By Jonathan McNamara
Be not free of worries when you face the inebriated monk statues that stand guard in the various sections of Papago Brewing in Scottsdale. Behind their calm exterior lies a secret: they brew beer not with tender love and care but with a balls-to-the-wall sense of the extreme.
There are dozens of beers on tap at this seemingly humble spot nestled in the Papago shopping center. You’ve no doubt heard of many of them including Flying Dog, Ska Brewing and of course mother’s milk itself, Guinness.
On this Brew Review outing I had no interest in any of those draughts. It was Papago Brewing brand beers I was after. What I found was two beers with tastes Herculean in strength: No Hoplo Ingles and Ryan’s Red.
Taste: extreme. My bartender described No Hoplo Ingles as a Chimay clone. Interesting, because I’d classify it as Chimay’s older brother who used to punch Chimay in the face. The Chimay taste you’d expect is there, but so is more sugar than you’d ever dream of adding to your Kool-aid as a snot-nosed youngin’. This was sweet as the most decadent birthday cake. I remarked as much and the woman sitting next to me said, “Yeah, that one’s my favorite.”
There’s some one who actually drinks beer this sweet? I was amazed as I reached for the Ryan’s Red expecting something a little more familiar. Irish Red Ale is fairly common, right? There’s nothing common about Ryan’s Red. By all appearances, it’s a red ale, but my mouth disagrees. It tastes like yogurt. There is an inherent sour taste to this beer almost like a mead. I don’t mean to suggest there was a hint of sourness. I mean that if I closed my eyes and took a sip I could swear I was drinking a yogurt smoothie that tasted vaguely of Irish beer. It wasn’t bad, but it was definitely extreme.
Goes with: getting shot in the stomach with a cannon, skateboarding across minefields or maybe crowd surfing at a death metal concert populated primarily by blood-thirsty gorillas.
I had mine: unprepared. I can’t remember the last time I sat down at a bar only to be assaulted by my drink’s flavor.
I got mine: at Papago Brewing in Scottsdale. Go try them for yourself…if you dare.
Verdict: Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned, but in general I’m looking for more of a beer taste from my beer; not to be punched in the taste buds. Who knows, maybe there’s a pepper-bellied beer enthusiast out there who has burned so many of his taste buds to ash with constant Tabasco application that he can appreciate the subtleties in a beer that would be like drinking a smack to the face to any average human. I’m just not that guy.