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.