October 27, 2011

Introducing Project ZUTROB

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to judge homebrewed beer made by employees of Crescent Crown. Crescent Crown is the Miller/Coors distributor in the Valley. It is the parent company of World Class Beverages, their craft/fine beer arm. Joining me at the judges table was Uwe Boer from Sun Up, Chuck Noll from World Class beverages, Derek Osborne from BJs Brewhouse and Anthony Canecchia of Santan.
The Distinguished Panel
Tenth and Blake, makers of Blue Moon, supplied the kits to 10 teams of 4. All were given some basic instructions, an Amber Ale kit and a few pointers from your truly the week after Labor Day. The beers, for first extract batches, were good overall. There were some typical first batch issues on some, but nothing out of the ordinary. Everyone walked away with an appreciation for beer's simplicity and nuance.

All of this is to introduce an idea that I have been kicking around for over two years called Project ZUTROB: Zepto Under The Radar Office Brewing wherein I will clandestinely brew an all-grain batch of a single bottle of beer at my office. I don't know if future updates will reside here at this blog or elsewhere. I am in the midst of piloting the office as you'll see below. I haven't yet scheduled Batch 1.

The Zepto Brewhouse
For the office pilot, I am beginning to cook up some unmalted barley to introduce the office to my new "diet". I'll be cooking up different cereals so that my office denizens will become accustomed to sweet grain smells and won't notice when I switch to doughing in an actual mash. 

I'll use a mini crock pot and Ranco Controller to create the infusions to step mash. I'll use a Bubba keg to mash and sparge. The Crock pot will also serve as my boil kettle. Finally the controller and a mini-fridge will serve as the fermentation chamber.

The Crock Pot is, well a crock pot, and not very quick to heat up today's batch of Pearl Barley even on high. Maybe I  should switch to a mini Rice Cooker. Thoughts?

October 25, 2011

Where in the Phoenix Beer World?

Do you know where in the beer world this photo was taken?
How does it relate to Arizona beer?

The concept is simple. We post a picture that is relevant to the Phoenix beer scene and you try and identify it. Sometimes there will be a larger story involved, but often there will not. 

Hint: Abbott Ale is crossed off their normal list (among others) for an upcoming event.

So, for glory and a tip of the glass next time we see you.

Answer after the jump.

Beer For Brains RareAffair Releases Beer List

The Beer for Brains Foundation released a partial list of beers for their RareAffair event on November 5th. If you haven't already read about one of the best curated beer festivals in the country and the wonderful cause it supports, read about it here.

Hat tip to @lucklyss for breaking the story.

Read her analysis here: http://drinkbetterbeer.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/beer-for-brains-rareaffair-list-of-brews/

Here is a list of highlights for me:


Cambridge Brewing Company
Great Pumpkin Ale 2011

J.W. Lees*
Harvest Ale – Calvados

Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
Gulden Draak Quad

English Mead

Napa Smith Brewery
Bonfire Imperial Porter

Nils Oscar*
Barley Wine

*denotes VIP Only beer.

October 18, 2011

My Rant About (the royal) You and the RareAffair™

While we are all waiting for the Four Peaks shoe to drop, let's all take some time to do the right thing.

This BeerPHXation byline is, "A local Phoenix Metro beer culture celebration and admonition." Get ready for a dose of admonishment. It's been over 2 weeks and it's starting to make me sad. A call has been made to get the Beer for Brains page 1001 likes on Facebook. That should be easy enough to do. Doing this should be it's own reward. It should not take this long to get it knocked out in a healthy beer culture.

I wrote about The Beer for Brains Off-Centered Experience last year. It was Louis Dolgoff's first event to raise money for Brain Cancer. The event had disappointing attendance given the overwhelming number of  rare beers that were to be freely poured that evening. If you've been in the beer scene for the last 2 years you know the story of Laurie Dolgoff. I'll repeat it here for those that are new:
In 2009, Dolgoff lost his wife of 30 years to an extremely aggressive form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma ultiforme - the same cancer that killed Senator Edward Kennedy. Laurie Dolgoff died shortly after her 55th birthday – 29 months after her initial diagnosis. Dolgoff, a craft-beer industry sales manager and event promoter for Dogfish Head Breweries, created the Beer for Brains Foundation because of the cutting-edge care she received at Barrow Neurological Institute. Through fundraising events like the Off-Centered Experience, Dolgoff hopes to help them find a way to extend the lifespan and quality of life for brain cancer patients.
There is another event coming November 5th re-branded as The RareAffair™. Presumably some might have scaled the event back after such a set back. Fortunately for those that have made a commitment to the  RareAffair™ the event is even bigger and the beer list it more expansive. Again, getting 1001 likes is child's play. I'm not sure where they were on October 3, but they are at 870 as I write this.

First contest is easy...It's late but we will roll it out this evening anyways. The 1001 person to LIKE our page will get into RAREaffair FREE! Tell your friends to spread the word about this great cause~

 ·  ·  · October 3 at 10:24pm · 
Again it should be it's own reward, but there is a FREE ticket to someone that is able to click a button and yet there it sits. Pathetic. We have 5 million people in the valley. If this was Philly this would have been done in a single day.


Rewarding the nth member to click isn't the best strategy because it rewards late comers. I get that, but Fuck. Go do it. Help someone else win, right. All I hear about is how craft beer people are good people. This isn't right.

Secondly there is an individual, Cara, on that page giving away her ticket for a convincing post:

Hey everyone! I have won a ticket to RAREaffair and do not need it because I am already VIP! I am giving my ticket to the person who tells me why they deserve it here on The Beer For Brains Page. Tell me why I should give it to you! I will pick the winner on October 21st. :) Happy Posting~

Bless her, but there are 9 posts. Most of them just to tell her thanks. Additionally the post is up on the private Arizona Craft Beer Lovers page, a group with 250 some odd members. Many of them are going, I'm sure, others are in the industry, but these are supposed to be beer taste makers. (That's market speak for people who are supposed to influence others.) There are a handful of responses in that post. There are more posts on where to find Angel's Share.(Crisis Averted! He found it.) Somewhere deep in the bowels of that group in a post I pointed out that there is a big difference between showing up and doing something. Cara is doing something. Lots of others are just showing up.

I have challenge the members of the Arizona Society of Homebrewers (ASH) to have 100 members come to  the RareAffair™. We are over the halfway hump and I still believe they will come though. Once they hit 100, I am doing a raffle to pay one member's money back even if it is a VIP ticket. I've been using the bully pulpit in the club and everywhere else. As President of ASH, I often tell people that I have to be a dick to everyone as a group and love everyone individually. I imagine that people are tired of listening to me. That's OK. Listen to these people. Don't take it out on Lou or the RareAffair™.

Take it out on cancer.

October 16, 2011

Four Peaks to Announce New Brewery Location Tomorrow [Final]

Tomorrow, Four Peaks will announce the location of the new production facility that will supplement the 40BBL brewhouse on 8th Street in Tempe. Four Peaks has brewing almost around the clock to meet production and has been searching for a second brewery for some time now. An announcement was expected at the end of August, however, the diligence process took longer than expected.

The location will feature a larger brewhouse and a simple beer only taproom and no restaurant. The taproom was the final negotiation point to work through. That hurdle was cleared last week.

Although the location has been known to a few industry people, we'll wait for the Four Peaks announcement. We can definitively say that the Mesa location written about in the Arizona Republic was ruled out as well as a site in Chandler which would have required the use of heating oil to fuel the brew kettle.

A Four Peaks insider officially referred to the site as the "Annex", but unofficially called it FPWTBS or "Four Peaks Without the BS" because there will be air conditioning, ample parking and fewer college students.

Want a hint? Give your Regards to ... to Teddy, and also Ted Golden.

Four Peaks currently has a taproom in Scottsdale which does not have brewing capability.

UPDATE: Nothing has changed as of today, October 19th. The information is still solid. We await the official word from Four Peaks.

UPDATE 2: Several ASH members reported that they were told the location last night at the ASH Peaktoberfest. Membership has its benefits.

UPDATE 2.5: I'm told that a press release has been drafted and its release is expected soon. Four Peaks Brewsletter comes out tonight? Fingers crossed.


Here is the presser-

Four Peaks Brewing Co. Selects Second Brewing Facility Site

TEMPE, ARIZ. – Oct. 19, 2011 – Sometimes, all roads lead to home.

After an exhaustive search for a second brewing location, Arizona’s largest and most popular craft brewery leased an industrial property in Southern Tempe and will be brewing more of its ever-popular beer by next summer.

But Four Peaks isn’t closing the door on potential new restaurant sites throughout the Valley.

“We scoured the Valley for a historic production facility with quintessential Four Peaks character and the infrastructure necessary to be operational in the timeframe we needed,” said Four Peaks Co-Owner Jim Scussel. “There were a number of properties in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa on our short list, but unfortunately remediation of every one of the historic properties would have taken longer than was possible for us.”

Four Peaks’ craft beer popularity and its position as Arizona’s favorite local brewery accelerated the search. In fact, demand for Four Peaks’ craft beer will reach 40,000 barrels in 2012, which is capacity at their facility in the historic creamery at 8th Street and Dorsey in Tempe.

“We simply need to make more beer, ASAP,” said Co-Owner Andy Ingram. “This second location gives us the room to be creative and experimental, and add new varieties to our award-winning lineup.”

Four Peaks Pumpkin Porter has amassed a cult following. More seasonal and specialty beers will be introduced after the second production facility is operational.

“We are happy to have the new Four Peaks brewing facility in Tempe and will work with Andy and Jim to find new ways to continue the outstanding partnership with this hometown brewery,” said Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman. “We consider Four Peaks to be a part of Tempe’s vibe and a great corporate partner.”

The new facility, located near Broadway Road and Hardy Drive, will initially create 20 jobs and will cost more than $3 million when complete. The lease was signed Oct. 17.

“To accommodate Four Peaks’ aggressive timeline, we moved quickly to negotiate a lease and have already begun improvements to the building,” said Mike Sacco, Vice President of EastGroup Properties, which owns the building. Four Peaks was represented in the ten-year lease by Anthony Nocifera, Principal with Abitare Realty Advisors & Investment Corp. EastGroup was represented by Curtis Brown and Bob Crum of Ross Brown Partners.

As background, Four Peaks issued a request for proposals for suitable sites. More than 25 sites were submitted, including Downtown Phoenix warehouses and the famed Sunkist Facility in Mesa. Four Peaks toured the preferred facilities in Summer 2011 and sought the advice of adaptive reuse experts to determine the scope of the renovations necessary.

The new Tempe facility, though not a historic property, had the shortest development timeline and from a logistical standpoint, works well with the current facility.

“Tempe is home,” Scussel said. “We’re proud of our history in Tempe and look forward to additional opportunities.”

And here is the precise location.

Want a hint? Give your Regards to ...[Broadway]  to Teddy [Roosevelt] , and also Ted Golden.

EDIT: 2401 W Wilson Not the building above, Tucked in the Industrial Park.

October 7, 2011

The Session #56: Thanks to the Big Boys

In the 56th occurrence of The Session, Reuben Gray of The Tale of the Ale asks us to consider the contributions of and thank the large breweries.
I want people to pick a large brewery or corporation that owns a lot of breweries. There are many to chose from. Give thanks to them for something they have done. Maybe they produce a beer you do actually like. Maybe they do great things for the cause of beer in general even if their beer is bland and tasteless but enjoyed by millions every day.
If you honestly have nothing good to say about a large brewer, then make something up. Some satire might be nice, It will be a Friday after all.
I thought I would approach this post by recalling my earliest memories of "big" beer before I was a consumer (legally). Along the way my relationship moved from being a fan of the products made by these awesome faceless and monolithic enterprises to a period in which I hated them for being awesome faceless and monolithic enterprises. In the present, there is a mix of personal feelings. Inevitably what you get is a haphazard and complicated mix of praise, snark and disdain. I think most of the beer people I interact with feel similarly.

  • Thanks for the hummable catchy tunes, "If you've got the time, We've got the beer" and "When you say Budweiser, you said it all" which the Wisconsin Badgers appropriated so nicely.
  • Thanks for Rodney Dangerfield, Bob Uecker and Boog Powell. Thanks for making funny commercials. Thanks for the "Great Taste/Less Filling" arguments that you inspired in the 70's in my grade school lunch room. 
  • Thanks for building industry in my hometown of Milwaukee. Thanks for the brewhouse cathedrals you built in my Grandfather's and Father's time.
  • Thank you for underwriting the Superbowl? 
  • Thanks for the many tours we used to take at Pabst and Miller whenever we had a rain out as a Lifeguard at the County Park Pools.
  • Thank you Guinness for making a murky, mysterious and flavorful beer at a time before there was craft beer. Thank you for making people believe you were potently alcoholic when you were delightfully sessionable at a time in college when I abandoned my Gin and Tonics for you.
  • Thank you for making most of your beers with an SRM of less than 6, so I can instantly discern a table full of drinkers and be polite and non-condescending when talking about the beer that they enjoy.
  • Thank you Pabst for helping me re-understand marketing. Thank you for the mural campaign.
  • No thanks for swallowing up all the regional breweries, but thanks for bringing some of the brand name back. Thanks for Primo, Sixties recipe Schlitz. Thanks for Tenth & Blake Batch 19. Still waiting for Andeker and Blatz Culmbacher.
  • Thank you for throwing around meaningless brewing ideas and insincere marketing mumbo-jumbo such as cold brewed, vortex bottles, triple hopped, cold tasting and venting. Irony makes me happy. 
  • Thank you for your canned beer R&D dollars. I can now drink this beer at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and this one while I clean up.
  • Thanks for making some terrible commercials lately.  
  • Thank you for Mitch Steele and Charlie Bamforth.
  • Thank you for freighting kegs of Pilsner Urquell and Czechvar into my desert to compete against yourself.
  • Thank you for making us aware that you have a legal team. Thank you for being synonymous with evil. Thanks for being the boogeyman. Thanks for not letting that get you down. Thanks for the recent multi-national merger drama and the impending sequel.
  • Thank you for pairing so well with ennui. 
  • Thank you to your distributors for encouraging employees to learn to homebrew and partnering with ASH here in Phoenix.
  • Thank you for making this a difficult question to answer.
Cheers Big Boy Breweries of all sizes!

October 6, 2011

Where in the Phoenix Beer World? And Who? And Why?

Do you know where in the beer world this video was taken? And Who? And Why?
No cheating by going to YouTube or other Social Media, you either know it or you don't. Hint: It's not in Phoenix, but all of the people are from the Valley.

The concept is simple. We post a picture that is relevant to the Phoenix beer scene and you try and identify it. In this case it's a video. Sometimes there will be a larger story involved, but often there will not. So, for glory and a tip of the glass next time we see you.

October 3, 2011

Awards, Accolades, Explanations and Announcements

Awards & Accolades
Back from Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and there's much to talk about. If you want a local's first hand account go check out Patrick here. For a recap of the Arizona winners go here and here. All of the 2011 winners deserve congratulation, but we should remember that last year Arizona breweries racked up 6 medals including 3 golds as compared to this year's 4 overall and 1 gold.

I'd like to talk about some of the Arizona beers that won and a little about strategy. After all, this is a competition!

The first question I was asked by everyone was if I had ever had SanTan's Mr Pineapple Wheat, winner of a silver in the Fruit Wheat category. The answer is no. I'm not aware of anyone that has, although I haven't asked my cadre of SanTan regulars yet. An entry for the beer was created on September 1st on Untapped yet there are no check-ins for it.  It does not have an entry at Beer Advocate or Rate Beer. The BA clearly states that that each entry must be commercially available as named:
All beer brands entered in the Great American Beer Festival must be commercially available exactly as entered by brand name. “Commercially available” means the entered brand has been available for sale at retail under the exact brand name as entered on the GABF entry registration form prior to the competition entry registration deadline. Source: GABF
So what gives? Was there some funny business??? No. I don't believe so. SanTan is known for its small batch experimentation using a homebrewer's set up. This is all speculation on my part, but a batch or two may have been made by the brewery in anticipation of Maui Brewing's arrival after the Ameri'CAN' Beer Festival in Chandler at the end of May. In any case, there is this photo taken by iTappd on June 18th which was the same day as the SanTan Luau. Case Closed.

When I tweeted that Four Peaks has won a bronze for Hop Knot, several people wanted to know who won the IPA category and who had a better IPA than Hop Knot? Well, technically all 176 American-style IPA entries. The winners of that category were:

Category: 51 American-Style India Pale Ale – 176 Entries
  • Gold: Elevated IPA, La Cumbre Brewing Co., Albuquerque, NM
  • Silver: Deviant Dale’s, Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, CO
  • Bronze: Head Hunter IPA, Fat Head’s Brewery, North Olmsted, OH

Hop Knot won the bronze in a different category, American-style Strong Pale Ale.

Category: 50 American-Style Strong Pale Ale – 103 Entries
  • Gold: Pako’s Eye P.A., Snake River Brewing, Jackson, WY
  • Silver: AleSmith IPA, AleSmith Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
  • Bronze: Hop Knot, Four Peaks Brewing Co., Tempe, AZ

So even though Hop Knot wears an IPA banner on every can, it's not an IPA as seen in the eyes of Brewers Association and the brewers at Four Peaks wisely decided to enter it into the proper category. Not an IPA you say?

If we look at the specs for Hop Knot we the following:

  • Hop Knot's Color (SRM) is 8 which fits into both styles as they have the parameters 6-14 SRM.
  • In terms of bitterness, Hop Knot has 47 IBUs. Its not bitter enough for the IPA category which requires 50-70 IBUs but it tends toward the higher side of the scale for American Strong Pale which ranges from 40-50 IBUs. 
  • The alcohol range measured in ABV for American Strong Pale is 5.5% to 6.3% whereas for an IPA it spans 6.3% to 7.5%. Hop Knot is 6.7% which technically places it in the IPA range but not by much.
I'm making a broad generalization here, but Hop Knot fits the American Strong Pale Ale category strategically better because it hits the high end of the IBU range and it also exceeds the alcohol percent (imperceptibly so). It's common for brewers to hit either the high end of specs or the low ends to stand out from the crowd. With an American-style, you always want to hit the high side. That's the prevailing theory.

I had the La Cumbre Elevated IPA, Dale's Deviant (brewery only, not in a can) and the Alesmith at the GABF. I don't prefer one over the other over Hop Knot given that I'm not judging it to style. The Alesmith is available in Phoenix, so a side-by-side comparison would be a fun exercise.

There is a good deal of hype surrounding Four Peaks Pumpkin Porter. It's a popular beer that despite the breweries efforts, sells out much quicker than everyone would like. Just take a moment and consider that BJs Brewhouse in Chandler took a silver at GABF for its Pumpkin beer. It's a good time to head over to the brewery and give brewers Derek Osborne and Jeff Huss a tip of the pint.

I'm not sure how many of you are aware that Draft Magazine is headquartered here in Phoenix. Chris Staten, Draft Beer Editor, and a number of anonymous ASH members judge the beers at the back of each issue. Chris writes a nice post GABF piece on re-focusing the palate with a comfortable local (and solid) choice.

Speaking of ASH, the homebrewing organization drew a few notices from the Arizona Republic and the Phoenix New Times. ASH was named Best Underground Beer Society and was among the Top Ten Oktoberfests in Arizona. Some of the copy in those two links are not accurate, so please check out the ASH Oktoberfest information from the source.

Finally, I've written a column for Food and Flourish Magazine called, "Hi Wine, Beer Here". It was written for   an audience that values it's food flourish as you can well imagine. I think you'll recognize some of the elements I've been harping about-- for most of you this is well traveled ground. Share it if it speaks to someone you know. It's on digital page 36, if the flash technology is supported by your computing rig. Otherwise, the html version should suffice.