & Brewery, opened in 1997 and is located on the south side of London Bridge. Their award-winning brews skew malty (sometimes you can smell the malts roasting when you walk in the restaurant) and aren’t available anywhere outside the brewery, so getting a growler or two to go is a good idea. Barley Brothers is especially known for its Tripleberry Wheat beer, made with cranberries, raspberries and blueberries; it’s smooth and fruity, but not overly sweet. The food menu boasts big burgers with interesting variations (one topped with Maine lobster, another with peanut butter and jalapeño jelly); pizzas and hefty, gooey calzones; sandwiches and pastas. Dining here often comes with a great view of the water under London Bridge. The restaurant also overlooks a lovely waterfront garden with green foliage, stone fountains and a shaded ramada.
Mudshark Brewing Company is one of the best-known beer brands based in Lake Havasu City, with distribution throughout the Southwest and a Full Moon wheat beer that tastes like a more banana-forward Blue Moon. Mudshark’s Pumpkin Spice Ale – served with brown sugar around the rim of the glass in the restaurant – is hands down the best seasonal beer in town, Pizzas and pastas rock, too.
Some of the best brews and food in Arizona, let alone in Lake Havasu City, are found at College Street Brewhouse & Pub. Known for their Big Blue Van blueberry wheat beer, College Street also excels in stouts and IPAs. Food menu highlights include delectable, crab-stuffed avocados and the cheesiest, richest mac and cheese on earth.
The newest brewery in town is an outpost of Redlands, California-based Hangar 24 Craft Brewery. Located in a converted airplane hangar at the Lake Havasu City Municipal Airport, Hangar 24 is so popular with locals that it requires a big overflow lot for additional parking. The long, communal-style tables facilitate socialization with strangers, and the blue biplane hanging from the ceiling adds to the aviation vibe. The brewery’s annual Airfest takes place on October 27 and draws people from all over the region.
Flights of beer are available at every brewery in Lake Havasu City – fitting for an aviation-crazed town.