Apr 30, 2014

Its that time of year again, for AmeriCAN!!!

The sun is staying up longer, the days are getting warmer (ok, hotter), the shelves are being vacated of heavy, dark winters beers, and being replaced with lighter, crisp summer ales. What does this mean? Its beer festival season here in Arizona, and when I think beer festivals in Arizona, one comes to my mind immediately. No, not Strong Beer Festival (that is my second favorite), no, I am talking about the 4th Annual AmeriCAN Canned Beer Festival! Coming May 17th!

Why is this my favorite festival? Well, I think this festival combines everything that I love about beer, and beer festivals. Its fun, there is a lot of great beer to be had, beer we can't get here in Arizona, great location, entertainment, food, you name it. This festival lacks the sort of 'frat boy" good time drunk fest that plagues a lot of festivals, but also lacks the sort of "pinky up, they only made 1 gallon of this, lets spend 45 minutes arguing about what style this is" sort of over serious, beer geekiness that tends to drag down some other festivals (in my humble opinion). This festival is a perfect combo of all that is right with beer. There is some great beer to be had, but you can also dance to live music. You can chat with brewers you've only seen pictures of, yet you still might catch a glimpse of a borderline inappropriately displayed set of cleavage squeezed into a low cut tank top. Sure you may see some folks stumbling around that have had a few too many (I've never been to a beer festival that I didn't see that), but you can also meet and chat with other like minded beer fans that you normally wouldn't get a chance to meet.

Good look at the venue...
Plus, the venue (held outside on the grounds of the Scottsdale Civic Center)  for this festival is just about perfect, lots of sun, and lots of shade, easy to navigate, plenty of room and doesn't ever really feel crowded, no matter how crowded it is.

 Ok, those are just a few of my thoughts on why this is not just a great beer event, but just a great event period. If that isn't enough to get your ass to this festival, how about a look at the brewers that will be in attendances.....check this out.

Breweries new to the festival this year....
Alaskan Brewing
Angry Orchard
Armadillo Ale Works
Ballast Point
Black Market
Black Tooth
Cedar Creek
Deep Ellum
Dog Tag
Griffin Claw
Hangar 24
Hops & Grains
Johnny Appleseed Cider
Mike Hess
Redstone Meadery
Twisted Tea
Uncharted Cider
Utah Brewers Cooperative
Wild Cider

Plus more than a dozen imports featured in the International Beer Garden!

Here are the returning brewers that you enjoyed last year, and get to enjoy again this year!

21st Amendment    
Anderson Valley    
Austin Beerworks
Big Sky
Blue Moon
Boulder Beer

DC Brau                 Four Peaks              Fort George            GoodLife
Goose Island           Grand Canyon        Joseph James          Kona
Leinenkugel            Lumberyard            Marble                     Maui
Mudshark                New Belgium        NOLA                     Oskar Blues
Prescott                    Redhook               Sam Adams             Santa Fe
SanTan                    Shock Top             Sierra Nevada          Ska
Snake River             Sun King               TailGate Beer          Tallgrass
Two Brothers          Uinta                      Widmer                   Woodchuck

If you get hungry, there will also be 6 food trucks there......

Grilled Cheese Truck
Brat Haus
Carte Blanche Tacos
The Traveling Monk
Arizona BBQ Club
Honey Bear’s BBQ 

SanTan Brewing Company will cater the VIP zone.

If that isn't enough to get you there, then I am sorry, there is nothing more I can do for you!

James Swann and I saying hello at last years festival....
Festival info...

Date. Saturday May 17th
Time: 1pm to 6 pm (VIP entry opens at 12pm)
Scottsdale Civic Center
3939 North Drinkwater Boulevard
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Tickets are $35 presale, that includes a souvenir can and 20 four-ounce pours!
VIP tickets are $100, and include admission one hour early, a souvenir can, 20 four-ounce pours, catered food, a private VIP zone with private restrooms and exclusive specialty beer sampling!

Get presale tickets here.....

This is a 21 and over event, no exceptions, so leave the rug rats at home.

For more on this festival, check out the official release with more info here....

Check out the official website here for hotel and cab info, and other helpful stuff....

I will be there, and I really hope to see you there as well! If you go, by all means, look for me, and say hello, and introduce yourself if we've never met, I would love to meet you!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

Apr 25, 2014

SLIF Vol. XVI.....

Its Friday again folks! That means its time for another edition of SLIF! A fairly short one, but its one none the less, so, crack open a beer, sit back, relax and enjoy the weekend!

I was so excited to get my glass of KBS,
I almost drank it all before I got a picture!
Founders hits Arizona!

This past Thursday, the 24th, Arizona was lucky enough to welcome yet another highly regarded brewery to the valley, Founders Brewing Company from Grand Rapids Michigan. Founders holds a few spots in top 25 of  Beer Advocates best 250 beers in the world (their Kentucky Breakfast Stout, KBS is currently rated #5, with a score of 100 out of 100!). They bring a SOLID line up for beers to our state. A couple of stand outs in their line up (aside from the ever popular, afromentioned KBS), their Centennial IPA is just outstanding, Their Porter, and Imperial Porter are a couple of the best porters I've ever had as well. Hopefully we will see such seasonal offerings as Devil Dancer as well. On a personal side note, Founders also happened to be the favorite hang out of the Late, Great Roving Beer Czar Correspondent Uncle Gary. So, if you see them on the shelf, grab some, and check um out!

Enjoy your beer, naked??
Something that has been going around the beer pages recently, is a "special" beer festival in Penn. What makes this beer festival so different then all the rest? You are required to attend it, buck ass naked! That's right, its at a nudist colony! I did a little follow up on it, its at the Sunny Rest Resort in Palmerton, PA. Your $18 ticket gets you UNLIMITED samples (I would need that many). Oh, and for those worried about this being a complete sausage fest, quite literally, tickets are only sold to couples, men attending must be accompanied by a female, so, its not just a bunch of horny naked drunk dudes hoping to see some female skin! So, all you need to pack is your sun screen! If you go (here is the site for all the info....) we would love a complete report!!! (check out a complete article about the festival here....)

If you haven't liked or checked out Drinkinaz yet, please do so! Click on the "badge" to the right of the screen to check out the blog, or find them on Youtube. Check it out for all the latest news, and information about the Arizona craft beer and spirits scene. I am lucky enough to have been invited back, to sit in, and act as "co-host" again for a couple more episodes. We got to chat with Dylan of  Cartel Coffee Lab and Brewery, as well as Cory and Bryne (sp?) of  Southern Nevada Brewing Company, a name I think you might be hearing more from in the very near future!

Also, don't forget, mark your calendar's and plan on attending Phoenix Comicon this June, where you can see yours truly, take place in a panel discussion with the fine folks at Masterpiece Theatre. I will have a lot more details to come as they become available. You can get what info I have here......

So, there it is, all the news that's fit to report, and some that isn't.....

As always my friends, have a great weekend, enjoy some great beer, with some great company, but as always, be smart, and be safe.

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

Apr 24, 2014

How important is your beer to you?

Who's going? Want to report back for us???
There is a poster going around the beer community right now announcing a beer festival that is taking
place this summer in the Pocono's of Pennsylvania. What is so special about this festival? Sounds like a great festival, affordable price, unlimited samples, sunny outdoor venue on the beach....what is the catch? Well, in order to attend this event, you are required to take all your clothes off. Yup, its at a nudist colony. I have passed this around, had some pretty funny conversation about it, asking "would you go?". It even lead me to come up with a great theory. This would be a great way to curb the "over crowding" problem that has plagues many a release parties and beer festival as of late.
A few months back, Cigar City Brewing in Florida had a near disastrous release event for their very popular Hunahpa Imperial Stout. Pirated, fake tickets lead to MUCH larger then expected crowds, chaotic distribution, long lines, people getting upset etc. It went so bad, that just days later, after a day of giving away free beer at their tasting room, Cigar City called off the event next year, saying there will never be another Hunahpa release festival, and rather just putting the beer out in standard distribution. (you can read Uncle Gary's piece on the 2011 release event for Founders CBS here....)

Imagine if everyone that stood and line to get this beer was required to so buck naked? It would certainly cut down on the long lines! While this was all meant to be taken tongue and check, and all in good fun, it did get me thinking, what would you do for beer? What have you done for beer? What is too much?

I am somewhat unique in the beer community, as I am not one that likes to take part in "big events". Call me old, grumpy, or whatever, but I really don't care for large crowds much anymore. Most big beer release or tapping parties are packed. Shoulder to shoulder, long wait lines, all for a limited supply of bottles (normally one, or two bottles per person limit), or for a single glass of beer, albeit great beer, I will admit. In the case of Cigar City's event, tickets to the event were $50, and you had a 3 bottle limit, at $20 a bottle. So, is $110 for 3 bottles of beer worth it? I have a general issue with paying for a the privilege of standing in line, to pay additional money for a bottle or two of beer. To me, big release party's just aren't worth it.

I also am not one that spends a lot of time, money or effort trading beer. Let me say this right away, I
have no problem with people that do, at all. I know some folks that spend a ton of cash on buying beer, and shipping that beer in trades. I understand why, that is your thing, that's cool, its just not mine. Probably because I have neither the time, nor the extra cash to spend on it, but still, its just not that important to me.

How about you? Would you pay $50, to stand in line, to spend even more to get a couple of bottles? Would you drive to Colorado to get some beers you can't get here, or to mule some beers you may not even want, but you know you could trade it for some that you do? Would you spend hundreds of dollars shipping beers all over the US or world, to get some that you can't get here? Would you strip down naked, to attend a beer festival at a nudist colony?

Enjoying a KBS!
Me, not so much. While I do love to try different beers, I am perfectly happy grabbing a local brew, and enjoy it all while watching folks wait in line to get their hands on a beer that I may or may not think is worth the effort. There is nothing worse then spending a lot of time, money and effort in getting a sought after beer, only to find it's just 'ok', and I would have enjoyed a Four Peaks Sirius Black, or SanTan KGB just as much, if not more for a fraction of cost in time, effort and cash. Besides, not taking part in all this, really makes it special when I can get my hands on a Heady Topper, or KBS, or Maine Lunch. It truly becomes something special, rather then just the result of just spending more time and money then I have.

So again, I ask you, have you done for beer, what have you spent on beer? Is it worth it? Share your story with us, good or bad. What is the most extreme thing you have done to get your hands on a beer? The most you spent, the longest you waited? Have you ever taken all your clothes off to attend a festival, or even just exposed yourself for a single beer (that counts right?) Let us know...... I love hearing all points of view, and again, don't think I have a problem with others that do this, I get it, I really do, its just not something I feel is worth my time, and money.

However, I do think attending a beer festival at a nudist colony would be a something to see! (not
sure I could, if I did, I would have to do some real serious pre-gaming before hand however!)

Oh, one more tip, if you do go to a nudist beer festival, put your sunscreen on before you get there, because there is a fine line between rubbing lotion on yourself, and rubbing yourself with lotion!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

Apr 17, 2014

Check out the "new" House of Brews!

The southwest corner of Cooper and Warner Rd's has seen some changes over the last year. Tucked back into a strip mall, behind a Discount Tire and a Circle K, you will find The House of Brews, or affectionately referred to many as the HOB. For you locals, you may remember the House of Brews having been there for quite a while (a year or two if I recall correctly). Well, if you haven't been there since August, you need to check it out again. As some of you recall, the original House of Brews shut down early last year, never really effectively gaining any real acceptance from the craft beer crowd here in the east valley (due mainly to their reliance on "main stream" and none craft beers, that are not really appealing to the hard core beer guy or gal). Well, just a few weeks after shutting down, the doors were once again opened, under a new name (I can't recall the name) only to last a month or so, and shut down again. Well, now under new management, and reopened, while retaining the old name "House of Brews" (that is about all they retained from the old place, let me tell you!). This time however, they truly are a house of brews!! Currently sporting around 45 tap handles, with some additional handles in the works, and expect to be up and flowing in the next few weeks, which will make a total of 56 taps pouring some fantastic beers!

They also have A COMPLETLY reworked, fresh menu, full of burgers, sandwiches, steaks, and other
Meat and cheese board!
pub fare. There is even a French fry menu! (waffle, tots, sweet fries etc!). There is a complete appetizer and dessert menu as well. Everything is from scratch, and fresh, made in house (the lone exception being bread). In fact, one of the very few items they even keep in the freezer, is the ice cream that they make fresh, in house!
If you are a part of the Arizona Craft beer community, you no doubt you have heard folks raving about, or even seen pictures posted of their meat and cheese boards as well, which look (and from what I have heard and seen, are) fantastic, and go perfectly with a glass of beer or two.

I recently had a chance to sit and chat with Tim and Billie McGovern, who now run the HOB's, to talk about their plans for the very near, and the slightly more distant future.

A beautiful site!!!
I must say, before I get to into this, I feel I have to mention how VERY impressed I was that one of the first things I saw after settling in at the bar were the four Boston team championship banners hanging above the bar! Being a native New Englander, this not only impressed me, but made me feel quite at home and comfortable! (Tim is a Boston area native himself). He runs a beer bar, AND he's a Sox fan!

Digital Pour's display screen
The most exciting plan for the very near future (aside from expanding the tap handles) will be the installation of a "Digital Pour" system. This is a dynamic, inventory management system that allows not only the management to know, but everyone at the bar (or anyone connected via social media) to know what they currently have available on tap, what style of beer it is, who brews it, the state it is brewed in,  its abv, the price per glass, price per pitcher and even lets you know how much is left in the keg!  You can also check out instragram, untappd and Foursquare posts from people at the bar,  all displayed on 5 large big screen TV displays that will be mounted throughout the bar. From what they are told from the folks at Digital Pour, this is the very first system of theirs in the state! They except to have this system running in just a few weeks! I will certainly let you all know when they do!
installation of a new

(Just a side note, they are not currently able to fill growlers, but they are working on getting that issue cleared up, I will let you know when that happens)

Just one line of tap handles
The future may even hold some "small" expansion plans for the patio as well, that may or may not include garage doors,  but that is a little further down the road. I mean, they've only been open 8 or 9 months, but the improvements already are amazing, so, take your time on the patio!

They are also planning a monthly series of beer dinners as well. The next one being May 6th, featuring the beers of Sierra Nevada! $50 gets you a 5 coarse meal, 5 beers to go with each one, and even a cigar to enjoy post dinner! I will post more info on their beers dinners as it comes available. (check out the Facebook event page for this dinner here).

There's more on the back!
So, if you haven't checked out the "new" House of Brews, do yourself a huge favor, and check them out. Locally owned, and operated, with a fantastic menu, one of the best tap lists in the east valley (they still do have Bud, Miller etc. as well, so there is something for everyone), good size patio, and plenty of TV's to check out the Sox games!

I want to thank Tim and Billie for giving me a little bit of their time this afternoon, it was great to meet you, and I am sure I will be seeing you again in the very near future!

Get their full menu, and other news at their website here.....
Like them on Facebook here....
Follow them on Twitter here....

House of Brews is located at (map)
825 S Cooper Rd Ste. B6
Gilbert, AZ 85233


Until next time
Bottoms up my friends

The Beer Czar

Apr 14, 2014

Lastest Edition of Drinkinaz!

Hanger 24 launch party at The Commemorative Air Force Museum in Mesa, AZ
Just a quick note, and link, the latest episode of Drinkinaz is up, and it is staring yours truly, The Beer Czar. Listen in as I join your host George, Duncan and crew as we chat with Brett Haertl of      Hanger 24 as we discuss some of Hanger 24's line up, and roll out into Arizona.

I want to thank George and everyone at Drinkinaz for the opportunity to allow me to sit in, and act like I know what I am going! I look forward to doing it again real soon!

Stay tuned, as we also chatted with Alex and Bryan from Grand Canyon Brewing, as we sample their Shaggy Bock, talk about expansion and more future plans for one of Arizona's finest breweries! I will post that link as soon as it is up.

Here is a link the this episode on Drinkinaz
Find Drinkinaz on You Tube here.....
Podcast recorded at Taste of Tops, Tempe Az

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

Apr 11, 2014


Can you believe it, its Friday already! And you know what that means, its time for another installment of SLIF. Exciting stuff here, so lets just get to it, shall we.......so here we go!

Arizona Wilderness boys, in Esquire Magazine?
Well, the props and coverage just keep coming for our friends over at Arizona Wilderness Brewery. Check it out, as they sit down with Jon and talk about where they've been, and how they got there. Also, some great pic's of the guys, and their beer, check it out here.....

The Beer Czar at.......Comicon?
Yeah, you read that correctly! I will be appearing at Comicon, along with my good friends at Maskerpiece Theatre! I will be taking part in a panel discussion on the first night of Comicon. Come check it out, it should be a ton of fun, and a great place to do some people watching! Check out the info here...

Drinkinaz Beer Podcast

There is a new podcast in Arizona for beer lovers. Its called Drinkinaz. George Lindbloom hosts the podcast, so listen in as he takes you through interviews, news, fun specials features and more. I was lucky enough to be invited to sit in and join George and his crew as we chatted about the craft beer buddle, and talked with the guys from Grand Canyon Brewing. We also got to chat with Brett Haertl, the rep. for one of the newest brewerys available here in Arizona, Hanger 24! Check out Drinkinaz's site here, to check out previous episodes, as well as other helpful information. I will be posting links to the episode I appeared on as soon as they are up!! Check them out!

Portable Kegs?
I normally like to feature a cool new product on SLIF. This week, I was made aware of this little gem. A friend informed me he has just ordered one, and should be arriving today! So, I haven't been able to review it yet, but the idea looks intriguing to say the least. Anyone tried one of these "tap it caps"? It basically turns your growler into a little mini keg of sorts. The idea seems like a no brainer. Check the site out here (they have other products as well). If you have use one of these in the past, please, let me know what you thought/think of it. I might just be ordering one soon.....product runs $45.

Speaking of Podcasts.....
Masked Blogster with The Beer Czar

I appeared on the latest installment of Maskerpiece Theatre this week. The episode just posted this morning, check it out here. Masked Blogster and I talk about the beer of the week, La Fin de Monde, other great summer beers; weird things we've seen in public bathrooms; Captain America, Winter Soldier, and Agents of Shield; and we discuss ideas just as brewing a beer live on air, and making a beer trip to New Mexico (and was able to slip in a shout out to my friends at Craft Brewed Clothing!)

So, there you have it folks, this weeks SLIF! So, grab your favorite beers, settle in, and get your weekend going right!

As always, have fun, but remember to be smart, and safe, be responsible.

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

Apr 9, 2014

The Beer Czar appearing at.......Comicon?

That's right! I will be at Comicon in Phoenix this summer (June 5th through the 8th, at Phoenix  Convention Center). I will be taking part in the podcasts "Maskerpiece Theater" forum discussion. For those of you that read this blog on a normal basis will recognize that show. I've appeared on it a few times over the last year, including their inaugural episode, and our Pumpkin Beer Tasting that we broadcast from my garage. We are going on the first night (June 8th) at 8:00 to 9:00 pm in room "North 225A". This should be a great time, and a fun talk. Content hasn't been completely worked out at this point, and given the cast of characters that will be taking part, it will be a fun time.

Oh, ok, I'll go....
For those of you that are not "comic book fans" or Star Wars geeks or whatever, well, neither them I (aside from being a fan of the Star Wars movies, and most of the Marvel movies). You don't really have to be. If you are into people watching, there is probably no better place to do it then at a Comic Con. If you are into Comic Books, a ton of writers and artists will  be there, including the man, Stan Lee himself (on Sunday)(again, I am not a comic book fan, but even I know who Stan Lee is!).

Fans of TV, there will be celebs from TV shows as well. Including Mark Sheppard (Crowly, from Supernatural). The star of cult classic "Evil Dead" Bruce Campbell will be there. Oh, and on a somewhat beer related not, Cliff Clavin himself, John Ratzenburger will be there!! (I have to try and get a pic with him!).
Also, MacGyver himself, Richard Dean Anderson will be there as well!

So, it should be a great time. Stay tuned for more information as I get it, and if you plan on being at Comic Con, come check it out, opening night, Thursday the 8th,  at 8pm!

Phoenix Comicon home page here.....
List of Movie and TV stars that will be there here.....
Maskerpiece Theater Home Page here...
See the show info page here  (Show Announcement Page)

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!

The Beer Czar

Look, Ken Morrison, aka The Beer Czar!