I know. . . it's been a while. It's been a long couple of months. The world has gotten a little darker, as we have lost Grandma Patrick, a lovely lady who is surely watching from heaven drinking a Brandy Alexander. It's gotten a little brighter, celebrating pregnancies (not my own, thankfully!), and the engagement of two close friends and fellow beer lovers (congrats Ed and Kate)! It's also gotten a whole lot busier. I graduate with an MBA in three weeks (and not a moment to soon). Time has gotten away from me.
Thank you so much for all the well wishes! I'm back now.
So after a little writing hiatus, this is the much anticipated part 2 of my trip to Arizona. :-)
Sonora Brew House or Brewers Den, as it's affectionately called, is this great, cozy, very welcoming brewhouse in Phoenix. This place is the quintessential local watering hole, with six staple taps and one of the best happy hours in town! (1/2 price appies and cheap pints of microbrew goodness) I do warn you, the place is on the small side, so get there early if you want a seat. Judging by their website it looks like they've built an addition, looking at it closer it appears chainlike, a little clinical, and nowhere a self respecting beer lover like yourself would want to sit anyhow. Among my favorite were the Vanilla Porter and the Trooper IPA.
From small and intimate to huge and warehouse like, Four Peaks in Tempe is jam packed on a Monday night and I am loving the atmosphere. (Even though it seems the average age is underage.) Maybe it's something in the water they use to make the beer! There's an outside area for people watching, where the waitress insists first timers sit. A very good call indeed. After a good deal of taking in the sights I settle down to a sizeable beer list with truly something for everyone. A peach beer (I was scared, but it was delicious), to the Raj IPA, to the sinfully delicious Pumpkin Porter. It was even named 2008 'Best Beer Bar for Wine Snobs' by the New Times. If you're worried about getting tipsy, the food comes lightening fast and is also quite good! (It won 'Best Bar Food' in 2008 as well.) My only complaint (here I go again) is the ladies room! 250 seats in the place, easy. . . lots of beer to choose from. . . 2 stalls! I love you Four Peaks, but come on! I want to spend my time drinking the line not standing in one.
San Tan in Chandler is one of those places that when you first walk up to it you tell yourself that it's too cool to be any good. It's basically a big, converted garage, open air, music spilling out into the otherwise quiet strip mall. It promises to be a rockin' good time. So before my beer comes I again try to keep my hopes in check. "It's the newest kid on the block, the youngest in Arizona." I whisper. To no avail. I want this place to rock, to deliver big. The beer is OK. Nothing I would send back, nothing I'd buy a growler of. . . but it could have been a lot worse! I think I overhyped it in my head somewhat, and will try it again next time I'm out there just to be sure. What I love most about San Tan though is that everyone loves and cherishes beer. The bartender was knowledgeable, they have Tuesday night tastings and beer pairings, they've even designed their own glassware. I suggest the Big Red in a special SanTan glass!
I walk into Beaver Street Brewery in Flagstaff and I absolutely feel at home. College town meets antique bar meets a billiard hall in this casual, laid back brewpub. Six beers on, four mainstays and two seasonals. It's hard to choose, to concentrate on what I want to drink with the smell of wood fire pizza all around me. So I get a sampler and some dinner and I start talking to some really great locals that tell me to avoid the place down the street. That's my next stop, but they make me promise I won't go so I lie. They also told me I would love the "Bramble Berry Brew", which basically tastes like a Cosmo. They just don't get what I'm going for here, so I feel a little better about my dishonesty. After trying them all my favorites were the Nut Brown and the Railhead Red so I order a pint of each. Luckily, both went exceptionally well with the delicious pizza fired up just for me. Once I'm eating I can finally concentrate again.
You know that one friend of yours that has that "the time I almost got arrested story", where there were all these inked up mean looking guys and locals giving dirty looks to the newcomer just looking to throw down a few pints? Flagstaff Brewing Company is pretty much that place. There are four beers on the menu. They get my order wrong twice. The bartender, wearing a "Jesus loves my tattoo shirt" keeps rolling his eyes at me, despite getting my order wrong. At one point I ordered a "Sasquatch Stout" and a Scotch on the rocks came out. He wasn't even trying! The music, from the bartender's personal stash, was a lot of Frampton, Hendrix and Zeppelin type stuff. This made me sad, because I wanted him to like Death Metal or Bruce Springsteen or something else I don't like so I could have written him off completely. "How can you live in NJ and not like Springsteen?" You're missing the point! For the sake of completeness, I made a visit to the ladies room. Thankfully, I have a tetanus shot otherwise I might of needed emergency assistance in there! I did an about face, paid the tab, and went back to Beaver Street. Even though all the beers I had here were really good, they weren't THAT good! I should have listened.
Recommendations for other thirsty travelers? Want more information for your own upcoming adventure? Let me know! :-)