Happy Arizona Beer Week, drinkers! Have you mapped out your schedule yet? There's a lot to see, do and imbibe in the next few days -- it's a busy, beautiful time to be a beer lover.
It's also impossible to focus on just one beer during a time like this, so for Arizona Beer Week, we're giving you an update on several Arizona breweries. Some are new, some are not so new, but all of them are making moves that show craft beer in Arizona is evolving.
Papago Brewing Co., Scottsdale (and, soon, Tempe) Papago's beers have long been brewed at multiple locations -- Orange Blossom is made in Sedona at Oak Creek Brewing Co.; Elsie's and Coconut Joe at SunUp; Oude Zuipers is brewed all the way over in Belgium. But this summer, that'll come to an end.
According to Zach Ogle, who'll soon become Papago's marketing director, Jeff Huss -- former head brewer at the Chandler location of BJ's Rstaurant and Brewpub -- and his wife Leah are taking over a brewing facility this summer. It'll be located at Elliot and Hardy in south Tempe, in the space originally housed by Rio Salado Brewery, a Tempe-based beer-maker that closed in 2005. The brewery, which will be called Huss Brewing, will contract-brew all of Papago's beers as well as a few of their own. Ogle says brewing will begin once Papago finds a reasonably priced canning line, and that the first brews to be packaged will most likely be Orange Blossom, Coconut Joe and Hopago IPA.
Mother Road Brewing, Flagstaff Mother Road opened for business about 14 months ago, and since then, says co-founder Michael Marquess, business has been a-boomin'. The brewery just added two new tanks and is looking into procuring even more equipment to increase their capacity. "Pretty soon, I might have to have a conversation with my taproom manager about moving things around for space," Marquess says. These are good problems to have.
In honor of their first full year in business, the boys at Mother Road cooked up a commemorative First Anniversary Ale. Made with an abundance of black patent malt, the midnight-dark brew has a spicy flavor that blends licorice and anise with torched malt. "We call it an imperial porter because that's the closest to what it is according to style parameters," Marquess says, "but really we just brew what we like." A limited number of bottles are still available at the brewery.
Fate Brewing Co., Scottsdale Fate opened in November in the frosty north of Scottsdale, but it's only now that we're seeing the place make waves. Maybe it's all the collaboration the brewery's doing. First came the American-Belgo Pale Ale, a 5.5 percent ABV pale ale brewed with American hops and Belgian yeast made in conjunction with Four Peaks. Then there was the Figmentation Double Collabbey, a Belgian dubbel brewed with O.H.S.O. and Sonoran that made use of 40 pounds of sugared figs from Sphinx Date Ranch.
Of course, it could also be the non-collaborative brews. The first of Fate's beers to flow outside the brewery, the double IPA, was tapped Thursday at Boulders on Broadway. It's pretty great -- brashly bitter yet skittle-sweet, and replete with dank, grapefruity hop resins. You should get some.
O.H.S.O Eatery and nanoBrewery, Phoenix Breaking news: O.H.S.O. stands for "outrageous homebrewer social outpost." Who knew?
The name is appropriate, since in March the brewpub will start allowing customers to reserve the brew system, says head brewer Johann Fultz. Once you make a reservation using the app O.H.S.O. is currently developing, you'll be able to take over the tanks and use the brewery's ingredients to craft your own recipe. Just don't expect to pitch your homemade yeast -- Fultz is picky about that stuff.
Until then, you can try out some of the beers Fultz has dialed in on the system. We suggest the yet-unnamed orange pale ale. Made with crystallized orange from local grove along with a bit of Belgian yeast, the beer combines aromas and flavors of American hops, orange juice and banana. It's a sweet, complex brew.
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[Fultz recently contacted us to let us know that the app customers will use to reserve the brew system is still in development and may not be fully operational by March.]
Phoenix Ale Brewery, Phoenix The makers of Fretzy's are now one of the few Arizona breweries to distribute outside the state. Last week, Phoenix Ale began shipping Hoppy Valley, their new session IPA, to Utah. Because it's just 4 percent ABV, the beer can be sold at any bar or restaurant in the Beehive state.
Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone, an accredited guide to beer. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.