We’ve seen a glut of quality craft beer roll through these parts in recent months, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon as Bone Dry Brewery starts landing on tap handles across the city.
Bone Dry is the brainchild of Frank Naughton (yes, of that Naughton company, though he’s making an effort to separate his hobby from his livelihood, so don’t ask for beer at his store) who got into home brewing 15 years ago. As most homebrewers do, his batches went through fits and starts (a few good batches, a few exploding bottles, a few that tasted like motor oil, etc.) before he hit on a winner.
“I made some decent stuff along the way, but I made some really bad stuff too. Skunk stuff, you know? It’s a labor of love, man,” he says. Later he tells me that many of his brews were after family members and pets, including a beer named for his son he calls “Tre’s Equis,” playing off of the famous Mexican brand.
The “Bone Dry” name, he tells me, is just fun: “People just like saying it — Bone Dry!” he said. The brand itself is part of a small project he’s had in mind for a while; the LLC was created two years ago, before he came up with the recipe he liked. From there, it was a matter of chatting with Barrio Brewing, who he contracted to do the production, and Golden Eagle to get the distribution set up.
Now, Naughton is visibly pumped: he’s firing off bone-related puns left and right, with ideas for branding his beers ranging from the benign (“Big Boned”) to the moderately-unpublishable (dick jokes!), making new connections with every sentence. Talking with him about his pet project, one that’s taken more than two years to get going, he reminds me of a Jack Black or an Ed Helms on The Office…but without the manic nature or terrible ties.
Bone Dry Amber Ale itself is fairly simple: It’s a good, strong (6.7% ABV) amber ale (“It’s got meat on the bones,” Naughton quips; seriously, the puns never stop). It’s a drinkable beer designed to appeal to most anyone who picks up a pint of it; hoppy, a bit of malt flavoring, with some caramel taste to it. Not too thick, and not bready, it goes down easily. Basically, it’s like New Belgium’s Fat Tire, but hoppier.
The party tonight, Oct. 24, is party at Fini’s Landing, 5689 N. Swan Road, is the beginning of a roll-out that’ll take little more than a week, with launch parties set for bars and restaurants around Tucson. Each bar is donating money from each pint’s sale to a different charity of their choosing (Fini’s Landing is donating to the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection), and sales from each shirt are going to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. Fini’s will also feature music from classic rock troubadour Scotty P, who’ll be joined by Naughton on a few tunes.
This is just a test run for Naughton; if it goes well, he hopes to roll out another batch during the holiday season. “What’s fun is it hits all of the above: I get to put my brand out there and try it, see if people like it; it helps charity; and it makes people laugh. It’s a grand slam right there.”
The Fini’s Landing party starts at 6 p.m., with another party set for tomorrow night at Old Pueblo Grille, 60 N. Alvernon Way. For more on where the Bone Dry tour is set to stop next, head to the Bone Dry Brewing website.