Ever since it opened its brewpub in downtown Chandler in September 2007, SanTan Brewing Company has continued to grow.
Its latest addition is a 2,000-square foot patio that joins its retail shop, tasting room and production facility on Warner Road just east of Arizona Avenue, where it hosts live music and other public and private events.
The idea for the al fresco area at SanTan Gardens was sparked by the earlier days of the pandemic when people were concerned about keeping six feet apart, said SanTan Brewing Company founder/brewer Anthony Canecchia of Gilbert.
“It evolved from “a place for people to socially distance to a genuine events center that can hold upwards of 250 people,” he said.
Originally, the outdoor area was only around 10 by 10 feet, but they removed a door and windows to open up the space. Then they got the idea to add a stage for live music.
“It kept snowballing,” Canecchia said. “The catering department came over and asked, ‘When are we going to be able to use this for events?’”
SanTan Gardens began testing the waters over the summer with gatherings such as psychedelic jam sessions on Saturdays and “Whiskey Wednesdays” featuring live music and specials on whiskey cocktails and bottles.
Events ramped up in September with “Beer, Bourbon, BBQ + Band,” featuring a pig roast; a roster of live music and other happenings is ongoing.
Canecchia said SanTan Brewing Company built some large events in downtown Chandler over the years, but they became overwhelming.
“The last one we did was Oktoberfest 2019, and we looked at each other and said, ‘It was successful, it was great, I think we’re done.’ It takes so much energy and months and months of planning.
“When we said, ‘Let’s start doing events at Warner,’ it was, ‘Yes, they’re intimate, they’re manageable,’” he remarked.
SanTan Gardens events are “mellower; there’s not a lot of pomp and circumstance,” Canecchia noted, and they don’t run past 10 p.m.
Upcoming activities include A Grateful Dead Halloween and a comedy series with headliners such as Harland Williams, Jamie Kennedy and Jay Mohr.
SanTan Brewing Company’s tasting room and SanTan Gardens is generally open 3-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday for retail sales, tastings and tours, and all special events are listed on the website.
There’s no kitchen, but food trucks are present at some special events.
The patio and tasting room also are available to rent for private parties such as weddings, reunions and more. In the tasting room, barrels stacked eight high against the 25-foot ceilings make for a fun backdrop, and the patio can be dressed up with centerpieces, flowers and other decor.
The website lists blackout dates when it’s closed to the public.
SanTan Brewing Company has expanded exponentially since its start as a small brewpub on historic San Marcos Square, which was one of the early brewpubs in the Valley.
Canecchia originally was a home brewer and worked at Four Peaks Brewing Company in Tempe as its first employee starting in 1996.
After the brewpub launched, it helped revitalize a then-sleepy downtown Chandler. Its craft beer made on-site along with a menu of comfort food favorites with a Southwestern twist — including meats smoked on hickory and oak out back — drew lines of people waiting for tables.
However, the Great Recession soon hit, and the brewery “scrambled and started distributing our beers,” to other restaurants and retailers, Canecchia said.
A year later, they signed to a major distributor, and before long, they outgrew their production capacity at the brewpub and opened the bigger facility on Warner Road in 2010.
The company also got its Series 1 license in 2015, which “allows us to produce any type of alcohol you can think of,” Canecchia said.
Back then, few breweries were making other alcohol, but now, “it’s becoming very popular for people to diversify beyond beer,” he noted.
The brewery makes a variety of styles, including IPAs, lagers, stouts, wheat beers and more, and SanTan Spirits distills vodka, gin, whiskey, bitters, canned cocktails and other occasional special releases, such as coffee liqueur or brandy.
A wall in the tasting room displays the copious number of awards it has received.
In addition to its retail/tasting room and live entertainment, a major focus at SanTan Gardens is education. Tours at the production facility started in 2019; they cost $15 and can be booked online.
The tours, which last an hour or more, discuss the company’s history and the nuts and bolts of making beer and spirits, with explanations about the ingredients, the distilling, the canning and more.
The Warner location produces 98 percent of the company’s beer in its 50-barrel brewing system and all of its spirits in a specially designed artesian pot still.
SanTan Brewing Company is now the state’s largest independent brewer and distiller. It brews about 50,000 barrels of beer — roughly 16.5 million cans — and more than 10,000 cases of whiskey.
Yanina Santos of Mesa, who took a tour on Sept. 24, said “I think I have a new appreciation for beer and what goes into it than I had before.”
Her husband, Isaac Santos, said, “It was pretty cool learning the history of it and learning that the main owner designed the still and all that.” He added, “They make a great caramel whiskey, which is the big takeaway.”
If You Go...
What: SanTan Gardens
Where: 495 E. Warner Road, Chandler.
Hours: 3-8 p.m. Monday-Friday; noon-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Contact: 480-534-7041; santanbrewing.com/santan-gardens