From now until we publish the 2016 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times is naming 100 Tastemakers — members of our local culinary community who help shape the way we eat, drink, and think about food in Phoenix. Some you'll know, and for others, it'll be a first introduction, but each person on our list deserves a nod for helping make our city so delicious. Oh, and while you're here, be sure to check out our list of 100 Creatives.
68. Steve McFate of McFate Brewing Company
Before opening what's probably the Valley's most prolific craft brewery, Steve McFate enjoyed a career in finance. It wasn't until 2008, when the market collapsed, that he decided to turn his home-brewing hobby into his new profession. McFate, however, lacked any real experience in the dream he was chasing, so to remedy the problem, he spent couple years doing research, attending the Siebel Institute, cobbling together used brewing equipment, and then moving to Colorado to get a year’s worth of hands-on brewery and restaurant experience.
McFate Brewing Company (formerly Fate Brewing Company) opened in November 2012 with help from friends, family, and head brewer Adam Schmeichel. The 50-seat brewpub, decked out with a seven-barrel brewhouse and simple wood-fired pizza kitchen, became a popular spot with local beer aficionados, who were undoubtedly drawn in part by the brewery's ever-changing lineup of house-made brews. In the first two years, McFate Brewing Company produced more than 160 different beers, including the fall seasonal "Candy Bar Milk Stout," which won a silver medal at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
Last year, McFate opened a second, larger location in south Scottsdale. The new space, which will allow the brewery to brew larger batches and expand its one-off batch and barrel-aged program, includes a beer garden and expanded food options.
"It’s been humbling to have our beers well received by the craft beer community as well as our local neighbors — it’s been a fun fate," McFate says.
Today, he dishes on his favorite place to wind down and the three things you need to know about beer.
My go-to place to wind down in Phoenix is the new Postino on Highland in Scottsdale. Great space and a fun crew. I grew up not far from there and remember the building being the old Valley National Bank, so it brings back lots of memories.
The best-kept secret in Phoenix is Restaurant Mexico. Not sure it's a secret, but I've loved the place forever.
The three most important things to know about beer are to not [buy] into the marketing hype — "the world's best," "top rated," yada yada — drink what you like, and know who owns the brewery. Marco breweries are on a roll.
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Besides beer, my favorite drink is beer and you'll never see me drinking anything other than beer! I know, I know ... I used to drink some spirits and a little wine, but I always end up with a beer in hand.
The first beer I ever tried was Lowenbrau. My how things have changed!
The 2016 Tastemakers so far:
100. Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe
99. Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
98. Debby Wolvos of DW Photography
97. Anibal and Salem Beyene of Café Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
96. Bo Mostow of Uptown Farmers Market
95. Julian Wright of Pedal Haus Brewery
94. Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta
93. Eric Glomski of Page Spring Cellars
92. Richard Bock of Giuseppe's on 28th
91. Walter Sterling of Ocotillo
90. Daniel Sevilla of Angry Crab Shack
89. Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe
88. LaDawn Driscoll of Liberty Market
87. Jason Calhoon of The Shop Beer Co. and Side Kick Cold Brew
86. Tim and Kim Cobb of United Lunchadores Street Gourmet
85. Micah Olson of Bar Crudo and Okra Cookhouse and Cocktails
84. Paola Embry of Christopher's + Crush and The Wrigley Mansion
83. Jared Porter of The Clever Koi
82. Diane Corieri of Evening Entertainment Group
81. Erich Schultz of Steadfast Farm Shares His Go-To Place For Beer That Tastes "Like Arizona"
80. Jeff and Leah Huss of Huss Brewing Company
79. Aaron Pool of Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup
78. Diana Santospago of The Maine Lobster Lady food truck
77. Gio Osso of Virtu Honest Craft and Nico Heirloom Kitchen
76. Lauren Bailey of Upward Projects
75. Rodney Hu of Arizona Distilling Company and Yucca Tap Room
74. Jacob Cutino of Homeboy's Hot Sauce
73. Country and Sergio Velador of Super Chunk Sweets and Treats
72. Dean Thomas of Cornish Pasty Co.
71. Jennifer Caraway of The Joy Bus
70. Scott Holmes of Little Miss BBQ
69. Jared Allen of Proof Artisan Breads