Beer Nuts

The November election once again showed Arizona to be a "red" state, but our conservative political bent doesn't equate to always playing by the rules. For proof, look no further than Scottsdale, where this weekend a beer festival will celebrate Arizona's best brews that just happen to be banned in no less than a dozen other states.

"We're out to educate the public about the many options available, varieties that shouldn't be swilled but rather savored like a fine Cabernet," says Joe Bob Grisham, the coordinator of the fifth annual Arizona Strong Beer Festival at Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday, January 15.

While the term "strong beer" might bring to mind the effects a few cold ones have on a normally timid guy who takes umbrage at the hygiene of a nearby Hells Angel, it actually describes ales and lagers having greater than 7 percent alcohol content.

For comparison purposes, Budweiser has an alcohol content of 5 percent. In contrast, the strongest commercial beer in the world is Sam Adams Utopias MMII at 24 percent, or 48 proof, a unit more typically associated with distilled spirits.

But why bother with supercharging beer when people seem to get into enough trouble with the PG version? Ken Saxe of the Home Brew Depot says strong beers are "typically seasonal varieties that have developed a cult following because of their full body, richness and warming effects in winter." Despite these delectable characteristics, some states, mainly in the South, outlaw "strong beers," perhaps because of the worry that Joe Six-Pack won't realize the effects of knocking down a few on his way home.

The $20 festival fee ($25 at the door) is good for 15 samples of the more than 50 Arizona-brewed strong beers on tap. Festivalgoers also receive a collector's glass, a cool knickknack that might double as a guide peg the next morning to help retrace the previous day's events.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Douglas Towne