Nov 29, 2012

Gift Ideas for the Beer geek in your life......

Well, its that time of year again folks. The air is getting colder (well, cooler here in Arizona) lines have former around Best Buy, people are fighting over $200 flat screens and the Cardinals are mathematically eliminated from the plays offs (no, its not September). Yup, its Christmas time again, and I wanted to help those of you out there that have a beer geek in your life, but have no idea what to get them for Christmas. Well, let me help you with that.

My first word of advice is this, you should probably stay away from buying them actual beer, with a few exceptions, which are this;

1. You've sought out the help of a beer professional (and not that frat boy working at BevMo). A brewer, or beer buyer, or even a licensed Cicerone for help. Chances are, if you are not accustomed to buying rare or craft beer, you aren't going to "stumble" upon some rare gem, or something they would love to have under their tree. When well meaning friends and family try and buy me beer as a gift, I normally end up with Guinness, or Blue Moon, or Shock Top. Not bad, and I always appreciate it, but its not beer to get too excited about, at least not for us geeks.
2. Beer gift sets are normally pretty good. WHEN they come from a brewery, and not those stupid "beers of the world" sets you get at Cost Plus, they generally pretty much suck for the most part. A lot of Belgian brewery's do holiday sets. Last year, I got a St Bernabus gift set that included a bottle each of thier 6, 8 and 12, with a nice glass. I also received a Chimay set, that included, all 3 of their beers, as well as the venerable Chimay Chalice (probably the second most popular beer glass after the Duval Tuplip). I also wrote recently about Westvletern releasing a gift pack on Dec 12 from Total Wine. This would be a GREAT gift pack for any beer geek!

Always a good option!
3. Gift Cards to BevMo, Total Wine, or a local bottle shop are ALWAYS appreciated. One thing beer geeks LOVE to do is go shopping for hidden gems or hard to find brews. Its even more fun with other peoples money!

The best beer magazine, I think
Magazine subscriptions are always a great idea. There are a handful of great beer publications. The most popular with most people is Beer Advocate. There are others like Draftmag, All About Beer, or Ale Street News (on Line Only) are all great magazines as well. Books are also a great idea, assuming you know which beer books they have or don't have. A must, would be "The Oxford Companion to Beer" by Garrett Oliver. He also wrote "The Brewmasters Table" which is THE book on beer and food pairings. Oliver literally wrote the book on pairing beer with food. "Tasting Beer" by Randy Mosher is a great beer book, especially for someone that might recently be getting into beer, but there is something for all levels to learn from it (well, most levels anyway). I also really liked "Ambitious Brew" by Maureen Ogle. Its about the history of beer here in the United States. Great for any history loving beer geek.

My dad made this!
Games. No, not "Apples to Apples" or Monopoly, fun, beer drinking games! No, and I don't mean Beer Pong! Back yard games you can play while enjoying beer. Games like Horse Shoes, Ladder Golf or Cornhole are all super fun and easy to enjoy with a beer! My dad actually made me a horse shoe game caddy to Christmas last year, complete with pint glass (or bottle) holders, and bottle opener mounted to the side!

Maybe the greatest idea ever!
The one thing pretty much all beer lovers LOVE to get, it beer gear. Be it clothes, bar accessories, signage glasses etc. Bottle openers use to be something you only had on your key chain, now, they are putting them on hats, on flip flops ( Reef makes the best ones!) I even saw one built into a bikini!! Drinking Made Easy has a funny "Beer Buckle" a belt buckle that folds down to make a little "shelf" for your beer. Another cool idea, go to any sort of antique store or second hand store, that sells old signs, and check out old beer signage and advertising. Something every beer geek loves to hang on their wall. You could always just find out what their favorite brewery is, and check out that brewery's website. Most brewery's have pretty extensive stores. Stone, Anchor, Deshutes, and Dogfish Head have among the best in my opinion.

Anyway, I hope this helps out a little. As always, don't be afraid to ask if you don't know. Ask your loved one what they like, or if they need anything, or want anything. Nothing wrong with that either.

Now, lets go find some Christmas beer to taste!!!

Until next time my friends
Bottoms up
The Beer Czar

Nov 27, 2012

Women and Beer......two of my favorite things!

Recently, women and beer are two topics that I've been thinking a lot about lately. (well, honestly, I think a lot about them most of the time). One reason for this, according to my blog analytics program, I was surprised to learn that woman make up a majority of my readers of this blog, almost two to one (I wonder if this means I should rethink my idea for a "boobs and beer" photo post?? I hope not, send me your photos.......sorry, am I getting off topic?!)

Two, I've been asked a few times recently "what is a good beer for woman?" I am normally asked this because someone is looking, or trying to get their wife/girlfriend into beer, and need a "gateway" beer.

This question kind of annoys me for a few reasons. One, why do people seem to assume that there is one beer that appeals to all woman? I've never been asked "what kind of beer to men like?" I mean, do we assume woman all like the same flavor of ice cream, or all agree on the best seafood? Why is beer any different? I mean, finding two woman to agree on anything can be hard enough at times, trying to find something their entire gender can agree, well, that just doesn't seem possible.

This is normally how I approach this conundrum. First off, I ask "well, what kind of beers does she like now, if any?" If I get the the "oh, she hates beer" then I tell them to try red wine. However, I normally get the "she doesnt' like anything too heavy or dark". OK, this helps. Finding a beer you or your significant other might like is fairly easy, and its the same weather you pee sitting down, or standing up. You just need to find a "gateway" beer.

A gateway beer is sort of a "bridge" between shitty yellow, adjunct beer of the big brewers, and the hardy, flavorful, hand crafted beer of the micro brewers. For me, my gateway beers were Fat Tire, New Castle, and a little later, Moose Drool. In college, I use to drink, what I thought at the time was "fancy" beer. Either Heineken, or Lowenbrau. Then, at my graduation party, my dear dear friend, Tanya, not only came all the way from Colorado to watch me graduate, but she was kind enough to also bring a few bombers of this new beer that was all the rage in Colorado at the time, Fat Tire, and Sunshine Wheat (this was 1995, Fat Tire was not the ubiquitous beer that it is now). I remember kind of liking the Sunshine Wheat, but I LOVED the Fat Tire. Until then, I hadn't realized that beer could actually be flavorful, and have body, and character to it.

Now, these days, I drink a Fat Tire, and it seems a little boring, not all that flavorful, and maybe even a tad lack luster. I still however, enjoy it. After all, I have Fat Tire (and Tanya) to thank for my love of beer today! I still have a soft spot for both of them to this day.

So, if you want to start off "light" or something that isn't too powerful. Find a smoother, easy drinking beer. What started my wife (and many others) down the path to craft beer was Belgian Style White Ales or Witbiers, like Ommegangs Hennipin, Allagash White, or if you want ones that are easier to find, Blue Moon, or Hoegaarden.

I also think brown ales are a good launching point. Beers like New Castle, or Sam Smiths are easy to find, good examples of English Browns, or you can search out the smaller craft offerings of the American version, such as Sierra Nevada's Tumbler, Brooklyn Brewing makes a spectacular Brooklyn Brown, Dogfish Heads India Brown Ale, or the aforementioned Moose Drool are all easy drinking, very tasty brown ales.

Once you build up for "tolerance" for these slightly stronger beers (tolerance as in taste, not alcohol tolerance) you can move on to stronger beers, and then onto stronger styles of beers. Like stouts, and barelywines. Take it slow, there is no need to rush. Sometimes the best thing to do is pick the brain of someone you may know, that is into beer, and ask them questions, and take recommendations from them. I know most beer people, myself included, LOVE sharing ideas and beer knowledge to willing listeners. Its part of the fun of beer if you ask me.

Women and beer just go well together!
So, head to your nearest bottle shop, and spend some time looking at what is offered, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Like I said, real beer people love to show off what they know about beer, and love to encourage others to branch out, and find that "gateway" beer that will start them down the path. So, regardless of weather you are a man, or a woman, finding a beer should be the same. Start small, and don't be in a hurry to take the training wheels off, beer isn't going anywhere, no need to rush. And again, don't beer afraid to reach out to me, or anyone else you may know that can help you pick what beer will work best for you, or your wife/girlfriend. In the mean time, I need to decide if I am going to do that "beer and boobs" photo post???

Until next time my friends,
Bottoms up!
The Beer Czar

If you like that tshirt, you can order it here

Nov 24, 2012

Beer and the response

My dad's church where I grew up
Being the son of a preacher, I am asked, from time to time how I can love beer so much, while growing up in and around the church. I normally ask them to clarify their question, and I normally get the "well, the Bible says you can't drink...". Oh really? It does? My challenge to folks is, show me, or at least tell me, in the bible where it says I can not drink, and I will stop drinking. A quick explanation is that, the bible says a lot about drunkenness, but nothing about staying away from alcohol all together. One problem is, for a lot of non-drinkers, there islittle or no difference between having a drink, and getting drunk, and it is hard to convince them otherwise. I've stopped trying.

I can't, or at least haven't yet, found anything in the bible that says you can't drink (with the exception of a few referances to not drinking wine on the Sabbath) it actually tells us its OK, and may even encourage it. "Drink your wine with a merry heart" says Ecclesiastes 9:7, and in Psalms 104:14-15, it states that God gives wine "that makes glad the hearts of man". In a strong case for home brewing, Amos 9:14 even states that drinking wine from your own vineyard as a sign of god's blessings upon you! Besides, if God thinks drinking alcohol is wrong, then why was Jesus first miracle to produce it? (Wedding of Cana, John 2:1-12)
Now, I don't want to bore you to death siting bible verse after bible verse. What you believe is what you believe, and if you believe what I do is a sin, that's great, I could care less. I don't believe there is anything wrong with having a beer now and then, or a cigar for that matter. And before you go giving me that "but the body is a temple" crap, well then, McDonald's and chocolate ice cream should be held in the same regard as beer and cigarettes.

All I am doing here, is defending my position, and answering a question I get asked often enough. What I think is this; I don't think god has a problem with me drinking a beer, I think religion has a problem with me drinking a beer. Religion is a product of man, not god. If what the bible says is true, then there is nothing wrong with having a beer. Having too many may be a sin, but then again, so is being greedy, wanting what your friend has, and working on Sunday. I am quite sure most of us are guilty of at least 2 of these things....and many other things the bible says is wrong. It does mention to not let out bodies be "mastered" by anything ( 1 Corinthians 6:12, 2 Peter 2:19), which, one could make the case against addiction, but I think you would be hard pressed to find someone that thinks addiction is just fine.

Since we are coming up on a time of year where people either seem to find religion, or take it more serious then they normally do, keep this in mind. If you ask me, there is nothing wring with having a nice Christmas brew, or glass of wine, or egg nog at your holiday party. If someone tells you its a sin, just tell them so is judging others ("judge not, least you be judged yourself. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be used to measure you" Matthew 7:1). An easy reply to that accusation.
The Wedding Feast of Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine
If someone has a problem with it, finds drinking "offensive" that is their belief, and there is little you can probably do to change it. However, don't let it bother you, there is nothing wrong with having different beliefs. What I feel is wrong, is forcing others to conform to what you believe because you feel what they do is wrong. If you have a moral objection to me drinking, that's fine. I have a moral objection to you telling me not to drink in your presence (the only time I will not drink around someone that asks me not to, is if that person is a recovering alcoholic, I respect that, and couldn't live with myself if I was responsible for anyone relapsing). Now obviously, if you are at the home of someone that finds drinking offensive, I am not saying screw them, bring beer anyway, it is their home, and should respect their wishes.

Honestly, when you think about it. It really just comes down to being respectful, and responsible, and just being a good person. There is nothing wrong with drinking, there is nothing wrong with not drinking. What is wrong, is believing people's belief's and values to be wrong, and thinking less of them for it. Respect others beliefs, and values, but you shouldn't allow their beliefs and values to dictate how you feel you should, or do live your life.

So, don't feel guilty, enjoy a drink for your holidays, after all, the bible tells you so! Drink your wine with merry heart!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends
The Beer Czar

Nov 21, 2012

Westvleteren XII is coming to America!

Great news for beer fans in America! What some say is the best beer in the world, or at least by all accounts, one of the best, Westvleteren XII is coming to America!
This legendary brew, is normally only available at the Abby at which it is brewed in Vleteren, Belgium. You would have to make a reservation, and drive to the Abby, and purchase your beer, 1 case at a time. This beer can be found on eBay or other sites for a fairly hefty sum (last I looked, well over $100 a six back, or $60 for 2 12 oz bottles). That is, until now! Well, until 12.12.12 that is!

Total Wine will be making a gift pack of Westvleteren XII, there most popular, and highest rank beer, available to the lucky folks in Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, California and Nevada!!! Seems the Abby is much need repair, and they are a little short on funds, so in order to raise the need cash, they are making their beer available in the aforementioned states, at Total Wine. For just $84.99, you will get 6 12 oz bottles of Westvelteren XII, and two 2 glasses!!

OK, I might go camp out in front of Total Wine that night, to ensure I get myself a pack of this!

Until next time my friends,
Bottoms Up!
The Beer Czar

Visit the Abby's website here...

Westvelteren XII
Style- Belgian Quadrupel
ABV - 10.2%

Nov 19, 2012

The birth of the craft beer movement, revisited.

Most beer geeks credit Fritz Maytag as the god father of the craft beer movement in America. However, I feel, and many others do as well, that a long forgotten figure should share that designation with Mr Maytag. His name, Jack McAuliffe, who started New Albion Brewing Company, in Sonoma, California, back in 1976. Sadly, and seemingly inevitably, the brewery did not survive, due to a mixture of lack of space, equipment, and funding, and shuttered its doors in November of 1982.

New Albion's equipment was purchased, and is still used by Mendocino Brewing Company (formally Hopland), and their original signage is on display at Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, and has been signed by Jack McAuliffe himself.

Back in Aug, Jim Koch of Sam Adams, announced they would be brewing the original New Albion recipe for release at events, like the Great American Beer Festival, and will be available nationwide starting in January of 2013. I found this video about the making of this beer, and found it interesting, and thought I would share it with you.

Enjoy, until next time
Bottoms up my Friends!
The Beer Czar

Nov 16, 2012

Arizona's newest beer festival!!!!

Mark your calenders! Dec 7th and 8th, Heritage Square in downtown Phoenix, the first Phoenix Brewers Invitational Beer Festival will be held! From what I have read, this one is somewhat unique in a few ways. First, it will be held all day, Noon to 10pm. Second admission is free. If you want to drink beer, you will have to buy a $10 glass, plus drink tokens. Tokens are $1 a piece. 1 token for a 3 oz taste, or 4 tokens for a 12oz. That isn't bad people. Considering most festivals are between $30 and $60, you can come here, and for $20, sample 10 beers. Not bad at all if you ask me!

The list of brewers is pretty impressive. Standard Arizona brewers such as San Tan, Grand Canyon, and Papago will be there, as well as Dogfish Head, Left Hand, Sierra Nevada, Anchor, Deschutes, and many others ( full list here).

There will also be food for purchase, from a collection of Arizona's finest food trucks. Beer related vendors and memorabilia for sale, live music and entertainment, craft beer garden and craft brewing demonstrations and other "beer educational" events as well (most of which comes with a VIP ticket purchase for $125). Even a brewers meet and greet. So, this festival is already on our calender, if you care to join Mr and Mrs Czar at the festivities, by all means, drop me a line! It will be a blast!

Event website here
Facebook page here 
Twitter site here

Hope to see you there my friends!
Bottoms up
The Beer Czar

Nov 15, 2012

For real beer geeks, a "Beeriodic table" of beer styles!

For all you real beer geeks out here. Its sort of like craft beer meets "Big Bang Theory". I thought this was really pretty cool. Need to thank my sister in law Beth for sending this my way!

Until next time,
Bottoms Up my friends!
The Beer Czar

Nov 13, 2012

Is "Black" the new "Light"?

How did light beer become manly?
Years ago, the beer industry seemed to figure out, if you could convince people that the light, crisp flavorful lagers they enjoyed were just too "filling" or heavy, and that a watered down, even lighter, less potent version of the same thing was the "manly" alternative. They were so successful at doing this, now "light" beers are ubiquitous, and dominate the majority of the space on  store shelves, as well as a majority of the hearts and minds of the American populous.

Fritz Maytag
Then thank the good Lord for folks like Fritz Maytag (Anchor Brewing) that shed a little light on craft beer, and brought something other than the fizzy yellow, weak watery beer that made up most of the beer sold in the states post WWII to the masses.

Well, now it seems, although light beers from the Big 3 (actually the big 2 now) make up a majority of the beer sold nationwide, beer sales are actually down year after year for the last few years. However, craft beer sales have continued to increase over the last half a dozen years or so. So, it seems we are drinking less beer these days, but when we do drink beer, we are looking towards "better" crafted, artisan beers. Craft beer still makes up less then 10% of the market, but its growing! Light beer isn't going away anytime soon, that is also obvious.

Its just Coors, don't be fooled...
This seems to have the big boys a little worried. Over the years, we have seen the big brewers trying to chip away at and gain back the support of craft beer drinkers. Most noticeably, Coors offered us Blue Moon, and the whole "Moon" light up from its "Tenth and Blake" craft and import beer division. ABInBev (Anheuser Busch) has tried with such offerings as Bud Light Golden Wheat, Shock Top, and most recently Bud Light Platinum among others. While these beers have seen at least marginal success, they have failed to tap the lucrative craft beer market. All they really did was give light lager drinkers more options of the same stuff in my opinion. They also seem to appeal to the people that think the craft beer movement is kind of cool, and want to be a part of it, but have no idea what craft beer really is. Case in point, I had a conversation with a friend a while back, and she stated, quite passionatly that "the big brewers can't produce a quality beer. The bigger the brewery, the worse the beer. You will never see a great quality beer like Blue Moon coming out of a mega brewery". I didn't have the heart to tell her that Blue Moon, is in fact brewed at not just A large brewery, but THE LARGEST single site brewery, not in America, but in the world. So, well, I guess there is a slight flaw in her logic, just slight.

Well, it seems the next step in this movement to make better shitty beer is, well, go black. ABInBev is hoping people like the sound of "black" beer. Now, when I hear black beer, I think of a dark stout, or a black IPA, something that is actually black. Well, black, to the big boys, means, well, just means more of the same I guess. They are releasing Budweiser Black Crown, as well as Busch Black Light Lager. Neither of which, from the VERY vague description I've read, refer to the color of the beer, but rather the color of the label. In fact, its still hard to find anything the company will actually say about BL Platinum, other then the fact that it comes in a blue bottle, something they seem to think is more important then what it tastes like. All it really says about Black Crown is that it is "distinctively smooth and beechwood finished". Well, I think Gold Canyon Ice Tea is distinctively smooth, as is water from my RO filtration system. Beechwood finished? I've never tasted any wood flavors at all in Bud, let alone enough of it to actually tell what kind of wood it was. Beechwood finished sounds more like a description for a kitchen cabinet, not a beer, or beer like product. It does have an "ass kicking" 6% abv! However, that isn't enough to get a glance from the craft beer community. Now a days, 9% is considered pedestrian to the craft beer drinkers. 6% is almost considered NA beer.

One can never have enough shitty beer!
OK, am I going to come out and say that this beer will suck? No, I won't go that far. I will reserve my opinions for when I actually have had a sip of it. However, given AB's passed attempts to lure me away from the amazing beers I have had over the last 10 years, I am not going to get my hopes up too high on these. It seems to me, everything that AB has released since Bud Light back in 1982, have all just been slight variations on either Bud Light, or Budweiser. They just ad a little lime (BL Lime), or remove a few calories (Select), or remove a few calories and and almost all of the flavor (Select 55, not even beer in my opinion, seriously), or just change the name of a beer without any real perceptible change at all (Bud Silver, Bud Extra, Bud 66). Or just take Bud Light, and throw in some shit to make it absolutely undrinkable (Bud Light Chelada, honestly, the absolute worst beer I have ever tasted. I can't say drank, because I don't think I actually ever swallowed it, I spit it out, seriously).

Hands down, the worst beer I've ever tasted!

Again, given their history, I won't get excited. I won't even go out of my way to try it. I wouldn't mind trying it, I do mind paying for it, so I'll have to find a free sample somewhere, or a misguided, albeit well intentioned friend that is trying to win me over to the value of Budweiser products. Yeah, its not going to work. Nice try AB InBev, maybe next time???

Until next time my friends,
Bottoms up
The Beer Czar

Nov 9, 2012

Five Great Craft Beer Ads

I was on Facebook this morning, when I saw this article from on KegWorks about a new and to promote craft beer from the Craft Brew Alliance. Here is a look at their new print ad...

That got me looking around at other attempts to advertise and promote craft beer, when I came across this hilarious series of ad's from Breckenridge Brewing (I'm a huge fan of their Vanilla Porter) that pokes fun at "Big Beer" advertising. Check them out....

"If you touch it and its cold...."
This one is quite funny!

"Gravity Activated Pouring"
What? No vortex bottle???

"Sevendruple hops brewed"
Do people really think "triple hops" is impressive.....really?

"Find Your Couch"

"The Least Interesting Man in the World"

Now, I will admit, I find the Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man" ad's to be a riot, my favorite is the "Bigfoot, once took a photo of him..." Since, anyone that knows me, knows I find Bigfoot and other "Cryptids" to be fascinating.
Also, I think it was Miller that did a radio campaign about unsung hero's, that were pretty funny, but for the most part, big beer advertising is pretty much either sexy girls with big boobs, or complete bull shit. I don't mind big boobs (quite the opposite in fact) but bull shit drives me nuts, which is why I love this series from the fine folks at Breckenridge.

Hope you had a good laugh, and if you have, or find a really funny beer ad, that you love, email it to me, I would love to check it out...

Until Next time
Bottoms Up My Friends!
The Beer Czar

Nov 8, 2012

Happy International Stout Day!!!

"King" James Swann
Well, its here again, Nov 8th, otherwise known as International Stout Day! And as is seemingly always the case, Mr James Swann (recently voted Arizona's most influential beer person) at the  "The Watering Hole" in the Whole Foods Chandler has a mighty impressive line up set to go tonight!

The festivities start at 6 (although, I would recommend getting there a little early if you want to sit, it fills up quickly) and goes till they kick you out. Stout drafts are $5 from 6 till close! So far, the tap list reads like some sort of "best of" stout list if you ask me, here is a look at whats on tap thus far.....

-Avery Czar

-Lips of Faith Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout
-North Coast Old Rasputin on Nitro
-Great Divide Yeti
-Sonoran Inebriator Stout
-Left Hand Milk Stout on Nitro
-Ska Mole Stout
-Oskar Blues 10 Fidy
-Moylan’s Ryan Sullivan’s Imperial Stout
-Stone Russian Imperial Stout
-Green Flash Double Cream Stout
-College Street Sweet Devil Stout
-Left Coast Barrel Aged Epitios
-Ballast Point Victory at Sea
-Port Old Viscosity
-Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout
-Bell's Expedition Stout

...with a note at the end "more to come....."

OK, if you can't find something to drink on this list, switch to wine!

I am going to try and put in an appearance this evening, but I am not sure my schedule will allow it. So, if you can, check it out. Last year, "The Watering Hole" was in the top 5 lists of most "check in's" on "Untapped" (like foursquare for beer geeks) in the nation, so please, if you can, help James and the crew at WF's maintain their prominent place at the top of our local beer scene, and head to "The Watering Hole" and have a glass or two of some amazing stouts!

Here is the Facebook events invite for you (click here)

And if you don't have the "Untapped" app, I suggest downloading it, its free, and a great way to not only track the beers you drink, but to share what you are drinking, and where you are drinking it with your friends.

If you can make it, by all means, let me know what you thought. And even if you can't make it, grab your favorite stout, and celebrate International Stout Day, 2012!!!

Until next time
Bottoms Up my friends!
The Beer Czar

Nov 5, 2012

More Ghost Town Hunting!!! ( still mention beer!)

Well, after far too much time off, my good friend Brad and I decided to take advantage of a couple of shared days off, and take another trip to south eastern Arizona to hunt down a few more ghost towns! Something we both love to do, but haven't done in quite some time (almost a year I believe).

So, early on this first day of November, Brad pulled up to my place at about 6am. After waiting a little bit, and realizing our friend Bobby had slept in, and would not be joining us, we made our way to Dunkin Donuts, for some road trip essentials, and made our way to Graham County.

Our trip took us up through Superior, over "Top of the World", into Globe, where we took a turn to the south east, onto the San Carlos Indian Reservation towards our first stop, some 2 hours from where we started.

Geronimo Arizona
Taking us passed towering views of majestic Mt Trumbull, some 8,000+ feet high, through towns with names like Clapper, and Peridot, we soon came upon our first stop, what is left of the town of Geronimo. Established in 1896, and named after the famous Apache warrior, this town served as a stop on the Arizona-Eastern Railroad. That is about as much info as I could find on this old town. Not much is left, just an old merchant building, that looks to have been in use until not all that long ago. Still enough to get out, and snap a few pictures.

Making our way a little further to the south east, we were soon in the old town of Eden. Set amidst acres of cotton fields, this town still sports a small population of mostly farm workers. There are 3 significant structures still standing. The old post office, converted to a store around the turn of the century, a church, and an dance hall called "Merryland". The town, established in 1882 was never very large, and currently lists about 150 residences, that live amidst a scattering of old ruins.

The old Klondyke Store, yours for just $375,000
Just south of the Eden road, down Arizona Rt 70, was the turn off for Klondyke Rd. 27 miles of well maintained, albeit very dusty dirt road, that makes its way through the Avarapia Wilderness Area, passed numerous ranches, through dusty canyons, and near breath taking views of the Avarapia valley. We saw cattle, quail, and even a deer as we made our way down, to the turn for the old town of Klondyke. Good news for anyone looking to invest in a ghost town, the old store of Klondyke is for sale! I guess the asking price to an abandon store in a ghost town is just $375,000, listed under the "Unique Lifestyle" section of the area real estate listings. The town of Klondyke, never reached a population over 500, support a few small silver and lead mines near by, as well as supporting the many near by ranches. The post office, with store, was established in 1904 by a Mr Bedoya, and served as the store keeper and post master until 1917. The town struggled through the depression, until 1955, when the post office closed, and just about all the remaining residence left. Leaving behind a population currently less then a dozen hardy souls. A few scattered buildings around the store, a cemetery, and a church a half mile down the road are about all that remains of the old town today.

After an attempt to find the old town of Avarapia, and turning around due to the road being ill maintained, we turned around, passing the old Klondyke store once more, and making our way down another 28 or so miles of more dusty dirt roads to the old town of Bonita, formally known as Fort Grant. Bonita holds a certain rather dubious distinction, as being the site of a somewhat unknown, but fairly significant murder. It was here, on Aug 17, 1877 at the old Atkins Saloon (now the Bonita Store) where William "Billy the Kid" Bonney, known at the time as Henry Antrim, or Kid Antrim shot and killed his first person, one Frank "Windy" Cahill. This took place after Cahill called Billy a "pimp" ( I guess back in those days, pimp wasn't considered a "compliment" like it is today for some reason). Obviously, this was just the beginning of many more, but certainly marks a certain spot in history that some (like myself) find morbidly fascinating.
The only structure that still remains from those days is the old saloon, later turned store where this shooting allegedly took place. Brad and I stopped considered this a sort of high point of this trip, and spent some time taking pictures and imagining the events that took place on this very spot some 135 years ago. Billy the Kid was later found decided to have been guilty of murder (no trial ever took place) but was never arrested for it, as he left the Arizona territory soon after for New Mexico. Never to return to Arizona again (as far as we know).

After searching out, and failing to find the old town of Sunset (about 12 miles from Bonita) we made our way into the agricultural hot spot of Wilcox Arizona. Driving passed miles of fields for corn, sorghum, chili peppers and more, we were able to find a few interesting old buildings before hitting the town of Wilcox for lunch at our favorite BBQ joint in Southern Arizona, "Big Tex's BBQ". After a hardy lunch of beer brisket, we walked across the street to the town square, and were lucky enough to find a wine tasting in progress. After sampling a few of the local wines, we made our way a little further south, to the site of our last trip, Fort Bowie, (to this day, one of my favorite historic stops in S Arizona) to maintain our ghost town hunting tradition of enjoying a beer and cigar at some point on the trip.

We parked at the Fort Bowie trail head, opened a few of San Tan Brewing's "Rail Slide", lite a couple of cigars, and made our way easily down the path till our cigars were smoked, and beer was empty. Then made our way back to the parking lot, to the car, and began making our way back to the valley, where our families awaited our arrival.

This was our 3rd or 4th ghost town hunting trip, (you can read about a few of the passed ones here and here), and I have to tell you, with each trip, I am learning to love this hobby more and more. Not only is it a way to see the state, and learn some of its history, but its almost a way to see that history, and look at it, honestly, without crowds or folks, or park rangers telling you what happened. Its a self guided, immersion into the states history, and I find that to be not only educational, and enlightening, and its also fun, and a great way to spend a day with some good company. Look forward to me writing about another trip, hopefully very soon!

If you want to see the complete set of photos fropm this trip, you can go to our photo sharing site here to view

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!
The Beer Czar