State 48 Lager House (Photo by Pablo Robles)

By Connor Dziawura | May 19, 2021

In the less than five years since the Rana family opened the first State 48 location, they have tried to make the brand as big as possible, growing its customer base all the while.

Now in the spring months of 2021, State 48 has hit the six-location mark, spanning from the West Valley — spots at Glendale’s Westgate Entertainment District and the original in Surprise — to the East Valley, where one is in Scottsdale and another opened in Gilbert in March. Northernmost is its Norterra site, while a Downtown Phoenix location is central to them all.

And each puts its own spin on the State 48 name.

“Each one has a specific duty in our expansion,” owner Vince Rana says.

With Scottsdale’s Lager House, for example, that duty comes down to its brewing system, the largest out of the six State 48 locations. And its specialty is just what the name implies — lagers.

“It’s our largest brewery by square footage and height and mass and the amount of fermenters we have, because specifically lagers take twice as long to brew as ales,” Rana explains. “We wanted to set it up to do a lot of our lagering, and we wanted to really get into making some really good lagers, which was specific. A lot of United States companies don’t really get into lagers; it’s more of a German/European style.”

The family crafted a creative atmosphere at each location.

“We want to give the clientele in each neighborhood a different experience,” Rana says.

He says Westgate’s Funk House, for example, circles around events and has State 48’s largest bar, while the Rock House in North Phoenix makes sense for late nights watching live entertainment with a burger in one hand and beer in the other. In contrast, Lager House — DTPHX, too — takes more of a sit-down lunch and dinner approach. Lager House, specifically, includes design decisions like a second-level mezzanine as well as a two-level patio, the upper deck with a view of the McDowell Mountains.

“We have more things to look at,” Rana describes, noting decorative artwork. He adds, “The breweries are more on display, with glass windows that you can sit and actually dine and see into the brewery from.”

He estimates menus are about 95% similar but with minor differences, which come down to equipment. Surprise, for example, has a woodfire pizza oven, whereas Funk House has a gas-fired oven for flatbreads. Rock House and Gilbert’s Tap House, he adds, have smokers. But Lager House and DTPHX “are like the extremely large mega-breweries where we each brew about 40% of our beer. Those kitchens don’t have any of the specialized kitchen equipment.”

State 48 patrons can expect to see modifications soon, with another new venture coming this spring/summer: a new restaurant in Downtown Phoenix’s CityScape. But it’s not a State 48 brewery, according to Rana.

“It’s going to be called the Phoenix Bourbon Room, and we’re going to be making our own liquor,” Rana hints. “And so, we’re going to be redeveloping our cocktail menu in all of the (State 48) locations, and especially in Scottsdale.”

With a large family spread across the state, Rana says the idea when founding State 48 in 2016 was to spread the brand just the same. When looking to open new locations, he says, the basic idea is to fill voids — to find areas where breweries are needed or where customers are asking.

“What we wanted to do is we didn’t want to make it about a specific city in Arizona or about our brand name. We didn’t want it to be our last name,” Rana says. “We really just wanted it to be about Arizona. … We really wanted to just create a brand and we wanted to be very large and have a lot of different brewers, a lot of styles, a lot of different chefs, and we wanted to just create something for everybody.

“So, we really just wanted to be all across the Valley, and eventually we want to be known as the biggest brewery in Arizona.”

Rana says land has been purchased in Avondale for “one mega, huge place” likely to be called State 48 Beer Town. He compares the idea to how Rawhide was “back in the day,” when it was in Scottsdale, with plans to have “just a whole great venue with concerts and (be) a fun place to just explore a bunch of different restaurants on one property with a whole bunch of State 48 beer and liquor and stuff like that.” But he projects a year or two will pass before it gets built.

“Basically, if you come to Arizona — and Arizona’s a huge tourist town — you have to visit one of State 48’s breweries. Kind of like if you go to San Diego, you probably want to go visit Ballast Point brewery, and they’re at Disneyland now and everything. They just really hit it on all cylinders, with food, beverage, cocktails. They just really do a great job at everything. We want to become the representative of Arizona.”

State 48

Surprise, 13823 W. Bell Road

Funk House, 6770 N. Sunrise Boulevard, Glendale

DTPHX, 345 W. Van Buren Street, Phoenix

Lager House, 15600 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale

Rock House, 2530 Happy Valley Road, Suite 1269

Tap House, 2218 E. Williams Field Road, Gilbert