In this edition of Suds With Securb: Destinations we visit the Old West. Phoenix Arizona is hot and dry¦ trying to find a big beer in Arizona is a challenge, but of course, a challenge you know I was up to. The beers of this region are a laundry list of the best light lagers and ales the country has to offer.
Kolsch Ales, light lagers and Hefeweizens lined the shelves of every establishment we entered. I am not using the word every liberally. Convenience stores and gas stations are granted beer and wine licenses. Add grocery stores and liquor stores into the mix and you have beer virtually everywhere. Having grown up in the Puritan state of Massachusetts, I find this amazing, the ability to buy beer anywhere. Not only are beers available in gas stations, but in most cases I found even the Gas & Go locations had a pretty good beer selection. Shelf after shelf there were crisp, clean, fruity and flowery beers. Fat Tyre, a sought after beer in the Northeast, is on every shelf in Arizona. I also was able to find a few great beers from Alaskan brewing, most notably Alaskan Summer Ale. This Kolsch ale is perfect for a summer day. I just found a great cucumber salad recipe that I want to pair this beer with. Add a couple of sandwiches to the picnic basket and you are set for any summer day¦ anywhere.My summer drinking doesnt get limited to summer beers. There are times even in the most unbearable days that I want a barleywine or an Imperial IPA. I can see why most places in the southwest dont carry big beers, the average beer drinker is not going to purchase a big beer in that climate. The average barleywine would sit on the shelves longer than a Kevin Federline CD does. So I had to find the places where the beer drinkers congregate and where the big beers flow.Four Peaks Brewing 1340 E 8th St #104 Tempe, AZ 85281 – This Brewhouse is a beautiful place to enjoy a big beer alfresco on a hot Arizona night. The place is very laid back and there isnt too much street noise to distract you besides the occasional college kid jogging down 8th street. My first choice was The Raj a fantastic big 6.9 ABV India Pale Ale. With a punch-to-the-tongue hoppiness, this beer still delivers a nice malt. There is a great wash on the backend of the palette and a touch of summery fruit in the aroma. I also sampled the Oatmeal Stout “ It had a huge roasted/toasted profile, not as creamy as other Oatmeal Stouts I have had. The aroma is huge with big chocolate tones and the flavor is just as big. It has a traditional English dry hop finish an extremely drinkable beer.Sonoma Brewhouse 322 E. Camelback Road Phoenix, AZ 85012 “ This home of big beers has a small bar feel. The bar was justly busy for a Monday afternoon; the stools were occupied with what seemed to be regulars and townies. Chalked across the blackboard was Devious Double IPA¦ what a huge hoppy beer clocking in at 8.6% ABV. It had big citrus notes in the aroma and an enormous malt backbone in the finish. Hops escorted the flavor from start to finish with a huge presence of alcohol on the exhale. I did purchase a tee shirt and a pint glass from Sonoma, the tee shirt bearing the logo of their signature IPA – Stinger IPA. There is no way that I am going to tool around with a tee shirt of a beer that I have never had and another cold ale was poured. The Stinger was a classic American Style IPA huge resins in the nose and a nice bath of hops on the tongue. The bartender was very knowledgeable and helpful. This is a must stop for any beer fan in the Phoenix area.Gordon Biersch Brewery 420 South Mill Ave Suite 201 Tempe, AZ 85281 “ Another great location for alfresco dinning, Gordon Biersch is located in the back year of ASU. I can imagine the place at night¦ it is packed wall to wall with college kids pumping pints. We caught the brewery on a lazy afternoon. The bartender was very knowledgeable about all of her products and was happy to tell me that the beer training was the most fun she had during her orientation. I opted for their 6-beer sampler. The beers were lined correctly light to dark starting with their Golden Export which was very light and crisp with a faint touch of noble hops to their dark rich malty Schwarzbeir, the only outlier being their seasonal offering. The menu departs a bit from the traditional pub fare by adding a bit of flare to each dish. I opted for the Marzen BBQ Chicken sandwich made with smoked bacon, chedder cheese and Marzen Barbeque sauce and a side of the garlic french fries (I hope my cardiologist isnt reading this). The sweetness of the BBQ sauce matched my beers perfectly as I bounce from the Marzen to the Schwarzbeir. This lager-only drinking hole is the best beer chain I have visited to date.Delux 3146 East Camelback Road Phoenix, AZ 85016 “ If you blink heading down Camelback Rd, you will miss this gem. Nestled in Biltmore Plaza is this neon-drenched beer bar where burger worshipers and beer geeks sit before 40 taps with the perfect burger in their hands. Flights of beers are available in pre-determined 3-beer sets. I settled for flight number 1 which had a Four Peaks Kiltlifter, Rogue Dead Guy Ale and a Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard Ale. I paired my beers with a Delux Burger topped with their signature bacon onion chutney. The 40 taps were a perfect combination of great micro brews ranging from Harpoon and Dogfish Head, representin the east coast, to Stone Brewing and New Belgium and other west coast favorites. The service is fantastic and the burger is without a doubt one of the best sandwiches I have ever had in my life. Delux is also the only place I saw a collection of imported beers. Fresh Boddingtonss Pub Ale was fresh on tap next to a handle of Chimay Red.So here you go¦ four great places to hit in the land of lagers. As you can see by the picture above, they also have some nice ales in Phoenix.