History of Brewing in Arizona
Prohibition in Arizona lasted from 1915 to 1933. Afterwards many breweries opened in Arizona, but the only lasting one was the Arizona Brewing Company founded in Phoenix in 1933 by two brothers, Martin and Herman Fenster. It was eventually bought out by Canadian owned Carling in 1964. Though no longer locally owned or independent, the brewery stayed in business as a subsidiary until 1985. And that was the end of local beer in Arizona for several years.
In 1978 Congress passed, and President Jimmy Carter signed, House Resolution 1337, which among other things legalized homebrewing, allowing individuals "to produce wine and beer for personal and family use and not for sale”. This law helped pave the way for today's microbrewing industry. However it left the details to the states to work out.
Also in 1978 Dave Harvan, an electrician and home brewer, moved to Bisbee at the age of 21. He learned to brew beer from a neighbor and later thought he would like to start a brewery, but there were no laws in Arizona allowing the opening of small breweries in the state. Rather than get discouraged, Dave headed to Phoenix in a second-hand tie and wingtips to lobby the state legislature.
Electric Dave Brewery
Original location of Electric Dave's Brewery in South Bisbee.
Dave opened the brewery in his garage in 1988 in South Bisbee and called it Electric Brewing. His most popular beer was called simply Electric Beer and was a light American style lager. The brewery prospered until 1991 when Dave got into some trouble with the law.
The current location of the brewery in San José Square. May 13, 2006.
In the year 2000, after studying welding at Cochise College, Dave reopened the brewery in a new location in San José Square. The brewery underwent some changes over time. In 2003 Dave added a taproom. In 2007, a couple of guys, Dave Hoffman and his partner Scott Burge, made a deal with Dave to reproduce some of Dave's original recipes in Tempe, and Dave's Electric Brewpub was opened in 2009, the same year Dave was in an automobile accident which badly injured his back which in part aided his decision to put the brewery up for sale.
Electric Dave preparing to attach a temperature gauge for the mash tun. March 27, 2007.
In 2013, Dave sold the brewery to a couple from New England who renamed the place Beast Brewing Company and they continued running it until about 2016. When the mortgage returned to the lender, the brewery sat for about four years. Up for sale and abandoned.
And the new Electric Brewing
Back in 1986 Joe started brewing beer in Marble Canyon, Arizona on an electric hot plate on the dresser in our apartment behind Cliff Dweller's Lodge where we lived and worked. We worked in the restaurant, gas station, and store/motel lobby on US 89A, the road to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Joe had gotten his ingredients mail order from the back of Farmer’s Almanac. In those days there were no home brew shops to be found most anywhere, and particularly none where we lived in the proverbial middle of nowhere.
Soon we moved to a mobile home with an actual kitchen and Joe graduated to brewing on a stove top. He found a bottle-capper in an antique store in Hurricane, Utah, and he bought a grain mill from a store that sold bread making supplies and bee keeping equipment. He liked doing things from scratch even back then, choosing to grind grain by hand, over using cans of malt syrup. At first he only brewed two gallons at a time, since there were only the two of us to drink it. After that, he never really stopped brewing beer. He kept on experimenting and learning.
In 1990, Joe and I (Natalie Fredrickson) moved to Bisbee where Joe had recently gotten a job at Electric Dave's brewery. A short while before, Joe had made friends with Dave at a local home brew beer contest and Joe and I fell in love with the town. While the job was short lived, brewing beer and the love of Bisbee was not. We moved to Flagstaff in 1996 but we always remembered Bisbee and visited when we could.
At one point Joe owed a company called Apex Brewing Supply in Loomis, California, which he started with his brother Dan and nephew Zach. Here he designed and sold microbrewery equipment for 6 years. But Joe’s dream had always been to own his own brewery and when we moved back to Bisbee in 2019 we realized that Electric Dave’s brewery was still sitting here for sale. We reopened the doors on August 12th, 2020, with the original name, but Joe as the brewer.
Brewer Joe Fredrickson. January 30, 2020.
We brew one of Dave’s original beers, Industrial Pale Ale. His other recipes were lost over time. In addition to beer we now also make our own sodas. In 2021 we restarted bottling and in 2022 we added kombucha. As of 2023 we distribute beer and soda to locations in Bisbee, Sierra Vista, and Tucson.
Sipos, Ed. (1998) A-1: The Western Way to Say Welcome. beerhistory.com. https://www.beerhistory.com/library/holdings/arizona-sipos.shtml
Electric Brewing. (June 16, 2003) The Bisbee Marquee. Retrieved August 9, 2023 from http://web.archive.org/web/20050305022817/http://www.electricbrewing.com/
Moorhead, M. V.. (September 25, 2009) Colorful Bisbee brewhouse heads to new home in Tempe. Wrangler News. Retrieved July 27, 2022 from https://www.wranglernews.com/2009/09/25/colorful-bisbee-brewhouse-heads-to-new-home-in-tempe/
Rooster, Red. (May 28, 2010) Craft Beer Legend: The Electric Brewing Company, Bisbee, AZ. Red’s Roost. https://beersinthehenhouse.blogspot.com/2010/05/craft-beer-legend-daves-electric.html
Electric Dave is busily brewing once again. (Weekly Specialty Beer Report).. (n.d.) >The Free Library. (2014). Retrieved Oct 23 2022 from https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Electric+Dave+is+busily+brewing+once+again.+(Weekly+Specialty+Beer...-a0102681143
Acitelli, Tom. (2015) Electric Dave and the Origins of Arizona’s Beer Boom. Retrieved July 27, 2022 from allaboutbeer.com. https://allaboutbeer.com/electric-dave-origins-arizonas-beer-boom/
Content last updated September 7, 2023. Formatting last updated September 7, 2023.