Tag Archives: Arizona

Four Peaks Brewing Company

After my midday visit to Dave’s Electric Brewpub, I was all warmed up for Four Peaks Brewery. You can’t make reservations, it was a Saturday night, we were in a college town and we were prepared to wait.
And wait, we did! We waited for about an hour before we were seated outside, and it was worth it.
First and most importantly, we ordered two taster flights. I was with Katrina – a wine drinker who was willing to learn beer. I showed her how to swirl, sniff and sip, and was more than thrilled to see Katrina’s eyes light up as she realized that all these beers had different flavors, aromas and mouthfeel. It makes me so happy to watch an avid wine drinker reach for a super hoppy IPA and cradle it delicately in her hands, eyes closed, enjoying the floral aroma before diving in.
Now to my flight! The Hefeweizen was delicious – full of banana and cloves, a musty/earthy flavor that I absolutely adore and a clean finish. My ultimate favorite was the Hop Knot IPA – intense grapefruit and a strong pine aroma, but rounded out with a good dose of caramel and hints of toffee. As always, I also adored the Kilt Lifter – a sweet Scottish style ale with a sweet, bready aroma followed by a similar flavor and a thick, rich finish. This one seems to be on tap everywhere I go in Arizona!
The food here was good, but not my purpose for going. The waitress recommended the chicken enchiladas. I received. I consumed. I reached for more beer tasters.
We did have to order the “stoutamisu” – tiramisu (duh) made with the oatmeal stout (duh again). Not quite a tiramisu, but delicious nonetheless.

Now on to my favorite part – the brewery! I walked inside, camera in hand, and asked a security guy and waitress how many barrels the system was. Neither had any idea what I was talking about and pointed me in the direction of an awesome, well-educated-on-beer manager on duty, Trevor, who kindly showed me around the brewery even though the restaurant was packed with people.
This is their bottling line, received from an old German brewery years ago. I haven’t come across any of their bottled beers in stores, however. I’ve only seen them in cans.
Delicious canning line! If I’d had more time, I could’ve spent an hour staring at this machine.
They’ve been barrel aging for years now. Unfortunately, there were no barrel aged beers in the taster flight. I guess I’ll just have to return to try one of these another time!
I got a nice sniff of this one though! I love when cherries are added to any dark, malty beer. Hmmm, upcoming homebrew ideas are racing through my head…
Serving tanks are kept in the walk-in cooler so the bartenders don’t have to run back every ten minutes to change a keg. They go through a LOT of beer here!
They also serve real cask ale! These are tapped only on Wednesdays, and are usually gone within a few hours.
Four Peaks currently has a 40bbl brew system, but are expanding to a new location (56,000 square feet) where they’ll have a 60bbl system and 240bbl fermentors! Four brews a day to fill those bad boys!
In case you weren’t sure, that gigantic tank on the left is a 240bbl bright tank. GIGANTIC. BEAUTIFUL. TANK.
Currently the brewery is stuffed with dozens of 40bbl fermentors that you can gaze longingly at as you enjoy your pint, eyes glazed over with desire. No? Just me?
Just picture yourself at that table there with a cask ale in hand, the rumble of happy voices and burbling fermentors in the background and the smell of mash and hops floating across the warm breeze of an Arizona evening. Pure ecstasy.
After my tour, I was sitting at the table and noticed THIS guy in a green shirt. I saw “Keep Calm” and shouted out, “Is that a Chive shirt???” Indeed, it was! I need to get my own Chive shirt to rep!
Loyal Chiver and Chivette running into each other at a craft brewery – completely awesome.

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Dave’s Electric Brewpub

While I was in Tempe working the Festival of the Arts, I scrolled through my BeerWhere app and found out that there was a brewpub two blocks away. I already had plans to go to Four Peaks that evening, so I decided a warm-up would be good.
The simple two-block walk warmed me enough as it was. I was NOT happy to be out in the 91 degree weather. The neon sign was a lovely sight after those hot three minutes.
The bar opens to the patio, with a little bit of seating indoors. I opted to sit outside and enjoy the cool breeze that rolled across the sidewalk while there was still some shade.
I opted for a flight of all of the house brews – duh.
Of all six, my favorite was the Old Frog Stout. The Training Wheels had a hint of acetaldehyde – could stand with a little more conditioning in the fermentor, and the Golden Strand had a relatively heavy dose of diacetyl – nothing a few days at a higher temperature (diacetyl rest) wouldn’t fix, with all of my knowledge (sarcasm) about fixing off flavors in beer.
The Old Frog, however, was lovely! The aroma was full of coffee and chocolate, the first sip full of extreme roast and warm espresso, medium low mouthfeel and finished with a slight bite from the hops. It was a little thin to the finish, but then again I love the really chewy stouts that linger between your teeth for hours after. For Arizona heat, this is a stout I would go out and order in the middle of the day to cool off with an extra dose of flavor you don’t get from lighter “summer” beers.
I got to peek into the brewery as well. They have a seven barrel system and large windows on the outside so you can peek in if you’re curious. The owner was busy in the back room kegging up some IPA to take to the beer gardens back at the art festival.
Spending a day surrounded by new brews, breweries and fermentors is bliss.

Dave’s Electric Brewpub
502 S. College Avenue #103
Tempe, AZ 85281
Open Monday – Sunday from 11am – 2am

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Borderlands Brewing Company

Picture this: you’re in the middle of 4th Avenue in Tucson on a 90 degree day, sweating to death, suffering from heat stroke and wishing for a snowstorm to suddenly overwhelm the town. You also start wishing that there was a brewery within walking distance. You then start searching Yelp for local breweries. You find that one opened up within the last few months, and it’s only half a mile from where you sit, melting into the street, at this very minute. Enter: Borderlands Brewing Company.

Walk down 6th Street, left on 7th and cross the railroad tracks and you stumble across an unassuming brick building.
Borderlands is only open Wednesdays from 4-7pm, Fridays from 4-7pm, and the second Saturday of every month from 12-4pm. Good thing I felt like scanning the area Friday afternoon! Friends Michael Mallozzi and Myles Stone joined with Blake Collins to open this nano brewery in the heart of Central Tucson at the end of 2011.
The small brewery (I believe it’s 3 bbl) is surprisingly open and feels like a big space! The thick wooden beams lead to skylights that keep the room well lit and airy.
They had three beers on tap when I showed up. Brewmaster Blake Collins explained that they run out of their beer so quickly that they were lucky to even have those three left! Considering the crowds that gathered fifteen minutes before they opened, I’m glad I showed up when I did! I would’ve hated to miss out.
Borderlands also features fermentors from Premier Stainless. The brewery is set on the far left side of the tasting room, behind wide wire fences so you can walk around and get a good view of the entire system as you enjoy your pint.

Now onto the beer.
I first tried the Ol’ Loco Citrus IPA. The aroma gave off plenty of bitter citrus, slight floral, and a hint of skunk. Not quite overwhelming, but it smelled almost lightstruck. Luckily, that one bit of aroma doesn’t translate to the flavor – medium-high carbonation that sends the floral flavor around your tongue, ending with a wonderfully sharp and bitter end. Still a few kinks to work out on this one with the aroma and perhaps balancing out the hops with a touch more malt.

The Noche Dulce Vanilla Porter came next. This taster was beautifully dark with a heavy scent of vanilla wafting off the head. The sweet vanilla was a little overpowering to me, but the roasted coffee flavor from the dark malt brought it back into a sturdy porter and an easy sipper.
The Prickly Pear Wheat. This beer is possibly the most interesting beer I’ve ever encountered. Brewed with local prickly pear juice, the sour notes in this wheat beer threw me for a second. Having never had prickly pear, I assumed that some lactobacillus had gotten into the beer, but not in an unpleasant way at all. Without any residual sweetness, this tangy wheat beer gently awakens your palate and keeps you sipping as you wonder what exactly is going on. From what I was told, this beer may be phased out and turned into a lambic – PERFECT use of the sour notes of prickly pear!
Overall, the unique prickly pear was my favorite, but I love the use of local ingredients in their beer! The vanilla beans, prickly pear juice and select hops come from local farms, and the conservation of water and resources is high on their list seeing that they’re located essentially in the middle of a desert.
I’m so glad I arrived early and was able to sample all three of these new brews!
While this is my second to last show and I most likely won’t be back in Tucson for at least a few months, I can’t wait to return and see what this little brewery evolves into! I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for that lambic! I might even make that an excuse to come back sooner!

Borderlands Brewing Company
119 E Toole Ave
Tucson, AZ 85701
Open Wednesdays and Fridays from 4-7pm and the second Saturday of every month from 12-4pm

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Back to Fountain Hills

After seven hours on the road, I’m back in Fountain Hills, Arizona again!
We got to set up during a warm sunset and then retired to Sofrita for dinner and to rehydrate.
I ordered a vegetable tamale and a chicken tamale which came with a healthy dose of sour cream and salsa. I’ve never been a fan of tamales until I tried these at Sofrita last time I was in town – so happy to see that they’re still on the menu!
And of course rehydration was necessary! The memory of their red berry sangria was dancing through my head the entire drive out. I knew I had to order one!
A close up of the fresh cranberries, apples, strawberries and other deliciousness.

Tomorrey promises beautiful weather and tons of food options – my favorite kind of day! Fry bread, sushi, barbecue, smoked turkey legs… Decisions, decisions…

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Bread Pudding

 

I’ve been having explosions of genius in the kitchen lately. Well, lots of explosions of which a few end up being genius. Either way, I’ll share with you.
The basis for my latest creation is this Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Bread. Head over to Taste Terminal for the recipe, make it, and then continue on by making:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Bread Pudding

Serves 2-4
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 35 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Meal type Dessert
Spicy and sweet bread pudding studded with cinnamon chips.

Ingredients

  • 2 thick slices Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Bread (chopped into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2
In a mixing bowl, combine the egg, almond milk, brown sugar and vanilla extract and whisk well.
Step 3
Stir the bread pieces into the liquid, coating evenly and let rest for five minutes to absorb.
AM2
Step 4
Pour the mixture into a medium-sized greased ramekin.
Step 5
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-60 minutes, or until knife inserted comes out clean.
AM3

Lightly adapted from my Magical Bread Pudding.

Mine took the full 60 minutes. I think the moisture content with the homemade bread did something mystical and wonderful.
I was planning on creating a pumpkin spiced cream cheese icing for this, but got lazy and just used some stuff from a tube from the grocery store. I can only do so much, guys!
I wish I’d had some of this bread pudding pudding while I was shivering in my boots and armwarmers on Sunday in Fountain Hills!

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Creepy Encounters: 2

Before I get to the latest mental trauma (catch up with last year’s creepy encounters), here’s a recap on the ah-frikkin-mazing foods I’ve been consuming this weekend whilst in Fountain Hills, Arizona.
I’ve been enjoying one of these a day: Hearts of palm salad: full of avocado, hearts of palm (still have no idea what that is), romaine and tomato all tossed in a coconut lime vinaigrette.
Breakfast at the lovely Sofrita. When I find something I love, I tend to stick with it.
Bison meatloaf over cheddar-garlic mashed potatoes topped with a rich gravy from a festival food stand. This rocked my world! The pumpkin chocolate chip cookie, drizzled with icing that came alongside nearly made me pass out from sheer joy. I may have gone back today and gotten an entire bowl stacked with those cookies… Maybe…
Last night I enjoyed my favorite amber in the entire world: Odell 90 Shilling (or 3…) followed by a lengthy, tipsy trip to the gym. Tonight I had ONE Odell IPA to help me suffer through the writing of a tedious paper.
I was planning on pairing that IPA with a spicy burger, but the grilled salmon was calling out to me, so this mismatched combination took place. C’est la vie!
I also was hard at work creating a label for my vanilla porter, which is as of now simply called Bexter’s Vanilla Porter. I was contacted by a website – Labeley.com, where you can create your own labels for free. It took a few tries for all the graphics and text to come out correctly, but I think I found a suiting image for my beer! Now to attempt to print it when I get home…

NOW for the creepy encounter:

Becki entered her hotel room with a six pack of Odell Brewing IPA, also known as liquid gold, in hand. She kneeled down before the humming refrigerator and pulled the door open, preparing for the blast of icy air that was bound to escape. Nothing. The refrigerator hummed on, but the three beers from the previous evening sat inside, their labels wrinkled and peeling from lack of chill, warm condensation spilling like tears from their sides. With sadness in her heart, Becki phoned the front desk.

The maintenance man was speedy. Within minutes a knock was heard upon the door of the room. She opened it and was greeted by an awkward middle-aged man with large glasses and a bald spot, wearing a black shirt tucked into high waisted black jeans.
“What seems to be the problem?” He asked kindly.
Becki explained the situation and the maintenance man unplugged the refrigerator and took it to the door. As he prepared to leave, he stopped.
“I’ve been off the clock for an hour,” he began, “But I’m always open to spending time with lonely hotel guests.”
Becki’s danger radar began to send fight-or-flight signals through her brain. Her muscles tensed.
“I’ll bring you a new fridge,” he promised. “But you don’t happen to have a jealous boyfriend who’s going to beat me up if he sees me leave your room, do you?”
Becki stared dumbfounded. Quickly, she regained her common sense.
“My boyfriend will be back soon,” She began. “But I’m sure it’ll only take a minute to bring the fridge…”
“Good,” Maintenance man said. “I don’t want him to see a handsome man leave his girlfriend’s room, get jealous and jump me.”
He chuckled and left the room, dragging the refrigerator behind him.

Becki shivered with disgust from head to toe, then prepared herself for the return of the maintenance man and the new fridge. There was a knock at the door. She dialed 911 on her phone, her finger hovering above the “call” button as she opened the door, just in case. The maintenance man came in, quietly installed the working refrigerator, then turned to Becki.
“Is there anything else I can help you with?” He asked.
“No,” Becki replied, “Thank you very much. That’s all.”
The maintenance man pushed on. “Well I’ll be going down to room 105. That room is empty for the rest of the day. I’ll be going down there to rest since there’s no one in that room for the rest of the day. Room 105.”
Becki’s finger hovered ever close to the “call” button on her phone.
“If you need anything,” The maintenance man continued, “Anything at all, I’ll be down in room 105. You don’t even have to call. Just come down and knock.”
A thick silence hung in the air as he let Becki process that information. She smiled numbly and nodded, then avoided eye contact as he dragged the broken fridge from the room. As the door began to close, an echo sounded through the room.
“Room 105.”

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Kegging/Bottling Vanilla Porter

I had my first kegging session up in Santa Barbara yesterday! My completely awesome friend Grayson helped me rack off my beer into a three gallon keg (kindly provided by Enegren Brewing) and we bottled the other two gallons.
Grayson decided to be a manly man and do the difficult tasks of removing tubing from racking canes. Thanks, Gray!
This carboy smelled DELICIOUS! You can see the remains of the vanilla bean in the bottom there, and a good pumpkin homebrew that we had to sip whilst bottling. Seriously, it’s a requirement: Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.
Carboy, keg, capper: joy on a table.
Grayson’s cat attempted to eat my priming sugar.
Cats + priming sugar = hyper! In case you didn’t know…
My beautiful, BEAUTIFUL beer! We had to try some, of course. ROCKED my world! Now I just need to name it! Suggestions, anyone? It’ll be hard to top Dos Beckis
Afterwards we hit our old stomping grounds of IV (Isla Vista) and got some Indian slop at Naan Stop. New tradition: any time I’m up there for Cicerone studying/kegging/any reason at all, we’ll be visiting Naan Stop. Delicious memories!

Today I drove out to Fountain Hills, Arizona for the fine art and wine festival. After setting up the booth, feeling exhausted and ready to drop, we had our priorities straight. Bed, you ask? Um, no.
SANGRIA! Sofrita in Fountain Hills is my absolute FAVORITE place for anything edible in Fountain Hills. There was fruit in my sangria: therefore edible, therefore dinner. Win.

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Geeking Out!

It’s time you all got to know me. The REAL me. Prepare yourselves.
This is Mount Picacho. Don’t know it? Neither did I.
Until I read this book – The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Yes, that is the same woman who wrote the Twilight series.

This book is infinitely better. It’s possibly my favorite book of all time as of now. It’s definitely my favorite (and only) science fiction book I’ve ever read. I’m not ashamed.

There’s a part in The Host where the main character goes to Mount Picacho, where her old family ranch is. I found Mount Picacho. The only ranch I found was an ostrich ranch. I don’t believe they are the same…
I was excited. I’m random like that. After a few rants about how amazing the book is, I convinced my artist to read it too. She’s halfway through and absolutely adoring it. She’s the one who insisted we pull over and take pictures.
A woman after my own heart.

I’m a geek. I love Stephenie Meyer’s book The Host. I also enjoy creepy ghost towns and small puppies. Nice to meet you.

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Breaking the Chain: Rúla Búla

This post is part of a new series I’m doing called “Breaking the Chain”. Check out previous broken chains like White Elephant.

After Friday’s show had wrapped up in Tempe, we closed up the booth and ventured out looking for a local restaurant to try. I’ve walked by this place a few times whilst looking for take-out lunches and wanted to check it out, so into Rúla Búla we went!
This adorable little Irish pub really has the authentic feel of Ireland – or I like to think it does. It’s hard to say, never having been there, but you can take it on my educated guess that this is very similar!
I absolutely LOVE the small tavern feel. Everything is very quaint and wooden and roughed up. It felt authentic and very cozy.
I ordered a Guinness Crown – a tall glass of Magner’s cider (Enjoyed this many a time last summer!) with a crown of Guinness on top. I’ve tried so very hard to enjoy Guinness, but it really is just not for me. I like my beer to have flavor, not taste like ashy water. My apologies to all you Guinness-lovers.
Since I didn’t get a chance to have corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, I ordered a big ole plate here. It was tasty, but nothing compared to what my mumsie used to make in the slow cooker. The meat was a little tough and stringy and the cabbage was slightly crunchy. I prefer it when everything is so tender that it just melts in your mouth – just the way mom makes it!

I was far too stuffed for dessert, so we toddled over to the parking lot and headed back to the hotel. Things changed when I saw that the lobby restaurant was still in full swing…
BREAD PUDDING!!!! If you’re just now finding my blog, you need to know that I have an obsession with bread pudding. Up until Sunday, I had bread pudding eight days in a row. It was a beautiful time in my life.

On a side note – I’d like to let you know that those tastings from the beer garden were 2 ounces only! The pictures make them look like a full stein, but it was a small 2 ounce glass – I got some worried queries from my mother after reading my blog, teehee!

I get one more day of relaxation (and laundry), then off to Tucson for another show!!! LOVING IT!

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Microbreweries of Tempe

I’ve been working really hard to bring you guys some good beer stuff! We got to Tempe early on Thursday and had to wait for our room to be ready, so we headed to the hotel restaurant for some foods.
BEER IS FOOD. Oh yeah, and we had tortilla soup. No, seriously, the tortilla soup was absolutely amazing: spicy, rich, chock full of soft veggies and  crispy tortilla strips, but the beer rounded out the meal. Four Peaks Raj IPA – VERY bitter, wonderful aroma, but almost no flavor. It was basically like sipping a bear trap that clamped on your tongue. You want to be macho and brave through it, but it’s really not enjoyable at all.

Today was better. There happens to be a GARDEN of BEER at the Tempe Art Festival. My boss ordered me to go to the beer garden for lunch to taste the local brews and decide on our future drinks. She’s so tough on me!
First up was Dave’s Electric Brewpub (because you couldn’t tell from the picture of the banner I just posted)…
I tried the original Dave’s Electric Beer. Honestly, it was overcarbonated and tasted like a lame Budweiser. Sorry, Dave, I really wanted to like you!
Next up was something new from Four Peaks. Wasn’t a huge fan of their Raj, but I’m always ready to give second chances!

First up was their Hop Knot IPA. SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE RAJ! This is possibly the hoppiest beer I’ve ever had. I don’t know the specific IBU, but it was like a beautiful facepunch! It was hoppy, but had TASTE unlike Raj. The bitter pain was absolutely endearing.
FOUR separate hops additions. I may be in love.
Next up was the Kilt Lifter. Hilarious name, delicious beer. Very malty with a hint of smokiness and some kind of fruit essence – Paul, whom I was sharing a table with, told me it was raspberry. I’m not in-the-know enough to detect something that specific… yet…
Finally, Sleepy Dog. The lovely gentleman working the taps gave me a few tasters before my “official” taster. I tried their Dunkel Weizen which is their seasonal beer (the dark version of their Leg Humper Hef – heehee!). It was very similar to Franziskaner Dunkel, in the best ways possible – dark and rich with banana and clove notes. Then I tried their Scootcher – a Scottish amber ale. This one tasted almost exactly like Spaten Optimator! Except better. It’s from a microbrewery, of COURSE it’s better! This and Four Peaks are in a tie for the best beer names – Kilt Lifter vs. Leg Humper!
Oops. This is where the pictures of Scootcher was supposed to go. It may or may not be the previous picture. After four tasters of beer, I was apparently losing my mind. I’M SUCH A LIGHTWEIGHT! I still have two tickets left for tasting that I’ll have to use tomorrow or Sunday. Durn!

That sums up my microbrewery tour of Tempe, Arizona! More updates coming up – with beer AND food this time! For now, I’m going to put down the fork and plate of bread pudding that I just polished off and waddle off to bed. I have a gigantic workout awaiting me in the morning. Oooooh, yes!
On an unrelated note – the Angels are staying in the exact same hotel I am! I’ve seen a ton of them – or I may have seen a ton of them… I really don’t know anyone from the team, but I’m guessing they’re the ones wearing Angels jerseys? Just a guess….

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