What makes a great brewery? Flagstaff is well regarded for the local breweries, with most of them being located downtown.

I have gone to five of them to rank them based on six characteristics and will be giving them a score out of five. While I normally am attracted to darker beers such as stouts and porters, I challenged myself to stay away from such brews when going to these breweries.

The six characteristics that matter most to me are as follows: quantity of dogs, how much my wallet is going to hurt afterward, if I have to subsidize Flagstaff’s Park Flag project, how good the brew actually is, frequency of deals that actually save me money, and how much I enjoy the environment that the brewery creates.

Dark Sky Brewing Co.:

Rating: 3/5

Dark Sky Brewing Co. is great for a pint during a lunch break, with midday happy hours Monday through Friday. They allow dogs on their patio which is an outstanding rule in Flagstaff because the town is fairly dog-friendly to begin with. If it is not happy hour, however, they do have the more expensive brews depending on what is desired, with a stout costing almost $8. They do however have a wide range of choices that change regularly, meaning that there is almost always something new to try on their menu. Monday nights are the true deal for Flagstaffians as it is $3 per pint. Keeping with the tradition of craft beers being slightly hipster, Wednesday nights are Bring Your Own Vinyl nights, which definitively gives this company the leg up on the competition in terms of atmosphere.

Mother Road Brewing Company:

Rating: 4.5/5

Family friendly is the name of Mother Road’s game. With dogs allowed on the patio and toys for children to play with, as well as a partnership with the O.G. Pizzicleta, this is the most “Flagstaff” of the local breweries. They validated parking which is the standard among local companies that could be affected by the Park Flag initiative. The Kölsch Style Ale was crisp and slightly fruity. Overall, it was a pleasant beer and perfect for a slightly cloudy day. Happy hour was from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and the pint was a fair bit cheaper at $4.51 instead of $5.41.

Flagstaff Brewing Company:

Rating: 4.5/5

With live music every day, Flag Brew is catered toward those looking for entertainment to go with their brews. This is not to say it is not a great place to get a couple of pints with some friends, the music they schedule is integral to this place’s charm. The Weisspread Wheat was one of the better beers of the day, with curious notes of banana throughout the brew, giving it a slightly sweet taste and aroma. Validation of parking was no problem as the bartender took a dollar off of the tab when shown the current parking receipt. Happy hour is relatively short as it runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. when compared to the other breweries.

Lumberyard Brewing Co.:

Rating 3/5

The charm of seeing the trains pass by is augmented by the country feel to this establishment. The tuns for brewing the beer adds to the ambiance seeming to be as much a part of the building as the roof and the walls, with everything else feeling secondary to the brewing. Of the breweries, I went to however, this one is the most overtly against dogs, with multiple signs by the beer garden prohibiting canine companions.

Rickety Cricket Brewing:

Rating: 3/5

As it turns out, the Rickety Cricket taproom gets its brews from Kingman, Arizona, which makes it less local than the breweries that started in Flagstaff. Nonetheless, it is a welcome addition to the brewing scene in Flagstaff, as it boasts a massive assortment of brews, as well as various games such as Bananagrams and dominoes. There is not any signage denying dogs in the taproom, however, that is far less than the open acceptance from breweries such as Dark Sky or Mother Road.