2005 | REGIONAL | SOUTHWEST
By Pete Ricks
Arizona keeps adding quality craft-beer festivals each year,
and the latest event was no exception. The Arizona
Real Ale Festival was held on a Saturday night in
November at the Icehouse in downtown Phoenix. The Icehouse,
which is a converted warehouse building, served as a perfect
venue for the event, and participation was strong. Festival
patrons were treated to a wide range of real ale. For those
not in the know, real ale is beer naturally carbonated in
a cask, vessel or bottle by yeast, as opposed to using carbon
dioxide gas from a tank.
The walls of the main serving room were lined with over 40
casks from breweries in four states and two continents. Little
Guy Distributing, which keeps raising the bar at every craft-beer
festival, was serving Sawtooth ESB from Tabernash
in Colorado, YuleSmith from AleSmith in San
Diego, Hop Juice Double IPA from Left Coast
in San Clemente, and Harviestoun’s
Old Engine Oil from Scotland. How is that for a lineup!
Tucson had a couple of breweries up for this event. Gentle
Ben’s was serving IPA, Blond and Copper Ale.
Nimbus Brewing had a fine Russian Imperial
Stout and Rye IPA on tap. Rock Bottom was
well represented, with 11 casks from Arizona and California.
Some of the beers provided by Rock Bottom included Perpetual
Burn Double IPA from the Arrowhead location, Udder Goodness
Milk Stout from Desert Ridge, a fine barrel-aged stout from
Long Beach and a wonderful saison from the Ahwatukee location.
Speaking of Rock Bottom, the Scottsdale location's brewers
Charlie Billingsly and Joe Bob Grisham from the Arizona Craft
Brewers Guild were instrumental in organizing this highly
successful event, one that is sure to become a regular tradition
like the Arizona Strong Ale and the Spring Hopfest. The next
big beer festival after Arizona Strong Ale is the Great Arizona
Beer Festival, which will be held on April 2 and 3 this year
at the Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix.
I paid a visit to the new Sonoran Brewery recently, which
is now located at the Pinnacle Peak Patio in Northeast Scottsdale.
New Sonoran owner and brewer Scott Yarosh is cranking out
the beer. You can still get the Burning Bird Pale Ale, Desert
Amber, Old Saguaro Barleywine, Inebriator Imperial Stout and
other Sonoran favorites, but not in bottles, as the new brewery
is smaller than the old one and does not have bottling facilities.
Sonoran beer is available in kegs via Little Guy Distributing,
and you can also get kegs, growlers and an assortment of other
containers filled at the brewery. Call Yarosh for details.
Speaking of upcoming events, I was worried that the annual
Sonoran Brewout might be history now, but Yarosh has informed
me that it will indeed be held on February 26, 2005, from
8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the new location, which offers some
scenic views of Pinnacle Peak and the surrounding desert landscape.
The Pinnacle Peak Patio is an expansive facility, and Yarosh
is planning the biggest and best Sonoran Brewout ever, with
live entertainment, Sonoran beer specials and a tasty assortment
of grilled goods. Yarosh is also lining up a series of beer
dinners to be hosted at the Pinnacle Peak Patio, the first
of which was held in January of this year. We’ll have
details in the next issue.
In addition to the upcoming festivals in Arizona, which include
Strong Ale and the Great Arizona Beer Festival in March, Colorado
River breweries are gearing up for the annual schwing break.
Owner Scott Stocking from Mudshark in Lake
Havasu City is ready for the masses with Upriver Lager (for
those looking to trim a few carbs), Dry Heat Hefeweizen, Scorpion
Amber and the easy-drinking Pub Draft ESB. Mudshark always
has a fine assortment of beers on tap, a monthly lineup of
fun activities for customers, and great food too.
Right along the river and next to the famed London Bridge
in Lake Havasu City, you can sample the fine brews from Lon
Weatherson, such as the Kickstart Oatmeal Stout and Bighorn
IPA. Weatherson usually has an interesting seasonal on tap,
so it is always worth the visit. Both Mudshark and Barley
Brothers are good stops to make whenever in Lake Havasu City.
(Check the updated Mudshark Brewing Web site for details and
specials at mudsharkbrewing.com.)
New Mexico brewers are ready to celebrate Big Beer Rodeo
2005 at two locations this year. On February 1, 2005, the
BBR will kick off at the Blue Corn Café and Brewery
in Santa Fe. On February 2, the event will move down to the
Milagro Grill and Brewery in Bernalillo. Some of the beers
scheduled to be on tap include an award-winning Roggenbock
from Il Vicino, a barley wine and Double
IPA from Chama River, Ice Imperial Stout
from Three Rivers in Farmington, and Old
Ale from host brewery Milagro.
In other New Mexico brewing news, the construction at the
former Blue Corn Albuquerque is going well and the opening
of the new Chama River is on schedule. Look for Ted Rice and
crew to have a bar to serve their fine beers in soon. Santa
Fe Brewing is in the middle of a major expansion that will
be unfolding throughout 2005. A new 10,000-square-foot brewery
is in the works, and there will be a larger brewpub located
right next door. We’ll have more details in the upcoming
issue as the new operation takes shape.
Sonoran Brewing Co.
10426 E. Jomax Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Little Guy Distributing
5456 E. McDowell Rd., #123
Mesa, AZ 85215
Milagro Grill and Brewery
1016 U.S. Hwy. 550
Bernalillo, NM 87004
Blue Corn Café &
4056 Cerrillos Rd.
Santa Fe, NM 87507
Pete Ricks covers craft beer in the
Southwest for the Celebrator and beerdude.com,
where he picks each pro football game every season with a
high degree of accuracy.