The 21st annual Arizona Strong Beer Festival will be held in Mesa on Saturday, February 19.
But if you can't wait that long to sample the goods, Kings Beer & Wine, 2811 North Central Avenue, is where you want to be the day before.
Starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, February 18, Kings will host a pre-release event, during which it will tap over 20 beers from about a dozen breweries, many of which will be featured at the festival the next day.
Among the beers available at Kings will be Cinnamon Kolsch Brunch, a collaboration between Kings and Huss Brewing. The popular Kolsch-style beer, which is brewed using Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, will be available in 16-ounce Crowlers and 32-ounce growlers.
Another Kings collab is Fate for a King, a partnership with Fate Brewing in Tempe.
Kings owner Mark Fogleman describes Fate for a King, which will be at the February 18 event, as an "oatmeal-based stout, but with a little bit of a raspberry influence to it."
In addition to those collaborations, attendees can also try beers from local and national breweries including Four Peaks Brewing (Arizona), Modern Times Brewing (California), The Beer Research Institute (Arizona), Wiley Roots Brewing (Colorado), OHSO Brewery (Arizona), Bottle Logic Brewing (California), Alesmith Brewing Company (California), Chapman Crafted Beer (California), and The Bruery (California).
For his part, Fogleman is excited to pour The Bruery's Scotch-barrel-aged stout, Black Tuesday. “We believe this is the first time it's been available in Arizona," he says.
In addition to the beers featured in the strong-beer tapping event, Kings typically has 81 revolving taps pouring a veritable cornucopia of styles and flavors. Add those to about 800 different canned and bottled beers from around the world and over 100 different wines and meads, and what you have just off the southeast corner of Thomas Road and Central Avenue is a true Phoenix treasure.
Fogleman’s friendly and extremely knowledgeable staff can guide everyone from a craft beer newbie to those with a seasoned palate to something new and delicious or an old favorite like a Wren House Valley Beer.
“I'm a big believer in supporting local as much as possible," notes Fogleman. "You're supporting the neighbors and our community, and, you know, a rising tide floats all boats. We've got phenomenal stuff here in Arizona."
Walking into Kings is a bit astonishing, really, because of the huge inventory. The taproom, which is just off the retail part of the store, is warm and inviting, with “king”-inspired art on the walls, a great mix of music playing at a conversation-friendly volume, and enough space to enjoy your beer or wine without fear of getting bumped into and spilling a single delicious drop.
In time, Fogleman and his employees plan to reconfigure the retail side to be able to support an even larger variety of beer and wine while adding delivery service and more events to its offerings.
Beer and wine enthusiasts from the central Phoenix area and the Valley at large would be wise to acquaint themselves with Kings if they haven't already, and Friday's event presents the perfect opportunity to do so.
Kings Beer & Wine will hold a tapping event in advance of the AZ Strong Beer Festival on Friday, February 18, starting at 5 p.m., 2811 North Central Avenue, kingsbeerwine.com.