Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beer Fridge on the Road - Four Peaks Brewing Company

Phoenix/Scottsdale is one of my favorite places to visit. Warm when you want it to be; if you go in the summer, it's quiet; and it's CLOSE - a fast 6-7 hr drive and you're there. Near the 101 and Frank Lloyd Wright, there is a bunch of great places to check out, including Four Peaks Brewing Company. This place has a real chill vibe to it, with an outdoor, shaded patio (so, yes, you could go out there and not roast) and a large upper loft if you've got a bigger group.

This place caught my eye and always wanted to check it out and when I finally did, I was very pleasantly surprised. Great food (try the BBQ chicken pizza...very tasty) and the beer also very good, and of course, that's what you're here for.

First up is the RAJ IPA. Given my recent experiences with IPAs, including the Odell IPA and Marble Brewing IPA, I have high expectations. Unfortunately, when you have high expectations, you tend to be disappointed and that's what happened here. For an IPA, there just wasn't that hoppy taste that I come to expect and enjoy. The brew had crisp taste when it hit your lips, then a medium bitter aftertaste, but not one that was terribly enjoyable. The high alcohol content (6.9% ABV) did not save this beer, which will not get a repeat performance.

The 8th Street Pale Ale was a great way to follow up the RAJ IPA, mostly because I actually liked it. This beer had a bit of a tangy taste with absolutely no aftertaste and just a hint of hops. This beer had more a red color, making me think of an amber beer rather than the typical IPA color. The lower alcohol content (4.7% ABV) and accommodating taste makes this a great beer for people who tend to lean to lighter beers and want to venture into different types of beer without going "too out there."

The Hefeweizen is a Bavarian type, so lemon is verboten!! I didn't get a lot of the banana taste that seems to be common in the Bavarian beers, but the flavor I did get was very refreshing and light. And like most Bavarian Hefeweizens, the fruity taste is subdued - it's there, but not in your face like American Hefeweizens. Just a hint of aftertaste, making for a very refreshing and tasty beer.

But my favorite of the Four Peaks offerings is the Kiltlifter Scottish-Style Ale. This brew has gusto, but not so much that you feel like you got punched in the face (a la the Arrogant Bastard Pale Ale). You can really get the malt taste and with 6% ABV, it's got a little kick to it. For being a more robust ale, it's got a really smooth taste and no overwhelming aftertaste that sits with you. I usually get a growler of this bad boy if I'm in Phoenix for a few days, so obviously, I recommend this beer.

Four Peaks Brewing Company has the brewpub in Scottsdale, with the actual brewery in Tempe. So, go to either of those places if you want it fresh from the source or a growler to go. Some of the beers (including the Kiltlifter) are available in bottles at a lot of Phoenix grocery stores, so you can grab it there too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beer Fridge on the Road - Murphy's

The second stop in lovely Prescott was Murphy's, just about a block from the town square. This place looks and feels "old-school". There is a lot of great, dark wood and in the bar area, there are these tall booths, that really enhances the friendly, neighborhood bar feel.

I've been to Murphy's a few times before and noticed the number of plaques on the wall of esteemed members of the Professional Beer Drinker Club. The idea is simple - pay $15, get a shirt and glass, drink 60 beers and get your name on the plaque. The beer list is actually numbered and each time you have a different beer, you get your card punched on whatever number that beer is. Obviously, this offered a challenge, which I must accept.

The first beer I tried was Murphy's own Prescott Red (one of the three beers that they have on tap, the rest are bottled). This was an extremely smooth brew, offering little hoppy taste or bitterness. It was very refreshing with just a hint of aftertaste (and that's it...). The Prescott Red was a fine beer, but lacking any complexity or signature flavor. I was quite surprised about this, and a little disappointed as I like beers with something to remember them by.

The follow up to the Prescott Red was on the opposite end of the spectrum - the Arrogant Bastard Pale Ale. The name is very much a reflection of the beer itself - it's one tough SOB. There is a definite kick to the beer, with a hefty 7.20% ABV. You get the hop taste, but it's not overpowering or as strong as you would find a traditional IPA. The beer is going to stick with you for a little bit, as you can keep tasting it in the back of your throat. Read the bottle itself, if you could use a laugh.

I also tried the Murphy's Mile High Lager, but after two beer stops, I wasn't really thinking about taking notes. It was good though, so will need to come back for a more indepth "interview" with the brew.

So, three down, 57 to go! Next time - Four Peaks Brewing Company in Scottsdale!

Beer Fridge on the Road - Prescott Brewing Company

Last weekend, I had a great trip out to Phoenix, AZ and got to take a detour to scenic Prescott. This quaint little town is about 2 hours from (and 20 degrees cooler than) Phoenix/Scottsdale. While my wife and mother-in-law explored the thirft stores for hidden bargins, I took a tour of the town square, which was surprising stock full of bars. I think one block alone had 5 bars.

The first stop in the square was Prescott Brewing Company, a great microbrewery located in one of those mall-like areas where there are a bunch of stores branching off a central hall. The brewery itself is covered in coasters from all over the world and antique beer plates. Very chill environment and definitely would be a place I'd frequent if I happened to live in Prescott.

Our server, a very Irish-American gent by the name of Bryant, started me off with the Belgian Tripel and a warning of the beer's 10% ABV. While a lot of highly alcoholic beers have a bit of a kick to them, this one was extremely smooth. It had a light champagne taste with a texture similar to Boddington's (without the nitrous). There was a hint of sweetness to it, but nothing overpowering. The beer taste sticks with a mild, honey-like aftertaste. There is definitely a buzz-worthy factor to this beer, as I was feeling very nice after finishing it.

Bryant's next recommendation was the Alpine Wheat. This traditional Bavarian wheat beer reminded me a lot of the Hofbrauhaus (except not in the massive mug that Hofbrauhaus would provide). In tradition with the German method of drinking this beer, there would be no lemon! It definitely didn't need it though, as the beer had just the right taste without the extra citrus. There is a bit of a banana taste to it, but it's not overwhelming. Very crisp taste and extremely refreshing, but not a beer I'd be drinking after working in the yard. Would definitely enjoy this beer again!

Next, we'll visit Murphy's and check out the Professional Beer Drinker's Club.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Santa Fe Brewing Hefeweizen

I love Hefeweizens - if I were to pick one type of beer and that's the only beer I would drink for the rest of my life, I'd pick a Hefeweizen. So, with that said, I have tried a lot and have high hopes when I try one I haven't had before. Quarters Guy suggested Santa Fe Brewing Company's Hefeweizen when he recommended the Odells IPA. I was happy that I was not steered wrong on this one, as it's a good Hefeweizen.

Without the traditional lemon, the beer has good flavor. No taste of hops or really any bitterness. There is that hint of sweetness, but that almost is eliminated by the addition of the lemon, which replaces sweet with lemony goodness. In fact, once the lemon is floating around in the beer, there is a really clean freshness to the brew as a whole. I'd wager it's got to do with acidity of the lemon juice, but it's a nice taste.

I did a little research on this, as I got to thinking about the lemon. Apparently, this is an American "thing" and the Krauts in Germany typically frown upon the lemon. Thinking back when I've made some ill-fated trips to the Hoffrauhaus in Lost Wages, Nevada, I can't recall (much) seeing any lemons in the place. That beer definitely didn't need any of the citrus acidity.

Lemon or not, the Santa Fe Brewing Hefeweizen is a good overall Hefeweizen. The price is pretty fair, running about $7.00/six pack at Quarters, and it's local, so you're supporting the guy up I-25. This isn't my favorite Hefeweizen by far, but it'll do in a pinch.

If you're a fan of the Hefeweizen or other wheat beers, I would highly recommend the following:

Flying Dog In Heat Wheat -

Marble Brewing Company Wildflower Wheat -

You can find the Santa Fe Brewing Hefeweizen in a whole bunch of places, including Quarters, Smith's, Albertsons and Kelly's Liquors. If you want to go staight to the source, Santa Fe Brewing is located just off I-25, south of Santa Fe (right near those outlet malls in what used to be Wolf Canyon).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Odell Brewing - IPA

There was a really cool guy working at the Quarters at Wyoming & Montgomery today who I didn't catch the name of. Next time I go in there, I definitely will, as he recommended two tasty brews. The first one on the Beer Blog will be the Odell India Pale Ale (IPA for your acronym-heads out there).

I've found past experiences with the Odell brand to be pretty positive - the 90 Shilling and Easy Street Wheat were good representations of their respective types and were well worth the price. So, when Quarters Guy (whose name will be forthcoming) recommended this one, I did not hesitate to grab the six pack.

IPAs as a whole are a hoppy bunch. This one would fall somewhere in the middle of the Hop Scale. It's definitely nowhere near the Chama River Double IPA (which was the liquid representation of a Hop getting nuked with gamma radation and smashing the brewery itself), but definitely has that kick of hops as you take a slip.

While there is the characteristic bitter taste, it is nothing that gives you the "Bitter Beer Face". There is an excellent, clean finish - one that makes your taste buds ready for another sip. Be careful as your bottle will be quickly empty if you don't watch it. Do watch it though, as this beer is more buzz-worthly than your average six pack, with a 7% ABV (most IPAs I've found are around 6-6.2%

I had one of these earlier today as I washed the car. It hit the spot as it was an amazingly warm day (about 80 or so) and when you're leaning up against a really hot Tahoe to get the roof washed, it's easy to get parched. The one I'm enjoying as I write this little review is in a nice frozen glass and is a great beer to wind down the day.

Conclusion - A great hoppy, bitter and smooth representation of the IPA brand. Will definitely be purchasing this for the beer fridge again.

Odell IPA
60 IBUs
7.0% ABV

The Company is Taking a New Direction

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out a hobby. That may seem...stupid, but honestly, I haven't been able to clearly identify something that I do for recreation on a regular basis.

I don't have the time, money or talent to golf without getting really pissed off in the process because I suck so much. I like my Costco set of golf clubs that I have had for about 5 years and have no desire to spend more on one club than I would a set.

Most physical sports (soccer, baseball, rec-football, etc...) all require a degree of coordination and ability that I also lack.

I really like video games - however, I'm too cheap to buy them on a regular basis. Plus, if you look at the reason for why golf got eliminated, I don't have time to really spend a lot of time on them.

So, during this 5th day of vacation after April 15th, I had a burst of inspiration as I drank a tall cold beer. My hobby is drinking beer and trying different types. I will document my experiences on this here blog and see if perhaps, one person will try something that they normally wouldn't because someone else wrote down what they thought about it.

If you have any suggestions, please send them my way.