Cafe Reviews

Second Helpings

Grin and Beer It: I used to think that just about every possible microbrew niche has been filled. Remember 10 years ago, when the typical supermarket beer case carried Bud, Miller and an occasional foreign six-pack? These days, even the corner grocery carries Belgian-style suds, wheat brews, honey ales and chile beer. Heck, I've even seen a white-chocolate microbrew.

But American entrepreneurial ingenuity knows no bounds. The latest evidence: Dr. Holty's Cyclone Lager.

It's the brain child of an Arizona physician, Dr. Kent Holtorf, and brewer Stephanie Cartozian. The beer-loving doctor got the idea for this product as a chronically sleep-deprived medical student, who would crash after an after-work beer or two.

He experimented, brewing beer punched up with various forms of caffeine to help him stay awake. They didn't quite work. But partner Cartozian discovered the formula: She fortified the beer by adding energizers guarana, kola nut and ginseng to the mix. (Guarana and kola nuts both contain caffeine. Cartozian says one bottle of beer has less caffeine than a cup of coffee.)

The result? Dr. Holty's Cyclone Lager lives up to the company motto: "Beer that will keep you coming and going all night long."

I made my way through a six-pack (not in one sitting), and can attest to its potency. First of all, the beer hits you with a 5.6 percent alcohol wallop. And once the guarana, kola nut and ginseng kick in, your body can go into overdrive.

But Dr. Holty's isn't all buzz. It actually tastes pretty good, too--a bit hoppy and pleasantly crisp, with a long-lasting flavor. It's much better than most American corporate swill.

Who's the target audience? It should be very popular on campuses, where students can now combine beer parties and all-night study sessions.

Dr. Holty's Cyclone Lager isn't hard to find--check out Trader Joe's, AJ's, Wild Oats or Cost Plus. The price also packs a punch--around $7 per six-pack.

Beer Necessities: Dr. Holty's isn't the only beer that's making a stir. The brew crew at Cougan's Brewery & Grill has also hit on a clever marketing idea, tying into the Splendors of Ancient Egypt exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum.

During the month of November, they'll be making batches of Egyptian beer, using, they say, "3,000-year-old techniques taken from the hieroglyphs found in the tombs of the Pharaohs." This brew, they report, is called "Hathor," named after the Egyptian beer goddess. (One of the shortcomings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, I believe, is the absence of a beer goddess.)

Wildflower Bread Company, one of the Valley's premier bakeries, will be making a special barley bread, which will be added to the Hathor, as the ancient recipe demands. For the same reason, it will also be sweetened with dates.

Cougan's Brewery & Grill is at Arrowhead Towne Center, 7640 West Bell in Glendale.

--Howard Seftel

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Howard Seftel