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8:30 AM Fri, Sept. 21st

New brewery coming to town with local inspirations

Courtesy photo<br>Audra Yamamoto, Damon Swafford, Amanda Richardson and Michael Stanger taste Granite Mountain brews.

Courtesy photo<br>Audra Yamamoto, Damon Swafford, Amanda Richardson and Michael Stanger taste Granite Mountain brews.

Prescott is about to get its second brewery, and true to its origins, Granite Mountain Brewing is seeking support from the Prescott community.

Brewmaster Michael Stanger, his wife Amanda Richardson, and their friends Damon Swafford and Audra Yamamoto have been organizing underground beer tasting events in Prescott for nearly two years to test out their products.

At the same time Stanger entered his first contests and won four gold medals at the Arizona Society of Homebrewers' 2010 and 2011 competitions.

Stanger and his team think Prescott is more than ready for a second brewery.

"With Prescott's history as a rootin' tootin' beer drinkin' town and the craft beer scene exploding around the state, the time is right for Prescott's own craft beer scene to blossom," their video exclaims.

They plan to open Granite Mountain Brewing by the Fourth of July in the building that recently housed Monk's restaurant at 123 N. Cortez St., just a half-block off the courthouse plaza.

"It will be kind of like a little neighborhood gathering spot," Richardson said, with a casual rustic atmosphere.

While apps will be available, the focus will be on the brewski. Granite Mountain will serve three flagships - Bradshaw Blonde, Muddy Wash Milk Stout and gold medal winner Thumb Butte Brown - alongside rotating seasonal and specialty beers. They also hope other local businesses will set up their taps.

The brewery team is bringing the Prescott-area community into the effort through Kickstarter, an online funding platform where people can pledge small donations to creative ideas and get fun rewards in return.

Granite Mountain Brewing must raise $15,000 by April 2 before calling on the pledges.

Various levels of pledges bring various gifts. Ten bucks gets you a Granite Mountain Brewing sticker and your name included on the company's website and brewery. Larger pledges get logo pint glasses, t-shirts, brewery mug club glasses and memberships, growlers, private tasting events, homebrewer kits with brewmaster lessons and more. Go online to kickstarter.com and type in Granite Mountain Brewing.

"It is such a cool way of supporting local endeavors," Richardson says of Kickstarter. "For us, it's about pulling in the local community."

Stanger has a long-standing love for craft beer, ever since a friend bought him a Black Butte Porter when he turned 18.

"That sort of swished my direction about what a good beer was for," Stanger said. Having enjoyed creating food since he was 12, he started enjoying good beer with good food and by 19 he was brewing his own.

Stanger and Richardson moved to Prescott in 2009 when Richardson landed her current job as watershed program coordinator for Prescott Creeks.

It wasn't long before they met their neighbors Damon Swafford and Audra Yamamoto.

"We realized we all had similar passions for good beer and good company," Swafford said. "And we knew Michael made good beer. We loved his beer."

The foursome started putting on the underground beer tasting events. Then Yamamoto broached the idea of going into business together.

While Stanger is the head brewer at the new business, Richardson is the wordsmith who deals with client relations, Yamamoto handles the finances alongside menu development, and Swafford handles about everything else from quality control to equipment research.

Stanger has enjoyed incorporating local plants into his beer, producing everything from juniper rye pale ale to mesquite-smoked porter to prickly pear blonde.

And of course, the couples enjoy incorporating the names of local landmarks into the products, from Thumb Butte to Granite Mountain.

"We're clearly inspired by the local landscape, Stanger said.