Your Downtown Beer
Angels Trumpet Ale House announced this week that it will be featuring local homebrewers as part of its Saturday, September 15 Grand Opening. On hand will be Uptown Phoenix residents and award-winning homebrewers, Scott Brady and Marco Hernandez. The two will brew a five-gallon batch of beer while providing information on how you can join this growing hobby. The brewers will begin setting up their equipment at 10 a.m. on the patio and should be mashing grain by 11 a.m.
Angels Trumpet would like new brewers to drop by, learn, watch, ask questions and take breaks inside for beer. Brady and Hernandez will also be able to recount their experience brewing one of their beers commercially, so there is plenty of things to discuss for veteran brewers too.
Both brewers are members of the Arizona Society of Homebrewers (ASH), the largest homebrew club in the country. Last October the brewers were awarded Best of Show in the 2011 ASH Oktoberfest for Seaside Rendevous, a malty rich California Common. The pair were able to brew their beer commercially at Odell Brewing in Ft Collins Colorado on Doug Odell’s famous five-barrel pilot system. This spring, the beer debuted at Moto on 16th Street and Glendale.
As the President of ASH, I can tell you that these guys know their stuff and are happy to engage you about the hobby. I’ll also mention that the 2012 ASH Oktoberfest Competition has the very same prize–an opportunity to brew your winning batch at Odell.
Featured taps for the Grand Opening include Firestone Walker’s Double DBA, New Belgium Brewing Peach Porch Lounger and the much anticipated, and already scarce, collaboration between Alpine Beer Company and New Belgium Brewing called Super, an India Pale Ale. And finally, Odell Deconstruction, a gorgeous Golden Ale with wild yeast and lactobacillus, which gives it a funky-tart character.
Who knows? You might even see a fellow with a hat and sideburns tending bar that afternoon.
If you go:
Event: Angels Trumpet Ale House Grand Opening
Where: Angels Trumpet Ale House, 810 North 2nd St.
When: Doors open at 11 a.m., homebrew demo from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Contact: 602-252-2630 email@example.com
Beer has amazing properties of both seasonality and region, but it also has the ability to bend or outright ignore those properties. The various beer styles we all enjoy have their historical origins in overcoming or adapting to environmental challenges such as water quality; the availability of ingredients such as hops, malt and other fermentables and the variability of the seasons.
The technology of refrigeration, the mastery of water chemistry and the advances of microbiology allow brewers to overcome traditional environmental hurdles. Unfettered global markets provide access to brewing ingredients. Beer had been tied to locality for most of its 5000 year history, but that was all about to change in the mid 1800’s. Crisp clean lager beers became popular and larger breweries became more efficient. Traditional styles, only recently freed from their geographical bonds began to decline in production. By the time Phoenix was settled, beer was shipped to Phoenix on refrigerated rail cars. Eventually, even the A-1 Brewery on 12th street and Madison succumbed to the monoculture of the light lager and industrial consolidation despite making beer very similar to the breweries in Milwaukee and St Louis.
This is a very long winded preface to tell you that Province has locally made beers on all three of its tap handles, SanTan Hefeweizen, Four Peaks Sunbru and Lumberyard Red. We’re a bit jaded in this day and age of the resurgence of craft beers and we should acknowledge how utterly remarkable this is, given the history of beer. Each of these beers represents an American take on a traditional European style and does so very well.
Today, the beer a brewery makes is controlled by something brewers like to call, “brewer’s intent.” A brewer in Arizona is not in Bavaria, but can choose to make a Hefeweizen. One need not to be in Cologne to make a Kolsch-style Ale. We may think of Ireland for Red Ales, but American brewers have put their twist on the style for many years.
On a particularly hot day, I exercised my “drinkers intent.” Did I want to embrace summer with the estery banana effervescence of the SanTan Hefeweizen? Did I crave the crisp, sublimely fruity and nutty, clean and dry finish of the Sunbru? Sunbru recently won a Gold Medal at the World Beer Cup besting breweries from across the US and even in Cologne! Both of these beers could transform the surprisingly shady (at this time of year no less) Province Patio into a German Biergarten.
I feigned ignorance of our outdoor conditions, thought of late winter and leaned on the bar for a cool caramel malty Lumberyard Red. I tasted citrusy American hops. The AC blew cool air on my head and arms. When I closed my eyes I imagined it to be fog. I re-calibrated our desert olive drab green for kelly.
IF YOU GO
When: Happy Hour is everyday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, 3 p.m. to close and Saturday, reverse, 8 p.m. to close
It’s the little things sometimes.
I may be one of the few people to notice the mural on the side of the Phoenix Public Market well before the announcement that the indoor market would be closing. The mural depicts a market at the center of a community in the process of rebuilding itself. The market bears a liquor sign with an impossibly ambitious 24 hour sign (currently not legal in AZ or most anyplace for that matter).
Phoenix Public Market’s Urban Grocery never was a liquor store, but it did have the best selection of local beer and wine in all of downtown. The market featured about 2 dozen Arizona produced bottles and cans of beer as well as a few regional craft beers.
The outdoor market will live on. Some have pointed out that it was never a full-service grocer. Others have noted that there are other local gathering places that fulfill the market’s third place qualities.
There may be far more important reasons to note the market’s passing. Your Downtown Beer seeks to work on the practical: “Where does one go to buy packaged quality beer in Downtown Phoenix now that the Phoenix Public Market’s Grocery is closed?”
Downtown Phoenix has good beer available. We’ve established that. If you think about the many dozens of restaurants and beer bars with tapped beers (Copper Blues has over 60 alone) and you add in the extensive bottle list at the Lost Leaf (over 150) you’re looking at hundreds of beer choices, but it’s not as simple as that. All of those places have on-premise licenses — you have to drink it there, you can’t take it with you. When it comes to “beer to go” I can’t resist but make the analogy, “Beer, beer everywhere, but not a drop to take.”
Remembering that Chloe’s Corner took over the Oakville Grocery space and assumed the beer and wine store license, I headed over to Cityscape to see what might be available. To my dismay, Chloe’s was closed for a private event and I was literally shooed away. I couldn’t even press my nose to the glass windows to see what might be available. Rest assured, Chloe. I will be back.
Undeterred I popped into CVS and saw several 24 oz cans that are normally seen in slim brown paper bags. A lone Arrogant Bastard bottle mocked me as if it had consumed all of the other beers that might have been in the cooler. Stone Arrogant Bastard is a great beer, but we can do better. We want our locals too.
With many things downtown, you have to know where to go and you may have to widen your search perimeter. Thomas Market Liquor on Thomas and 3rd Avenue fits all of my downtown beer requirements. It has a knowledgeable staff. There are several cooler doors full of regional craft beers as well as fine imports. There is even an entire door filled with beers brewed in Arizona. The beer geek in me noted that the code on an empty shelf indicated there once was bottles Deschutes Dissident. Thomas Market Liquor is just a shade over two miles from the Phoenix Public Market — a short light rail trip or a 15-minute bicycle ride.
I settled on a Dogfish Head Theobroma. It’s an ale based upon an ancient Meso-American beer recipe containing cocoa, honey, chilies and annatto. The chiles and spice are a perfect complement a savory pork dish or a dessert with chocolate.
Fortunately, we may be on the verge of a breakthrough when it comes to packaged beer. The Arizona State legislature made a change to Title 4 of the Arizona Revised Statutes that will go into effect in August. The change allows beer bars to fill growlers of beer for off-premise sale. A growler is a 64 ounce glass jug that is filled from the tap. It used to be that only a brewery could fill a growler for sales, “to go.” This law change will allow any beer bar or liquor store with tapped beer to sell them.
There will certainly be a period where businesses work out whether they want to have access to the, “to go” market, so don’t expect a deluge of options right from the get-go. A business has to devote resources and inventory to growlers. Filling a growler without beer loss is not very easy either. One hopes that of the hundreds of beer taps downtown, a few will devote some to off premise sales this summer.
Where do you shop for beer downtown?
Visit: Thomas Market Liquors, 345 W Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ 85013 (602) 274-4780
When people ask where to go or what to do, I’m always doing a mental calculation on the beer situation. People kind of expect it now, but I assure you there is much more under consideration. The mathematical operation is the simple addition of “beer and ____”. If I go here I can get beer and there’s a great patio for people watching. If I go there I can get beer and an amazing fried bologna sandwich.
I became more aware of how this works with other people this week when sustainability advocate and architect, Taz Loomans, recommended Crescent Ballroom as a great place to eat. I realize that Crescent enlisted Chris Bianco and Doug Robson to create the menu, but I think most people think of Crescent Ballroom as premier music and event venue. Taz is not a drinker. She was calculating the Crescent using different math. I decided it might be time to add some more variables to my equation. I concluded there were Four Crescents.
You can catch up on the first Crescent, music, right here in DPJ. I can confirm that my Pastor Burrito was top notch–grilled crispy on four sides and just the right mix of spicy beans an pork. Taz and others offered glowing recommendations of the remaining menu items. Shout out to Courtney Nush who originally reviewed the Ballroom for DPJ, the kitchen indeed delivers (and it’s now open for weekday lunch). Great food is the second Crescent.
I’m going to focus on the beer and leave the cocktail and wine to the expertise of others when I discuss the Lounge as the third Crescent. It’s nice to see that this music venue relegated the Bud, Miller and Pabst to the can cooler leaving 3 of the 4 tap handles to Sierra Nevada Pale, Odell IPA and the local Kilt Lifter. There are cans and bottles of Hop Knot, Guinness, Anchor Porter and premium Mexican beers like Bohemia and Negra Modelo giving beer drinkers of all types to find their groove. I settled in on the Odell IPA on this particular afternoon. The beer’s clean malt, resin-y pine hops and bitterness to the finish amped the sweet heat of the citrus achiote pastor. On a warmer day, I may have chosen the malt rich Kilt Lifter or the more traditional Negra Modelo to balance the burrito spiciness.
While I was there, several at the bar latched onto the Michelada, a preparation of tomato juice, lime, spices, hot pepper and beer. It’s a fitting beer cocktail given the mostly burrito and all southwestern fare.
Knowing Taz is an architect, I’d have to think that the very building figures into her equation. The red brick Ballroom was formerly the F.L. Hart Garage built in 1917. The east facing patio provides plenty of shade and large garage doors create a desirable indoor/outdoor feel. The front lounge is an ideal space for Phoenix living and the re-use of a nearly 100 year old building happens so seldom in the Valley that it’s natural for a beer drinker to celebrate with a tip of the pint.
Cheers to the fourth Crescent!
308 North 2nd Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85003
If you’ve been following Your Downtown Beer, then you know that this is not the place for traditional St Patrick’s Day beer drinking information. I doubt that anyone will have a difficult time finding an Irish Stout, Irish Whiskey or Corned Beef. There will also be green beer, which I urge you not to drink unless you contemplate that the drink was invented by a coroner in 1914. St Patrick’s Day is an American fabrication. To that end, here are some ways to celebrate with a new kind of Green Beer – an environmentally green beer.
If we’re being forthright, brewing is not, on the face of it, a very environmentally green practice. According to the Great Lakes Water Conservation Workshop, it takes upwards of 40 pints of water to brew a pint of beer. When you factor in the water used to grow hops and malt, a pint of beer takes a whopping 317 pints. Take heart however. There are far more water resource intensive operations than brewing such as cattle ranching and citrus growing – two Arizona mainstays. An 8 ounce glass of OJ requires about 432 pints of water.
Enjoy a locally brewed Irish style.
Sleepy Dog’s Red Rover is on tap at Copper Blues in CityScape and pours a deep amber. There is a characteristic caramel hint of sweetness that finishes with low bitterness and dryness. As an American touch, Sleepy Dog adds some chocolate and darker roast malts for a deeper color and distinct flavor.
50 W Jefferson St
Try an Organic Beer.
While I am not here to tell you that I can taste the difference between an organic beer and one that is not–I can’t and I am skeptical of anyone that says they can. I do think it’s important to acknowledge breweries that take the time to source their ingredients in a way that reduces impact on the soil and water. You can get three examples of organic beer at The Lost Leaf: Samuel Smiths Strawberry Ale, Pinkus Pilsner and Deschutes Green Lakes Amber.
The Lost Leaf
914 N 5th Street
Visit a brewery on the light rail.
Phoenix is home to two rail-friendly breweries, but only Sun Up offers a Red and a full pub menu. Phoenix Ale Brewery has a food tuck schedule. Check their websites for more information.
The Phoenix Ale Brewery
3002 E Washington St
Phoenix AZ 85034
OPEN Monday – Saturday Noon – 7 pm
Sun Up Brewing Co
322 East Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85012
Open Sunday – Thursday 11:00 – 11:00
Friday and Saturday to Midnight
Drink a Canned Beer from an Arizona Brewery
Santan, Four Peaks, Prescott, Lumberyard, Mudshark and Grand Canyon are Arizona breweries that offer beers in cans. Cans are lighter than their bottle counterparts by a factor of 8 to 1. Lighter cans mean a reduced carbon footprint.
Support a distributor that uses solar.
World Class Beverages is the fine beer arm of Crescent Crown Distribution. This year, Crescent crown installed 6,840 panels on the roof of the 240,000-square-foot building near Dysart Road and Sweetwater Avenue. They also have a number of hybrid trucks. Find the beers they distribute and where to buy them using their Beerspy.
Finally, do not drink a beer from a green bottle. You’re paying a premium for a product that is packaged in a bottle that will ensure that the hops will be skunked in just under a minute in the Arizona sun. Beer in brown bottles protect hops from UV rays whereas green bottles do not. A light-struck beer is often called “skunked” as UV rays interact with hops to create a chemical compound called mercaptan. Mercaptan is the active ingredient in a skunk’s defensive spray. Green bottles from Holland on St Pats are not traditional by any stretch.