Every Beer Has a Story

The collaborative spirit of an Eller alum-run brewery leads to UArizona’s first craft-beer license.

Winter 2024
An array of colorful beer cans and pint glasses

Photos: Chris Richards

Outside the nondescript building, Broadway Boulevard bustles with the energy of downtown Tucson. Inside, the taproom is filled with chatter and people enjoying pints of beer at a long wooden table. In the back, steel brewing tanks click and hum. Hundreds of cans, each featuring a unique design, line the original brick masonry of the walls, a visual record of nearly a decade of Pueblo Vida Brewing Company’s beers.

Founded in 2014 by husband and wife co-owners Kyle Jefferson ’09 and Linette Antillon ’09, Pueblo Vida has been a downtown fixture ever since. 

Antillon and Jefferson met while attending the Eller College of Management. 

“Tucson meant so much to us, and we’re a part of the community — that’s why we chose to stay here and do this,” Jefferson says. “It’s home.” 

“Tucson is close-knit,” Antillon adds. “We’re friends with restaurant owners and other breweries in town, and that’s a Tucson thing. It feels like a small town.” 

A woman and man pose near brewery equipment

Linette Antillon ’09 and Kyle Jefferson ’09

Chris Richards

Jefferson calls the craft brewing community more collaborative than competitive. “What big breweries spill in an hour, that’s what we make in a year. We’re all so small we can never compete, so we might as well work together,” he says. 

Jefferson always wanted to run his own business. And with Antillon’s marketing degree, the two sought to create “a fun brand and community space,” he says. 

Pueblo Vida’s diverse, ever-changing menu sets the brewery apart from many others. While the business has a few flagship beers produced year-round, most are rotating, seasonal brews.

Jefferson describes his preferences as seasonal. “I love light lagers in summer and stouts in winter. That’s the beauty of craft beer — you’re not stuck having one style,” he says. 

Antillon says what she drinks depends on her mood and what she’s doing. “I think that’s why we got into it,” adds Jefferson. “For the different occasions beers can go with.” 

“Most places start with five flagship beers, and the cans are all designed with the same look and feel,” Jefferson says. “We’ve done over 230 cans with different designs. Each one has a story. Each one’s unique.” 

The couple works with designer Ryan Trayte ’05 to create the original can designs. 

Jefferson points to a can of Embers, whose design mimics a Pendleton blanket pattern. “We love getting outdoors and having a beer around the campfire,” he says. “We want this beer to evoke that.” 

Of the beers they’ve worked on, Logistics stands as a favorite. “It’s fresh-hopped here, so we only do it once a year,” Antillon says. “They harvest the hops, and within 24 hours we have it here to put it into the beer.”

The hops are grown in the Pacific Northwest and flown to Phoenix, where Jefferson picks them up. “They’re in the beer by the afternoon,” he says. 

“It’s called Logistics because there’s a lot of moving parts, but it’s super meaningful.” 

In fall 2023, Pueblo Vida released its first University of Arizona craft beer, Wildcat Cerveza. The brewery was chosen as the university’s craft alcohol licensee due to its quality products and history of thoughtful collaboration. 

“It was a real ‘pinch me’ moment,” Jefferson says. “As alumni, for them to pick us, it gave me goosebumps. We’re very lucky.” 

Antillon and Jefferson are well versed in collaborating with local organizations to create unique beers. Many Mouths One Stomach, the nonprofit behind the All Souls Procession in Tucson, is among Pueblo Vida’s yearly partnerships. The brewery also partners with The Spirit World 100, a gravel-road bike race to benefit Arizona trails. 

“We do a beer for them, and part of the profits go to Arizona trails to keep that land clean,” she says. “That arm of our business has grown, and it’s fun to partner on things like that.” 

Antillon says helping others and forming partnerships are part of who they are. 

Pueblo Vida hosts myriad events to bring people into the space and create lasting memories. In summer, for example, the brewery hosts monthly bike rides in partnership with local bike shops and Living Streets Alliance. 

“Things like that are what makes it such a community and much more than, like, ‘we just make beer,’” Antillon says.

 Antillon and Jefferson agree that being part of exciting moments in customers’ lives is one of the most rewarding aspects of their jobs. 

“We’ve had so many people come in and say, ‘We had your beer at our wedding,’” Antillon says. “Building memories for customers — I like hearing those stories and seeing people experience joy because of what we’ve created.”

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