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|Electric Dave hops to it:|
|Written by Andrew Schaeffer|
|Friday, 18 November 2011 17:11|
It is easy to see that Tombstone has its fair share of bars complete with enough alcohol to make rookie livers cry in fear of cirrhosis, but there are not many that take their name exclusively from the town itself.
“Electric” Dave Harvan, the owner of a modest brewery in Bisbee bestowed with his moniker, offers four beers brewed with fresh, all-American grains and hops ranging from a lager, an IPA, an oatmeal stout and, of course, a pale ale named after Tombstone’s most famous landmark—the OK Ale.
“After I started brewing, it only made sense to expand into Tombstone,” Harvan said. “Everyone in Tombstone drinks, so there’s a huge market up there.” A chuckle escaped his wide smile. Thus, the idea for a Tombstone brew was planted and the hops were harvested.
The OK Ale has been brewed at the Mule Mountain mining town location for about 10 years, but the history of the Dave and the brewery itself is much more interesting.
For starters, Dave was originally from New York City but after hopping trains at the age of 14, he found himself in San Francisco. Dabbling in the use and sale of LSD, he earned the nickname that has stuck with him since: “Electric” Dave.
Feeling the need to pick up and wander again, he hitchhiked back toward the east and finally ended up in Bisbee in 1977 and replanted his roots. He soon found his passion of making, and drinking, homebrewed beer back before the act was legalized. A decade later, he was the first to be granted a micro-brewing license in Arizona, but business wasn’t booming and Harvan turned back to the underground economy.
In the 1990s, he was busted for shipping marijuana over the border and around the country. After serving his five-year sentence, he came back to Bisbee to start his brewery back up again.
A few bars around Tombstone as well as the general store sell his brews. Although this addition was the first step in expanding the business, it isn’t the last. A pub in Tempe just north of Arizona State University’s main campus has the rights to sell the Electric Dave brews along with solid sustenance.
“I don’t know how big it’s going to get since I really do prefer local,” Harvan said. “It just makes it more personable and fun.”
About every two weeks, Harvan makes the drive up Highway 80 to the “town too tough to die” with at least 10 cases of his brews in tow.
“I like personally delivering to Tombstone,” he said. “I can walk up the streets with my beers, do my job and then hang out and drink with the locals.” Harvan admits the business still is not making nearly as much money as he would like, noting that the business is almost out of the red and into being profitable. “But, hey, we’re still doing it, right?”
“The only thing I regret about the OK Ale label,” Harvan said with the most serious tone he could muster, “is that there weren’t any beer bottles scattered on the ground between the guys at the shootout. That way there would have been a reason for them to fight.” His straight-faced expression broke way to a laugh complete with an ear-to-ear grin.