— Editors’s Note: To wrap up our four part craft beer travel series Mark Lilly stopped by Fate Brewing. A small brewery, brewing up some unique batches. Definitely worth a visit on your next craft beer holiday. —
Part 4: Fate Brewing
One of the newer yet most popular breweries in the Phoenix area is a little operation called Fate Brewing Company. They may be small in size, but their uniqueness and ability to think outside the box makes them a true David to other Goliaths of the beer industry. We figured this made them perfect as the final installment of our four-part series Spotlight on Phoenix.
I immediately got a friendly, neighborhood feel as I walked in and grabbed a seat at Fate. As I looked around the room, I could just tell that people were genuinely happy to be there. Even though they haven’t been in operation for many years, they’ve clearly won over a devoted following in the community. Fate’s General Manager, Travis Pack, took the time to give me a tour of the facility and sat down with me to shed a little light on Fate Brewing.
Here’s what Travis had to say:
CB: What’s behind the name “Fate”? Is there a story? An attitude?
FB: Fate is an iteration of our owner’s (Steve McFate) last name. We like to play on the word “Fate” quite a bit, which is easy to see in our tagline, “It’s in your hands.” We also like to get cheesy laughs out of saying, “Fate brought you here!” to customers.
CB: You guys do things “a bit differently.” What is that sets you apart from other breweries?
FB: Compared to most other breweries in Arizona, Fate is tiny and versatile. Our small brewhouse produces just 7 barrels (BBL) at a time, or 217 gallons, which gives us a very high beer turnover rate. One of the biggest benefits of this is our ability to produce many different styles and types of beer…in just under 2 years we’ve released more than 150 brews. We like to experiment a lot as well, and will often release just one keg of specialty batches like Cedar Pale Ale, Hatch Chili Cream Ale or Bourbon Barrel-aged Smoked Porter, to name a few.
CB: You say Fate beers are brewed in small batches. How small are we talking?
FB: Our typical batch size is 7 BBL, which is 217 gallons, which is 1,736 pints. That might seem like a lot at first, but consider the biggest brewery in the state, Four Peaks (who has been extremely supportive of the little guys like Fate and who we love dearly) has individual fermentation tanks that are 240 BBL. Just two of their batches is more than we brew in an entire year!
CB: How long have you been in operation and what sorts of changes has your business seen during that time?
FB: Fate has been up and running since November of 2012, and we’ve seen tons of changes since the early days. Some have been huge and most have been small, but some of the more notable changes: our menu has received a nice makeover with the addition of some great wood-fired apps and creatively topped pizzas; our beers are getting better and better, and we’ve acquired a small collection of wine and whiskey barrels for aging beer (which has been awesome); we’ve become quite nimble and efficient and we like to claim that while we only do pizza and beer, we think we do both pretty darn well.
CB: What is your proudest moment as a brewery?
FB: Hands down, winning a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2013 for our Candy Bar Milk Stout. We were completely shocked and overwhelmingly excited to receive a medal at the biggestbeer festival in the US, especially since we hadn’t even been open for a year. People come in from all over the country asking about the Candy Bar Milk Stout, which is pretty cool considering our size.
CB: What has been the most difficult challenge for you as a brewery over the years?
FB: One of the biggest challenges for us as a brewery has been keeping enough of our beers on tap. While our small size is great for experimenting with new styles and flavors, it can make it tough to keep up sometimes. Because we don’t technically have any “staple” beers that are always on tap, some guests get a little upset when their favorite is gone for a few weeks or even months. We try to balance this by brewing our most popular beers as often as possible, but even so we run out of pretty much everything we brew at some point. And while we’ll occasionally have a Fate Tap Takeover (where we fill all 12 of our taps with Fate beer), it’s quite a process for us to make that much of our own beer available, so these are big events for us! Usually we’ll have 6-8 of our own beers on tap, and fill the remaining taps with our favorite local and regional craft beer.
CB: How big is your staff?
FB: There are only 13 of us here on the Fate Team, including our head brewer, Adam, and Fate’s owner, Steve. It’s a tight knit crew for sure, with a very positive and teamwork orientated atmosphere. It’s a great feeling knowing everyone has each other’s backs, and while we take the beer and our jobs seriously, we make sure to have tons of fun while we do it. The staff seem to enjoy working at Fate too, 7 of the 13 have been here since we opened!
CB: Are there any typical characteristics of your customer base or is it pretty varied?
FB: We get a pretty diverse crowd, but we definitely do see a lot of self-proclaimed “beer nerds” pretty regularly. They like to come in and try all the new and experimental beers, and they’ve been great because they share and promote what they drink online. It’s a fun group too, because they love to talk about beer and aren’t afraid to give an honest opinion. We have great support from the neighborhood as well, and a fantastic group of regular customers who keep us busy even in the middle of summer!
CB: What is your #1 seller and what are the favorites among your staff?
FB: Our American Pale Ale has become our flagship beer, and we generally sell out of a full batch in less than two weeks. It’s a very hoppy pale brewed with Simcoe, Falconer’s Flight and Cascade hops, and is the go-to beer for most of the staff and a good percentage of our customers. As far as all-time favorites, I’d have to go with the Double Oatmeal IPA. It’s a big imperial IPA that weighs in at 9% ABV and 120 IBUs, but you’d never know it by the remarkably smooth finish and slight sweetness brought in by the oatmeal addition to the grain bill. On the pizza side, pretty much everyone recommends The Jess to first-time guests; the combination of garlic-infused olive oil, bacon, ricotta, spinach and roasted garlic make this one of our best-selling pies.
While sitting down with Travis, I had a chance to try Fate’s Single Hop Sour (ABV 5.0/IBU 10) and the Double Oatmeal IPA he mentioned. I’m really not a “sour” guy, at least not yet, but this was so much more bearable than others I’ve had. It was a tart, but not overwhelming, kettle-soured American wheat beer. I loved the Double Oatmeal IPA, a deep golden IPA brewed with Golden Naked Oats and plenty of American hops.
Everything on Fate’s beer menu looked unique and tempting enough to try, from their Cream Ale to their Irish Red to their Milk Stout. They even featured a collaboration with 1055 Brewing called “Into the Wild” Sour Stout. Fate Brewing is a must-visit when you’re in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area; just don’t expect the same menu when you get there. Due to their fast turnover rate, you never know what you might find. To learn more about Fate Brewing Company, visit www.FateBrewing.com.
More articles in the Craft Beer Travel Series: Phoenix:
- Part 1: Four Peaks Brewing in Tempe (with a tasting room at the Phoenix airport!)
- Part 2: SanTan Brewing and their Southwestern style ales
- Part 3: Papago Brewing with a surprising Canadian connection
- Part 4: Fate Brewing’s small batches (This is Fate!)