Photo courtesy of Tom Boggan.

Ever wonder why a band like Bon Iver would put out a debut album and then follow up with a self-titled work? Sure thing Wilco, reel off 6 studio albums and then come out with Wilco (The Album). In writing this column, I think I understand why this happens.  Sometimes you have to get a few things out and then explain yourself.

“Your Downtown Beer” seems like an unambiguous and narrowly focused idea. It turns out that it isn’t.

The City of Phoenix defines downtown as the area bounded by 7th Street and 7th Avenue from east to west and McDowell to Buckeye Road from north to south. There are plenty that would lop off anything south of Lincoln and north of the I-10. Just this afternoon I spoke to someone that wanted to place the downtown tag on the Tuck Shop. My urbanista friends would eye roll and sigh, “Coronado.”

For the time being, let’s think of Downtown Phoenix as a coaster that is casually flipped onto the bar. The Downtown coaster is where we will set our pint glasses while we are having this conversation about beer. We won’t spend a great deal of time arguing about the shape and size of the coaster.

I must warn you, there may be times when “downtown” will seem to be as large as the bar mats at George & Dragon. The point is that the pint will usually come to rest on that well worn reference point on the bar. On rare occasion, when I need to make a point, I’ll hold my glass as we speak. That is when we will be talking about beer without the context of Phoenix.

“Your Downtown Beer” aims to expand your view of beer’s sense of place. We’ll not only discuss where it is, but where beer could be and should be. Will there be posts on restaurants and bars? Yes of course.  But we won’t be restricted to “beer bars” or only the places that feature craft beer.

There are dozens of reviews of the 60+ tap Copper Blues online and beer rating sites have hundreds of crowd sourced entries for each of the beers that Copper Blues serves. If I were to write about Copper Blues, I’d much rather write about their in-house contract beer, Copper Blues Bru and other downtown places like The Roosevelt and The Rose and Crown that also have contract beers named for their establishments.

The Beer Part, where you will note that I am now holding my pint and not setting it down.
Since I come from a homebrewing background and play a small role in the local beer community, one might conclude that there would be an exclusive craft beer element to this column. Let me say that I simply believe in the right beer at the right time.

People often ask me about my favorite beer and unfailingly it comes down to the context. Just as a snifter of brandy (for many) is a better choice when sitting beside the fireplace than a glass of lemonade, so too is a light lager with a plate of shrimp than a coffee stout. In most other cases, I would choose the coffee stout.

In the days before globalization, local conditions created the styles of beers that we have today. It is now possible to brew almost any style of beer at almost any brewery in the world. The sense of locality for the most widely available beers has all but disappeared. A locally made beer should return a sense of place and history. The local brewery should have an advantage in providing you a richer experience than a beer trucked in from St. Louis via Fairfield, CA in which your only organic connection with the brewery is a Clydesdale. Does knowing the story about Caesar Cardini add to your enjoyment of a Caesar salad? I say, yes. So it will be too when you know why a Sunbru is called a tribute beer.

This is just a roundabout way of saying that “Your Downtown Beer” will talk about beers that best define a place we call Downtown, and how the downtown landscape will shape many of the beer choices we should be making as we, “Explore our core.”