Craft beer, dogs patios and dragons: 3 new taprooms coming to the East Valley this fall

Tirion Morris
Arizona Republic

Joining an already bustling brewery scene in the East Valley are three new taprooms featuring dog-friendly patios, Pacific Northwest vibes and dragons. Yep, dragons. 

Tap Dragon Craft Beer and Wine, a dragon-themed taproom complete with a dragon mural whose tail snakes all the way to the front door, is opening in Gilbert. Sticking with the animal theme, Freely Taproom is coming to south Tempe and sports a friendly yellow bee logo, symbolizing owner Paul Gillingwater's industrious nature. Owners at Wicked Rain Taproom plan to bring a taste of the Pacific Northwest to Gilbert. All are in various stages of construction with plans to open in late summer or early fall.

Here's what you need to know about these three new craft beer destinations landing in the East Valley.

Tap Dragon Craft Beer & Wine Bar

Tap Dragon Craft Beer and Wine Bar is planned to open in Gilbert this fall.

Jennifer Gallego's palate has evolved quite a bit since she first moved to Phoenix in the '90s and fell in love with Four Peaks Brewing Co.'s Kilt Lifter Scottish-style ale. Her love for beer has only grown over the years. 

Now, she's set to open her very own taproom highlighting all her favorite local and regional craft beers. Tap Dragon Taproom, located on the southeast corner of Gilbert and Warner Roads, will include a mystical-themed taproom, a to-go bottle shop and a large, dog-friendly patio.

In the taproom, Gallego plans to offer 32 craft beers on draft and 15 rotating wines. The beer menu will have a little of everything, she says, but will have a "strong representation" of IPAs.

While the space has no kitchen, she's working on a partnership with nearby El Taco Santo to have orders delivered right to customers enjoying a beer.

Entertainment at the taproom will include sports games shown on seven screens near the bar and live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Gallego says she is working on creating a "positive, happy environment."

"I want to be a Cheers," she says. "And my vision is starting to come to life."

After battling pandemic-related construction delays, Tap Dragon is on schedule to open at the end of September. 

Details: 835 S. Gilbert Road, Suite #101, Gilbert. 480-205-5895, thetapdragon.com.

Wicked Rain 

Wicked Rain, a taproom coming soon to Gilbert, will have a Pacific Northwest theme and offer beer and wine from the region.

Gilbert is set to get another new taproom, but instead of dragons, Wicked Rain will have a Pacific Northwest theme. 

This spot is poised to become a hub for expats from the rainy region. Sports games from Washington, Oregon and Idaho teams will grace the TVs and the menu will feature beer and wine from Pacific Northwest wineries and breweries. 

Wicked Rain is the brainchild of owners Tony and Catherine Newman, who relocated from Seattle to Phoenix in late 2018. A homebrewer for around a decade, Tony says he originally dreamed of opening his own brewery.

"But I wanted a bigger variety than I could personally offer," he says. "There's too much other good stuff to share."

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Expect a 40-tap beer list heavy with West Coast IPAs, along with meads and sours. Wine options will be sourced mainly from the Columbia Valley in Washington and Arizona wineries. 

A small kitchen will offer about 15 items, including Northwestern favorites like clam chowder and Beecher's Mac & Cheese from Seattle. Guests can sip a beer or dig into some chowder inside, outside on the patio, or on the indoor-outdoor-covered patio that will connect the two spaces. 

Wicked Rain is set to open on Baseline Road west of Gilbert Road this fall.

Details: 1817 E. Baseline Road, Gilbert. wickedrain.com.

Freely Taproom & Kitchen

The Freely Taproom and Kitchen (originally called Fremont, but since changed) is set to open in South Tempe in late August, 2021.

At Freely Taproom, owner Paul Gillingwater plans to put his life experience to work. Growing up, he lived on a vineyard in Lodi, California. After moving to Phoenix to study business entrepreneurship, he landed at O.H.S.O. Brewing where he worked for close to a decade. 

All that combined experience, plus the push he felt coming out of the pandemic, was just what he needed to "take a leap of faith" and open his own taproom, he says.

Originally called Fremont Taproom, and recently renamed Freely Taproom, the taproom will be welcoming to all, Gillingwater says.

"I want it to be a neighborhood gathering space where you can come in and relax and be free to be who you are," he says. "You can come in after yoga class or for your anniversary."

The taproom will feature 24 taps, with options including a selection of Gillingwater's favorite sour beers. Dry ciders, wine and a few frozen cocktails will also be available. 

Freely will have a small kitchen churning out flatbreads, chips and dip, and shareable meat and cheese boards, Gillingwater says. Customers can sit indoors or enjoy their drinks with their pups on the dog-friendly patio. He hopes to add a "boozy brunch" to the lineup once the weather cools off.

After about two years of dreaming and careful planning, Freely Taproom is scheduled to open in late August.

Details: 1730 E. Warner Road, Ste 11, Tempe. 602-935-7728, freelytaproom.com.

Guide:The ultimate beer-lover's guide to bars, breweries and taprooms in Tempe and Scottsdale

Reach the reporter at tirion.morris@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter at @tirionmorris, on Facebook at Tirion Rose and on Instagram at tirionrose

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