After more than a year of hard work, heavy investment, and planning, brothers Jeff and Jeremy DeConcini were eager to see their new venture, MotoSonora Brewing Co., get off the ground.
Then the global pandemic hit.
The brewery, located on South Park Avenue, was slated to hold its grand opening party Saturday, March 21, but the city’s shutdown of dine-in service for all bars and restaurants stopped them in their tracks.
“We couldn’t have picked a worse week to open,” Jeremy DeConcini said. “That this all occurred during the coronavirus outbreak is just bad timing.”
The DeConcinis instead spent their opening weekend filling to-go growlers for thirsty Tucsonans.
On Monday, they added a crowler machine to their arsenal, allowing MotoSonora the ability to sell 32-ounce cans of its eight beers on tap and three guest beers from the Lost Abbey and Thunderhawk Alements breweries in San Diego.
Under normal circumstances, MotoSonora’s grand opening would have been on every local craft beer fan’s calendar.
The DeConcinis have been fixing up the 17,000-square-foot property, located in a former tile shop, for the better part of a year.
The shop’s front office is now a spacious taproom with classic racing imagery on the walls, a BMW motorcycle sitting toward the front end of the building and a Mini Cooper toward the back. Twenty taps sit at the ready.
There’s a patio and a beer garden out back with wooden benches and tables. A fire pit and a bocce ball court are still in the works.
“I am going to try to make it very lush back there,” Jeremy DeConcini said. “I want it to feel like you are at Sabino Canyon.”
An off-leash dog park curves around the side and front of the main building.
“Almost everybody involved with the brewery loves dogs,” Jeremy DeConcini said. “You can bring your dog, throw him or her in there with some other furry friends and that dog will probably have a good day. And you’ll have a good day because you’ll have beer.”
The tile shop’s warehouse space will serve as the heart and soul of the brewery, with a system capable of producing up to 5,000 barrels of beer per year.
Head brewer Joel Hatlin worked at breweries in Seattle and Chicago before moving to Tucson to be part of MotoSonora.
This is Hatlin’s first time helping a brewery grow from the ground up.
“I’ve never had to get involved with the nitty gritty guts of a brewery before,” Hatlin said. “It has been cool seeing how it all connects.”
Hatlin has been most pleased with the brewery’s reverse osmosis system, which removes the minerals that cause hard water.
“Before I came down, that was one of my biggest concerns,” Hatlin said. “Would I be able to brew the beers I want with Tucson’s hard water. As a brewer, having a reverse osmosis system is a dream. You can do anything you want with that water.”
Jeremy said he and his brother are happy they are at least able to fill growlers and sell crowlers for the time being. The brewery also has shirts, hats and glassware for sale and will soon be offering an eGift card program that will allow customers to buy digital gift cards for their friends and family.
It’s not optimal, but the DeConcinis are ready to weather the storm and throw a big grand opening event when things get back to normal.
“We are going to stay open as long as people are coming,” he said.