December 22, 2010

Our Top Non-List Holiday Beer Feature

A Northern Arizona Salud!
We're not into rankings or ratings here at BeerPHXation.

We like to talk about what's interesting, what we like, what we are tasting, but we're not about to give anything a 98.5 or a Top 10 of 2010. When we compare beers, we like to say, "this is maltier" or "this has a sweeter finish". This beer is a more natural pairing with ribs than that other beer. The tasting and deciding is up to you. If that's a 82 in your book, then have at it. We'll stick Stan's RULE #6.

We've been combing the intertubes for local end-of-the year lists, Holiday Beer choices and gift guides and we really haven't really found very much. We did read Zachary Fowle's The Top 10 Christmas Beers and while we agree that those are some fine beers, we wonder why there was no mention of any locally produced beers. Understandably, you'd be hard pressed to find packaged Arizona Holiday offerings.  This is something we've talked about in October. Still, we've noticed a tendency for the New Times to review unobtainable beer and all too often, over-the-top style examples. We love to hash it out with Zach over a Sun Up Nut Before Christmas (even if after Christmas).

Here is what we think you should do during the Holiday Season.

December 15, 2010

Hungry Monk Porter and Stout Festival

If you haven't been to Hungry Monk in Chandler yet, you should check it out. Started as a Buffalo Wings and Rings franchise in 2008, they went independent back in August and now provide one of the best craft beer selections in the south-east valley. With 28 taps, many of which regularly rotate, you are sure to find something unique.

First Tweet-Up 6PM Thursday, December 16

Hey isn't it about time we had a beer?

David and I will be checking out the latest pretty good beer place, the Garage Restaurant and Bar, and we'd like you to join us. We figure this is a good time for you socially connected people to tell us about your favorite places, breweries and general craft beer epiphany stories.

December 8, 2010

Code Word Double Red: Arizona Beer Week Exclusive!

We have a couple of Arizona Beer Week (AZBW) announcements that came to light yesterday after the quarterly meeting of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild. The final event for the week was announced and in typical homebrewer fashion, the homebrewers decided that they want the last word. Oh! And there's a collaboration beer that will be brewed to kick things off!

December 7, 2010

Where in the Phoenix Beer World? Inter-webs category.

Do you know where in the Phoenix Beer World, this photo was taken?
In this case it's a virtual Phoenix.  Who has this disclaimer?

Long disclaimer is loooong!
 This whole disclaimer typed out for your reading enjoyment after the jump!

December 3, 2010

What in the Phoenix Beer World? Taglines


It might be an ugly word to some, but if we're in a robust period of beer culture, marketing might be the only thing that differentiates one brewery from the next. Almost every brewery makes an American Pale ale, but I bet 1 out of 100 beer drinkers could actually identify the brewery if all every local pale was placed on the same table. Think I am wrong?

I won't name names, but there were a number of surprised blind judges at the last AmeriCan beerfest last spring... ones that did not pick their favorite (Modus Hoperandi) over the local winner. These are professionals, but honest blind ones.

Can you identify the brewery based upon it's tagline? Sure you could google most of them, but you won't. Breweries pay money for their taglines (or have someone in their camp who think's they are clever). If not money, then they certainly put some brainpower and resources toward coming up with them. Let them know how effective they are by answering without looking them up. If you don't know, say so in the comments.

Winner gets bragging rights and I will buy you a beer.

Hint: Some are outside the Valley, but all are from Arizona.

  1. Craft Beer For Drinking.
  2. Artistry and Science in one delicious beverage.
  3. Proudly Serving Authenticity.
  4. Making Thirst Worthwhile.
  5. Arizona's finest microbrewery.
  6. Beer Like Your Mom Used to Make.
  7. It’s all about the “altitude".
  8. Home of Tucson's Oldest and Newest MicroBrewery! (recently changed)
  9. 840 Million Years in the Making.
  10. Here It Is.
  11. All Natural Beers Handcrafted in Traditional Southwestern Style
  12. Phoenix’s newest brewery.

December 2, 2010

The Session #46: An Unexpected Discovery

Now for something completely different. As regular readers know by now, our focus is on the Phoenix beer scene. But today's Beer Blogger Friday Session topic gives us the chance to venture beyond the Valley of the Sun. While travel exposes one to new cultures, locations, and tastes, it has the added benefit of access to new beers, including beers that may never be available where you live.

Our topic this month is an unexpected discovery as described by our host, Mike Lynch at Burgers and Brews:
I recently drove out to Colorado for a concert, and realized this was a perfect opportunity to stop at as many "beer destinations" as I could. I researched, plotted routes, looked at maps, and generally planned the entire trip around beer. What I was surprised to find was that despite all the amazing stops I planned, one of the best beer experiences of the trip was completely accidental. I found great beer in the last place I thought to look for it.

December 1, 2010

This Particular Week in Beer

The title is meant to manage any expectations that this will be a weekly feature.  It won't.

This particular week has some things to talk about, we'll start with the big news, but read on. We have a Beer for Brains scoop and more Arizona crazy after the jump.

Arizona Beer Week
We've dreamed about, hinted and leaked the big announcement, but ink met paper yesterday and today begins the official run up to the first ever Arizona Beer Week. UP Agency has been recruited to manage the campaign for the Feb 19th-26th celebration of locally brewed craft beer put on by the Arizona Craft Brewer's Guild.  BeerPHXation has high expectations for the event and the partnership with Up. 

Up Agency has an impressive track record with nationally and regionally recognized restaurants and we hope that Ty Largo and his staff introduce beer into places that have been typically wine-centric. Up Agency has recently upped it's beer portfolio with the signing of Four Peaks, Spitfire Grill and some unofficial work with the Arizona Society of Homebrewers.  

Beer for Brains
We recently spoke with Louis Dolgoff and we learned that an April event is in the works.  He also is planning 1 or 2 events for Arizona Beer Week including a Beer vs Wine dinner and an event in Tucson.  Of course, he mentioned, that the signature Beer For Brains event will continue in 2011 most likely in November.  There will be an increased emphasis on food and the addition of spirits.

November 24, 2010

Four Peak's Andy Ingram: Cheese and Beer's Secret Weapon

Andy Ingram
Andy Ingram, head brewer and  co-owner of Four Peaks writes about Thanksgiving pairings in a new weekly beer column for the Arizona Republic. The focus on cheese and beer's carbonation caught my eye.
In our house, pre-dinner bites usually involve cheese, and there are few culinary marriages better than beer and cheese. Over the years, wine has co-opted cheese as a natural partner, but honestly, cheese is far better with beer, thanks to beer's secret weapon: carbonation
Carbonation cuts through some of the heavier aspects of cheese while brightening its subtle flavors. (Andy Ingram)
Cheese has been co-opted by wine, Ingram writes, but I took it a step further when I  talked about cheese during my Ignite Phoenix 8 presentation, "Let's Put Beer on the Dinner Table". I said that wine is frequently paired with cheese since cheese's creamy texture and rich flavors do such a good job of masking a wine's flaws. Without carbonation, the cheese stays in your mouth.

November 23, 2010

Where in the Phoenix Beer World?

Do you know where in the Phoenix Beer World, this photo was taken?

It ain't Milwaukee

November 19, 2010

What Are We Pairing? - Brown Ales and Comfort Food

The weather turned and that puts us in the mood for heartier ales and comfort food. Fall reflection must be the reason why we gravitated to adult versions of childhood favorites. We chose meatloaf and sloppy joes to go with a couple of locally available Brown Ales, each with a slightly different character.

Meatloaf and Moose Drool at Rico's
The first dish is a billed as a Wicked Meatloaf Sandwich from Rico's American Grill at the Squaw Peak Hilton.  It's served open-faced on Texas toast, covered with white cheddar, a haystack of fried onions and tangy house bbq sauce.  We decided on a Moose Drool from Big Sky Brewing.

Moose Drool begins with a caramel cocoa flavor but finishes with a roasty bitterness. It's a classic example of an American Brown Ale- more aggressive than an English Brown with medium body and just shy of a porter in terms of robustness.  The malty caramel and slightly sweet flavors in the foretaste are perfect for ground beef dishes like meatloaf, the bitter roasty finish provides a relief to the tangy barbecue sauce.

November 15, 2010

Where in the Phoenix Beer World?

Do you know where in the Phoenix Beer World, this photo was taken?

Donde esta la cervesza?

November 12, 2010

Ignite Phoenix 8 - Let's put Beer on the Dinner Table video has posted.

Empty now, but daunting full!
For those of you that missed the personal social media onslaught that I engineered leading up to Ignite Phoenix, the presentation I did at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts has finally posted to the Ignite Phoenix YouTube Channel. For everyone else, I promise, this is not a purely ego driven post. Beer is important in shaping our enjoyment of Phoenix life and I'd like another opportunity to expound upon the 15 slides per second,  brutal, yet elegant Ignite format.

See the video and more commentart after the jump!

November 8, 2010

Where in the Phoenix Beer World?

Do you know where in the Phoenix Beer World, this photo was taken?

Where in the Phoenix Beer World?

November 3, 2010

Firestone Walker XIV Release Parties

Recently, Rob gave a brief overview of beer blending, describing different draft-beer blends you can get at local breweries and beer bars. As an aside, he mentioned craft breweries that experimentally blend. This trend is growing in popularity, and one of the best at it is Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, California. Beginning next week, three local beer bars are hosting Firestone XIV Anniversary Release Parties, where you can sample blended beer at its best, and even take home a bottle or two.

Firestone Walker was founded in 1996 in Southern California wine country. Co-founder Adam Firestone wanted to apply his family's wine industry experience to brewing and ferment beers in oak barrels. This led to the installation of a union system modeled on the famous Burton union system of Bass Breweries in Burton-on-Trent, England. A natural progression lead to a barrel aging program. A barrel-aging program leads to a reserve series of beers, some of which end up in blended offerings. Last year's anniversary beer, Firestone Walker 13, was a blend of six different beers, presented in a boxed 22-oz bottle including a fact sheet describing the blending process and beers in the final blend.

October 22, 2010

Beer culture you can wear

Pic of my Rockmount Hops
shirt by @bryanschiele
Though not the focus of my Ignite Phoenix presentation, beer culture was the subtext of putting beer on the dinner table. Beer is best enjoyed when it is a part of the other things that we enjoy in life. Great food is available in almost every neighborhood in Phoenix. The Valley also has access to a number of outstanding beers both produced locally and regionally. Unfortunately putting those two things together is something that does not happen often enough.

Before Ignite, if I told you that beer could play a role in fashion, I'm sure most of you would have instantly thought beer stained t-shirt. That's why I was so pleased that the Rockmount Hops shirt that I wore was so well received. I can't tell you how many great comments that I got about it.

October 11, 2010

Format matters: Sharable bottles on the table equals more share for our breweries.

Available here in big bottles, but not brewed here!
It occurred to me the other day that Phoenix lacks Arizona  brewed high strength beer in large format bottles. A few examples come to mind of course. Papago has Oude Zuipers, a Belgian Golden,  in an attractive cage and cork 750mL bottle  and there is Sonoran with its Inebriator and Old Saguaro. Zuipers is a one off contract brew from Van Steenburgen. Outside of Tops Liquor and select retail locations, I can only recall seeing Inebriator on tap at The Main Ingredient (thoughtfully paired with ice cream).

October 1, 2010

This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things.

Where will you be when you realize that we let this one slip away?

For some of us it'll be around 6PM on Saturday when twitter will light with pictures of rare beers and tasting notes.

"A Bacon Brown!!! ... mmmm Bacon"
"Dogfish Head Namaste, bitches... oh and Bitches Brew bitches..."
"You can't get that in this state. Where are you?"
"#beerforbrains Dumbass"
Or maybe on Sunday during the football games there will be a collective head slapping moment on the couch with Facebook open and galleries of Maryland Crab Cakes paired with witbier, seeing one of the last kegs of locally brewed GABF medal winning Motley Brue drained and people dancing awkwardly with beer tasters to eclectic bands like The Bad Cactus Brass Band or The Greyhounds.
Bad Cactus Brass Band

September 22, 2010

An Invitation to Ignite Phoenix 8

If you've been following along with us this past few months, we thank you. We really do.

We've spent a fair amount of time talking about beer and restaurants and the glaring gaps of both beer menu information and execution. In July we wrote about the lack of beer menus and information about local beer during Arizona Restaurant Week (AZRW).  As AZRW approached, we made beer pairing recommendations based upon the limited information on restaurant websites. You can read about them here because there are still 4 days left to try our recommendations. Better still, report you favorite pairings to us.  We'd love to hear that there are more forward thinking chefs and restaurants out there.

We are getting to the point where we're going to need your participation and the first opportunity comes on October 15th for Ignite Phoenix, an event that is a notoriously fast sellout.  Tickets go on sale this Saturday morning, so read on.

September 20, 2010

2010 GABF Winners Announced

This past Saturday, winners of the 2010 Great American Beer Festival competition were announced. Congratulations to the following Arizona breweries that won medals in the competition. If you get a chance, check them out and see if you agree with the judges.

See the winners after the jump!

September 15, 2010

Our Top Picks for Arizona Restaurant Week

This Sunday kicks off Arizona Restaurant Week (AZRW). Anyone who has been following this website is familiar with our view of the missed opportunity to involve craft beer and local breweries in this event detailed in our Open Letter to Restaurants. We are happy to report that some progress is being made and AZRW has opened a dialog with us to exchange ideas and information. We were recently informed that all four valley Rock Bottom restaurants are now participating in AZRW. Their fixed menu is now available and each course will come with a Rock Bottom beer. We would have loved to see recommended pairings accompanying the menu but it is great to see a local craft brewer contributing to this event. We would be remiss not to mention that SanTan Brewing in Chandler is also participating in AZRW. Their three-course menu features a specific SanTan beer paired with each dish.

See the BeerPHXation picks after the jump.

September 10, 2010

The Blend Trend

Has anyone had the King James recently? Or how about the Frambusto? Raspberry Milk Stout? How about a LiLo?  Are these new local craft beers in the Valley? Well.  Yes and No.

August 23, 2010

Follow the Yeast

Beer Geeks follow brewers. Real Beer Geeks follow Brewhouses

So was the the proclamation I made to fellow beer enthusiast, Thomas Vincent (formerly of Flagstaff but now in the NC Triangle) as we were discussing the whereabouts of the brewhouse that vacated 67th Ave & Beardsley some months back. When you follow the beer scene long enough and keep your ear to the ground, you start to pick up information about such things, the value of which is too trivial for any practical use, so I will put forth another gem of a rule with which I can show some practical value- Follow the Yeast.

August 8, 2010

Four Peaks Wood Aged Portero Chingon

Four Peaks is releasing a wood aged version of their Portero Chingon tomorrow (August 9th). The original beer was a seasonal Robust Porter from last May brewed with Mexican chocolate. According to the latest Four Peaks Brewsletter it was aged in bourbon barrels for the last year. If I were to chose, I'd probably pair it with their red chili Carne Adovada or go all out ordering one with the Stoutamisu dessert.

I imagine this one won't last long so get into the Tempe brewery quick to try it out. If you do get a chance to sample it before it's gone, feel free to comment on it here.

July 28, 2010

An Open Letter to Restaurants Participating in AZ Restaurant Week

Arizona Restaurant Week is coming up September 18-26, and we'd like to take this opportunity to encourage participating restaurants to make craft beer a larger focus of this event. While this is part of a larger wish of ours to see more restaurants provide beer options on par with their wine lists, our focus in this open letter is specifically focused on Arizona Restaurant Week (AZRW).

July 19, 2010

IPA in a Can?

What image do you conjure when combining the two words canned and beer? If you are like the majority of beer drinkers you think of some kind of light American lager. That may have been true ten years ago, but a continuing proliferation of craft beer becoming available in cans has expanded the drinking horizon. In fact, today World Class announced that they have begun shipping beers from SanTan Brewing in Chandler, a new participant in the canning revolution.

Why is canning an important development?

What is the good beer tipping point?

At what point do we declare that we've found a place, that we have found a good beer bar or craft friendly establishment? It's a pervasive thought for me because I am frequently asked to recommend places to enjoy fine beer.

Using the draft selection as a metric, the Duck and Decanter on Camelback has 2 craft beers out of the 6 handles, Firestone Walker Double Barrel and locally produced Four Peaks Kiltlifter. The remaining offerings span some of the major popular styles and are often staples of a upscale establishment. Hard to find fault with a Guinness tap or a Franziskaner Weiss. The Smithwick's might be one of the first to fall if I had a say in the matter as the lineup could use a local or regional beer with some hop character. The Stella is going to elicit some criticism from beer geeks that tend to the snobby side but it's hard to begrudge a top-seller.

July 13, 2010

What is our Beer PHXation?

We live in the desert. We are not Munich, Brussels, Portland, Denver or San Diego, but we certainly get our fair share of beers from those classic beer cities.  We do not have a well known traditional brewing history here, but we do have a history and we do have a beer culture. To the casual eye, our craft beer scene blends in with the landscape like the ocotillo or creosote bush- seemingly dormant but damned resilient and ready to flourish with just a little rain.
Does it matter where beer is brewed? Yes. ...  It matters what the ingredients are and where they come from. – Beer should be considered in context. That context. - Stan Hieronymus
Such is the premise of Stan's blog, Appellation Beer and we feel it is a good jumping off point. We agree that it matters where beer is brewed. We think the ingredients the brewer chooses are important. We believe in brewer intent. We think beer brewed in Arizona is unique and it's potential is largely untapped.

Our name is a play on Phoenix and fixation. It is our context to Stan's premise. We'll be discussing what Beer Culture is, where it can be found in metro Phoenix and where we have seen the best expressions of it. There will be interviews and reviews of beers, breweries, restaurants and bars, too, but we'll try not to cover the well worn paths of some of out favorite beer blogs and we'll try to keep the focus local.

We hope you join in this discussion as we are eager to learn and hear new stories, your stories.