Dec 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from The Beer Czar!

I just wanted to take a moment and wish all of you a happy, and safe holiday, and a very Merry
Christmas! Thank you all for making this a great year for not just me, but this blog as well. Its a ton of fun writing this, and interacting with all of you, and I thank you for it.

This is the time of year of holiday parties and thick, heavy wonderful Christmas brews (they end to
be strong too!). I ask one thing of you this holiday season. If you are at a party, or gathering, and find yourself having more then one or two of these fine beers, PLEASE be smart, and safe, and arrange for alternative transportation. Driving drunk is not only insanely stupid, and selfish, it is also 100% avoidable, so please, get a DD, take a cab, stay where you are, or don't drink. It is really that simple.

Again, I wish all of you a safe and happy Christmas, and wonderful New Year, and I will see you right back here, starting off in 2014.

Until next time
Merry Christmas, and bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

Ghost Stories with Becky, Holiday Edition!

Well, Christmas is almost upon us, so what better time for a new edition of Ghost Stories with Becky!!
Becky writes about her time at the famous paranormal site Eastern State Penitentiary. Fascinating read with some very cool pictures! Check it out!

Happy Holidays!
During this time of family and friends, parties, and being thankful for what we have, I started thinking about someone who touched my heart in a most unlikely place and in a most unlikely way. I'd like to share a story with you that I was saving for Halloween but due to family issues, I never shared it. Though in hindsight, I believe it was suppose to be written now as opposed to then. Its about a man I believe is called Peter. He lives in Philadelphia, PA in the center cell on death row at Eastern State Penitentiary. I met him on my first “official” paranormal investigation with my friend's group centered in Virginia. 

Eastern State Penitentiary
We stopped at Eastern State one warm August afternoon to walk around before our investigation later that night. The place itself is like walking back in time. On the outside, a gorgeous work of architecture in a Gothic style, inside a spider web of hallways to confuse the inmates. Walking down some of the cell blocks you can just imagine the daily routine. Eastern State was born in the home of Benjamin Franklin in 1787 when a group of prominent Philidelphians felt there was a need for a new type of “jail” one that would not punish using corporal punishment and ill treatment but one that would make its inmates reflect upon their sins and repent. Cells were individually sized with a sky light in the roof for them to be able to look to the heavens. Eventually, it was found to be cruel to keep inmates in such solitary confinement all the time without books, contact with the outside of any kind and no letters from home or family. For a bit of perspective, most of the inmates were there for crimes such as thievery, assault, murder, and armed robbery to name a few. These were the worst criminals our young country had to offer. The most famous criminal before it closed its doors in January of 1970 is Chicago gangster Al Capone (1929-1930) whose cell has been reconstructed to look like it did when he was there. For more history visit its site here! A fascinating place, if I do say so. 
Al Capone's cell
Walking down the cell blocks during the daylight was a humbling experience not to mention the other strange experiences we had. One hallway or cell block gave me a really creepy feeling. So much so that when I had to place a camera down there for our investigation that night I made someone go with me. Down a different cell block Erin asked me to stop, I did, then she said to move to the left, as I did a shadow bolted to the right and disappeared.  

The "eye"
Finally the time I'd been waiting for; set up is done it is time to Investigate!! We went down a cell block which was super quiet. Scott gave me the recorder and said “go do your first EVP session wherever down this block.” So myself and another investigator walked a little ways when we were drawn to one of the open cell doors, we went in and started taking pictures. At one point I was feeling like something was staring at me. (remember we are in the pitch dark, no light) I turned around and took a picture at the doorway behind me. Well to my surprise, the flash on my camera revealed a HUGE eyeball painted above the door. We giggled (yes I know how childish but it certainly wasn't laughing when that thing caught us off guard) and started our EVP. We didn't get anything on the recorder but we did smell smoke like something was burning. I'm not 100% but I believe there was a fire in that cell block or the one near it. All I know, is there was nothing burning that night.
Next we went to the “Klondike” or “The Hole” which was where solitary confinement was later put
when the need arose for some of the more troublesome prisoners. This was a small area where my 5'4” just made it without hitting my head on the ceiling (thank God since there were tons of spiders!) Needless to say anyone taller than 5'6” wouldn't be able to stand up straight. These cells were also made underground and in between the pipes that held the hot water. Not a very comfortable space by any means. Within minutes of entering, one of the women in our group had a headache. We talked to the walls and I picked up on a young man, one of the youngest who had been incarcerated. He was mad, something to do with his girlfriend and he couldn't see her. My guess – he was given permission to have her visit and got himself thrown in Solitary, but I honestly don't know. Later I got a really sharp pain right in my ribs... your guess is as good as mine, only way I can describe it is like being stabbed. 

Once we left the Hole, I was fine. We went down a few other cell blocks but I'm going to go to the heart of my tale: Death Row. It is a short cell block with only 5 cells that are blocked by a big metal gate. Executions didn't take place at Eastern State, they were transported elsewhere to receive this. I stood by the gate and was soon drawn to the middle cell. We started our EVP session and one of the women in our group mentioned how staying there must have really “sucked” I immediately heard a male voice saying she should watch her language. I mentioned it to her and she apologized. (not that you would know this but I literally just searched my house for my disk of that session so I could give you verbatim information – can't find it any where so I'm thinking Peter doesn't want his tale told. Sorry buddy! I will go from memory.) We asked him when he was born and he said 1873 (unfortunately, the recorder didn't pick up on any of this, just my translation of what he told me). He was incarcerated in the 1920's. He doesn't trust anyone because they always disappoint him in some way. He doesn't have any family, I got the impression he was an orphan who grew up on the streets. When we asked him if he would like us to help him cross over, he said 'no he is fine where he is' I asked him why? He said, 'he doesn't know where he would be going, heaven or hell, so he would much rather stay where he knows what

to expect' We then asked if he ever had a dog because pets could receive on the other side as well. Just then everyone heard a dog bark. I wish I had the CD, but I believe he also mentioned that he was an accomplice to a murder which is what added to his not knowing where he would go if he crossed over. He also challenged us as to why we would “try to cross someone over when we couldn't prove it existed” A valid point if I do say so and have kept that with me ever since. He gave me several other details, vague but stuff I would never have come up with. I promised him I'd be back later to say good-bye, he didn't believe me. A little after midnight I did go back with Scott and the “medium” that came with us. (I will restrain from giving my full opinion of her but I will say I didn't like “something” about her from the moment I met her.) Peter was pleasantly surprised I followed through. Our “medium” kept saying there was no one there, that she felt nothing. She continued to talk about crossing him over and it was ok. As she talked he was talking to me making fun of her, saying she talked too much, and that she thought too much of herself. She asked a particular question (I can't remember what now) and I could feel him looking at me asking “is she f-ing serious???” I cracked up then which she didn't appreciate. By the end, I swear he was holding his hand up saying “blah blah blah”
It was tough leaving his cell. I felt like we really made a connection and neither of us wanted me to go. I told him so and he said “go, I'll be ok” I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried as I left him. He is always close to my heart and I do miss him. Sadly I haven't made it back there to see him though I've had people tell me spirits have no concept of time. Whether he does or not, its a promise I made and will eventually keep when the timing is right. Its funny how many opportunities I've “Just” missed to go there again.
So during this holiday season I want to wish all of you a fun filled time with the people you hold most dear. Thoughts to those who miss out on the true spirit of family and friends because they are without. To all those who are serving in the military and are unable to make it home, a huge THANK YOU to you and your loved ones. And to Peter, in the small span of 60 minutes I made a dear friend whom I wish all the best, that you are thought of and not alone any more! Until we meet again!!!
Check out Becky's paranormal groups blog "Fallen Angels" you can find them on Facebook here as well!
Until next time
Bottoms up my friends
The Beer Czar

Dec 16, 2013

World of Beer Opens in GIlbert!


Today, Dec 16th marked the public opening of the much anticipated World of Beer Gilbert! After a VIP event the night before (I was told it was packed) they opened their doors to the public at 11am this morning. Being as I am only a mile or so from SanTan Village (where WOB is locate) I decided to spend my lunch break checking out the Gilberts newest beer bar.

Locate right out front, facing Williams Field Rd, right next to Kona Grill, WOB has a fairly small, but very recognizable, noticeable store front, you can't miss it! (if you pull into the main entrance off Williams Field Rd, take a right, go passed Barnes and Noble, and it will be right there on your left).

Offering up 60 taps, and over 500 bottles (and not a single Bud Light to be found!!) you are going to find something you like, and even love. They offer a pretty awesome showing of some local beers as well, from breweries throughout the entire state.

Its somewhat small, very comfortable bar, with garage doors facing up front that open to an outdoor bar and patio seating. I didn't have any food, but I hear its awesome, and from what I could see from my bar stool, it looks very good, with generous helpings.

There is a Facebook party tomorrow night (Dec 17, just like their Facebook Page, and your in the door!). There is a series of events later this week, including a SanTan tap take over, and a 12 beers of Christmas event as well.

Check out their website, and Facebook page for the latest on what is going on there, and make sure to down load their app, and join their loyalty program! This is a pretty awesome beer bar, Gilbert should be proud! GO check it out, and please, if you do, let me know what you think of it, and please, share your photos with us, we would love to share them!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

Dec 2, 2013

2nd Annual Phoenix Brewers Invitational....

It was just a year ago, that I reported on what, at the time was probably the newest beer festival in
Phoenix. The Phoenix Brewers Invitational was held in beautiful Heritage Square in downtown Phoenix. It was a great festival, with a great collection of beers and brewers, vendors, food and always friendly beer people. My wife, and very new daughter Kelsey made our way to the square, we got there as soon as it opened, and spent the next few hours walking the crowd, saying hello to old friends and making so many more new ones. I met the fine folks from That Brewery in Pine, as well as my now friends from Craft Brewed Clothing, and many more.

My friends from Craft Brewed Clothing at last years festival
Well, its that time again, the 2nd Annual Phoenix Brewers Invitational is this Sat, Dec 7th! Gates open at noon, and goes till 6. There will be 60 brewers there, offering up over 120 beers. Just some of the brewers there will be Abita, Oskar Blues, SanTan, Grand Canyon, Big Sky, Phoenix Ale, Huss, Old World, Fate, North Mountain, Lumberyard, Breckenridge, Marble, Oak Creek, Funwerks, Firestone Walker, Thunder Canyon, Left Hand, Ska, Papago, Uinta, Santa Fe, Full Sail, Left Coast, Mission, Rodeo Cold and many more.

Mrs Czar last year
Admission into the festival grounds is FREE, however in order to consume beer, all 21-and-over patrons must purchase the 2013 souvenir mug which comes with 12- 4oz beer samples. Purchase the mug and samples through online pre-sale to save $10 off of the day of pricing. ($25 pre-sale, $35 day of).

More on the festival from HDE Agency...
"Phoenix Brewers Invitational was the brain child of the late Greg “Fretzy” Fretz. His vision was to create a signature craft beer event in downtown Phoenix that celebrates the vast array of styles and flavors of craft beer. In May, 2013, Fretzy lost his battle with throat cancer. His passing struck the Phoenix beer community as it seemed just about everyone had shared a special fondness for his generous and outgoing personality. Paying tribute to his vision and passion, PBI will continue to celebrate the culture of craft beer in his honor."

Complete list of brewers can be seen here....
Check out the festivals official web page here....
Check out the full press release here for more info on VIP tickets, schedules etc. here.....

Hope to see you all there!

 Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar