Pueblo Vida Brewing Company has been comfortably located at 115 E. Broadway Blvd. for the past two and a half years. Owners Kyle Jefferson and Linnet Antillon, both from Seattle, studied at the University of Arizona. Jefferson grew up with a father who was passionate about home brewing and loved the local brews around the Seattle area. The beer scene in Seattle and in Jefferson’s childhood home “sparked a passion,” Jefferson said.
While attending the University of Arizona, Jefferson started to home-brew himself. After graduating with a degree in finance and marketing, Jefferson returned to Seattle with Antillon in order to master their brewing skills and develop a business plan to open a brewery back in Tucson. “We always had plans to come back to Tucson and create a community space and a community brewery,” says Jefferson. Pueblo Vida was created to bring the kind of community-focused breweries common in Seattle, here to Tucson. With activities like 5 dollar yoga on Sundays (with a pint included afterward), to food-and-beer pairings with local restaurants, to weekly infusion releases on Tuesdays, Pueblo Vida continues to motivate people to come and experience what they have to offer.
Pueblo Vida’s weekly small-batch infusions give Jefferson a chance to experiment with nontraditional fusion flavors and allow him to have fun and be creative without having to pay any retribution if the infusions aren’t popular. Jefferson seeks to bring the community into Pueblo Vida as much as possible, like the pubs of Ireland and England that serve as local social hubs and frequent meeting places for friends, families, and loved ones to gather and be comfortable with a delicious beer in front of them.
Jefferson said, “’Pueblo Vida’ translates to ‘small town life.’ Tucson’s nickname is also ‘the old pueblo’ so Pueblo Vida means ‘Tucson life’ to us. We wanted our name to mean something to us and this region.” They have felt nothing but support from the community and feel as though people understand that because they are small and local, they can’t be as pervasive as some might like them to be. “Even in the brewing community we are all friends. We are all so small and niche that we can’t compete with each other, so we are all friends. We are just lucky to do what we do and it is nice to see people enjoy what we make and what we pour our hearts in to,” said Jefferson.
Jefferson and Antillon feel lucky to be in the location they’re at, especially as the downtown area steadily expands around them. They are both young owners and feel as though they have plenty of time left to shape their beers and gain an even greater sense of mastery for what they create. They also see plenty of potential for growth in Tucson, giving them time to grow slowly while consistently holding on to their brewing philosophy, which emphasizes quality over everything else. The vision of Pueblo Vida is, “to never lose that passion. This is real. It’s local. You see big chains try to emulate something but this is authentic. We never want to lose that authenticity,” said Jefferson.
Pueblo Vida’s brews are IPA-focused, but their ten taps allow them to make a variety of brews so that there is something for everybody. Along with the aforementioned weekly infusions, Jefferson is experimenting with a barrel-aging system, but said that the space they posses is slightly limiting. They are going through their third expansion since the brewery opened and are working on plans for a larger warehouse facility to be able to supply the steadily growing demand from consumers and restaurants. Pueblo Vida has been sought after by more than 100 accounts hoping to have their beer on tap, but the brewery’s limited space hinders Jefferson’s ability to meet all of those demands, adding a level of exclusivity to the beer and making each pint more meaningful than the one before.
Although their beer is in high demand, Jefferson doesn’t feel too worried about their inability to meet those requests at the moment. He is looking to grow slowly and confidently in order to ensure that they continue to produce quality and authentic brews. Pueblo Vida currently holds 16 accounts with bars and restaurants that serve their beer. This includes Tucson Hop Shop, Tap and Bottle, Ermanos, Arizona Beer House, Roadhouse Cinema, and Frog and Firkin.
Jefferson said, “We brew what we like to drink and hope people enjoy it as much as we do.” Most of their IPAs are a northeast style, which arose in Vermont after the owner of Vermont Pub and Brewery visited England 20 years ago and tasted a specific yeast that he really enjoyed. He brought that yeast back to Vermont Pub and Brewery and then allowed other brewers to take that yeast with them as they expanded elsewhere to start brewing endeavors of their own. Pueblo Vida brews are unfiltered, giving them a cloudy finish that, in turn, holds a great deal of body and inspired flavors due to the lack of filtration. Jefferson said their beers transform “from grain to glass” in just under a month and they rotate brews to fit the flavors within the seasons, a trend that seems to be common amongst experienced brewers.
Pueblo Vida will keep two staple beers readily available on tap: the Bavarian Hefeweizen, a crisp beer brewed to match its Southern German traditions, has an ABV of 5.4% and an IBU of 10 and carries notes of banana and vanilla; and the Northwest IPA, which is a Seattle-style IPA that is tastefully balanced with piney hops and bright citrus flavors, and has an AVB of 6.7% and and IBU of 80. I also got to try the Microburst, Double Dry-Hopped PV Pale Ale, and the Silk Pajamas IPA.
Microburst is a double dry-hopped oat pale ale (double dry meaning that the hops are added later in the brewing process in order to add those hoppy aromas without overpowering the flavors within). With a cloudy golden color, this beer has lemon, grassy, and tropical flavors with an ABV of 5.9% and an IBU of 45. The Double Dry-Hopped PV Pale Ale undergoes the same process of hop addition as the Microburst, but has peach and mango flavors that are balanced with a hoppy bitterness. This beer has an ABV of 5.7% and an IBU of 55. Silk Pajamas was the last IPA in my flight. It carries the expected cloudy finish of Pueblo Vida brews and has strawberry, spearmint, and spicy mango notes with an ABV of 6.6% and an IBU of 47.
If hoppy beer isn’t your thing, you have no need to fear. You can still go in and enjoy one of the various other brews in Pueblo Vida’s selection; you’re sure to find a match that you will thoroughly enjoy. With all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, the best beer will truly be the one in front of you. As “Stand By Me” played in the background, I realized that Pueblo Vida is a space you can’t help but feel welcomed in.
Pueblo Vida Brewing Company
115 E Broadway Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85701