January 27, 2012

Don't Just While Away Your Friday. Do Something.

As it stands right now, there seems to be little AZ support by our Senators and Representatives for a proposed reduction in brewer's excise taxes HR 1236/ S 534.
This legislation had 133 U.S. Representatives and 28 U.S. Senators on board last year.

This legislation would reduce the Federal excise tax (which is a tax above and beyond other taxes) from $7 / bbl to $3.50 / bbl for effectively all AZ breweries (<60K bbls). There is second relief point for larger breweries. All of this is detailed here.


My understanding is that only Rep Raul Grijalva (AZ-7) has expressed support.

In the Senate, John McCain will almost certainly have to recuse himself because of the Hensley ownership. That leaves Jon Kyle.

In the House, we have Grijalva. The resigning Giffords is a lame duck and her interim replacement will also be a lame duck. David Schweikert replaced Harry Mitchell who was OUR AZ REP on the Small Brewer's Caucus. Mr Schweikert has not taken up that post, nor has he take the time to answer my question about why he thought that that was a great idea. I can't speak to the other Reps, Paul Gosar; Trent Franks; Ben Quayle; or Jeff Flake. But I will be speaking with Ed Pastor and his office.

We all know that our brewing friends are brewing at capacity and struggling to bring us the beers that we love. We know that this relief will certainly go toward new tanks, expansion, packaging and jobs. Will anyone help by contacting your Senators and Reps.

January 24, 2012

Integration not Collaboration: Sonoran's Seven Wives Saison

The buzz of the last few years in brewing is collaboration. Famously Avery and Russian River Brewing created Collaboration Not Litigation Ale when they realized that they both had a Salvation Ale. The blended creation is probably referenced for starting the recent collaboration "movement" more than it is probably consumed. Since, we have seen a slew of collaborations by Dogfish Head, Stone, Allagash, Boulevard... it may be easier to list breweries that have not collaborated.

In the Valley, we've had Motley Brue and in my opinion, it was one of the most memorable beers that this state has produced.

Now comes Seven Wives Saison from Sonoran Brewing a concept that seems to be firing on all cylinders.
Local Brewery + Local Chef's + Local Ingredients + Local Artist + Local Charity = Sonoran Brewing Company's Inaugural Chef's Series Seasonal Brews!  
Sonoran's 2012 Inaugural Chef's Series is a collaboration of all things LOCAL!. We've teamed up with some of Arizona's finest Chefs; Chef Jeremy Pacheco from LON's at the Hermosa Inn, Chef Eddie Matney from Eddie's House, Chef Lee Hillson from T Cooks at the Royal Palms and Chef James Porter from Petite Mason and Big Earls BBQ in Old Town Scottsdale. Each Chef will design and brew a unique beer with Brewmaster Zach Schroeder using fresh LOCAL ingredients. The first release (March 3rd) is Chef Jeremy's 7 Wives Saison; this brew will feature wheat from Chef Jeremy's Family Farm in Marana, fresh green peppercorns from Singh Farms in Scottsdale, whole fennel & fennel pollen from LON's Garden and Peoria LOCAL Bob McClendon, mesquite syrup from Cotton Country Jams, locally produced orange & coriander. Chef Jeremy came up with the name for his brew as a way to pay homage to one time local artist and founder of Casa Hermosa (now the Hermosa Inn) Lon Megargee. The "7" ingredients are a tip of the hat to Lon's 7 Wives, yes he was married 7 TIMES! We are proud to share with you that a portion of all the March 3rd Tapping Party proceeds will go to benefit our LOCAL charity of choice, the Waste Not Organization of Arizona www.wastenotaz.org. All art work and label design is by LOCAL artist Ellison Keomaka; Ellison also designed both Centennial logos and the Inebriator Stout logo. We look forward to sharing this one of a kind brew with all of you! 
We've seen collaborations before, even restaurants and breweries (Goose Island), but generally not this deep and wide. First it is a Saison, something that we have lamented is missing in our Valley Beer Catalog. This fills that void. Second it is local on 5 levels that the brewery has identified, Brewery, Chef, Ingredients, Artist, and Charity. If you've read anything here, you know that this hits us right in our beer culture soft spot. This is not a Collaboration. It is so much more. This is an Integration of beer and food, culture, and life. Bold words, yes. Let's hope that the beer stands up when it releases sometime in early March.

So there are 7 Wives, 7 ingredients and 5 Local elements. I'll offer the 6th which is Legend - Lon Megargee.  That leaves one more. If we believe the hype about collaboration then the sum is greater than its parts. If this beer signals a new communication line between restauants, artists, farmers, brewers and charity, then Integration is the 7th component.

January 23, 2012

Outside Looking Inside: This Particular Week in Beer

I'm always looking an an outsider's perspective in things and so I was delighted that Jeff Moriarty took the time to write a brief outsider's inside look at our local craft beer clique. Jeff fooled asked some of us on the "inside" what our favorite Arizona Beers are when we're not pretending to drink the rarest of the rare beers.

Jeff, of course, is one of the founders of all kinds of Arizona social media endeavors. He is the progenitor of the Ignite Phoenix franchise which includes the new Ignite Food. Submissions are open and beer could be on the table.

Read Jeff's synopsis on the Arizona Craft Beer Lover's group and pay attention to the wonderful beer list.

Arizona Beer Week Events Have Posted
I'm sure we're looking at about 90% of the events and we're waiting for the rest to drop before we make recommendations. You can view the events here. Disclosure: As an ASH Board member, I had a hand in planning a few of them. One thing that I'd like to put on next year's wish list is:

  • An RSS feed.
  • A data dump for the media (and quasi media).
  • A location filter for events. Think Northern, Southern and Phoenix. Phoenix to be broken down by West, Central, East or some such
  • A daily map which uses the above filters
  • The ability for a user to create a printable customized itinerary
  • A place for readers to comment, ask questions, rate and review.
What's on your must do list and what changes would you like to see for next year's events?

Local Trend Watch
Students of German and hardcore Four Peaks fans will probably have a laugh at the beer I saw this afternoon. Vier Spitzen turned up on the menu at Moto and I had to do a double take.  Apparently this was a namekicked around back in the mid 2000's for Four Peaks Hefeweizen. (It means four tips (peaks) in German.) Is this the beginnings of a retro campaign for the impending Four Peaks Anniversary or one delivery guy's inside joke? Time will tell.

Tony is Back
In a post or two last year we made mention that Pitcher of Nectar Distributing (POND) was no longer distributing. This was not true, though POND took on a very low profile as owner, Tony Piccini maintained the bare bones of his catalog and restructured the company. Tony's back with Rock Art, Marin, Sudwerk, Rubicon and spirits from Dry Fly Distilling. Look for more news from POND this year.

January 10, 2012

Outside the Glass

There are, I'm sure, some well reasoned and insightful blog posts on what 2012 will bring. This one, just hit my feed, though I haven't read it yet. I know that locally, Andy Ingram is preparing a piece for his Arizona Republic Beer Buzz column. [Edit: that Ingram piece now linked here.] Instead of waiting for his to come out and write a reaction piece, I thought I'd say my peace.

I could take a stab about new trends, that I hope will happen or throw our some forgettable statistic that I think will be exceeded. It's tempting to hint at some gossip, I've heard or reveal some things that I know to be true that will come to light with the fullness of time. It would make me look good, but I'm not sure it has any other use.

Here's what I think will happen, because it simply has to. Will it happen enough so in 2012 that I can pull this post up in December and declare victory? Probably not.

January 6, 2012

The Session #59: I Almost Always Drink Beer, But When I Don’t…

In the 59th edition of The Session, Mario Rubio sets us up with this leading sentence, "I Almost Always Drink Beer, But When I Don’t…".

When I don't, I shut it down. I ask my brain to stop. My first thought is that often I prefer a glass of milk as a nightcap. It helps me wind down.

I do enjoy wine, but not enough to give anyone a list of varietals or even vintners I prefer. I'm not even sure I care if I'm using those terms correctly.

January 3, 2012

What in the Phoenix Beer World? Taglines

Marketing and advertising.

To some, it's an ugly word. Greg Koch of Stone won't even admit to it.

You could google these and get most of them, but you probably shouldn't. Breweries hire marketing companies to differentiate themselves. If they don't throw money at a problem, they've probably enlisted a clever fan or spent valuable brewing time and considerable brainstorming resources over a beer or two. And let's be honest, they need to differentiate. They need to set themselves apart. Every one of these Arizona breweries has a Pale or an IPA. If we placed them all on a table, how many of our readers would be able to blindly identify them? Now how about the thousands of casual beer drinkers that we know.

Would you bet your life that your brother-in-law would be able to tell a Horseshoe Pale from an Oak Creek Pale. How about Raj versus a Victorian. I bet you can't name a time and place where you could compare those on draft side-to-side.

So take a stab at these, and if you don't know say so. Let's see how effective these marketing bylines are.
No googling. Let's give the breweries some feedback.
  1. Making Thirst Worthwhile
  2. Craft Beer for Beer Drinking
  3. 840 Million Years in the Making
  4. It's the Altitude
  5. Arizona's Finest Microbrewery
  6. Phoenix's Newest Brewery
  7. Proudly Serving Authenticity
  8. Here It Is
  9. Home of Tucson's Oldest and Newest MicroBrewery! (no longer in use)
  10. Artistry and Science in One Delicious Beverage
  11. The Proud Voice of Arizona's Breweries

Answers after the jump.

Winner gets bragging rights and a beer from yours truly.