Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Green Beer

Did you happen to catch the story about 5 Seasons Brewing Company in Georgia and their 5 Seasons Westside location that uses a rainwater catchment system to obtain the water used in their beer? Great idea. I wonder though, if a lot of filtering is necessary, if it's really that green if you step back and look at the big picture. It's a step in the right direction though.

Right now, I'm sipping a Limited from Buzzards Bay Brewing. I was curious about this brewery and I've found out that they're very green. Carbon neutral, responsible production, using daylight to illuminate the interior of the brewery when possible and plans for a community wind generator. They use water from the spring on their farm, which is probably as green if not greener than rainwater. In the non-literal sense that is.

Kudos to both 5 Seasons and Buzzards Bay.

By Request of Uncle Kazek

In the fermenter since Sunday, I have a special request of Uncle Kazek: A Baltic Porter.

This is my first try at this style so we will have to see how it comes along.

Also, my first attempt at using a starter wort. Once it got going, it sure went to town, but I was holding my breath for the first 24 hours or so!

It's a long story, but I would have had two batches if I hadn't ran out of water.

Rye Beer

I just saw this article on Rye beers over at the Washington Post. I did not know that a rye beer, using only malted rye, would produce a pale golden beer. I was thinking dark like rye bread. Yummy!

Friday, September 25, 2009

How many American Beers are there?

I'm guessing 8K which is a lot of beer! Does anyone have this information anywhere?

NYC Craft Beer Week

Props go to Pubcrawlin for sowing the idea in her enticing post, so S and I decided to try to make it to the Big Barrel last weekend for the very tail end of NYC Craft Beer Week.

Who'd a thunk that just a short walk from Broadway are a plethora of places to savor a great beer?

Great beer enough to take the edge off the maddening melody of the Music of the Night floating through your head?

And I'm not talking about the faux Irish pubs or the cookie-cutter chains around Times Square proffering a token Guinness or micro brew.

I'm talk'n bout places like the House of Brews, Valhalla, The Pony Bar, and the Delta Grill. All less than a 10 minute stroll from Times Square and all offering up wonderful beer in all styles from the bottle or tap.

House of Brews: What can I say? 2nd trip here--the one on 46th. Picked up a beer week passport (for me, not S--she'd be an illegal alien on this trip), a quick plate of nachos with pulled port, sorry I mean pork, I have beer on the brain, Chelsea's Hop Angel [NY], a Magic Hat's Lucky Kat [VT], and Harpoon's [MA] Munich Dunkel to lubricate the `ol nacho libre passage. This stop was sort of a prep workout to get through the next 2 and a half hours if you know what I mean? Our `keep Noel was helpful and knowledgeable about the beers.

After being ravished or appalled, you decide, by a Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber over-the-top spectacle, we descended, passport in had, into Hell's Kitchen to find the Pony Bar.

The Pony Bar serves American craft beers exclusively (nice) and is someplace that appeared up on our beer radars sometime earlier this year. And since we were in the area we thought this was a perfect opportunity to drop in and see what was up, so we did. This is a smallish western-themed place with a bar seating perhaps 20 and with tables for perhaps another 20.
This being a Saturday afternoon, in late-summer, the place was packed when we rode in, but we were able to wedge ourselves at the far end of the bar to try out a couple of treats from Empire [NY]: Black Magic Stout and Fresh Hops. I like the slate beer menus for their at-a-glance beauty announcing what's on. Northwest corner of 10th Ave and 45th.

Heading north to 9th Ave and 54th, we found Valhalla. You know the place where all beer drinkers go before they die? 48 or was it 49 tap handles, my vision was blurring. Beer week selections for us were Tire Bite Golden Ale from Flying Dog [MD] in the Kolsch style. I'm not too big a fan of Kolsch--it's a bit too sweet for my taste, and this one seemed to be just like all the rest I've tried. The next was a Lagunitas [CA] IPA. Plain. Simple. Refreshing. Perfect. This place claims to be only four years old but by the looks of things it will be around when all of us get to Valhalla.

We were getting hungry for some solid food about this time and departed for our last stop of the evening at the Delta Grill at 9th Ave. and 48th St. This grill specializes in creole and cajun. It's notable for a nice atmosphere evocative of someplace you might visit down in crawdad country. What better beer than Abita's [LA] Purple Haze Raspberry Wheat to wash down a half Muffuletta (shared it was SO big)? Actually, so big that it cried out to be followed up by a Blue Point [NY] toasted lager which was not too exceptional but different and tasty enough to stand out in a very crowded field. The atmosphere was fun and the service was great. I would go back for an encore.

Sunday found us driving into Brooklyn Heights to search out Grimaldi's in DUMBO on Old Fulton Street. J had told me about this being one of the top pizza places in New York and after a 45 minute wait we got in for the 1st seating when it opened at 11:30. Not before, however, a pizza tour bus dropped a load of pizza aficionados who whisked themselves in, before the waiting queue of 100s of like-minded but less fortunate and just as hungry souls. I was surprised that there wasn't any rumbling. Inside is perhaps a 30 by 20 foot square dining room in the front with family-style seating offering great opportunities to strike up conversations with neighboring diners. To the back is the visible prep area and oven. We opted for a large 18" pie (no slices) with mushrooms, pepperoni, and sausage. The crust: Supremely thin and the underside baked to a slightly mottled black perfection. The mozzarella: White, fresh and thinly applied. The sauce: Home made tomato sauce just as it oughta be without any taste of anything but ripe tomato. The fuel: Coal of course. This is the real deal folks. This pizza was awesome. I put it up there with John's and Lombardi's.

Afterwards we headed to Atlantic Ave for a quick one before the long trip home. Passport in hand we revisited the Brazen Head on Atlantic Avenue near Court Street and the Downtown Bar and Grill just off Atlantic Avenue on Court Street. At the Brazen Head, The Summer Solstice Wheat and Gotham Cream Stout from Chelsea were mighty fine and quenching on a quickly turning warm late summer day. At Downtown Bar and Grill, the Manhattan Project from Brooklyn [NY] exploded in my mouth for the first time. Frankly, these rye ales are becoming some of my favorite beers. After that, the Festbier from Victory [PA] (yeah) served as a nice finish. Inside was mobbed and so we sat outside at a table, to enjoy the day and watch the world go by. This is a family-oriented section of Brooklyn and there were plenty of babies in strollers and shoppers carrying their groceries home! As a matter of fact, people here seem to think nothing of bringing their children to these beer havens. I fully support this.

This seems to me to have been a well thought out beer week. It was my first, I have to admit, never having been to any others including the local one in Philly. I liked that you could look in the passport and find directions to any of the participating venues of which there were 80 some-odd all over the five boros. I liked that you could index venues by the neighborhood you were in or by beer style. Or for that favorite brewery of yours, sorted by state, you could find the beers being served, the style, and all the places serving the beer. I wish Mr. Mybeerbuzz would do something like this for our own local beer venues! There is becoming enough of them to make it useful.

Now. All we need is a digital passport linked to a database, interfacing to a map application like the beer mapping project, subway maps, venue's web site, web cam to check out how busy they are in real time etc. Then we'd really be cooking with gas.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Altitude Chophouse and Brewery--Laramie Wyoming

You know, it's hard work watching the snow drift fences swirl by alongside I-80 in Wyoming. Countless numbers of them, mile after mile, arrayed like regiments of soldiers guarding I-80. You build a ferocious thirst. You might not think so, but you do--and hunger for that matter.

I can't honestly say that I didn't mean it to happen this way, but just about lunch time we got within a stone's throw of Laramie which I knew had a brewery/restaurant. So we stopped in for a bite and a pint, just to make things interesting on this milestone journey.

The milestone of not having kids at home anymore. It feels like what walking across the billowy tan head resting atop a pint of Hop Devil might feel like. Or passing through a doorway opening to a new, spicy, flavor of life, that lifts with each unencumbered taste. I love kids. And anyone who has kids knows you never stop being a parent. But for a change, for the first time in 20 years, no kids equals freedom. At least I like to think so. But I digress.

The Altitude Chophouse and Brewery is easy to find and the townspeople are mighty friendly. Just ask and they'll point you to the colorful side of town where the exotic brewery and tempting grill smells come from.

The mirrored windows facing the street are an interesting touch. Although unnecessary as this isn't your ordinary dive bar where you don't wish to be seen. Inside we found a very nice rustic themed restaurant and bar with the brewery off in the distance. It's nice to see rustic--something about the interior reminds me of the hemlock in Rickett's Glen SP. It must be the log bar stools. There was a nice crowd for a weekday lunch.

Our waitress S (I'll call her S-squared) was shadowing a new employee. Didn't get his name but with S-squared as his guide, he'll turn out alright.

Altitude has a wonderful selection of every-day beers as well as a bank of seasonals on draught. Just as it oughta be and ever should be. We perused the beer menu to see what tasty treat we might find to accompany our meals--my eyes settled on the Grizzly Whisperer IPA. Think about that one for a minute. What comes to mind: Dangerous? Powerful? Grizzly Man? Would you whisper to a Grizzly? Well, S-prime does, every morning and she lives to tell about it. So I tried one and I'm here to tell you that it was worth it. A nice balanced IPA with just enough kick and freshness to take the growl outta me after the aforementioned drive across southern Wyoming. S the real deal, I'll call S-prime, ordered up a Tumbleweed Wheat, one sip of which I was allowed to enjoy. This is their best-selling beer and I can see why. If I was in the mood for something lighter today, this would be the beer for me!

For dinner, I ordered a Brew Burger, medium rare, with waffle fries. Excellent on all counts and as S-squared reminded me, it's buffalo and healthier than beef. S-prime, ordered a bowl of bacon corn chowder which she let me try a bit of and pronounced excellent. With that she had a prime rib sandwich with waffle fries. Natch.

This place has a lot of variety in their beers and they fill growlers and sell kegs to boot. I'm a bit surprised how their keg prices can be so low. At least by the standard of what we pay in NEPA. And pitchers? Hmmm. Does One Guy offer pitchers? I don't think so but I could be wrong. I do think it's a good idea though. My place would.

Altitude Brewery and Chophouse serves some mighty fine meals and beer from their own on-premises brewery. Very reasonably priced too. Service was friendly. Unfortunately I only had a chance to try one of their beers--I was driving after all. It is well-worth a visit if you're in town.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Booming, Brash Craft Brews

As I sit here, I happened upon this article in the Chicago Tribune relative the craft beer industry in general is doing this year and specifically their local Goose Island.

And here is an article suggesting that there's 1525 US breweries this year. This is the first time I've seen it go over 1500 so that's saying something. I think this puts the US over DE now.

And I just saw a short piece on craft beer on ABC. So even morass-media is getting into the act.

It's a good time to drink good beer and support your good local brewer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Looking out the side window

Sign seen in Colorado:

Warning, state prison nearby. Do not stop for hitchhikers.

and one in Oklahoma:
When raining, burn headlights.

and another in Arizona:
Elk crossing next 25 miles.

and a billboard in Texas:
Free 72 oz. steak.

somehwere near Saint Louis:
Foot High Pie at Blue Springs Restaurant

Closest terrain to that of NEPA: Ozarks in Missouri
Hottest Temp: 108 degrees fahrenheit, Tempe, AZ.
Coldest Temp: 48 degrees fahrenheit, somewhere in Wyoming.
Most Wind Generation Facilities: a tie between Wyoming and Iowa.
Best Beer: a tie between Colorado and Illinois

Old Town Social

The City of Broad Shoulders has much to offer even a casual visitor. For the walker, there's glorius people-watching along the Navy Pier. For the shopper, there's the Magnificent Mile. For the builder and architect, there's the delight of the castle-like splendor of the enduring Water Works and the other buildings that were turn-of-the century monoliths to the preeminent superpower to be: The United States.

Adding to that the Second City offers an almost infinite variety of places to eat, drink and be merry: Your friendly Irish Pub, the dank dive bar, or the lively outdoor cafe packed with partying and unlaboring proles.

After trying all of the above on for style, when you've built a thirst like no other and want to try to someplace new, look no further than Old Town Social. Old Town Social recently opened and is located in the section of the city with the moniker Old Town and is short walk north and west of the Water Tower area.

On our recent visit to Chicago, we begain in the Gold Coast section and decided to try to find and experience Old Town Social for ourselves. While walking down North Avenue, we spotted Second City. You know: Birthplace to the comic genii: Eugene Levy, John Candy, John Belushi, et al? S and I didn't know when we might get back, so with just a few minutes to go before the 7:00 p.m. show, we decided to try to get tickets--No luck. So we continued down along North Avenue, forlorn yet still walking toward the light, searching as always for beervana. Finally, near um, the cross street of N. Cleveland I think it was, we spotted Old Town Social in an unassuming plain storefront--access via side entrance, please.

In the vestibule just inside the door on the wall hang a group of what I immediately assumed were clerical collars (!)--it was only after I queried the pleasant hostess, that I discovered that they were pin-on collars worn early last century by poor people as a means to make-do with a limited amount of clothing.

Walking inside and turning to the right opens to a long marble-topped central bar going down the middle of the space with a dining area on both sides. High original exposed-truss ceilings and strong brick walls lead me to believe this was some sort of industrial space in an earlier incarnation. The overall scene is old-school: antique roll-top arrival station; turn-of-the-century framed photos on the walls; light-colored leather-seated bar stools, dark marble bartop and back bar, dining booths set into one wall with curtain tails to each side, a shoe-shine station--A showpiece really, but still evocative of the overall old-time spirit.

We seated ourselves at the bar and now it gets good, really good. Check out their beer menu. Local beers? Natch. Imported Belgium beauties en draught? Certainly. PA beers? Got that covered too!

What else? Specific glassware for 23 of their beers. Slavering now: Hmmm....Must...Taste....Indeed.

From Two Brothers Brewing Company, their Prairie Path, Belgian Pale Ale started me along the path to beervana. This is a new beer and brewery for me. They're located in Warrenville, IL, a western suburb of Chicago. Check them out over here along with an interesting story about their new oaken Foudres. For S, she gave the beer menu a three times over and made a great choice if I don't say so myself: drum-roll please: Victory Prima Pils from draught. Need I say more?

Quickly downing my pint (we had walked a mile or so after all), the geese who usually flock, followed me next onto Goose Island - Matilda, a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. This brewery's situated in Chicago and is also one I've not sampled beers from before. Matilda's from their Reserve collection and sports a racy and spicy treat of wonderful light amber that kicked it just right.

Look Mommy there's a goose up in the sky...

Matilda paired perfectly with with my dinner choice: the B.L.T. As is well known, there is no finer food on God's green Earth than the majestic B.L.T. And when paired with the finest beer on God's great Earth, well, can you say Heaven? The bacon between toasted bread was perfectly done and thick, even after frying--as it should be. The tomatoes: End of summer sweet, sweet, Heirlooms. Aioli slathered on, was a different and unique twist (for me) adding just a bit of garlic flavor to the proceedings. Yummeee!

The final piece of the puzzle slipped into place when the barmaid brought me a housemade dill pickle. Now: You know there's just one other thing that a Polish boy is never separated from by more than an arm's length. Right? His sausage? Well yes, but... His dill pickle!

I am something of a pickle connoisseur as I make my own too and am always looking to other examples for points of comparison and ideas. Well let me tell you, this was one humdinger of a dill pickle. It was crisp, spicy, zippy, and had some flavor component I don't often taste--I'm wondering if these were aged in an oak barrel?

After these treats(the whole menu looks just as sensational), I took to the beer menu again, this time aiming for something a little more familiar. I found it in Bell's Two Hearted Ale, an ale in the American IPA style. This beer brought me a few hundred miles closer to home. Frankly speaking, Bell's is becoming one of my favorite breweries and in a ship's hold worth of IPAs sailing about the world, this single IPA is just different enough to stand out in a very crowded harbor.

About this time I finished my meal and S had just finished an exquisite chopped salad, and for my night-cap, in correct glassware please, I ordered up a farmhouse ale from the brewery Dupont, their Saison Dupont seasonal beer. Prior to this beer I had been an avowed Farmhouse Ale anti-devotee, but perhaps I had been showing my naivete? I humbly sit before you and admit I was wrong. Saison Dupont has turned me into a believer. A more exquisite beer I have not tasted--refreshing, fruity, spicy, dry in the finish.

Restrooms: Spotless.

Service: Eye-popping.

Beers: Excellent selection for all tastes from the lightest to some heavyweight stouts and all SRMs in-between.

Any place that has housemade dill pickles, an interesting overall food menu, and great beers, is home indeed. I will be back. Highly recommended.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Upstream Brewing Company

We got to Omaha on Saturday afternoon with an intense craving for bloody good, barely cooked, red meat.

Luckily, we were obliged by a visit to the Old Market section of the city--otherwise we might have had to make due with the stray McNougat or two.

The Old Market is about a 20-some-odd block rectangle that is as it was perhaps 100 years ago, except there's air conditioning now--and beautiful people.

The buildings have been restored to their original grandeur and reoccupied by all sorts of new businesses from gourmet ice cream shoppes (pronounced: shop-pays), to trinket shops (pronounced: shops), to a brewery (pronounced: Beer).

Which brings us to Upstream Brewing Company. This is a brewery/restaurant located in a restored firehouse. Don't worry, the sliding pole has been taken away for safety sake.

This is a very cool two-story place where the second story looks down over a balcony to the first floor bar, and the dining room on the second story, itself spans the space above the brewery at the back of the building on the first floor. Stalwart brick walls. Massive oaken beams. Fine oak trim and handrails. You will only find construction like this in old buildings--as it was and no longer made this way to be. Sigh.

I ordered up the Rye Pale Ale for a change up and delighted in it's refreshing zest. A slightly hoppy treat, it is brewed using locally grown Hops which is very unusual for Nebraska. S, becoming a noted beer connoisseur in her own mind, without any needling picked the O! Gold Light Beer as her first--this is an easy drinking light American Lager beer--I had a sip and can tell you that it tastes a lot fuller than the 3.8% ABV it was sporting!

S and I knew what we were after in terms of dinner and without much drama ordered and savored the grilled ribeyes that were perfectly prepared to our liking and excellent in flavor and texture. Accompanying baby carrots and broccoli were spot on and complemented the steak perfectly.

It occurred to S and I as we were eating our dinner and sipping our beer that there's no place like this in NEPA. Some place where a brewery and food are paired in an interesting and/or historical place--a place where you'd want to bring friends from out of town. It is startling to me that no one has done anything like this. Yes, we've had Black Rock Brewing Company--but there wasn't anything historicial about that structure althought the beer was good. Yes we have Cooper's, but the same goes for that in terms of the structure and it's not a brewery either.

An old firehouse, an old bank (there are plenty sitting empty or about to become so), an old library, an old department store (when they were downtown). An old train station for heaven's sake! Any of these places could work with some creativity and investment and could become the centerpiece of the downtowns of say Wilkes-Barre, Bloomsburg, or Scranton. I'm not complaining, just thinking out loud.

I would definitely stop here again if I was passing through Omaha. It's a very nice place. And just remember, the distance between beef and beer is separated by 11 letters and Upstream Brewing Company is on 11th street in Omaha.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Boulder Beer Company

So, with the cool air portending coming snow we saddled up in Laramie Friday afternoon, rounded up the herd and headed south on 287 to graze some new pasture and try to catch more of the late summer warmth.

I've always wanted to saddle up in Laramie.

On the way south, a bonus stop just a bit off the trail was the Boulder Beer Company in of all places Boulder Colorado. The full parking lot told us the place was obviously popular with the regular folk blowing off some foam after a hard week scaling peaks, skiing slopes, or just pushing dead pixels around on a screen. Anticipating a cold one or three, we quickly shook off the dust from the hard ride and went inside.

Entering we discovered a nice tap room with an ell-bar in the corner serving all of the Boulder Beers' brews. With perhaps 12 of their beers on draught, it was hard to choose where to start, but I opted for the Flashback Anniversary Ale--a beer I was familiar with from the BOTM club and celebratory of Boulder Beer Company's 30th anniversary.

Speaking of 30th anniversary, this is the real thing folks: Boulder Beer is not some johnny-come-lately to craft beers--they've been here from the beginning. Or just about. It shows in the size of their brewery, their branching out into bottling and the breadth and maturity of their beer lineup. They're obviously doing something right.

Behind the bar are a set of windows looking out into the brewery. There wasn't any activity going on when we were in, but at times I can imagine that this sort of arrangement would provide plenty of interesting beer-making observation.

That's ice Holmes!

S went for the Sweaty Betty of which I had a sip: It was a servicable wheat and tasted fine what with the 85 degree temps and all. After these two beers went down oh so quickly, we went to the beer menu and had a look around.

I quickly settled on the Hazed and Infused which I hadn't tasted before. This hop shot is beer as I try to make it myself: Unfiltered, fresh, quenching. Quickly becoming dazed and confused, as we departed, I pled with S to drive the final leg into Denver and she obliged.

The beers are cold, the tap tenders are funny, personable, and helpful.

If you are in this area and enjoy beer, by all means drop in for a taste.

In Denver: Falling Rock Tap House

Ya gotta love a place with over 2200 bottles of beer on the wall.

And a digital timer on the wall too, measuring the countdown to the 2009 GABF kickoff party on October 6th.

These people really love their beer over here: There are over 75 beers always on draught with a good showing of Colorado micros ande from all over the US. Belgium, Germany, and Czech Republic are represented too, just goes to show you this truly is a league of nations. What about bottles you say? Over a 100 always available.

You know how once you have an idea in yer `ed it's hard to get rid of it? Well I've had the Odell Brewing Company's 5 Barrel Pale Ale in me `ed since March. Seeing it on draught here made me want it for my first brew of the night. And now I've got it in me belly, too. This one is specially brewed up in Fort Collins, CO using multiple (five maybe?) barrels, four hop additions during the boil, and hop additions in the hop back and during fermentation--hence the totally oblique naming reference. Strangely, it's a very mellow PA at only 36 IBUs and not too crazy at all.

The night was still young, and a new beer on draught will always catch my attention. One in particular captured my heart: Avatar Jasmine IPA. This beer from the Elysian Brewing Company of Seattle, has a faint fragrance of Jasmine flowers which are added to the boil and whirlpool during brewing. The subtle hints of Jasmine are in the taste, too, along with the essential hop bitterness being an IPA after all. To me, there is a definite clover honey aspect on the tongue as well--like a mellower version of Bell's Hopslam Ale. Now this is one great tasting IPA. I'm here to tell you, try it if you have the chance.

Barkeeps attentive and sweet like the beer.

On Blake Street a very, and I mean very short walk from Coors Field.

Highly recommended.

A quick peek at Four Peaks

On our way to visit L in Chandler, we returned to Four Peaks Brewing Company for a quick one--just to squelch the heat, you know?

The brewery is in a converted dairy. As you can see this is a large operation--they bottle Kiltlifter® Scotish-Style Ale, Hot Knot IPA®, and 8th Street Ale® for purchase around the state but not beyond. The bar is absolutely huge with perhaps seating for 100 beer lovers.

This time, I opted for the Hop Knot which was great with just the right amount of slightly off-center hop madness: Citrusy and refreshing. Oatmeal Stout not tried before ended my afternoon. Not oily, hints of chocolate that lingered long after the liquid faded away.

Alas, my camera croaked an ``I'm done.'' in here.

Four Peaks and their beers have won multiple medals and it's not hard to see why.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Papago Brewing

Moving Z into his dorm room yesterday felt like working in a salt mine where fortunes are measured in teaspoons with payscales graduated in grains.

Dare I say this made S and I way more than ready, in fact downright giddy, over the notion of sitting down and relaxing over a cold beer or two.

The astute reader of this blog may recall that on our last trip to the Phoenix area, there just wasn't enough time to check out all the cool beer bars, brewpubs, and such that we knew about and ended up as sad Misses.

This time we wanted to fill in the blanks so to speak, and Papago Brewing, while being a bit away from our locus in Tempe, was in our beer sights for a visit. So it was with our beer goggles firmly set, that we lashed out to Scottsdale to seek our beer fortunes.

Papago rests its laurels in a nondescript adobe plaza not unlike any other you might see all over this area of Arizona.

Passing through industrial strength double doors leads you inside to the inviting tap room.

As you can see by the tap list, Papago pours their own beers and draws others predominantly from the veins of domestic microbreweries--beers that are rarely if ever seen in our parts of NEPA.

Keen eyes may see a handle with a scrawled label, there were several, labeled BJs IPL. Yep, you guessed right: BJ's India Pale Lager. Now isn't that something? I just had to try it as my first beer and let me tell you it is no slouching compromise in an attempt to meld a lager and an ale. It brings the attributes of a lager that I love, namely a smooth mouthfeel and bright coloring and all the attibutes of a IPA like essential hop aroma and zesty flavor. Coupled with that, in this beer, was a freshness of taste like no other, that was confirmed by a new beer buddy at the bar Chuck.

Chuck, of Hop Disciples of Denver fame and long-time homebrewer (from 1966--way before it was legal!) informed me that BJ's in Chandler (a chain brewpub) brews the IPL for distribution right here in Phoenix and for nowhere else as it's not on the ``approved recipe list'' from the Mothership. This beer alone is worth a side trip to try if you're in the area. I don't know how long it's on for so you better get up there.

Along with this impressive array of draught beers goes a bottle collection of perhaps 200. Again, many imported selections were evident but the true love here is la microbrew domestica. Frankly, this is how it should be in my estimation. I'm all for diversity in beer styles, but anything under the sun that's produced anywhere in the world these days, has and is being produced right here in the good old US of A and probably better!

And laurels there are indeed as evidenced by the two GABF medals hanging over the backbar. One for Papago El Robusto Porter and another for the Papago Brewing Hop Dog IPA.

The barmaid Ashton was sympathetic to S and her choice of a beer and was very accomodating allowing her to taste various (read: at least ten) of the various draughts before settling on a Pilsner.

This is a place where quick friends can be made over a beer and old friends can come to catch up. I highly recommend it for the atmosphere, beer, and overall feel. They do serve food as well but we didn't try anthing from the kitchen on this visit. They offer free Wi-Fi access.

With Z certain to be in Tempe for another year or two, coming back to Papago Brewing is as sure a thing as the Sun greeting us this morning.