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Business News

Video games control these brewers’ dreams

West Valley View article

Video games control these brewers’ dreams

By Dave Clark

Ryan and Krystina Whitten are admitted gamers, who grew up playing 8-bit games. So, when the couple decided to open a small, independent craft microbrewery, they wanted to carry over a bit of that influence.

Opened in May 2015, 8-Bit Aleworks does not serve food, but has a 46-seat taproom that serves its own plethora of rotating beers.

8bit brewery, owners holding beers“When we thought about opening the brewery, we wanted to pick something close to our hearts that represented who we are,” she said.  

The Whittens are a rare duo, as many homebrewers would dream of opening their own facility. But it was Ryan’s dedication and determination that turned his hobby into a full-time profession.

“Ryan had been homebrewing for about 11 years before we opened,” she said. “It started as a hobby, but suddenly we had seven fridges, most of which were devoted to brewing and it was pretty clear that it had moved well beyond the hobby phase. He loved sharing his beer with people and realized that this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, so we went all in.”

The reaction to 8-Bit has been positive, and has required an expansion.

“We’ve already had to double our brewing capacity and upgraded our fermenters from three to seven barrels within the first year,” she said. “And, we had to expand to the suite next door because we needed more room for brewing.”

8-Bit’s beer lineup has ever-changing themes that are nontraditional.

“We keep four flagship beers on tap at all times—Hopsassin’s Creed (session IPA), Legend of Zymur (double IPA), White Mage (wit) and Black Mage (stout),” she said.

The mage beers create an interesting dynamic when it comes to recipe formulation. According to Krystina, the ingredients used reflect the specific mage represented by each beer.

“A mage is a character who uses magic and casts spells,” she said.

“They’re used in books and mythology as well as games, but one of the most common game uses is in the Final Fantasy series, which is the reference we make specifically. White mages are healers, so the wit is made with white cacao beans and grains of paradise, ingredients considered to have healing properties in some cultures. Black mages use dark magic, which is why Ryan uses cacao nibs and brewer’s licorice to create the dark flavors and colors of the beer.”

Additionally, two taps are devoted to seasonals, which change quarterly, and two beta taps. Krystina describes them as her husband’s “playground.”

“He brews unique beers and some may repeat, but most will be a one-time deal,” she said.

8-Bit now has Princess (8.7 percent ABV peach IPA) and The Hefe is a Lie (10 percent ABV wheat wine).

“The next keg will have rum-soaked figs from Ryan’s mom’s fig tree,” she said. “Every keg of that beer ‘rebuilds’ with a different ingredient added in, like the game bosses that you think you’ve killed but they keep coming back,” Krystina said.

Fall seasonal beers are big in the Phoenix area and 8-Bit is no exception.

“In the fall, we will have our pumpkin beers, Sleepy Hollow’s Revenge, a pumpkin ale, and Ichabod Crane’s Nightmare, a chocolate pumpkin imperial stout,” she said.

Many brewery personnel are hesitant to name their own favorite beers, but not the folks at 8-Bit.

“Ryan’s favorite is Hopsassin’s Creed,” she said. “You wouldn’t know it’s a session beer by taste. It has great body and a fantastic hoppy flavor profile. It’s incredibly drinkable.

“My favorite beer is Princess. It’s our summer miniboss. It’s a peach IPA that Ryan brewed specifically for me. It was my one request when he told me he wanted to spend our life savings to open a brewery.


8-Bit Aleworks

1050 N. Fairway Drive

Building F



Hours are:

4 to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday

Noon to 10 p.m. Saturday

Noon to 8 p.m. Sunday

Source is West Valley View -

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