May 29, 2013

Craft Beer - A Hopumentary

If you have 15 minutes, take the time, and watch this brief documentary, its well done.

I'll drink to that!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

May 28, 2013

Get ready for IPA Day in Arizona, its going to be AWESOME!

James Swann starts the discussion
There are a few commemorative "days" in the craft beer community that have become pretty popular lately. In recent years "Stout Day" and "IPA Day" have given us just a couple of reasons to celebrate our love of craft beer, and in turn, have become the most popular. Well, this year, IPA Day in Arizona, is going to be, in a word, spectacular!
This year, IPA Day is August 1st, and to commemorate the day for 2013, the valley beer bars are working up an epic collaboration to be released!

Why can't my meetings at work look like this?

A total of 16 bars are taking part in the this collaboration, the first step of which took place yesterday, Memorial Day, at Sleepy Dog Pub and Bistro in Gilbert. With representatives from World of Beer, Spokes on Southern, Ground Control,  Lucky Break and Whole Foods present, (the others were unable to make it, but are committed to the project), meeting at the Pub. To go ever the recipe with Rob and Matt from Sleepy Dog, who will be brewing the beer.
Rob, Sleepy Dogs Brewmaster, takling hops

The discussion, over a few beers (of coarse), went on for about an hour and half, on what they wanted to beer to look like, taste like, what aroma it would have, what hops would be used etc. I will tell you, for someone with (admittedly) limited experience in home brewing, and no experience brewing on a large scale, this was not only a fascinating discussion, but a hell of an education for me as well. I was very glad (and honored) that I was there!

I won't get into all the details of the beer just yet, but I will tell you, its going to be an Imperial IPA, light in color, fairly high in IBU's (around 80), with a decent amount of alcohol (about 8.5% is the target). The brew will be called "Wolf Pack Imperial IPA". They felt this best represents not only the collaborative effort of the beer, but also pays a bit of homage to Sleepy Dog's involvement as well.

The beer will be brewed on June 17th, at Sleepy Dogs brewing facility in Tempe. Art work will be done in the coming weeks as well. All this culminating in one massive, simultaneous release at all the valley beer bars on IPA Day, Aug 1st (specific times to come).
Stay tune, and keep an ear out for more news, as you will certainly be hearing a TON more about this beer in the days and weeks to come. To keep track of this beer, you can check it out not only here on The Beer Czar, but on Brew Bros, Chow Bella and Mouth by Southwest as well.

A hat tip to James Swann, as well as Rob and Matt from Sleepy Dog for their efforts in getting this project off the ground, and my thanks for including me in it as well!

Again, stay tunes, I will keep you all up to speed on this project.

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

May 26, 2013

A quick shout out to my home state......

Ran accross this story while on the web today, and wanted to share it. Since, one, its about beer, two, Allagash Brewing, and the accomping article gives som pretty impressive numbers regarding the very healthy, and very fast growing beer industry in the great state. Check it out...
its about beer from Maine, my home state. Nice little video feature Rob Tod from

For more information about the state of beer in Maine, check out the Maine Brewers Guild.
Again, just wanted to spread a little love for my home state.
Until next time
Bottoms up my friends
The Beer Czar

May 23, 2013

Hanson band’s "Mmmhops Pale Ale", yup, this is a real thing!

OK, this is a real thing! Remember the band "Hanson", famous for their song "MMM Bop" around about, what 1997 or so?? Well, they are all grown up now, and, well they have their own beer, and its called, wait for it....'MMM Hop", I shit you not!

Check it out!

Hanson band’s Mmmhops Pale Ale officially now exists with help of craft brewery | BeerPulse

Not really sure how to feel about this one, so, let us sit back, think about it, and in the mean time, enjoy a little "MMM Bop" from the Hanson sisters......what? Brothers? Are you sure? Whatever you say.....

Got that song in your head now don't you.....your welcome. Honestly, I have just been looking for an excuse to post this music video on my blog for a while now, and well, I saw my chance, and I took it. You are welcome....
Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!
The Beer Czar

May 22, 2013

Cooking with Beer: "Hop Dog" made with Hoptimum

OK, Memorial Day is fast approaching  and with it, comes BBQ's! So, I wanted to include a good recipe that would work well at a backyard BBQ  that would also include beer, so I started looking around for one I thought looked good.

Well, this one sort of fell into my lap, and it looks GREAT! Made with just a few basic ingredients, this is a simple, but obviously flavor packed recipe just about anyone with basic kitchen/grilling skills can make. I found this on the Sierra Nevada's website (via their Facebook page). Using either hot dogs, or your favorite sausage or brat, their signature mustard (which is awesome!) and some of their crazy hop bomb, Hoptimum. Throw in some sauerkraut, caraway seed, and carrot, and, well, you've got yourself a basic, yet extremely flavorful dish, that your fellow BBQ goers with love! Thanks to Serra Nevada for this (the recipe and below photos are theirs). Check it out....

This is all you need!
Hoptimum® Sauerkraut Sausage
1 cup Hoptimum
8 of your favorite variety of sausage or hot dog
16-ounce can of sauerkraut
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 carrot, grated
Sierra Nevada mustard

In a medium pot, combine the sauerkraut, caraway seeds and carrots. Add the Hoptimum and simmer the mixture over medium heat for 10–15 minutes.

Fill a glass with the remaining beer to sip while you tend to the sausage, which you should cook according to the package’s directions or your own grill mastery—you’re a ninja with tongs, right?

Whether bare or in a bun, top the sausage with the sauerkraut and mustard, and unabashedly dive into the
OK, that looks good!
hearty medley.

Hope you enjoy! To check out the full photo set, description of this recipe, as well as a video with a little of the history, and description of Hoptimum, check out Sierra Nevada's page here.....

For another amazing recipe, using Sierra Nevada's Summerfest, to make trout, click here....

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

May 21, 2013

Beer, fresh from the.......french press???

OK, every now and then I see something that just really peaks my interest  This is one of those things! Check this out....

We all know about Dogfish Head's Randell the Enamel Animal right? Well, if you don't, basically, its a device that is attached to a keg line, that consists of canister type filter, that you can place fresh hop cones in, that then forces the beer, from the keg, through the filter, and into your glass. Imparting fresh, bold hop flavors and aromas directly into your beer. I've never tried it, but I can only assume its fairly awesome.

Well good folks at Serious Eats have come up with a way to enjoy this little luxury at home, using your french press! Even came up with a few recipe's for it! Check these out the complete article here, I posted a few of my favorites below....

New Belgian Trippel with Mint and and Lime

Mint gives the beer a clean, fresh aroma, while lime adds a little bit of tartness that plays well with the fruity Belgian yeast in this beer from New Belgium. This infusion is extremely refreshing—if you are a fan of mojitos, you owe it to yourself to try this.

How to do it: Peel the zest from half a lime with a vegetable peeler, and add the zest to your French press. Tear a handful of fresh mint leaves in half to release some of their aroma and add to the French press. Squeeze a quarter of a lime into the French press and add the shell in. Pour the whole 12-ounce bottle of New Belgium Trippel in and let infuse for 3 minutes before pressing the plunger down.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale with Ginger and Grape Fruit

The grapefruit does all the work here, contributing both some sweetness, sourness, and bitterness to accent the hoppy pale ale. The ginger kicks in to add a little spice, and freshens up the palate in the finish. All together, it kind of tastes like Fruit Loops cereal. This would be a great Sunday brunch beverage, in place of a mimosa.

How to do it: Peel one medium pink grapefruit with a vegetable peeler (removing only zest, not white pith) and tear into pieces. Add to French press. Slice grapefruit in half, then remove one section of the fruit (flesh and peel) and squeeze into French press, adding it whole to the press. Add 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger. Pour the whole 12-ounce bottle on top, let steep for 3 minutes, then press filter down and serve.

North Coast Old Rasputin with Coffee and Oak

Many would say that Old Rasputin is the gold standard for Imperial Stouts. Adding in the aroma, and taste, of freshly ground coffee turns this beer into an alcoholic Americano. Boost the roastiness with a little smoked oak for a drink that's not for the faint of heart.

How to do it: Coarsely grind one tablespoon of your favorite coffee and add to a French press. Add 1/4 cup smoked oak pieces (from your local home brew store or online. Pour 12-ounce bottle of Old Rasputin over the mix and let infuse for 3 minutes.

Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale with Coconut, Cocoa Nips and Oak

Arrogant Bastard is known for its aggressive bitterness. Shredded unsweetened coconut softens the intensity of the beer and adds a hint of nutty sweetness. Adding some cocoa nibs contributes some lingering chocolate flavors in the finish, and smoked oak gives this bold beer some roasted characteristics.

How to do it: Add 1 tablespoon of shredded unsweetened coconut, 1 tablespoon of cocoa nibs, and 1/4 cup of smoked oak pieces to a French press. Top with 16 ounces of Arrogant Bastard Ale, let rest 3 minutes before serving.

Again, I'd like to thank the good folks at Serious Eats for all this (the recipes, photos, and leg work!)! I can't wait to try some of these. If you get a chance, let me know how they are, because they sounds awesome!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

May 20, 2013

Guest Contributor: "Touring Sam Adams Brewery, Boston, MA"

Bobby, in front of the Brewery
One thing I would like to start doing on a somewhat regular basis here on "The Beer Czar", is posting sort of "guest writer" pieces. I don't get a chance to travel as much as I would like, so I want to start relying on my friends, family, fans, and readers to contribute information on areas and breweries I have yet to have the pleasure of visiting.

For my first "guest contributor" piece, I was lucky enough to get the following from my good friend Bobby. Recently moved from Canada to Arizona to marry our good friend Daniell. Well, it seems Bobby was able to escape married life for a few days for a guys weekend in my favorite city of Boston. He sent me this little piece of his time visiting the Sam Adams Brewery. Enjoy, and thanks Bobby!

Sam Adams Brewery Tour
By Bobby Nadeau

Barrel Room
"My friends and I go on a boys trip every year. This year we ended up in Boston, MA, for what
we called "The Boston Bender". Part of the weekend activities were going to a hockey game,  Game 5 Leafs vs. Bruins at the TD Gardens which was pretty cool. Second was going to the historic Fenway Park to see the Blue Jays vs. Red Sox. But the highlight of the trip was the Sam Adams Brewery tour.

When you first walk into the entrance/waiting area you are greeted by the friendliest staff and given a free ticket for the tour (donation are accepted).
While waiting for the tour to start we walk around
the front lobby which had different barrels of hops that you can taste. Ranging in flavors of burnt coffee to a beautiful summer butter. Once our tour guide arrived we were informed that the brewery was being renovated and that the tour would consist of us going straight to sampling room which got a big roar from the crowd. As you see through my pictures that we were able to see some of the holding tanks and barrel room but didn't get the ins and outs of their functions. After finding a seat in the Sam Adams Bar room we were treated to 3 different kinds of beer in a 7 oz glass which is the maximum they can serve. Our guide Stu who was wearing a name tag with the name Katy Perry which he thought would be funny because his boss told him he had to wear one but didn't specify that he had to have HIS name on it decided to be funny and put Katy
Bobby and Stu (aka Katy Perry)
Perry on it. Our samples consisted of the awesome Boston Lager, Summer Ale and I'm not too sure about the third one because I was too busy trying to refill my 7 oz. glass with the left over beer from the first 2 jugs. After being explaining how things work at the brewery by Stu he told us that the sampling glass was ours to keep which made everyone pretty happy. I was able to purchase a beautiful glass for my friend and connoisseur Ken Morrison which was specifically made for the Sam Adams Boston Lager beer. If anyone has the chance to visit the beautiful city of Boston, it's the cleanest city I've ever visited, and don't forget the "free" Sam Adams tour.
Pretty cool bar!

 Thanks again to Bobby! This is one tour I've been wanting to do for some time, thanks for allowing me to live a little vicariously through you!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

If you would like more information about the Sam Adams Brewery Tour, you can find it on their website here.....

The brewery is located on 30 Germania St, Boston, MA 02130

A look at "The AmeriCAN Canned Beer Festival"

OK, I am going to try and keep this as brief as I can. However, given my penchant to ramble on and on when I get excited, this might be tough! Anyone that attended the 3rd Annual AmeriCAn Canned Beer Festival this passed weekend, will now why I am excited. In a word, it was awesome! OK, I've been to festivals that had a bigger selection of beers, and breweries, maybe a wider array of beers sure. This festival however, had an awful lot of things that most others do not! Where do I begin???

OK, lets start from the beginning  My wife and it got there right about noon, when the gates opened. We grabbed our tickets, and waited in the line to get in. I have to say, I got a little nervous right off the bat when I saw the line to get in. It was long! As soon as we got in line, we started hearing people complaining about the line. Much to our relief, the line moved rather quickly, and we were standing in it for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, so, not bad at all. Besides, as my experiences with beer festivals, I figured waiting in line was something we should probably be ready to do a lot of this afternoon. Well, I was soon to learn, that the short, 10 minute wait to get it, was by far, the low point of the afternoon!
The stage

Upon walking in, we were handed our little (maybe) 4 oz topless tasting can, and "passport" with a map of the festival. There was a rather large crowd mingling right at the entrance, so we made our way through, walking down the sidewalk a couple of dozen yards, where the festival opened up into a large, grassy area with a little hill, circled by brewery and vendor tents, with a nice sort of pond/water feature in the middle of it, with a good size stage placed half over the water, where various bands played throughout the afternoon.
One of the first thing I said to my wife upon seeing this was "what a PERFECT spot for a beer festival!" It was green, and opened, with a ring of tree's circling it, provided a pretty decent amount of shade
for the brewer's and volunteers pouring samples for the thirsty masses. The weather didn't hurt matters either. Calling for a high of 92 that day, it couldn't have been much warmer then the high 80's when we got there, with a nice breeze blowing to help keep you cool(er). Really, you couldn't have designed a much nicer day for an outdoor festival.

We started making our way around to the various breweries, and were happy to find (or rather not find) any real lines at any of the tents. I never had to wait for more then 2 or 3 people to get my sample, and even got to stop and chat with a few of the brewer's and reps pouring as well. Everyone seemed to happy, and excited to be there, and were gracious, and accommodating to everyone that I saw. I was able to get about a dozen or so samples, all of beer I had never tried before, and in a few cases, never even heard of. All the beer was nice and cold when served. In a few cases, I walked around and let it warm a bit before drinking, but with the weather, and the sun, this only took a minute or so in those cases.

Beer for Brains
Me with James Swann

My wife and I were able to walk around, take in the sights, sounds and smells of the festival. Taking our time to chat with some friends and acquaintances we saw there. Got a chance to catch up with Louis from Beer for Brains. We ran into Brett Dettler of Arizona Wilderness Brewing. Of coarse, got to say a quick hello to James Swann as well, pouring beer for Mudshark, and as normal, he had a line of enthusiasts waiting to chat with Arizona's always friendly beer guru.

Santa Fe Brewing

Cigar City
We were lucky enough to meet some other folks there I had yet to meet. I finally got a chance to meet and chat with John "Hoppymoto" Alvarado, owner of Arizona Brewery Tours, someone I have been wanting to meet for a while now. If you get a chance, please check out his business, it looks awesome, and hope to join a tour here very soon, so I can give you a first hand account of it.
Marble Brewing, NM
Also, had a chance to meet and chat with the fine folks at Santa Fa Brewing, and Cigar City (FINALLY got a chance to try Jia Alai, fantastic!), and Marble Brewing.  I will add, I think the best beer I had on this great afternoon of great beer, was Golden Road's Wolf Among Weeds, a spectacular Imperial IPA that made me almost double take on my first sip!

What I love about beer festivals like this, is getting to chat with folks that make the beer, they obviously love it, and are passionate about it. Which is one of the reasons I love drinking local beer. You learn so much more from someone that got their hands dirty making the very beer you are drinking. I love this part of festival's like this the most!

I will say this again, this was a great festival! I still think maybe Arizona Strong Beer Festival might be the
The Beer Czar
best beer festival in Arizona. However, I can see the AmeriCAN Festival taking its place in the years to come. With the popularity and acceptance of canned beer in the craft beer community, and more and more breweries opening up each year, and canning their beers, there is no reason to believe that this festival can't continue to grow, and improve in the years to come. Let me also ad, while hard core beer folks love this festival,  I think this festival would be a great experience for anyone new to the beer community, or looking to get into it. Or even just those casual beer fans that like beer, like to try different beers and aren't afraid to branch out out a bit.

A hat tip to San Tan Brewery, and HDE Agency for putting on just a phenomenal festival. I am looking forward to next year already!!!

Well done, and thank you for giving Arizona one more reason to take pride in our beer community!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

May 18, 2013

How to open a beer......a fun video

A friend of mine shared this video with me this morning, its pretty entertaining. So many ways to open a beer....


Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

May 17, 2013

Cooking with Beer, Boston Lager BBQ Sauce...

Its summer (for most of us anyway) and that means, pools, beaches, baseball, beers and BBQ! So, add some flavor to your BBQ, with some homemade BBQ made with Sam Adam's Boston Lager!

Give it a shot, here's the recipe....

Ingredients List
1 Bottle of Boston Lager
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 an onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup finely chopped garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 brown sugar
3/4 cup red wine vinager
1 cup ketchup
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste

In a large sauce pan, add ingredients, heat, stir and cover. Reduce by half, and simmer over low heat for at least 2 to 3 hours. Stir occasionally.

Add this to your favorite chicken, steak or burgers to add a little flavor to your next BBQ. Wash it all down with some Boston Lager (or some other fine local craft brew!)

Obviously you can swap out Boston Lager for any other beer you would like, or find similar, better or just different, whatever you would like. Mix it up, try it out, experiment with it to make it perfect, just the way you like it. This is just sort of a base to start from. Enjoy.....

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

May 16, 2013

Arizona Wilderness Brewing....coming VERY soon!

Grand Opening, SEPTEMBER 2nd!!!!!!!

According to their Facebook page (like it here...). They have set a date for an opening!!! They have yet to announce it, but believe, as soon as I know something, I will pass it along!


For those of you looking for recent news on the opening of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. They look to be shooting for a late July opening. Looks like one more major hurdle to jump (gas line inspection) and they will be able to start brewing.
For more info, Mouth by Southwest just did an update on them, you can check that out here....

No, below you can read about my visit to AWB last month, thank you.


OK, I may be beating a dead horse here I know, I keep talking about how the Arizona beer community seems to be growing and improving all the time. It seems a new brewery, or beer bar opens almost every month or so. Well, soon, we will have one more opening, right here in my lovely little town of Gilbert!!

Again, there have been a lot of brewery's opened in the last year here in the valley, but I have to say, I don't recall so much excitement and anticipation over a brewery in that time. I wasn't sure what it was at first, why was this little upstart brewery generating so much chatter and excitement, while others seem to just pop up with little fan fare surrounding them. Well, after meeting Jon (their Yeast Therapist) and Brett (aka Papa Brett) (and a little later, Patrick, aka "The Beardmaster") it is very easy to see why everyone seems to be so excited for them to open, and this is without ever having had a drop of their beer (yet)! These guys are excited, and passionate about their craft, and I bet
Barrels, in the dining area
they will get you excited about it as well. They are already planning on doing a lot of things we don't see a lot of here, if at all, in Arizona. Jon was throwing around words like sours, barrel aged, Belgians, and a few others that got my attention. You get the impression that this isn't just a few guys that just decided to start a brewery one day, because its not. These guys have done their homework, and seem to be going about it in all the right ways (not that they haven't had a few road blocks along the way, anyone that follows their blog will know otherwise).

Hoping for a mid to late June start, it will be a "very soft opening" as Jon put it. Starting off with just beer, and maybe some limited kitchen offerings, working up to a full menu, and maybe even some additional bar offerings down the road a bit, as well as a pretty decent size patio area, which, seeing as they are opening in June, are not in a real hurry to get it ready just yet (if you've ever tried to sit out on a patio, in Arizona, in July, you would understand why).

The decor is, from what I could see, sort of a rustic, industrial. Dark hard woods, with rusted corrugated
The front door is just out of frame, to the right.
roofing make up the bar (complete with purse hooks ladies!). I really love the fact that the fermenting tanks are opened to the dining area, not in a fish bowl like just about every other place. Set just to the right of the main doors, just a little pony wall separates the tanks from you as you walk in, something I've never seen before, but really like! Also, there is a "window" (about to be) cut in behind the bar to reveal the serving tanks. Another touch I really like, they plan on keeping the aging barrels in one corner of the dining area, along with some bags of grains as well, thus adding to the sort of rustic, industrial, yet very comfortable feel to the place.
The Brew House, in the back, behind the kitchen

The dining room is washed in natural lighting as well. As three of the four walls in the dining area are pretty much all glass. Jon even made mention of wishing he hadn't spend so much on lighting after seeing the natural light of the dining room. Natural green and a sort of rusty orange color paint covers the walls, as will some Arizona photography come opening time, and a few artistic accents are found as well.

Serving tanks, behind the bar
I have been looking forward to their opening for some
time now, but like I said, since meeting them, I am really excited for it! Not just excited for them to open, I am excited for them, period. These guys are friendly, welcoming, very casual and relaxed, yet passionate about what they are undertaking, and I can't wait for them to be able to share that passion with all of us. If you get a chance, stop by, and take a look inside. I will let you all know when they annouce an opening date, so we can all head down there, and share a few pints!

Thanks again to Jon Buford, Brett Dettler, and Patrick Ware, for their time and hospitality, I look forward to having a pint with you guys very soon! Best of luck to you, cheers!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

Arizona Wilderness Brewing is located on
721 N Arizona Ave, Gilbert, AZ
that is on the south East Corner of Arizona and Guadalupe Rd, behind the Bruegger's Beagles.

Visit them on Facebook here...
Check out their blog here...

May 13, 2013

A final cheers....

Gary and I with a Founders KBS!!
Anyone that has been following this blog for the last year or so are well aware of our "Rover Beer Czar Corespondent" my Uncle Gary. He contributed many pieces to this blog, of his travels through out the amazing Central Michigan Beer scene. It is with much sadness, I have to report to you all, that earlier this afternoon, May 13th,, my Uncle Gary lost his battle with mesothelioma and passed away at his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his wife, my Aunt Linda, and his daughters, my cousins Cari and Jenny, and other family members, including my father, at his side.

Growing up, my dad's family wasn't very close, he has 5 brothers and a sister, and early on, we saw almost all of them on a fairly regular basis. However, the one we were probably the closest to, and spent the most time with, was my Uncle Gary, despite the fact that he lived in Michigan, and we were in NH and Maine. While I have a number of cousins, none are close to us as his daughters are. Luckily, we were always very close to him, and his family. We saw Gary and the girls often, and were always "privileged" to his stories of whatever he might have been working on or going on at the time. Be it his writing, his one man play about Ernie Pyle, his weight lifting competition (he actually holds a world record, or at least use too...), there was always a lot for Gary to talk about, always some story to tell. He always seemed to have a lot going on.

Gary and Linda, at Guinness
A while back, Hop Cat in Grand Rapids, MI was voted one of the best beer bars in the country. I knew Gary was somewhat of a beer fan, so I asked him if he would mind taking a run over to Hop Cat, takeing a few pictures, and maybe writing up a little peice for my blog. Well, that was the first of many adventures he took us on, reporting from major events like Founders KBS release day, or reviewing some of the heavy weights in the craft beer scene, like Three Floyds, to the new up and comers, trying to make it like Harmony Brewing, Gary was able to share a little slice of one of the great beer regions of the country, and for that, I thank him, and I will miss him.

So please, lets all take a moment, raise our glass one last time, to the Roving Beer Czar Corespondant,
Uncle Gary. Thanks for all your hard work, Godspeed, and fairwell Uncle Gary.

Cheers Gary.....

The Beer Czar

Here are some of Gary's contributions to The Beer Czar

Beer Heaven Right here on Earth
It's all about the beer, and then some...
Neighborhood Success
Dark Horse, Marshell Michigan
Schmohz Brewing-little brewery with big heart
Three Floyds

Phoenix breaks the top 10 for Beer City USA!

OK, I've said it many times before, the beer scene here in Arizona is growing. We are still a young community (relatively), but like any youngster, we are growing, and growing rapidly.  When I first moved to the valley of the sun some 20 years ago, our choice in local beer was, well, limited, almost none existent. Now, just withing a dozen miles of my house, there are half a dozen brew pubs (one more opening very soon!), and dozens more options of Arizona beer at our local bottle shops.

While I still don't think we are "the best" beer city (yet), we are taking the proper steps! We may have a bit of growing to do before we can compete with say San Diego, or Portland OR, but we are a whole hell of a lot closer now then we were even just 5 years ago.

The taps at Hop Cat, Grand Rapids, MI
Proof? It may not be rock solid prof, but there is some proof none the less. Every year, The Examiner does a poll for the title of "Beer City USA" (most recently dominated by Grand Rapids MI, and Ashville NC). And the Phoenix Metro area came in 9th this year! (we actually beat Denver, quite possibly the "original" Beer City USA).

OK, I know these polls don't "prove" what beer cities are good, better or best. Trust me, I've been to Grand Rapids, and I've been to San Diego, I would put SD as a much better beer city then Grand Rapids as a whole any day. What this does prove is this, that pride in our beer community is growing. Years ago, it was not uncommon to hear local beer folks bemoaning the (lack of) merits of our local beer, and longing for the "quality" beers from San Diego, or the NW, or Michigan. Now, the good news, there is a growing number of folks standing on their soap boxes, and preaching and praising the merits and quality of our local beer scene, and it seems to be working!

While you will still find those more excited about a Stone IPA then a San Tan Hop Shock, the number of us choosing local beers is growing. As with every young movement, it takes time, and patience, and there will be frustrations  and feelings hurt, but that is all part of growing. I for one, and happy to play my part (whatever part I can)  in spreading the good word and encourage everyone to take pride in our local beer, embrace it, share it, and be proud of it (I recently sent a 6 pack of Mr Pineapple to a friend in Vermont! Probably not a lot of Mr Pineapple at Vermont beaches (come to think of it, not a lot of Vermont beaches for that matter)). No, its not bad to enjoy a beer from out of state, or country. I still do, and will continue to, and I love it, and not feel guilty about it. I just think I need to spend less time tracking down the crazy hop bombs, or rare gems we all crave and drool over, and more time enjoying the great beers that are brewed just miles from my home, by people that live in my neighborhood. This is what we should be looking for.

Recently, the Arizona Beer Sommelier wrote a piece related to the voting of this very poll, talking about local pride in our beer, and beer community, and I couldn't agree with him more. These polls are not scientific, or do they have any real baring on the actual beer community aside from bragging rights, but after all, if you are truly proud of your community, don't you want the right to brag about it? So lets take pride in our local beer, and celebrate it, and next year, lets break into the top 5!

Let me just add this as well, if you are reading this from Grand Rapids, MI, or Portland Maine, or where
ever, the same holds true for you, you don't have to hold the rank of #1 beer city in the country. Be proud of what you have, and drink what you have. You can't complain of about not having any good local beer, if you don't drink local beer.

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

May 12, 2013

Happy Mothers Day from the Beer Czar

Just wanted to say Happy Mothers Day to all you mom's out there. Especially to my mother Debbie, my wife Kristin, and my mother in law Jan.

My mom and I at my wedding

Hope you all have a great Mother's Day. Thank you for all you do, and who you are! Cheers Mom's, we love ya!

Until next Mothers Day
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar