May 13, 2013

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

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