If you thought the craft beer community wasn't alive and thriving in the Valley before now, you're either not a beer drinker, or blind. Just take one look at the sheer number of craft breweries in metro Phoenix and Arizona. And while the brewers certainly deserve a lot of the credit for all this activity, there's another lot that we have to thank for bringing forth frothy glasses of locally-made beer to the masses: the retailers.
And tomorrow, local beer drinkers will have a chance to drink to that -- in a big, delicious way.
"This began with the idea that all the brewers have their guilds," explained James Swann, a longtime craft beer enthusiast. "They can play house anytime they want."
To even the playing field Swann recently rounded up a gang of non-brewers who, like himself, are passionate about beer but lack a way to turn that passion into, well, actual beer.
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Sunday, June 16 a group of local bar managers and owners collaborated with Rob Sizemore and Matt Weber, owners of Tempe's Sleepy Dog Brewing, to create a double IPA in honor of Interational IPA Day on August 1. They dubbed the beer the Wolfpack IPA, a name reflecting the collaborative effort of the city's craft brew bars and pubs that's also a nod to the guys of Sleepy Dog.
"It was pretty neat that all of us were on the retail side," said Hana Allison of World of Beer, who participated on brewing day. "To go to the brewery...that kind of experience is unparalleled."
The brewing process involved 90 pounds of grain and four kinds of hops (Cascade, Summit, Amarillo and Centennial) as well as agave nectar for boosted alcohol content and some Arizona flair. The resulting Imperial IPA will be light in color with a citrus flavor and about 75 to 80 IBU (that's International Bittering Units, for those not in the know).
Each of the beer outlets below sent a member to help with the process and will also be tapping the beer on August 1 at exactly 7 p.m.:
- Hungry Monk
- Spokes on Southern
- World of Beer
- Ground Control
- Caballero Grill
- Boulders on Broadway
- Lucky Break
- Fox Cigar Bar
- Draw Ten Bar & Grill
- Sleepy Dog Pub (Gilbert)
- Sleepy Dog Brewery (Tempe)
- Whole Foods Chandler
There's a limited amount of the beer so no guarantees about how long it will be available. Once it's gone, it's gone. The good news is that Swann hopes to make the collaborative brewing projects a bi-annual thing, so this fall we may have a "full bodied winter beer" to look forward to on International Stout Day.
"Getting everyone together, that's the important part," he says.
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Full disclosure: Zach Fowle, who reviews beer for Chow Bella, is part of the brew team.