February 11, 2016

AZ Beer Week is back, baby! So is this blog.

Guess you could say I’ve been hibernating for the winter, and last fall for that matter. But I’m back, and so is the sixth installment of Arizona Beer Week. With over 150 suds-centric events statewide, you’ll have to pick and choose what to do. I’ve culled together a shortlist of unique, lesser-known goings-on, Strong Beer Fest excluded. Speaking of…
Strong Beer Fest going strong on a sunny afternoon.

Strong Beer Fest: Saturday, Feb. 13, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The main event of Arizona Beer Week for many, SBF is in its 16th year and stronger than ever. VIP tickets are long gone, but a limited number of GA tickets remain. Here are some highlights:
•This year, space has stretched from 4 to 6 football fields and attendance is expected to spike to 7,000-8,000, up from around 6,000 last year.
•For those looking to get high (sorry, stoners), there will be hot air balloon rides every hour.
•For you crooners, or those with liquid courage, check out brewer’s karaoke. Earplugs not included.
•Food options have expanded, with great grub offerings from the likes of Brat Haus, The Traveling Monk, Tom’s BBQ and M Catering by Michael’s (peep the menu). To boot, VIP’ers get a voucher for one free M Catering food item (as well as a schwag bag). And I’ve been told VIP food will not run out like last year.
•It’s going to be hot, so don’t be a fool — wear sunscreen, drink lots of water (bottles are free!) and seek a shaded refuge or the Young’s Market Chill Lounge.
•Of course, the beers. Check out the most up-to-date list here, with special tappings and times here. You can also text “strongbeer” to 555888 to receive tapping schedule updates during the fest.

Sense-ational Experience: Friday, Feb. 12, 5 to 8 p.m.
Building a food base before Saturday’s Strong Beer Fest is key. One of Beer Week’s most distinctive events, this all-local beer-and-wine pairing dinner is being held at Duck and Decanter in downtown Phoenix. Tickets include four small meals prepared by D&D, paired with four SanTan beers and four Arizona Stronghold wines — all enjoyed while blindfolded “in the dark.” Proceeds go directly to the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. SanTan 6-packs will be 30% off, also with proceeds benefitting the ACBVI.

Beer, Bites, Banter and Bromance: Tuesday, Feb. 16, 6 to 9 p.m.
Do you even bromance, bro? Hosted by the fine folks at Fate South, the brew bros from Fate, Huss, Ska and Breckenridge will be in the house ready to yuck it up in the cozy barrel room. Enjoy witty banter, three courses of small bites served with a beer from each brewery, as well as a special 4-way collaboration beer brewed up in Breckenridge. Tickets are almost sold out, so don’t delay!

Beer Spelling Bee at T&B: Tuesday, Feb. 16, 7 p.m.
No way was I not going to mention this grammar-centric gem. If you happen to be in Tucson Tuesday night, head over to Tap & Bottle and test your spelling knowledge of all things beer to win prizes. Brettanomyces. Lactobacillus. Reinheitsgebot. Easy, right? Signup starts at 6:30.

Women in craft beer panel last year at Tap & Bottle.

Badass Women of Craft Beer Panel: Wednesday, Feb. 17, 6 to 8 p.m.
Hosted by Historic Brewing Company and Girls Pint Out, The State Bar in Flagstaff proudly hosts a panel discussion featuring northern Arizona’s finest beer ladies chatting about what it’s like for a professional woman to work in a male-dominated industry. Proceeds benefit the teen girls of Northland Family Help Center. On a similar note, be on the lookout for the aptly named “She’s So Hop,” a red IPA brewed by a bevy of local women brewers. It’ll be on tap at various watering holes throughout the state.
Pedal Huss Amazing Adventure Race: Saturday, Feb. 20, noon to 3 p.m.
Two of Arizona’s best breweries, Pedal Haus and Huss, join forces to put your feet and scavenger skills to the test. The race will start at Pedal Haus and take you on foot to craft beer destinations all along Mill Avenue, where you’ll have to complete a fun task before heading to the next stop. Drink up and fill up your passport with stamps, then book it back to Pedal Haus for prizes, awards and a special Huss / Pedal Haus collaboration beer brewed just for the event.

August 28, 2015

Meet the AZ Brewers, A-Z: Fate Brewing Co.

This place gives me wood.
Fate’s been destined for greatness since the get-go. Their beers have been lauded by locals and those out of state lucky enough to get their hands on a growler. They’ve won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their wildly popular Candy Bar Milk Stout. And in a span of just a few years, Fate has gone from a teeny brewpub in north Scottsdale to a spectacularly beautiful, spacious brewpub spanning 2.5 acres in south Scottsdale. Was it luck that owner Steve McFate found brewer Adam Schmeichel, or did fate bring the two together? Let’s find out.

Steve wooing the industry crowd.
Steve’s story
Before becoming the beer businessman he is today, Mr. McFate enjoyed a successful career crunching numbers in the financial field. He homebrewed as a hobby for 10+ years, but then came the economic collapse around 2009. And, as you can imagine, it greatly affected his financial business. 

Steve decided it was time for a break from his business and opted to take a year to tour Beer Heaven, aka Colorado. It was there he met Tom Hennessy of Colorado Boy Brewing, a small brewery in the small town of Ridgway. Tom teaches a well-known brewery immersion course, which Steve attended for a few days in hopes of getting enough confidence to move back to Arizona and start his own brewery. But he wasn’t quite ready. So one Seibel Institute seminar later plus one more year under Tom’s tutelage in Ridgway, and Steve was ready to quit the financial industry for good and start what we now know as Fate North in 2012.

The original North location was originally a pizza and wine joint, replete with a dark, cave-like atmosphere. That didn’t fit into Steve’s design scheme, so he brightened up the place with new paint, built a beautiful bar and added the other detailed touches Steve is known for. What about the brewing equipment, you ask? McFate smartly knew the beer industry was booming, and felt confident enough to purchase his equipment a whole year in advance. He had to store it in family members’ garages until the time came to put them to use.

Steve regards himself as a solid brewer, but he knew he needed to bring someone onboard with the chops to make Fate something truly special. Enter Adam Schmeichel.

Schmeichel’s story
Never underestimate the power of good friends. Looking for a head brewer, Steve put out an ad in an online homebrewer’s forum and received a response from a fellow residing in upstate New York. Well, that was a long way from Arizona and McFate was hesitant to hire someone he only communicated with over the phone and by email. So Steve sent his good friends in Maine to meet Adam and his girlfriend in Lake George, New York. I guess that meeting went well.
Backing up a bit, Schmeichel attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. It’s important to note that having this kind of culinary background is key in developing a refined palate and parlays perfectly into other ventures — like brewing beer. Though Adam enjoyed his time at the Culinary Institute, he found his true calling when he began working at Round Barn Brewing in Baroda, Michigan, which was founded by the original brewer of Founders. From there, he really got his brewing legs at Adirondack Brewing in Lake George, which would be his last stop before finding his way to Fate.

Adam took a big chance moving cross-country to work for a small, unknown brewery. But it’s worked out brilliantly thus far, as his 10+ years of brewing experience has served him well. Not only is he still the head — and only — brewer at Fate, he’s on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild. Not to mention beloved by the thousands of patrons who appreciate his knack for making kick-ass, creative beer.

The new digs and beyond
The temperature-controlled cellar.
Here were are today, 15,000+ square feet later with ample parking; a virtually endless supply of core and outside-the-box beer — which used to be a problem at Fate North — thanks to the brand-new, high-tech 15-barrel brewing system and 30-barrel fermenters; a spacious beer garden / patio with misters and heaters; plenty of room for indoor dining (check out the hand-carved chair backs below); warehouse space for storing kegs (think in-state distribution); an 800 sq. ft. cellar that doubles as a private event space; and a fully equipped kitchen that will churn out the same wood-fired pizzas as Fate North, plus smashed burgers, sammies and other delectable goodies. You really have to see it to believe it. 

Hand-carved chair backs. How fancy.

What’s next, you ask? That remains to be seen, as the new Fate South was quite the undertaking in of itself. I virtually guarantee you’ll start seeing Fate kegs in your local watering hole in the near future. As for cans or bottles, Steve says “never say never.” There is no canning or bottling line now, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of the question. Because how cool would it be to quaff an International Pale Ale from a tallboy, or pour the decadent Candy Bar Milk Stout from bottle to your favorite tulip. One can dream, right?

July 2, 2015

Real, Wild & Woody: 5 Things You May Not Know

. What’s with the name? Real ales are top-fermented beers that complete secondary fermentation in the container from which they’re served — also known as cask-conditioned ales. Wild ales are beers that are introduced to “wild” yeast or bacteria such as Brettanomyces, Pediococcus or Lactobacillus, producing funky, tart qualities. Woody refers to beers that are aged in wood barrels (bourbon, wine, rum, to name a few) for an extended period of time. All beers served at the festival must meet the above criteria.

2. This year’s festival is moving to the air-conditioned comfort of the South Building of the Phoenix Convention Center on July 18 from 2-6 p.m. (you can even line up early indoors starting at 1 p.m.) Now, you probably knew that, but I bet you didn’t know that the Arizona Craft Brewer’s Guild had to buy out the contract of Aramark, who provides food services to the Phoenix Convention Center, in order to bring in complimentary bites from beer-centric places like Pig & Pickle, The Perch, SanTan Brewing and Brat Haus. If that isn’t dedication to Arizona craft beer lovers, then I don’t know what is.

3. Rob Fullmer, executive director of the Arizona Craft Brewer’s Guild, has big plans for Real, Wild & Woody. Bringing it to downtown Phoenix is a big win for Arizona beer, but that’s just the beginning. Rob first envisions having educational seminars in and around the festival, then continually building the beer momentum in downtown Phoenix to a point where the popular Craft Brewers Conference would finally find its way to the Valley of the Sun. What a feat, and treat, that would be. 

4. It takes a village to run Real, Wild & Woody. Fullmer, Landon Evans’ HDE Agency, Tiffany Shultz’s Levitate Agency and numerous volunteers, including local ASHoles from the Arizona Society of Homebrewers, all play integral roles — from PR blasts to on-site setup and tear-down to pouring at the festival. Be sure to bow down and thank these folks should you run into them.

5. Last but certainly not least, the breweries in attendance as well as a partial list of what they’ll be bringing. I’ll do my best to update the list as soon as I know more, so check back often.  

8-Bit Brewery 
Black Mage Stout (cask ale with coffee, cacao nibs and vanilla)
White Mage Wit (cask ale with honey and lemongrass)
Legend of Zymur Double IPA (cask ale with Belma hops and ruby red grapefruit)

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company 
Woolsey The Wild (barrel-aged sour wit)
American Presidential Stout (barrel-aged version)

Barrio Brewing Company 
Vintage NCAAle (barrel-aged strong ale – 10% ABV)
Mocha Java Stout (cask ale – 6% ABV)
Barrio Blanco (white IPA - cask ale – 6.5% ABV)

Big Sky Brewing Co. 
Ivan the Terrible (barrel-aged imperial stout)
Olde Bluehair (barrel-aged English-style barleywine – 12% ABV)

Black Hole Beer Company 
Spacegasm Gnarley Wine: Whiskey Edition (barrel-aged barleywine – 11% ABV)
Good Riddance: Whiskey Edition (barrel-aged Russian imperial stout – 10.5% ABV)
Comet IPA: Spanish Cedar Edition (barrel-aged American IPA – 7.7% ABV)

Black Market Brewing Co. 
Tradecraft Cherry Sour (sour berliner weisse – 3.8% ABV)
Tradecraft Blackberry Sour (sour berliner weisse – 3.8% ABV) 

Blasted Barley Beer Company 
Rojo Loco (barrel-aged Mexican-style amber lager – 8% ABV)
Big Farma (wild ale/saison – 4.8% ABV)

Borderlands Brewing Company
Betty's Beard (wild ale/sour stout – 6.7% ABV)
Citrana Wild Ale (6.5% ABV)
Krampaus Claus (barrel-aged imperial Oktoberfest – 9% ABV)

Cartel Brewery 
Bier de Cruz (barrel-aged bier de garde – 8% ABV)
Mango F.Y.I.T.M. (cask ale/imperial IPA – 10% ABV)
Birch DPA (barrel-aged pale ale – 6.5% ABV)

College Street Brewhouse & Pub 
The Luchador (barrel-aged IPA – 8% ABV)
Tart & Tickle (wild ale/Belgian-style brown sour – 6.1% ABV)
You're Firkin Mad (cask ale/real ale IPA – 7.5% ABV)

Desert Eagle Brewing 
Wild Golden Sour (barrel-aged sour – 5.4% ABV)
Imperial Adler (barrel-aged IPA – 10.4% ABV)

Destihl Brewery 
Lynnbrook (sour berliner weisse – 3% ABV)
Saint Dekerrea Reserve le Diplomat (barrel-aged American sour – 7.3% ABV)
Clarice (barrel-aged Belgian-style dark ale in an oak cognac foudre –10% ABV)

Dogfish Head
Burton Baton (oak-aged imperial IPA –10% ABV)
Palo Santo Marron (oak-aged brown ale –12% ABV)

Dragoon Brewing Co. 
BA Saison Blue (barrel-aged wild ale/southwest saison – 7.1% ABV)
The Tres (bourbon barrel-aged Russian imperial stout – 9.2% ABV)
Stronghold Session Ale (cask ale/American mild – 4.8% ABV)

Dubina Brewing Co. 
Hibiscus Saison (wild ale/saison)

Edge Brewing Company 
Quadricorn (barrel-aged Belgian-style quad – 12% ABV)
Apple Cider (barrel-aged cider – 9% ABV)
Blackwater (barrel-aged Russian imperial stout – 11% ABV)

Fate Brewing Co
Mexican Hot Chocolate Sizzurp (barrel-aged imperial stout – 12% ABV / collab with Huss Brewing) 
Single Hop Sour
Sour Stout (barrel-aged wild stout)

Founders Brewing Co. 
BLiS Blast All Day IPA (barrel-aged session IPA – 4.7% ABV)
Curmudgeon Old Ale (oak-aged English-style old ale with molasses – 9.8% ABV)

Four Peaks Brewing Company 
2012 Hopsquatch (barleywine aged in Four Roses barrels)
2013 Sirius Black (Russian imperial stout aged in Four Roses barrels)
Two TBD firkins
Belgian Red cask

Goldwater Brewing Co

Goose Island Beer Company 
2014 Bourbon County Stout (barrel-aged imperial stout – 14% ABV)
Bourbon County Barleywine (barrel-aged English-style barleywine – 12% ABV)
Sofie (barrel-aged saison – 6.5% ABV)
Matilda (Belgian-style strong golden ale

Grand Canyon Brewing Company 
War Like Mercury (Bier de Mars)
Berl(in)esque (sour berliner weisse)
Oaked Sunset Amber (cask)
Chai Sunset Amber (cask) 

Hangar 24 Craft Brewery 
Hammerhead (barrel-aged barleywine – 13.9% ABV)
Essence (cask double IPA - 8.5% ABV)

Historic Brewing Company 
Baby Got Brett (barrel-aged Brettanomyces brown ale – 5.6% ABV)
Sour Side of the Tracks (wild ale/American sour ale – 4.5% ABV)
Judge Judy (barrel-aged brown with Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus – 7% ABV)
Downtown Funk (barrel-aged wild/Flanders-style red ale – 7% ABV)    

Huss Brewing 
Magic in the Whiskers (bourbon barrel-aged pale ale)
Southern Hussy (bourbon barrel-aged peach ale – 5.5% ABV)
Bourbon Rio (bourbon barrel-aged Schwartz beer)

Lumberyard Brewing Co. 
Sombre Bois Imperial Stout (barrel-aged Russian imperial stout – 10% ABV)
Sauvage Maison (wild Belgian-style specialty ale – 5.4% ABV)

Mike Hess Brewing 

Mother Bunch Brewing 

Mother Road Brewing Company 
Habanero Highway (Lost Highway cask with habanero peppers)
This Cask Costs More Than Your Car (cask loaded with Citra and Simcoe hops)
Sour Racer (Whiskey barrel-aged Painted Racer ESB with Brettanomyces)

Mudshark Brewery 
2015 Scotch Ale (barrel-aged Scotch ale – 9.2% ABV)
Abominable (barrel-aged stout – 9.6% ABV)
Shark Funk (wild ale/brown sour – 3.9% ABV)
Belgian Quad (barrel-aged quad – 10% ABV)

New Belgium Brewing
Love Apple Felix (apple whiskey barrel-aged wild ale – 7.5%)
Wild Wild Dubbel (wild ale –7%)

Imperial IPA (wild hoppy ale – 8%)
Barrel-Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout (10%)   

North Mountain Brewing 
Tiempo De La Saison (barrel-aged saison)
Barrel-Aged Octomalt
N'erotic (barrel-aged Belgian-style strong – 10.2% ABV)

OHSO Brewery 
Praying Monk (barrel-aged Belgian-style quad – 11.3% ABV)
Barrel-Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout (8.7% ABV)
ESB (cask ale – 5.6% ABV)
Peachy Berliner (wild Berliner weisse/sour ale – 3.8% ABV)

Papago Brewery 
Otis (barrel-aged milk stout – 5% ABV)
Hopago (barrel-aged IPA – 6.5% ABV)

Peoria Artisan Brewery 
Daddy Angus (barrel-aged barleywine – 10.5% ABV)
Wild Park (wild ale/farmhouse ale – 5.5% ABV)

The Perch Brewery
Rule All The Things (barrel-aged imperial stout – 9.7% ABV)
Desert Blossom (cask saison – 4.2%)  

Phoenix Ale Brewery 
Jolene (cask ale/blonde – 5.5% ABV)
Señor Valdez (cask ale/porter – 7% ABV)

Prescott Brewing Company 
Raven Maniac (imperial stout aged on medium toast oak chips)
Defiance (imperial red ale aged on Cabernet Sauvignon-soaked oak chips – 10.1% ABV)
Hoppin' Cherry (cask imperial brown ale with sweet cherries, aged on White Chocolate Port oak chips – 7.8% ABV)
Ponderosa IPA (cask American IPA double dry-hopped with Centennial hops)

Saddle Mountain Brewing Company 
Taildragger Chasing Tail (barrel-aged American amber – 6.2% ABV)

SanTan Brewing 
Oaked Pipoul Wit (barrel-aged wit – 6.3% ABV)
TeqiloHOP (barrel-aged imperial IPA – 9% ABV)
Night of the Living Red (barrel-aged imperial red – 8% ABV)

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company 
Porter (cask – 5.6% ABV)
Torpedo (cask dry-hopped with TBD hops – 7.2% ABV)
Ovila (dubbel aged in bourbon and red wine barrels – 8.5% ABV)  

Sleepy Dog Brewery 
B.A.D. Dog Pilsner (barrel-aged dark pilsner – 5% ABV)
Bow Wow (wild ale/Berliner weisse – 3.8% ABV)

Sonoran Brewing Company 
PB&J Raspberry Ale (raspberry ale with peanut butter - 5.5% ABV)
Dry-hopped Pink Peppercorn & Fennel Saison (saison - 6.2% ABV)

Stone Brewing Co. 
Arrogant Bastard Ale (bourbon barrel-aged American Strong Ale – 7.9% ABV)
Barrel-aged brown ale with Montgomery sour cherries (8.1% ABV)

Sun Up Brewing Co. 
Trooper IPA (cask ale/American IPA – 6% ABV)
White Russian (barrel-aged imperial coffee stout – 9.5% ABV)

THAT Brewery 
AZ Trail Ale (Cask ESB – 6% ABV)
Lucha Libre (cask coffee blonde ale – 3.2% ABV)

The Beer Research Institute 
Street Cred (barrel-aged American dark ale – 8% ABV)
Vanilla Porter (barrel-aged robust porter – 6.5% ABV)

The Perch Brewery 
Rule All the Things (barrel-aged imperial stout – 9.7% ABV)
Desert Blossom (cask ale/saison – 4.2% ABV)

Thunder Canyon Brewery 
Peacemaker (barrel-aged imperial porter – 9% ABV)
Dry River (barrel-aged European-style pilsner – 4.8% ABV)
Double Diablo (barrel-aged American strong ale – 7.2% ABV)
Pre-Prohibition Lager (cask – 5.5% ABV)
Diamondplate (cask IPA – 6.3% ABV)

Two Brothers Brewing Co. 
Tangent (wild ale – 5.5% ABV)
Midwestern Death Metal (barrel-aged imperial stout – 9.95% ABV)

Uncle Bear's Brewing Company 

Victory Brewing Company 
Helios Ale (wild ale – 7.5% ABV)

Vermont Hard Cider Company
Woodchuck Barrel Select (barrel-aged cider – 6.9% ABV)
Wyders Repo (barrel-aged cider – 6.9% ABV)
Hopsy Turvy (unfiltered wild cider – 6.9% ABV)  
Wanderlust Brewing Company 
928 Local Farmhouse Ale (wild ale)
Coconino Common cask aged on sweet orange peels

Wren House Brewing
Westward IPA on cask