BEST LOCAL BEER 2006 | Sonora Brewhouse | People & Places | Phoenix
Whenever we get that little desert tickle in the back of our throats, we do what the po-po do: Park it next to Sonora Brewhouse and amble inside for a pint or three of one of Sonora's locally produced brew-ha-has. Not that we're saying the Phoenix PD drink on the job, but it just so happens that we always see plenty of cop cars in the SB parking lot. Hey, Five-0 knows quality when they taste it, and we're about 95 percent certain they wait until they're off duty to imbibe. The rest of us, however, need not wait to quaff Sonora's hand-crafted beers, like its refreshingly smooth pale ale, its hoppy IPA, or its chocolaty-malty super-dark porter. Just belly up to the bar, matey, or, if you're in a rush, Sonora also does jugs of its brew to go. We advise you not to drink it in your car, though. After all, the po-po are watchin'.
The word "nepotism" comes from the medieval word for political favoritism shown to the nephews of prelates. What Webster's dictionary failed to do in its explanation was include a link to Don Goldwater's Web site, where the poster boy for nepotism begged voters to do for him what his dead uncle could no longer do give him a political position he didn't deserve. Donnie is the nephew of the late senator Barry Goldwater, patron saint of Arizona. The Don explained on his Web site that he got a 3.77 GPA in information technology from the University of Phoenix. He also apparently has run every backwater Republican Party committee in the state. He's on the City of Laveen Planning Committee. He likes flying model planes and playing Ping-Pong. Great rsum if you're running for the Queen Creek Weed Advisory Board. But no, he wanted to be governor. So now one looks to his message. Don's slogan: "Goldwater: The Name You Know, The Name You Trust." Is this the Hapsburg Empire? Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico? Oh, sorry, Don. We'll speak in plainer English. Like, "Limited Government," "Economic Freedom," "Individual Liberty." This was Don's platform. This was Barry's platform of platitudes in 1953. Then Barry grew up and stopped running around America getting liquored up and taking pictures and started buckling down and suggesting progressive, moderate legislation that actually did real good for many Americans. Don, you are no Barry. Oh, and another thing. Barry is dead. Time to cut the cord. Or maybe you just need a name change. Most any name but Kennedy would be fine.
Len Munsil is the shiny-happy-people candidate for governor. He's the golden boy of all the folks who pray a lot to a white-haired, white-skinned Christ-bearing God who oh, wait, holy crap conceived his first child out of wedlock. As one of the leading voices for Arizona's Christian right, Munsil has spent much of his life lambasting the heretical lifestyles of liberals. Two biggies on his list of goodies: the sanctity of marriage and the importance of abstinence. But a funny thing happened during his ascension to political heaven. Someone did a push poll asking what voters would think if they found out this herald of goodness had actually gotten a woman pregnant out of wedlock. We're assuming that, unlike God, Munsil could only pull this off by doing the nasty. So the knocked-up chick is his wife of 20 years. She got pregnant right before they were to be married. They stayed married and raised the child. The child is a lovely Christian. All would seem good. But, is it? It's one thing to make a mistake, then quietly make good on a promise to raise the child well. It's another to make a mistake and hide it while making political hay condemning to the fires of hell people who do exactly what you did. Those who hold themselves highest fall the farthest from hypocrisy. Munsil, riding the highest horse of this year's candidates, better damn well walk the narrow walk he talks. He didn't. He doesn't. And as his sacred text reminds, "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." Okay, so maybe we got a little carried away. In any case, don'tcha just love Arizona politics?
It's appropriate that the hottest beer on the planet is concocted right here in the desert by Cave Creek's Black Mountain Brewing Company, an offshoot of the popular Crazy Ed's Satisfied Frog restaurant/bar. Each bottle of the ferocious firewater is superheated by a nasty little chile pepper, and the attitudinal vegetable leaches its uncaged heat into the surrounding amber. Ed's blazing blend is not for the squeamish or the connoisseur; places Cave Creek Chili Beer at No. 30 on its list of the World's 50 Worst Beers. But taste is in the mouth of the beholder, and those with courage, flame-retardant tongues, and less discriminating palates like us swear by the throat-searing stuff.
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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.

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