Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Arizona's got beer

A trip to Phoenix last weekend to watch some spring training baseball provided the opportunity to try Flagstaff Brewing Co. and Four Peaks Brewing Co. in Tempe.

First off, Flagstaff Brewing, in downtown Flagstaff. Flagstaff Brewing was founded in 1994. The restaurant-brewpub has a ping-pong table and a distinctly collegiate atmosphere. An ESB and three other brews were on tap. Soggy Coaster elected to go with the Bitterroot ESB (5.75 ABV, 41 IBUs). It was decent but unexceptional. It was the second-best ESB in the house, because Flagstaff had Ska ESB in cans (their only Durango beer in stock). Flagstaff had only four beers on tap, a fairly small roster even for a brewpub. It was a bit of a yawn.

Much better was Four Peaks Brewing Co., near the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. Soggy Coaster got there in time to catch the end of the Villanova-Pitt game (Nova killed Soggy Coaster's bracket). The place was packed. It's pretty big, probably bigger than Steamworks' restaurant in Durango, with plenty of flat-screen TVs.

Four Peaks had an expansive beer menu, including a pale ale, an IPA, a peach, an oatmeal stout, a Scottish ale, a hefeweizen and a Kolsch. Soggy Coaster went with 8th Street Ale, the pale ale. It was excellent, with good hop flavor and nice balance. It has twice won silver medals at the Great American Beer Festival. After drinking it, Soggy Coaster could see why. Soggy Coaster also got the IPA, which was impressive.

Even better, all Four Peaks beers were $3. The brewery is definitely worth a visit if you're in the Phoenix area.

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