Brewery Manager Joshua Johnson

Brewery Manager Joshua Johnson: “I think it’s a great market. I think it is a great amenity for communities to have with the way the craft beer market is going right now.”

When you think of retirement benefits, not having to work, catching up on reading, golf and other leisure activities often come to mind. But for SaddleBrooke Ranch, one of those benefits will include having a brewery in the community. 

“When we found out that they were actually going to build a micro-brewery within the new grill house, I was kind of flabbergasted,” said Paul Lapotosky, a SaddleBrooke Ranch resident, “I’m totally excited about it.” 

SaddleBrooke Ranch, located north of Tucson, is a retirement community associated with the Phoenix-based company Robson Resort Community. The resort has been brewing beer for their residents for about a month now, and offer a variety of different craft options including Blonde Ale, IPA and a monthly “featured” beer showcasing different styles.

“There is so much variety, it is just fun to do,” said Don Hendricks, another resident. “We love craft beer, that’s all I drink, we’re just happy to have them here and it’s going to catch fire.”

According to Joshua Johnson, the brewery manager, this is the first brewery affiliated with a homeowner’s association, retirement community or anything similar in the United States. 

“I think it’s a great market,” Johnson said. “I think it is a great amenity for communities to have with the way the craft beer market is going right now.”

Johnson has been home-brewing beer for 11 years, and is in charge of recipe development, brewery upkeep, tracking sales and ingredients, and getting the community educated on craft beer at Saddlebrooke Ranch.

According to the Vice President of Food and Beverage for Robson Resort Communities, George Atwell, when they first built the community, they did not have a full restaurant facility. After talking with homeowners from Washington state and Oregon about breweries and brew systems, Atwell had an idea. 

“It was very interesting,” he said. “So, I kind of drafted an idea and said, ‘What if we brewed some of our own beer.’ And they were like, ‘Oh that would be great.’ And that’s how the idea kind of got out.”

After doing research, Atwell realized brewing beer is not as easy as it looks. So, he reached out and tried to find a brewer. 

“In order to make this a fundable project, I needed to find someone that could assist and set up a brewery,” Atwell said.

Last April, Johnson got married and brewed all of the beer for his wedding. A couple weeks later, while at a friend’s barbeque, many of the wedding guests were talking about how they liked the beer he brewed. One of the guests at the barbeque was Quail Creek (another Robson Resort Community) general manager, Mike Taylor, and told him to contact Atwell, thus putting into motion the brewery idea. 

There are no plans to set up other breweries at any other Robson Resort Communities, as to maintain a license to brew you need to produce 5,000 gallons of beer a year. However, the SaddleBrooke Ranch brewery has no issue serving other associated communities in the meantime.

“Beer is one of those things where it brings people together,” Johnson said. 

Zac Ogden is a University of Arizona journalism student and a Tucson Local Media intern.