Puebo Vida an Ace in Downtown Brew Pub Hand
November 3, 2014
by Brad Poole
The latest upcard in Tucson’s brewpub hand is showing, and it’s an ace. Pueblo Vida Brewing Company opened on Broadway on Oct. 28, bringing the number of brew pubs in the city to… a lot.
But this newcomer to the Downtown pub crowd has Tucson roots that include the epic Bar Too Dark To Be Seen In, the Shelter Cocktail Lounge, and owners Linette Antillon and Kyle Jefferson are committed to keeping those roots in the ground.
Jefferson, whose great-grandmother opened the Shelter in 1961, grew up in Washington and graduated from University of Arizona in 2009. Antillon graduated from UA the same year.
They quickly started dreaming about Pueblo Vida, so Jefferson went to Seattle for a yearlong internship at Lazy Boy Brewing. He brought back a wealth of knowledge. The Pueblo Vida beer list will eventually be 12-15 styles, though they are starting slowly with just three, Jefferson said.
“We’ll try to have 10 on tap at a time,” he said.
The partners put a year’s worth of sweat equity into the 1918 red brick building, which faces south on Broadway just east of Sixth Avenue. The place has an industrial feel, with a lot of refined touches.
An expansive interior wall that runs through the entire pub and brew house was covered in plaster that had to be chipped off by chisel and hammer – grueling work that gives a strikingly raw feel to the room. The floor is poured concrete.
Dropped ceilings are gone, exposing the century-old Mt. Lemmon pine rafters. A skylight brightens the back half of the room, which houses the 10-foot steel fermenting tanks. They didn’t want any barriers between customers and their beer, Antillon said.
“We like the idea of you being able to see the brew house right there when you have a beer,” she said.
Yes, Linette, it is different when you drink in the birthplace of your Hefeweizen. It tastes better. The bar stools are sturdy, stable steel. It seems like it would be pretty hard to fall off of one, and each one has a purse hook under it – a nice touch. The thick, wooden tabletops were salvaged during renovations. There are plans for a small patio out front and an expansion into another storefront next door, which they have already leased.
Pueblo Vida is keeping the beer selection to three styles for now – an unfiltered Hefeweizen; a rich, dark stout; and a pale ale. I tried the Hefe first, because it’s been my favorite since a three-year stint in Germany. Pueblo Vida’s version is on the lighter side, but it’s rich and earthy enough to claim it’s German heritage. It comes in at 5.7 percent ABV.
The stout is super dark and rich, but not bitter. The coffee tones are strong, and the alcohol content is pretty high at 6.5 percent, but it went down smoothly. Very. Smoothly. It will be hard to pick between these two next time, so I will probably just have one of each.
I didn’t try the IPA, because, frankly I don’t like IPA. So I brought an expert – my friend, Rich Grolla, an IPA aficionado who keeps his craft brew consumption just barely low enough to avoid a reputation.
“It’s well balanced IPA, not on the heavy side. It also left a nice, smooth hoppy after-taste,” he said. I kind of had to make him leave, because he really seemed to like Pueblo Vida, and he was having fun balancing his beer can-shaped glass on its edge.
Pueblo Vida Brewing Company is open seven days a week – Mon-Wed, 4-10 p.m.; Thur-Fri, 2 p.m.-midnight; Sat, noon-midnight; Sun, noon-6 p.m. For more info, see their website or find them on Facebook or Twitter.