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/// SOUTHWESTERN THIRST
 
FEBRUARY/MARCH 2008
 
Southwestern Thirst
Once the Super Bowl ends, Arizona starts to get ready for the big influx of baseball fans that descend upon Phoenix and Tucson for spring training, and for the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild Strong Beer Festival, to be held February 16 at the Mesa Amphitheatre. This year the fest will add a special VIP session so people can get in and try some of the really hard-to-get beers before the massive throngs arrive. The 2 Tone Lizard Kings will once again be playing. Little Guy Distributing will be sure to have a few beers available at the Strong Beer Festival. More nformation and tickets are available at their website, azbrewguild.com.

Craft beer sales continue to skyrocket in Arizona. Little Guy’s newest product is Blue Tongue from Australia, which should be available at all the area’s Outback Steakhouses. Little Guy reported that sales of holiday-type beers were up 80 percent over previous years. Taking advantage of this, Samuel Adams White Ale is being seen all over Arizona and New Mexico. Sam Adams White Ale is an unfiltered wheat ale and is recognized as a fresh American version of a classic Belgian white ale. An intricate blend of unusual spices creates its distinctive and refreshing taste. White Ale displays a beautiful cloudy haze with a fine sediment at the bottom of the bottle. This beer is available from January until March; wit beers, of course, are very popular year-round in the desert.

The Great Arizona Beer Festival is scheduled for March 8–9 at Tempe Town Lake. There continues to be some discussion among local brewers and distributors about avoiding the event, as the management of the festival has not changed and the concerns from previous festivals have not been fully resolved. Information is available at azbeer.com.

This year the Strong Beer Fest will add a special VIP session so people can try some of the hard-to-get beers before the throngs arrive.

Draft Magazine is in the planning stages of putting on a beer festival sometime this spring in the Phoenix metro area, possibly in April or early May. This event is being viewed by some as an alternative to the Great Arizona Beer Festival.

Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing Company in Scottsdale (8763 E. Bell Road) is introducing a new seasonal brew in the style of a Belgian wit. This beer, brewed at the beginning of January, should be ready by the end of January. On top of this new Belgian beer, the Scottsdale Oggi’s will also be brewing another batch of its seasonal Uno Mas Amber Lager. This Mexican-style amber lager is crisp and clean with a great flavor profile. All I can say after one of these is, “Uno Mas, por favor.”

Oggi’s popular Hop Juice will also be brewed in January. Oggi’s is currently distributing its beer in 22-ounce glass bottles through Alliance Beverage and Mesa Distributing. The award-winning Black Magic Stout, Torrey Pines IPA and Double IPA Hop Juice are available for distribution in San Diego and Arizona.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Papago Brewing and Draft Magazine are preparing for the third annual West Coast Intergalactic Bocce Tournament, to be held May 9–10 at the Millennium Resort in Scottsdale. This year the field is being expanded to 32 teams, and the winning team will earn a trip to Milton, Del., for the Dogfish Head East Coast Intergalactic Bocce Tournament. A number of spots are being reserved for out-of-state teams this year. Details are available at draftmag.com/dogfishhead.

Four Peaks Brewing Company’s third annual Golf Tournament raised over $20,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Four Peaks was one of the few breweries chosen by lottery to go to Washington, D.C., on May 16–17 for Savor: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience. Four Peaks will also be participating in the Scottish Highland Games on February 23–24 at Hance Park in downtown Phoenix.

Sonora Brewhouse and the Brewer’s Den’s upcoming beers include a Crimson Red for Valentine’s Day, brewed by Assistant Brewer Rex Rathbone, with an Imperial Porter, brewed by Uwe Boer, coming shortly thereafter. Uwe is also still making some great cask beer and will have a special cask at the Arizona Strong Beer Festival.

The planned joint business venture between Sonoran Brewing and Old World Brewing has fallen apart. Old World is going forward with its plans to open a microbrewery with a tasting room in the Deer Valley Airpark area. Sonoran is continuing to crank out beers at its Pinnacle Peak location. There is a rumor that one of the other breweries that was planning on opening up in the Phoenix area may be delayed due to the much-publicized global hop and grain shortage, which is being felt by commercial breweries and homebrewers alike. At the Homebrew Depot in Mesa, to prevent hoarding, hops are being sold by the recipe only.

Jeff Erway reports that Chama River brewed over 1,600 barrels of beer last year, which is remarkable given the brewery’s small five-barrel system. Chama River installed a silo, allowing the brewery to contract malt at a reduced rate, and also secured hop contracts that will allow the brewery to continue to produce some of the big hop monsters for which it is known. Coming soon will be a 7.2% Baltic Porter, a barley wine and the return of Dr. Hop Good, as well as some of the more delicate Belgians.

BevMo and AJ’s now both have some additional competition in the Arrowhead area, as Total Wine & More is opening up its first megastore west of the Mississippi. It is unknown at this time how big the refrigerated beer space will be, but the company has promised to have an extensive selection. Although the focus is on wine and not beer, the new store does provide a shopping alternative for those in the area who have bought beer at AJ’s grocery store or at BevMo, where the beers are mostly unchilled.

 

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