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Tucson Weekly: Sonoran Spirit Tea - Brick Box Brewery delivers brew with a kick

From the Tucson Weekly: Read the full article here

By Karen Schaffner Tucson Weekly Staff

Brick Box Brewery is delivering brews with a kick. The former Thunder Canyon Brewery on Broadway Downtown is now producing Co-Owner Rachel “Ray Ray”

D’Acquisto’s Sonoran Spirit Tea by the gallons.

With 4.7% alcohol, it has a kick, but is refreshing on a hot day.

“It’s not too sweet, it’s got a tartness to it,” Co-Owner of Brick Box Brewery Michael Nixon said. “You can taste the tea but it’s not too tannic. It’s not a seltzer. It doesn’t drink like a tea, it’s got enough bubbles in it to make it all nice.”

Tannic is the ingredient that dries out your mouth such as a dry red wine might do, Nixon explained.

D’Acquisto said her ingredients are locally sourced as much as possible.

The drink starts with black tea from Tucson-based Maya Tea Company.

Add to that hibiscus flower, alcohol, some fizzy, a bit of this and that and the end result is Ray Ray’s Sonoran Spirit Tea.

D’Acquisto, who has a background in the hospitality business, perfected the recipe for her Sonoran Spirit Tea by mistake.

“It was inspired by my signature drink when I was bartending and that was a hard tea,” she said. “It came about where I got to interface with a lot of folks, see what they were looking for, see what was missing. It wasn’t a cocktail.

It wasn’t a beer. It was a happy accident because the spiked tea was growing in popularity.”

In order to keep up with demand, she started making the tea in bigger and bigger quantities. One day, because of a math error, she didn’t put in as much alcohol as usual. It turned out people liked it that way.

“It was actually much more popular,” D’Acquisto said. Then she “just became obsessed with doing it on a larger scale.”

Today, the tea is made in batches of almost 500 gallons at Brick Box. There are pallets of more than 4,000 cans heading Phoenix and points north, plus what is sold at the brewery.

It wasn’t always like this, however.

D’Acquisto knew she didn’t know everything about the industry so she went carefully.

“I am cautious and this is not my background,” she said. “The booze industry is inundated with options and big players who have lots of money.

This is my little passion project and I wasn’t sure how viable it would be so when I had the idea I started … at Startup Tucson.”

Startup is a business incubator, where people can learn to grow their businesses. It was there where she connected with mentors who really helped her move her product from an interesting idea to the shelves and refrigerators of Arizona. For example, there was Steve Tracy, the former owner of Thunder Canyon Brewery.

One of the D’Acquisto’s biggest lessons was learning she didn’t have to start with a flawless product to begin the entrepreneurial journey.

“I thought I had to do 70-hour workweeks and be perfect and have it all thought out, be two different women, like a family woman and a business operator and professionally successful,” she said. “When I first started exploring this project I thought I had to be perfect before I launched. Through mentorships with other people and really the village helping raise me, I just learned to be a little bit more vulnerable and honest with the stage of the process I was in. I document it on social media and share where we’re at and what we’re doing and when we’re doing it. I think that’s just allowed me to be successful in the various stages that I’ve come through. It didn’t feel so scary.”

In Tucson, find Ray Ray’s Sonoran Spirit Tea at Brick Box Brewery, Total Wine and other establishments around town. Cost for a six-pack is $15.99.

Brick Box Brewery

220 E. Broadway Boulevard, Tucson 520-372-2265

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