BEST BREW PUB 2006 | Four Peaks Brewing Company | People & Places | Phoenix
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Is there such a thing as a slow night at Four Peaks? Not as far as we can tell. ASU populates this place with young faces, but the draw goes well beyond this quiet residential neighborhood. It's easy to understand why. Eight house-made beers on tap, including the popular Kilt Lifter ale and Oatmeal Stout, plus a rotating seasonal menu of more than two dozen different brews, equals suds galore for connoisseurs and social drinkers alike. Add that to the perpetual buzz of conversation and laughter from crowds filling up the cavernous dining rooms, the vast bar, and the patio, and it feels sort of like a party, any night of the week. Even if you don't care to see and be seen, consider the menu. This isn't greasy bar food as an afterthought; it's a satisfying roundup of burgers, salads, and hefty sandwiches for soaking up a pint or two of award-winning beer. Heck, some of the food's even made with beer, like garlic cheese beer bread, crisp beer-battered fries, 8th Street Ale-battered chicken strips, and pizza (the ale's in the dough). Yep, this really is a beer lover's paradise.
Those of you in the East Valley have surely grown accustomed to the political campaign billboards of Mormon men. Often, it appears to be an arms race to see which candidate can get more children dressed in white on the billboard. In most cases, the children were sired by the candidate. That's because believers equate procreative prowess with leadership skill. Being pictured with children is intended to imply that the candidate loves children. And usually, in Arizona, it is precisely these candidates who most want to gut education. See more children? Then fear for the children. But one East Valley politician has gone a different direction with the ol' exploit-the-children-for-political-gain game. State Senator John Huppenthal poses with his children on his campaign signs, but he is not Mormon. You can tell. He has only two children. But wow, what a pair! Huppenthal's two daughters are now all grown up (well, they look it. We're not checking IDs here). They have the seductive dark eyes of their mother's Persian heritage. Harem eyes. Long, flowing, raven-black hair, heaving oh, stop it. At first, one imagines Huppenthal is catering to the Mormon crowd, this time by making it look like he has three wives. But no, this is a much simpler sales tactic. Babes sell chicken wings. Why the hell can't they sell right-wings? When most fathers have daughters this attractive, they lock them up in the tower to protect them from leering eyes. Huppenthal, on the other hand, plasters their picture all over the tower. And for the record, we are completely super-duper all for it. Now if we could just get Donna Wallace to adopt some hotties.
While there's no shortage of places to score cheap drink specials near the Tempe campus, have you ever wondered where the thirsty and broke students at ASU's West campus go to swill? We've got the answer: Casey Jones Bar and Grill, a down and dirty watering hole and game hall located directly across the street from the West campus. The two-room hall is dark and dingy in a college bar sort of way, and lined with TV after TV. And for all you voyeurs out there, screw Hooters the bartenders and waitresses are all righteously hot girls wearing tight, skimpy white tank tops. CJ's is especially appealing for night students who get out of class after 9:30 p.m. At 10, reverse happy hour kicks in, dropping prices on appetizers and nightly drink specials to near-student rates (around five bucks for everything). The real lure is Thursday's pitcher night parched drinkers can land a 32-ounce pitcher for 99 cents. That, combined with linebacker-size nachos and sizzling honey-hot wings, puts this little-known spot at the top of our list.
What's with Jim Pederson's mouth? When he speaks, his mouth looks disconnected from the rest of his head. Is it actually his mouth, or has it been replaced by a hand puppet on blue screen? Or is he speaking Japanese with the English dubbed over? So many questions. Don't worry, though. We'll have plenty of time to find answers. Pederson has bought more face time than that Perrier Hilton chick and that creepy anorexic slut sidekick of hers. To balance the millions of Democratic dollars flowing into the state for Pederson, the nation's Muslim-haters, warpigs and other wackjobs are pumping in cash for their horse, Jon Kyl. At least Kyl looks like a normal dude in his ads. A humble, engaging smile from a properly connected mouth. Just a good guy. Like Dick Cheney or Dick Nixon or any other hawkish Dick. By the time this is over, the question will not be who you like more, but who you hate less. In other words, it will be big-money politics-as-usual.
Where do we start with County Attorney Andy Thomas, whom we prefer calling Candy Thomas, because he's a wimpy-looking dude whom some have likened to (ahem . . . ) a candy-ass? Not that his tough-guy actions in office should've led them to believe this. At least not his actions against illegal immigrants. We suggested calling him Puffy Thomas, as in one of those puff pastries, but that just didn't stick. So Candy it is. Thing is, nobody told Thomas that his office has nothing to do with the illegal immigration issue; he not only got elected on that issue (he has scant experience as a prosecutor), but he proceeded to pick on the Mexicans in our midst in various ways. He tried to get Spanish banned in rehabilitative DUI courts. Why? 'Cause Spanish ain't the official Amer-cun language, partner! He refused to press charges against a vigilante who drew down on some illegals at a freeway rest stop. Don't get us started on these individual incidents! But his claim to fame is that he's taken to trying to prosecute regular old undocumented workers as coyotes. Get it?! They've smuggled themselves into the country. He hasn't had much success with this lunacy, even though Sheriff Joe Arpaio's been aiding and abetting with pickups of such lawbreakers so Candy can take a shot at 'em in the courts. Success or no success, don't expect Candy to stop with his Mexican-bashing; it got him elected, and it will probably get him elected again. Voters in this state are so fearful of the land down below that they'll probably elect this puff pastry governor before it's over. Unless the legal aliens among us in Maricopa County organize a massive voter-registration project and vote his candy ass out of office.
Veronica Newell has been working the patio bar on Friday and Saturday nights at Palazzo/Tranzylvania for two years, and in that time, she's accumulated quite a fan base partly because she's so fast and friendly, but mostly because she makes a mean mixed drink. Her most popular blend is the Miami Beach, a fruity mix of Hypnotiq, Malibu rum, and pineapple juice. If that's not your taste, don't worry Newell estimates that she knows how to make "about a hundred" different drinks, and she's not afraid to make up recipes on the spot, either. "I had one girl come in and say, 'I like raspberry vodka,'" Newell says. "So I thought, 'What could I make with that?' Boom vodka, 7UP, and a splash of cranberry juice. That's her favorite drink now." And if you find yourself sitting at the patio bar waiting for your late-ass friends, Newell's more than happy to pour you a stiff one and chat about everything from cat acne to what's on the news.
His gums rarely stop flapping, and sometimes that's a good thing. Like the time, early this year, when state Senator Jack Harper (R-Surprise) insisted on holding legislative hearings to investigate the controversial September 7, 2004, District 20 recount, after nearly 500 new votes magically appeared between the primary and the recount. Then again, there was the time Harper went after U.S. Senate candidate Jim Pederson after Pederson's 24-year-old son, James Robert Pederson, was busted on a "misconduct with weapons" charge and unlawful possession of narcotics, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. During a state Senate floor session last February, Harper blabbed that young Pederson's bust "points to a culture of corruption in the Pederson household," an opinion that put Harper on the hot seat with fellow legislators. Republican Neanderthal or well-tuned protector of the people? We say he's the best of both.
In these days of high-octane Red Bull and vodka, there's something infinitely charming about the long list of drinks they're serving up at Scottsdale's new and improved Trader Vic's. The parchment-colored menu features no less than 78 specialties, each one redolent of the bygone era when people used to sip rather than chug. Check out such retro delights as the Pogo Stick (gin, pineapple, grapefruit juice), the Suffering Bastard (rum, lime, liqueur), and our new favorite, the Munich Sour (brandy and sour mix). Feel like something really different? Try one of the bar's five "party libations," served ready to share in communal bowls. On the other hand, if you want a tried-and-true classic, you can't go wrong with the Mai Tai. Restaurant founder Victor Bergeron himself invented the Mai Tai back in 1944, and if you haven't had one in years (or ever), give it a try. You'll be surprised how glamorous it still tastes, 62 years after its invention.
If you're planning on visiting the G&D because you've heard the selection of English pub beers and great cozy feel is just scrummy, you might be surprised to find another great secret of the Dragon in addition to authentic pub drafts and grub, the G&D stocks one of the finest selections of cigars and scotch in the Valley. Put down a Balvenie single malt, one of 28 scotches in stock, while puffing away on a Fuente cigar to your heart's content. In fact, since the George and Dragon is a smoke-friendly bar, you can make like the English and tell anyone who complains about your smoking to just piss off. The Macanudo, a peppery and earthy Jamaican import, is perfect for stogie noobs who don't know that you're not supposed to inhale, while a swanky Partagas cigar is the luxury smoke of the house (it better be, at $12 apiece!). While you're sparking up, find out why the G&D consistently wins the Best English Pub award and try the award-winning fish and chips or shepherd's pie, and chase it down with one of the tubthumpin' 21 beers on tap.
Part of being a good reporter is being a pain in the butt when necessary. Part of being a good public information officer for a police department is not taking public records requests personally, and not losing one's cool when someone like us insists on getting his or her grubby little hands on the juicy stuff. We've met dozens of PIOs over the years some outstanding, some not so good (we define "good" as responding promptly, keeping us informed of the status of our requests and just being upfront with us at all times) and we're not easily fooled by glad-handers. Sergeant Dan Masters obviously loves his department, but he's not about to lie for it, or to keep us (or the rest of the public) from getting what's coming to us under the law. Consistent, always cordial and professional, the sarge does Tempe PD proud day after day.

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