On an angled street in Flagstaff, just south of the tracks, regulars gather at Mother Road Brewing Co., sipping a cold IPA or a Kolsch-style ale.  Kids play board games, dogs snooze on the patio, bicyclists tool in from the shop next door, Flag Bike Revolution, and fragrant pizzas can be had from Pizzicletta, two doors down.  

This craft brewery and Flagstaff “third space” is creation of owners Alissa and Michael Marquess, two locals who threw their kids and dogs into a VW van a few years back, went on a Route 66 road trip and—there and then—took a road less traveled, deciding to ditch their corporate jobs to follow their bliss.

The couple—both of whom had hospitality industry backgrounds—followed their bliss by opening Mother Road Brewing Co. in 2011, naming it for the John Steinbeck-Grapes of Wrath moniker for Route 66 and locating it on Mike’s Pike,  a small stretch of the original alignment of Route 66 through Flagstaff before it was rerouted slightly west.  The building? A brick, flatiron industrial space built in 1925 as the Flagstaff Steam Laundry, which had stood empty for years.  

The brewery/taproom has become a popular hangout, and the beers are being snapped in Flagstaff and throughout Arizona, thanks to distribution statewide with retailers like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Total Wine, not to mention restaurants and bars.  

“We usually have about seven beers on tap,” says Oliver Adams, the operations manager, who started with Mother Road as an intern from Flagstaff’s Northern Arizona University. “Each beer has a story dedicated to a different place along Route 66. Our Lost Highway Double Black IPA, for example,  is dedicated to lost sections of Route 66 between Williams and Ash Fork, while our Kolsch-Style Ale, which used to be called Gold Road, is dedicated to Oatman, an old gold-mining town.”

The beers will get more seasonal and experimental, thanks to the opening in early 2018 of a second location on Butler Avenue, a roomy, 8,000-square-foot production facility and tap room carved out of an old furniture store, which allows Mother Road to meet its retail demand for its mainline beers, leaving time and space for more collaborations and creativity in the brew process.  

While the Mike’s Pike locale lets guests order food from Pizzicletta or nearby Proper Meat + Provisions, the Butler Avenue facility rounds up food trucks on weekends for sustenance.  Both spots also offer a calendar of live music.

From the start, though, Alissa and Michael Marquess were not content to just run a business.  A big part of their mission, Adams says, is community involvement. “We have a donations committee in-house to field donation requests,” says Adams.  “We also host events at the tap rooms and seek out partnerships.” To date, Mother Road has supported local and national organizations like Toys for Tots, nonprofit animal shelters and Flagstaff Pride, the LGBTQ organization.

“We are a part of the larger Flagstaff community,” Adams says.  “That’s been our mission since day one.”

No doubt the Mother Road regulars will toast to that.

Mother Road Brewing Co., 7 S. Mike’s Pike and 1300 Butler Ave., Flagstaff; motherroadbeer.com

Don’t forget to try the Cask Conditioned Ale.

Author Rick Quinn is doing a book signing at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 4th, 2018 at Starrlight Books, 15 N. Leroux St., Flagstaff; Refreshments provided by Mother Road Brewery.

Want to know more about Rick Quinn? Click Here.

The Classic Belgian Abbaye Beer Glass.  From a plethora of barware for professionals to novices.  Available at Starrlight Books in Flagstaff or Amusespot in Henderson, Nevada. Online at Amusespot.com