Great Arizona Beer Festival

I attended the Great Arizona Beer Festival yesterday in Phoenix. Once again I found out just how hard it is to sample beers and take notes while standing up. Next time, I'm going to dictate all my notes into a little tape recorder. This time around I realized I was a fool to pay good money for a ticket and then rush right over to the Nimbus booth for a taste of Old Monkeyshine. I know I like Old Monkeyshine, and I can get it not more than 4 miles from my house. I don't need to spend $30 and drive for an hour and a half to taste it. So this time around I made an effort to steer away from beers I've tried before. Most of you are probably saying to yourselves "Duh, get a clue," but I guess I'm dense sometimes. Anyway, here's what I sampled:

Festivus from Sonora Brewing. According to the guy at the booth, Festivus is Sonora's best selling sesonal beer ever. I can see why. This beer was a great way to start the day. A nice dark amber beer with a bit of malty sweetness and a bunch of Hallertau hops. Yummy stuff from a local Phoenix brewer.

Liberty Ale from Anchor Brewing. Here's an excellent brew from the Anchor folks up in San Francisco. I've tried their Anchor Steam beer many times, but I've somehow never tried this one. It was a nice hoppy, light golden almost pale beer. This was a really good ale, and I may start looking for it instead of Anchor Steam.

Fraoch Heather Ale from Heather Ale Ltd. Hmmm. This one is definitely different. It's very flowery and delicate. Then again, it is brewed with heather flowers. I think I like this one, I'll have to sit down with a bottle or two sometime to be sure. Very interesting beer.

Zywiec Porter from Zywiec Brewery. At the last beer festival I ran across a 9%+ ABV Polish beer, and it looks like I've found another here. This is one stout porter, pardon the pun. This one weighs in at about 9.3%, and is thick, creamy and coffee-like to a certain degree. This one could use a more in-depth tasting for sure.

Beaver Street India Pale Ale from Beaver Street Brewery. When I lived in Flagstaff I used to spend many summer days on or sitting in the Beaver Street Brewery with a pint of their Raspberry Ale in front of me. For some reason, I never tried their IPA, and now I regret it. This was a fantastic IPA, and was quite hoppy as it should be. This makes me wish I were back up there now.

Churchill Wheatwine from Papago Brewing. This is interesting. Think barleywine version of Paulaner Hefeweizen. You raise the glass to the sky and admire the cloudy golden color. You bring it to your nose and savor the slight orange peel-bannana aroma. You bring it to your lips and... POW! Man, this is one potent wheat beer. 9.6% ABV according to the info at the booth. Not exactly a "lawnmower beer", but damn this is good summertime drinking.

Bavaria Holland from Bavaria Brouwerij. Eh? Is it German or is it Dutch? It's Dutch, and it's OK... Kinda. Not really impressed with this one. Still better than some domestic pilsners I've had, though.

Sierra Nevada Summerfest from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Not near as hoppy as their Pale Ale. Not a bad lager though, might have to try a couple more after the weather heats up to get a real feel for this beer.

Wexford Irish Cream Ale from Greene King PLC. Oh man, this stuff is smooth. I mean smooooooth. The taste was not spectacular or anything, but damn is it smooth. I'm going to keep an eye out for this in the store just because it's so smooth and easy drinking. Did I mention it's smooth? Heh.

MacTarnahans Black Watch Cream Porter from Portland Brewing Company. Hot damn, two smooth beers in a row! But this one, wow... Has it got some flavor. This one made me stand up and take notice of the rich coffee flavors. This was Starbucks in a beer. Did I say earlier I wanted to go back to Flagstaff? Scratch that. I want to go to Portland for a show. I hear they have 28 brewpubs and microbreweries in the city of Portland. I think the entire state of Arizona might have 15 or less. If the other beers in Portland and as good as this one, I'm there.

ReaperAle Mortality Stout from ReaperAle. These folks from Foothill Ranch, California get kudos points just for the names of their beers. Is the beer any good? It was no Guinness, but it was still a pretty good stout.

Nude Beer

Back in January I ran across a press release touting a collaboration between Peach DVD and Nude Beer which would result in various Peach girls posing topless for Nude Beer's peel-away labels. At the time I posted a piece here on the Beer Blog wondering if the beer was actually any good, or if they were merely using sex to sell an inferior product. A few months later Don at Nude Beer happened upon my post, and offered to send me some for review. In his post, Don stated, "Nude Beer is an award winning golden lager. The taste will truly amaze the beer purist, the labels will amaze everyone else. I'd be happy to send you some for review." Since Nude Beer is not currently available in my area, I happily accepted Don's offer.

A month went by with no sign of the offered beer. About the time I was beginning to suspect I had been the victim of a troller impersonating a Nude Beer employee, a package arrived on my doorstep with two bottles of Nude Beer, some coasters and other promotional items and a letter from Don. Very cool! Knowing I would not be able to sample them without some time in the fridge, I decide to check out the labels first. Purely research for this review, you understand. The peel-away part of the label depicts a very chaste illustration of a girl's face. Very suitable around kids, grandmas, jealous wives, etc. Peeling it away reveals a tasteful shot of a topless model. Tasteful, but no longer suitable for kids, grandmas and jealous wives. These would be very popular at bachelor parties or poker nights. So after admiring the outside of the bottles for a while, I stashed them away in the fridge to get cold so I could get down to the real live sex chat business at hand -- tasting the contents.

Support our troops

As I'm sure you all know by now, the war is on in Iraq. I've seen posts all over the 'net regarding this, some in support and some not. I would like to propose that we all put aside our differences of opinion and raise a pint in support of our TROOPS. Regardless of your views on the war, our government or The President, we should all stand by the folks who risk their lives to keep us a free country. They are doing the job they are told to do as decided by the powers that be, and deserve our full support despite your view on the war itself. To them I say good luck and best wishes for a speedy return!

El Toro Poppy Jasper Amber Ale

I actually tried El Toro's Poppy Jasper Amber Ale back in December when the wife and I were visiting San Francisco, but my review notes were misplaced for a bit. I shall now correct that. While in San Francisco, we spent some time hanging out at Kennedy's Irish Pub and Curry House with an old friend who now lives in the Bay area, and he sugested we try the Poppy Jasper. After just one pint I was hooked and made my way back up to the bar to get a pitcher for the table. This beer is a rich amber color with a nice malty aroma and a medium hop aroma, possibly Cascade. The malt is also evident in the taste, cut somewhat by the bitterness of the hops. The balance very well to create an awesome session beer. I could (and did) drink this all night long without tiring of the taste. Thanks to great regional breweries like El Toro, I am eagerly awaiting my next trip to the area.


Looking through my referrer logs the other day, I noticed some hits comming from something called "Blogshares." I checked the site and found a nifty little fantasy stock market game which uses Blogs as the listed companies. Much to my surprise I found my Beer Blog listed and being actively traded. I've been fooling around with it and I've managed to increase my initial $500 to over $5000. I'm not exactly a tycoon yet, but I'm getting better at picking blogs to invest in. Along the way, I also discovered some really cool blogs to look in on once in a while. While I'm on the subject, I want to thank Eric Kiel for the free shares in his blog. He's come up with an interesting marketing idea to increase the value of his blog and make money for the folks he gifted shares to. I hope it works out for him. As for me, the free shares he gave me are worth about $25, so I'm not exactly getting rich off of the scheme. Time will tell. In the meantime go play the game, it's kinda fun. Especially if you have a beer while playing.

Bud Light

Why, you must be asking yourself, would the Beerhound actually drink a Bud Light? Well, the story goes like this. Last night the wife and I popped around the corner to the neighborhood bar. Now as much as I wish I lived within walking distance of a fine neighborhood pub, I don’t. This place is more roadside dive than quaint pub. The clientele tends to run more to bikers, old men and chicks with five teeth. Not that I have anything against bikers, old men or chicks with five teeth mind you, it just ain’t my crowd. As we approached the bar and surveyed the available beers, I noticed the selection was geared toward the aforementioned clientele. It was the usual roadside dive assortment of Budweiser, Coors, Michelob, etc. Not finding anything really to my liking, I decided upon the least offensive of the bunch, and ordered a Bud Light. Now I’ve really got nothing against Bud Light, in fact in my youth I drank a god-awful amount of it. It really is a very inoffensive beer. As I expanded my palette over the years, I found there were beers out there with the most fantastic tastes and aromas. Bud Light has neither. Aroma is almost nonexistent, and if it’s really cold it has almost no flavor to speak of. As the old joke goes, why is Bud Light like having sex in a canoe? They are both f***ing close to water. Jokes aside though, Bud Light is actually a very good interpretation of an American Light Lager. Anheuser-Busch brews a very consistent and well-crafted product, and it fits that style quite well. Unfortunately American Light Lagers are no longer my preference, and I have to give Bud Light a big thumbs down.