The Spot: San Tan Brewing Company, 8 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler. 480-917-8700. www.santanbrewing.com
Hours: 2 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; Reverse Happy Hour is 9 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday
Details: They keep it simple: All San Tan pints are $3.75 each, and everything behind the bar -- yes, everything -- is $1 off. Select appetizers, like the Buffalo wings, Downtown Sliders, and Chips & Dip Trio, are down to $6 apiece. We asked our server for appetizer recommendations and took his advice, going with the Cilantro Lime Hummus (served with tortilla chips, pita, olives, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers) and crispy Onion Rings and Zucchini. Despite the crowds, our appetizers came out of the kitchen faster than fast food, and in generous portions.
For pints, we went with the two seasonals on tap: Mr. Pineapple and Sex Panther (seasonal brews just don't get better names than these two). We've raved about the Sex Panther (a double chocolate porter and oh-so-rich) before, but this time, it was the Mr. Pineapple that stole the show. A refreshingly light beer, this pineapple wheat has the sweet, fruity kick you'd expect from its name, plus a little extra carbonation to make it especially thirst-quenching on an already hot April day.
The Interior: On an early Friday afternoon, San Tan Brewing Company already is packed with post-workday meetups, a whole lot of regulars, and what looks like a four-table family reunion. Inside, San Tan has the classic look of a brewery: There's an industrial feel, with red brick walls and high ceilings. The whole space is bathed in sunlight from two rows of large windows, while flat-screen TVs are tuned to sports and Guy Fieri. Outside, a wraparound patio space (where smoking is allowed) is cooled by misters.
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Cost: Two pints and two apps came to $19.50 before tip and tax.
Conclusion: Some restaurants (we're looking at you, Scottsdale) gladly will give you their happy-hour menu after a little pleading and victory in a different kind of hunger games (and may the condescending looks be ever in your favor), but at San Tan, the happy-hour prices are displayed in a box on the regular menu. The power of that can't be overstated: no gimmicks, no treasure hunts, no begging. The deals are simple -- from the list of discounted apps to the $3.75 pints, including both popular brews like Devil's Ale and seasonals like Mr. Pineapple. It's easy to see why there are so many regulars; the service is impeccable, fast, and friendly. All that said, in this market, $6 appetizers at happy hour should be of a much higher quality. There's an approachable blandness to these -- like your favorite lazy Sunday "comfort" foods -- that would be better suited to $3 to $4.