This is a post that has been a long time coming! It sounds strange, but one of my favorite drinking spots in the state of Arizona, is right in the middle of a grocery store! Our local Whole Foods Market has a very welcome little corner set aside for anyone that has had enough food shopping, and wants to rest, and have a great beer or two. Why more grocery stores don’t have something like this is just beyond me. Now, I’ve been going to this very same Whole Foods since it opened a few years ago because they have one of the best bottle selections in the state. It may not be the largest beer selection around (it is quite large however), but the quality of their selection is amazing. More than enough for anyone looking for something more than the standard big 3 to not only enjoy, but to savor.
They had a small “tapas” section of the store from the start, with a few tap handles that served a couple great beers, normally stuff they had in their bottle section, but recently, they have expanded to 31 tap handles, added some comfy booths, more tables, and a couple of flat screens. You can purchase food from one of the prepared meal sections close by, and come to the Watering Hole, and get a beer to go with it. The food at the market is quite good, with everything from a Smoke House section (itself has 4 or 5 beers on tap) offering smoked meats and BBQ, to a sushi section, and a few others (try their brick oven pizza, its great!)
Now, to say the beer selection at the Watering Hole is good, is like saying I am lacking a little hair on my head (for those of you that don’ t know me, I am a completely bald (and proud of it) man). These are 31 great taps! Normally 4 or 5 of Dogfish Heads offerings can always be found. I was there this afternoon, and they had Punkin Ale, Sah’Tea, Burton Baton, and one of the IPA’s (I forget if it was 60 or 90 Minute). It is mainly American Craft Beers on tap; however, they normally have a great selection of offerings from across the pond as well. Piraate, Heffe, Framboise and the like can normally be found as well.
James the Beer Guy behind the bar
If you are new to beer, the selection may be a little over whelming, so it’s best to ask for advice, rather than just stick with something safe you may recognize. James Swann, the beer buyer and resident “beer guy” is not only very knowable, and willing to offer up suggestions, he is also a very friendly guy, that not only willing to share his vast knowledge, but more than willing to stop by your table and chat about what you are drinking, as well as make some suggestions of something they might have that is similar in their extensive bottle section. He has, on more than one occasion, talked me into buying something I normally wouldn’t have bought, only to find out that it was a great, more than enjoyable beer! If James isn’t not around, or available, I have found that anyone behind the bar is more than willing and able to throw you some impressive beer knowledge, and seem to welcome some conversation regarding whatever beer they have on tap, as well as some they don’t.
Nitro Sawtooth Pub Ale
A beautiful Glass of "Ten Fidy"
On my last visit (just this afternoon) I enjoyed a Brainless on Cherries from Epic Brewing, and a Burton Baton from Dogfish Head. Both of which are great beers, and two I have never had before. The Mrs. enjoyed a Ten Fidy from Oskar Blues brewing, which, if you ask me, is hands down the greatest beer available in can. It’s a rich, smooth, strong Imperial Stout that should satisfy the cravings of even the most finicky of beer snobs! Our friend Daniell had an enjoyable Nitro Sawtooth Pub Ale.
So, if you find yourself in Chandler area in the east valley, make your way to Ray and 101, and stop into Whole Foods for a couple of great beers, and some great beer conversation. When you are there, ask for James, and ask him to recommend something, you will not be disappointed!