By Tara Alatorre | January 19, 2021
Simple Machine Brewing Company celebrated its first anniversary by releasing three special beers during what it dubbed “Anniversary Week.”
Although the North Phoenix brewery did not have a typical anniversary celebration because of the pandemic, it did not stop it from putting out brews worth stopping in for.
Fans of IPA will want to check out the Helical Haze Galaxy Edition, which is Simple Machine’s flagship IPA brewed with Galaxy and Mosaic hops.
Marshall Norris, the brewer and co-owner of Simple Machine, says that in the last year it has gained a local reputation for its milkshake IPAs, which were brewed for Anniversary Week. The Celebration Fedora Milkshake IPA was brewed with black currant, orange, vanilla and lactose. Chinook, cascade and cashmere hops were added to the whirlpool, and then it was dry hopped with cascade.
“The reason we did our anniversary spread out is so people could get the beers all week and not have to feel like they need to come here on release day,” Norris says. “We’re releasing them on draft and in cans so people can enjoy on-site or off-premise.”
Those who prefer the sour varieties should try the Anniversary Pastry Sour, brewed with cherry, vanilla, lactose and rounded out with notes of graham cracker. The can art displays the top tier of a wedding cake in a freezer, playing off of the tradition of married couples eating their wedding cake on their first anniversary for good luck.
Speaking of luck, Simple Machine acknowledges that it played a small part in surviving its first year while navigating the pandemic. Beyond luck, the brewery survived by taking matters into its own hands by quickly adapting, working hard and earning the support of the community.
“It just warms my heart,” Norris says when reflecting about the last year. “Really it was a combination of local community supporting us, being able to make the right decisions and, honestly, luck.”
He explains that when the shutdown happened in March, Simple Machine quickly pivoted to producing more packaged beer and added online ordering and delivery. It also increased self-distribution as much as it could.
“Thankfully, I had experience in production and packaging,” he says. “There was a really big push to support local, too.”
The Arizona Craft Brewers Guild was also a valuable resource that Simple Machine and other breweries heavily relied on to help sort out all the governor’s executive orders and understand how it applied to their businesses.
The year 2020 was still a struggle, though, and very labor intensive because Simple Machine brews on a small three-barrel system and there were supply shortages in the summer, too.
“It was no easy task, it was lots of work to keep up with production,” Norris adds. There will likely be a brewery upgrade in the future to help ease the workload for 2021.
Simple Machine poured love into its business and community, and it shows. At the beginning of 2020, the brewery expected to make about 350 barrels of beer; instead it produced 461 barrels, with 40% going into cans.
“We feel pretty fortunate, and we’re grateful for how much support we’ve gotten from the local community and brewers guild.”
Looking into 2021, Norris said they hope to brew 30 new beers, but they will have to strike a balance by continuing to keep up production with their flagship beers, too.
“The biggest thing on our list is upgrading the brew system, and it’s definitely possible after how well received we are by the community — and that is despite shutdowns,” he says. “We’re wanting more barrel-aged product this year, and to up our sour game.”
Simple Machine is planning on doing collaboration ale with proceeds benefiting the brewers guild and continuing to focus on community.
Simple Machine Brewing Company, 701 W. Deer Valley Road, Suite 1, Phoenix, 623.469.9199, simplemachinebrewing.com.