January 16–National Spicy Food Day!

Ginger Chili Scallops and Allegash
Ginger Chili Scallops and Allegash

January 16th was National Spicy Food Day, so in honor of such holiday, I wanted to share a food and beer tasting I created for dinner that evening. I paired Ginger Chile Scallops, green peas, and butter-pepper crusted baked potato with Allegash White Ale.

Allegash White is a witbier brewed in Portland, Maine.  Similar in style to a Belgian wheat, this unfiltered beer blends flavors of wheat and spice to create a lovely accompaniment to the spicy ginger scallops.  The wheat is subtle enough to allow the spice of the meal to shine while still holding up in complexity and body to this sweet and spicy meal.


Mystery Brewing: Release of Alexandre

On January 10, 2015, Mystery Brewing released the 3rd in their Literary Greats Series. Each quarter, Mystery releases a new Literary Greats installment.  The other installments of the Literary Greats series include Sophocles and Admiration.  On my visit, I was fortunate enough to have a tour given by the Founder and CEO of Mystery, Erik Lars Myers (check out his book, North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries).  As an added bonus, the business partner and chemist, Andrew Turner for the brewery was also on the tour.

The newest release, Alexandre, was exceedingly pleasant on the palate.  Alexandre is a 100% Brett Saison with lime leaves and sage. Boasting a hefty 8% ABV, this is one of Mystery’s highest alcohol beers.  It is an excellent drink now, but I’m holding on to a bottle or two for a bit to enjoy later!

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Mystery Brewing presents a unique concept.  It is a rustic-style brewery that was started in 2010 as a result of a highly successful Kickstarter campaign.  The brewery concept was so well-received, the Kickstarter campaign raised $44,000 to start the brewery. Mystery is a seasonal-only brewery brewing all unfiltered beers.  They have no flagship beers, however they offer a variety of seasonally-appropriate beers which can be enjoyed each year during their given season. If you’re looking for a light, refreshing summery pilsner, Mystery is not the place to go; however if you are looking for excellent seasonal beers carefully planned to mirror the beer styles of the season, Mystery is your brewery!

MB menu

Brewery Tour

While on the tour, I was able to enjoy several of the beers, which made for an even more delightful tour.  Erik was very knowledgeable about the ingredients used to brew their beer, the process of moving the brews during each stage of production, and the equipment.  It was very interesting (but at times a little too over my head in the science department) to hear about the process of creating the yeasts used in the beer.  In fact, Erik has created his own proprietary strain of yeast that was once in a bottle of Dupont Saison de Miel.  This proprietary strain went through many batches and several mutations before Erik perfected his yeast.

Of the beers available at the brewery, listed above, my favorites were Six Impossible Things and Alexandre.

The Public House

The Public House, located just around the corner from the brewery, offers a wider selection of Mystery’s beers.  They also offer small plates, including olives, jerky, and cheese and meat plates. Hillsborough BBQ is located a few doors down from the Public House if you’re in the mood for a little more substantial accompaniment to your beers.  Hillsborough BBQ and the Public House have a “symbiotic” relationship, so patrons of the Public House can order BBQ and it will be delivered to the Public House.  The small plates and BBQ looked great, however I was so full from all the tasting, I was unable to try any food this visit.

I was, however, able to try all of the beer selections offered at the Public House.  They have 1 cask in the Public House, and beers are rotated periodically into the cask. I sampled all 10 beers available at the Public House.  Find information on some notable brews below:

Memorial Day 2012 Wild Saison- One of my favorites!  Aged in 2 barrels with 2 yeasts.  This beer was a collaboration between Mystery and Haw River Farmhouse Ales. It had an effervescent mouthfeel with a sweet and tart flavor.  I proclaimed this beer “Sweet-Tart Champange.”

Fantine had a very nice balance of hops

Thornfield’s End- notes of smoked meat with a sweet taste mid-palate.  It was very enjoyable.

The White Queen Bids Farewell- a nice blend of coffee and caramel, but it had a somewhat watery mouthfeel. Perhaps a little more time in the bourbon barrel would have made this one even more pleasing.

MB Flight Mystery Menu

Starting the New Year in Phoenix

I was fortunate enough to spend a week in warm, sunny Phoenix at the end of December and ring in the New Year in sub-freezing temperatures.  Yes…..FREEZING in Phoenix!  While on my visit, I visited 4 breweries and an amazing cigar lounge with coolers of great craft beer selections.

Desert Eagle Brewing Company

Desert Eagle Brewing Company opened its taproom in October 2012 in downtown Mesa. During my visit, Scot Walker, sales and marketing manager, sat with us as we sampled beers and gave me some perspective on the unique aspects of Desert Eagle. Owner Joe Campbell pays homage to his German heritage through the style of beers brewed.  Desert Eagle prides itself on using only flowering hops in its brewing process, making it one of three West Coast breweries (along with Sierra Nevada and Deschutes) to opt for whole cone hops as opposed to hop pellets.

Of the beers tasted, I was pleasantly surprised by the Black Cherry Blonde Ale and the Baja Pilsner. I generally don’t expect much from pilsners and fruity beers, however the Black Cherry Blonde Ale was very tasty with subtle hints of black cherry.  The fruit was not overpowering, but it offered a nice hint of fruity flavor.  The Baja Pilsner was a great summer-sipping beer.  Despite the frigid Arizona temperatures, this pilsner was an excellent representation of the versatility of this brewery.

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My flight at Desert Eagle.  Included Main Street Blonde Ale, Golden Eagle Wheat, Dunkelweizen, Red Mountain Ale, Holiday Hooch, Black Talon R.I.S., Buzz Bomb IPA, Baja Pilsner, Black Cherry Blonde Ale Gentlemen’s Porter, Pumpkin Dunkel and Pomegranate Wheat.

O.H.S.O. Nanobrewery

O.H.S.O. (Outrageous Homebrewers Social Outpost) is indeed a unique concept!  O.H.S.O. is a brewery where you brew it, name it, tap it and drink it!  Where else can you find a brewery where you get to use state of the art equipment, have a brewer’s input if needed along the way, and get to tell your friends to come out and drink YOUR beer?  O.H.S.O. also brews its own beer and offers a wide range of guest taps to meet all your beer-drinking need.

Owner and Director of Hoppiness Jon Lane is friendly and welcoming.  He was happy to show us around the brewery and explain the brewing process.  I highly recommend O.H.S.O. if you’re looking for a brewpub that offers the most creative and innovate tastes in beer.  O.H.S.O. is soon opening a distillery.  I can’t wait to visit that as well on my next trip to Arizona.

OHSO outside OHSO logo OHSO Stands for...OHSO bar inside

OHSO Brews

An example of the upcoming homebrewers and beers at O.H.S.O.

North Mountain Brewing

North Mountain Brewing hosted a vast array of quality beers. With 12 of their own beers on tap, it is easy to find something that pleases your palate.  C.R.E.E.M. , a golden ale brewed with oats, rye, and Arizona wildflower honey, is North Mountain’s flagship beer.  North Mountain’s Diogenes IPA, which uses HBC342 and New Zealand Waimea hops, is the a close second for customer favorite.

One notable beer at North Mountain is the CYRious Double IPA. Boasting an IBU of 211, this high gravity, heavy IPA is like nothing you have ever experienced.  The brew is a replica of Eric Cyr’s 2013 Great Arizona Homebrew Competition best of show winner.  Eric collaborated with North Mountain’s owner and brewer, Rob Berkner, to recreate this sensation.

The brewery’s menu looked amazing, however I arrived after the kitchen closed.  I look forward to trying out some beer-centric foods designed to highlight and enhance the beers on tap.

The beers I sampled while visiting North Mountain Brewing included:

C.R.E.E.M.- flagship golden ale brewed with honey

Hefe Endings- a nice hefeweizen with notes of banana and cloves

CardinAle Red- a slightly hoppy red with hints of malty goodness

N’erotic Belgian-a high gravity Belgian-style beer that fits nicely between a Trippel and a Quadruppel.  We will call it a 3.5!

Kaiserlich Dunkelweiss- an excellent representation of the style, boasting a 7.9%  ABV, this one is great for keeping you warm on those cold winter nights

Grooving with a Pict- a Scottish ale that is sure to satisfy your love of malt and smoke

Octomalt- a unique blend of 8 malts and 4 hops make this “Mother of all Beers” satisfying and noteworthy

Diogenes IPA- called the “second flagship” by the owner, the beer was named after a Greek philosopher who carried a lantern during daytime.  Diogenes blends 2 unique hops, HBC342 (an experimental hop with mild citrus and tropical notes) with New Zealand Waimea hops (known for its versitile uses and intense citrus fruit flavors)

CYRious Double IPA -described above

Barking Pumpkin Ale- a mouthful of fall goodness, brewed with a blend of pumpkin pie spices, espresso, vanilla beans, caramelized brown sugar and Belgian chocolate–how could you NOT want a taste of this fall favorite?

Spiral Man Oatmeal Stout- named in honor of the petroglyphs in North Mountain Park, this oatmeal stout’s dark smoothness was a pleasure to taste

N.I.B.-named in tribute to the nib of Geezer Butler’s pencil, check out this Black Sabbath hit and you’ll understand.

**Note….curiosity led me to look into the brewery’s description, “nib of Geezer Butler’s pencil.” N.I.B. is actually a love song written by Black Sabbath.  Lyricist Geezer Butler stated in a 1992 interview that nib actually refers to drummer Bill Ward’s (whose nickname was Nibby) pencil-shaped goatee, which reminded him of a pencil nib. According to Songfacts,  the band had not come up with a name for the song, so Ward’s nickname (a joke about his goatee), was deemed the song’s name.

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Fate Brewing 

Fate Brewing Company, a fairly new competitor in the Phoenix area craft brewing market, brews small-batch beers with a focus on unique and unusual brews. Although I was unable to dine on this visit, the wood-fired pizzas look AMAZING!!  The beers were excellent, with a few notable brews.  Unfortunately, my two favorites were not available for growler fills.

Beers tasted:

Cream Ale

Irish Red

American Brown Ale

Nelson International Pale Ale

American Pale Ale

American Wheat IPA

Barrel Aged Golden Sour Ale

Extra Stout

The three most notable beers were the Nelson International Pale Ale, American Wheat IPA, and the winner of the evening…Barrel Aged Golden Sour Ale.

I found the Nelson International Pale Ale interesting because it offered a unique style and flavor that is not found in many beers I have tasted.  The beer was a single-hopped pale ale with New Zealand Sauvin hops, which gave it tropical notes.  I am growing to love the New Zealand, tropical-style hops. This is an interesting hop that I have not experienced prior to this beer.

The American Wheat IPA was also a unique style.  It had a great blend of crisp hoppiness with the bread-like characteristics of a wheat.  The American Wheat IPA incorporates a well-rounded hop blend consisting of Amarillo, Chinook, Citra, and Columbus with wheat and flaked oats.

LAST, but definitely not least–the Barrel Aged Golden Sour Ale.  AMAZING!!  Fate definitely brewed a winner here!  A kettle-soured ale with Brett Brux, refermented with Riesling must, then slightly hopped with Nelson Sauvin hops and finally aged in chardonnay barrels.  Quite a complex brew that left me wanting more.

Fate also has another award-winning beer, which sadly, was not available upon my visit.  The seasonal (October-December) Candy Bar Milk Stout is brewed with cocoa nibs, sea salt, vanilla bean, and honey-roasted peanuts.  Move over Snickers– I can drink my candy bars at Fate!

Magnum Cigar Lounge

Tucked away in the midst of a shopping center, you’ll find Magnum Cigar Lounge.  This unassuming shop is home to a wide selection of craft brews, as well as an extensive walk-in humidor filled with a vast array of stogies.  The selection of scotch and whiskies is like none other.

Arizona’s craft beer scene is growing and I look forward to following the new and exciting developments in the industry!