|A Northern Arizona Salud!|
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.
Stop in and try the local Holiday offerings at Four Peaks (Winter Wobbler- a Baltic Porter), the above mentioned nut brown at Sun Up and Santan's Winter Warmer (2 more kegs at the brewery and on tap at Hungry Monk). Drop in to Papago and try any one of the 4-5 holiday tap offering. Pop on over to the west side and see Old World and offer them some well wishes in their new location. Bring your forgotten homebrew corny keg over to Sleepy Dog and get a $25 fill up.
Drink Local, Rethink Local
We'd like you to stop in to BJ's in Chandler and Gordon Biersch in Tempe and try the Grand Cru and the Winter Bock. I'll pause while you read that again.
These brewers, though working for national brewing chains, are as important to the local beer culture as any other brewer or the so-called local independent breweries. They recognize beer culture and they want to be a part of it. You should give their beers a taste (they have awards to that effect) and then a tip of your hat. (Ray Daniels, Joe Johnston and me... We're bringing the hat back!)
Giving and Getting
Beer remains an incredible last minute gift. If you need to shop for a beer geek, take a look at this list put together by Jeff Allworth at Beervana. We also liked Zach's list at the New Times, however we would add these important locally focused notes to it.
If you buy a homebrew kit, as Zach recommends, you really should consider buying a membership to ASH. Your newly created brewer will want you to try their first beers and so an ASH membership is a small insurance policy for you to pay. In fact, gift it to yourself too. ASH is a beer enthusiast's playground. ASH is focused on beer education and you need not be a homebrewer to become a member though it may be impossible for you to resist the lure of fermentation. ASH has a spectacular Oktoberfest and when you do the math on the membership to good times ratio, you'll reach an inevitable conclusion.