Filming Beer

Tucson’s much-loved movie rental spot Casa Video ventures into craft beer.

March 7, 2016

GleaningsIssue 17: March/April 2016

Casa Video, Tucson’s longtime staple for movie rentals, is moving into the craft beer realm with the addition of the new Casa Film Bar, which opened in December.

The Casa Film Bar is a big step up from the can, bottle, and growler sales the venerable rental store began in 2014. The 1,000-square-foot bar will offer a rotating selection of 20 taps and about 300 bottles and cans, with the selection focusing on Arizona-brewed beers, says general manager Kyle Schwab.

“I’d suggested it would be a good mix to bring beer to the store because I’ve always thought beer and movies go well together,” Schwab says.

Casa Video, located on Speedway west of Country Club, managed to build out the bar and beer coolers without losing any of its expansive movie selection, some 60,000 titles that focus on independent, foreign, and hard-to-find films. The classics, Criterion, and family sections were moved to accommodate the new bar.

Schwab will have Tucson beers on tap when possible, but he says the demand for breweries like Dragoon and Pueblo Vida already makes it difficult to regularly serve anything other than their mainstays. The Casa Film Bar also stocks as many Arizona breweries as possible.

In addition to beer, Casa Film Bar offers two wines on tap and serves Tucson’s Yellow Brick Coffee, with pour-over, French Press, and nitro cold brew options.

In keeping with the store’s tradition, 55-inch flat screen TVs in the bar will be showing films, with more regular features such as weekly film noir nights planned to draw people in, Schwab says. The bar is also working with New Belgium Brewing Company on a monthly short film and tap takeover event.

A brew with a view. At Casa Video, craft beers are paired with classic films.

A brew with a view. At Casa Video, craft beers are paired with classic films.

Schwab looks forward to the Casa Film Bar sparking conversations about beer and movie pairings, for individual films or shows (Schwab’s go-to pairing is Oskar Blues Old Chub for watching Game of Thrones), genres (Ninkasi’s Dawn of the Red for zombie pictures, for example), or even directors (a bourbon barrel-aged stout for the darkly mysterious Alfred Hitchcock).

Schwab recommends the free delivery from nearby Fresco Pizzeria & Pastaria for anyone interested in having a bite to eat to go along with a pint and film. Of course, Casa Video will continue serving free popcorn, and to-go sales of cans, bottles, and growlers will continue.

Casa Video opened in 1983, moving to its current location in 1985, and has had to innovate over the years to keep up with industry changes, from VHS to DVD and Blu-ray, as well as the arrival of streaming movies, says Gala Schwab, who co-owns Casa with her brother Ray Mellenberndt.

“This industry is always changing and we’ve done a lot to change as well. A lot of video stores bigger than us, even ones like us, have closed. But Tucson is unique and has always supported us,” she says. “Craft beer is hugely popular now and we’d had success with growlers. By creating this bar, we’re making this a destination again. It just seemed like the way to go.”

Eric Swedlund writes about music, travel, and food and drink. He lives in Tucson. Follow him on Twitter @EricSwedlund.

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