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Southwestern Thirst
By Pete Ricks


What Ales Ya
6363 W. Bell Rd.
Glendale, AZ 85308

Brewers Connection
1425 E. University Dr., B-103
Tempe, AZ 85281

Four Peaks Brewing Co.
1340 E. 8th St., #104
Tempe, AZ 85281


April was a pretty good month for beer festivals in Arizona. The first weekend of April, the Great Arizona Beer Festival was held once again at the Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix. Dale Katechis from Oskar Blues in Colorado was there with tubs full of Dale’s Pale Ale and Old Chubb. It is hard to believe that a beer that tastes as good as Old Chubb comes out of a can, but who’s complaining?

Some of my personal favorites from the two-day event included the English Mild brewed by Scott Bickert of the new Oggi’s in North Scottsdale, and Petrified Porter, an outstanding Robust Porter brewed by Jan Brown of Prescott Brewing Company. This beer was so rich and smooth, it was like drinking a chocolate bar!

On the last weekend of April, the second annual Spring Hop Festival was held at the Peoria Sports Complex. Although not as big as the first festival, Spring Hop II had some great beers too. Ron Kloth from Papago Brewing loaded the Randall with Columbus hops and served up Hopfather Double IPA, which almost made it the hoppiest beer that night. The consensus seemed to be that a beer called McLupulin Imperial Red Ale from some beer website held that title.

Speaking of Papago Brewing, let’s take a quick moment to tell you what has been going on there, as well as mention some future events. Papago recently hosted a tasting session for Avery beers, with Adam Avery present, and we hear it was one of the best events of the year so far. Ron also reports that Papago is having a Uerige Doppel Sticke Alt tapping that should happen in early June. This is the first time that Uerige Doppel Sticke Alt is being released in this country, and there will be only 10 kegs in the United States. Papago will have two of them.

Ron Kloth, Papago Brewery in Scottsdale. Photo by Bob Barnes

Papago also has a new house beer coming up called El Rojo Diablo, an 8%-plus imperial red ale that has 100 IBUs. Check out Papago this summer, as this is the premier taproom for craft beer in the Phoenix area.

Now, back to the hop festival. Little Guy Distributing is slowly introducing the Dogfish line of beers to Arizona. The 90 Minute IPA was introduced at the GABF three weeks prior, and the latest addition made the official Arizona debut at Spring Hop II. Dogfish 120 Minute IPA was tapped with a long line of people waiting for a sample, and it did not disappoint. Another great beer served that night was Chuck Therio’s Phreakin Porter, an 8%-plus imperial porter that was smooth and deceptive. Chuck operates What Ales Ya, a great homebrew shop in the northwest part of the valley where stacks of Celebrators can be found. The Celebrator can also be found at Brewers Connection, an east valley homebrew shop operated by Jeffrey Haines, located in Tempe in the general vicinity of Four Peaks Brewing Company.

Speaking of Four Peaks Brewing, Brewmaster Andy Ingram and Head Brewer Jim Roper always represent Arizona well, and they did Arizona proud again by hosting editor Tom Dalldorf and me for a beer tasting and munchie session on the patio of the Tempe pub in late April. Tom had an opportunity to sample the Four Peaks 8th Street Ale, Kilt Lifter, Hefeweizen and Hop Knot straight from the tank, as well as talk shop with the brewers behind the beers. In addition to the regular lineup, Four Peaks regularly brews some interesting seasonals.

Right now, you can sample the 7.5% abv Idle Hands Belgian Strong Golden Ale, or the English dark Co-op Mild AK Ale, an easy-drinking 3.2% beer. Both should be on tap when this edition hits the streets in June 2005.

For the first time, Uerige Doppel Sticke Alt is being released in this country. There will be only 10 kegs, and Papago will have two of them.

Not only were we able to sample the line of fine beers at Four Peaks, but Andy and Jim gave us a complete tour of the brewery that produces more great craft beer than any other in Arizona. Four Peaks has two locations, one in Tempe by ASU and the other in North Scottsdale right off of the 101 freeway. July is rapidly approaching Arizona, and that can only mean one thing (besides being able to fry an egg on the sidewalk): The annual Mudshark Homebrew Competition will be held in Lake Havasu City at the Mudshark Pub on July 23, 2005. It was only 120 degrees the last time I was in Lake Havasu for this event, but owners Scott and Tina Stocking treat the judges and participants like royalty, so it makes a little perspiration worth the while. Mudshark is one of those pubs that really goes the extra mile for its patrons, having a regular lineup of great events throughout the year. So, homebrewers, get ready to sweat that beer belly away in Havasu on July 23.

In other Arizona brewing news, Uwe Boer is making progress with building out his new pub located right next to the Sonora Brewhouse on Camelback and Third Street. The new pub will be called Brewer’s Den, and Uwe hopes to be up and brewing sometime around September. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

New Mexico brewers are getting ready for the annual IPA Challenge on July 13–15. Current trophy holder and defending champion Brady McKeown is hosting one of the evenings at Il Vicino in Albuquerque. I did have the chance recently to stop by the new Chama River Brewing Company in Albuquerque, formerly known as Blue Corn. Brewmaster Ted Rice has some great beers on tap, including an organic beer using Pacific Gem hops from New Zealand. Very interesting flavor!
Don’t tell any chickens, but I also sneaked a few bombers of Santa Fe Brewing’s Chicken Killer Barley Wine back on the plane to Arizona for sampling at Spring Hop II. Rumor is that homeland security could soon raise the threat level for Arizona chickens from green to blue.

Pete Ricks covers craft beer in the Southwest for the Celebrator Beer News and beerdude.com, where he will pick 256 professional regular season football games with .700 or greater accuracy in 2005.


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