Archive for: September 2012

Oktoberfest Comes to Arizona

Oktoberfest began last weekend in Munich and will continue until next Monday, the 7th; the 16-day party is in its 179th year and looks only to get stronger as the years pass. The origins of Oktoberfest date back to, of all things, a wedding reception. When Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese wed on October 12, 1810, they invited their subjects to join in the festivities in front of the city gates – thus Oktoberfest was born.

Tucson Oktoberfest Runs all Weekend

Tucson gets the party started with their 11th Annual Festival with plenty of beer, food, entertainment, arts & crafts booths, a children’s play area and dachshund racing – yes, wiener dog races. Beer choices will be Chandler’s own SanTan Brewery’sOktoberfest along with German traditional favorites Paulaner Oktoberfest and Hefeweizen. For those looking for the true taste of Bavaria, there will be bratwurst with sauerkraut, German potato salad(warm), soft pretzels and strudel. Many other food choices will be available including basic burgers, dogs, fries, Greek fare, roasted corn as well as most county fair food. Entertainment will be provided by the Bouncing Czechs with appearances by the Tucson Twists, Lajkonik Polish Folk Ensemble, Coyote Country Cloggers, Pure Natives, Saguaro Strutters and Tucson Tap Attack throughout the weekend. The Dachshund Races are Saturday night at 7pm.

SanTan Brewery Oktoberfest – Sept. 29th

This Saturday, downtown Chandler gets into the Oktoberfest spirit courtesy of SanTan Brewery.
Dr. A.J. Chandler Park will be the place to be for the fifth annual celebration from Noon – 10pm on Saturday the 29th. There will be tons of polka music, German food, craft beer and live music provided by Tempe’s favorite sons, Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers. The cover charge is $15 and $20 on the day of, but Fry’s grocery stores offer a coupon for the festival if you purchase any SanTan beers, kids 12 and under are FREE! The events at this year’s festival look to be worth the price of admission alone – the Beer X Games include beer pong, bag toss(corn hole), stein races, keg rolling and keg stacking. If you are less than athletic, there will also be tricycle races and a bratwurst eating contest with the winner receiving a $75 gift certificate to Von Hansons’s Meats & Spirits.The all important Best Beer Maid Contest will be giving $500 to to the best combination of dirndl & lederhosen.

A Ton of Events at SanTan Brewery’s Oktoberfest in Chandler

Phoenix Oktoberfest Oct. 5th & 6th

Next weekend, October 5th & 6th will be the downtown Phoenix Oktoberfest- an Authentic Old World Family Event at the Margaret T. Hance Park. Admission is $5 with children under 12 admitted for free. This festival focuses more on the authenticity of the old world festival and celebrates German heritage and culture with “Gemuetlichkeit” – a situation that induces a cheerful mood and peace of mind, belonging and social acceptance. Live entertainment will be provided by Echten Wald Baum, direct from Germany. Events include the Alphorn Blowing Contest, Polka Contest and the Warsteiner bier stein holding competition for men and women. Warsteiner will be the official beer of the festival with 16oz drafts as well 28oz Oktoberfest Special souvenir plastic boot – Das Boot. Traditional fare such as bratwurst with sauerkraut along with roasted pig will be available for purchase.

Tempe Oktoberfest Oct. 12-14th

Never to be outdone by the big brother in Phoenix, the city of Tempe will be hosting a 3-Day Festival at the Tempe Beach Park with FREE admission for all, over 30 bands on three different stages and beer, beer, beer. How much beer, you may ask? Along with the three domestic beers, there will be 16 craft beers including Arizona favorites Sleepy Dog Brewery in Tempe and Dave’s Electric from Bisbee. The Beers of the World will feature 16 different beers from Belgium, Italy, Spain, Denmark & New Zealand. But, this is Oktoberfest, where are the German beers? They will have three separate tents filled with 15 German beers to please your palate. Entrants this year include Weltenburger Kloster, Warsteiner and Beck’s. They also offer a German Beer Sampler where you will get eight 4oz. samples for only $20. There will also be a separate wine garden, tons of German food, a Giant Carnival, Kid’s Fun Zone and a German Shoppe where festival goers can purchase collectible beer steins, Alpine hats, ceramic mugs, t-shirts, dirndl and lederhosen aprons.

A Real Woman Can Carry Six Steins

All in all, we have the Germans to thank for this celebratory time of big beers, big bosoms and big bratwurst. It won’t be long before we are mired in our very own American traditions of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but until then, I ask everybody to raise their stein and say “Prost!”

The West’s Best Bets

The colleges of the West coast are legendary for their laid back lifestyle, gorgeous women,
beautiful beaches and sprawling campuses. With so many different options for those
looking to see what paradise looks like; look no further than the schools of the Pacific 12

In a head to head battle of epic proportions, I bring you the West’s Best Bets wherein I will pit
the schools against one another in a bracket style competition. Since there are only 12 schools in
the Pac, I have extended the field so that we can have a true Sweet 16 competition in four distinct
brackets. I will be judging the schools on the following criteria:

Do the ASU women have enough to carry their school?

• Athletics – a total of 30 points possible
• Women – a total of 25 points possible
• Local Bars & Pubs – a total of 20 points possible
• Weather – a total of 15 points possible
• Academics – a total of 10 points possible

In the Evergreen Region, we have the Oregon Ducks, the Oregon St. Beavers, the Washington Huskies and the Washington St. Cougars.

In the Silicon Region, we have the Stanford Cardinal, the California Golden Bears, the Boise St.Broncos and the Utah Utes.

In the Beach Region, we have the USC Trojans, the UCLA Bruins, the SDSU Aztecs and the University of San Diego Toreros.

Will the dominance of the Oregon football team prevail?

In the Southwest Region, we have the ASU Sun Devils, the Arizona Wildcats, the Colorado Buffaloes and the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.

Hitch a ride with me as I explore the beauty of the desert, the glory the Rocky Mountains, the
emerald green of the Pacific Northwest, the high-tech sector in the Silicon Valley and the
glistening beaches of southern California – these are the West’s Best Bets!

And The Winner Is…

I had the great opportunity to attend the Inaugural Tucson Beer Cup last evening on the plaza of the Hotel Congress. I arrived just after 7pm and was expecting a large crowd since I heard that the block of 300 advance tickets had sold out last week, I was correct. There were two separate lines going East and West along the Toole Avenue entrance with Entertainment Director, David Slutes directing the masses to their correct line. The admission table was abuzz with myriad hotel employees including Hotel Manager, Dara Oseran & General Manger, Todd Hanley pitching in to help. It was a little hectic, but the staff handled it well and I didn’t mind much because I knew what was waiting for me – beer, lots of delicious, hand-crafted, local beer.

I must admit that I was not going into this blind, I have been to each of the breweries before tonight and have tried a multitude of their beer and have created opinions based on those prior visits. I vowed to have an open mind and palate and to give all the beers the same chance to impress or depress as the case may be. The plaza was packed with hundreds of hop heads looking to enjoy the nice evening or as nice as Arizona in September can get. I grabbed my first two beers and went to look for a place to open up my journal and start taking notes. I spotted a high top table along the fence with a flood light hanging from a tree and I asked the occupants of the table if I could join them to which they happily obliged. When they saw me break out my journal, they joked that maybe I was taking this competition a bit too seriously. I explained that I was taking notes for this very article. Our table was in close proximity to the Thunder Canyon Brewerytable and the lovely ladies drawing beers were as cute as a button so I had to take their picture.

The Lovely Ladies of Thunder Canyon

The beers that I sampled from Thunder Canyon were unfortunately not as lovely as the girls pouring them. The Deep Canyon Amber was a light, bland beer that was for lack of a better word – boring. The Orange U Glad offering was a little bit better, but not much. I like fruit beer if they have a deep, mellow flavor that excites the taste buds. This beer was very overpowering with strong orange flavor, but not good orange, think Tang orange. The carbonation of the beer was akin to drinking a mimosa and I usually save those for Sunday mornings if I am feeling fancy.

The next beers on the docket were from another established brewery just about a mile down the road from the hotel, Barrio Brewing Co. Things were bound to pick up and I knew that whatever beer they were bringing would please the palate. The Barrio IPA is a great IPA with floral undertones. It was a little lighter in flavor and even a slight sweetness to it. The star of the Barrio booth was their Nolan’s Porter. Named after the brewer’s first son,this dark, malty full bodied beer has a bit of hop flavoring but it’s true flavor comes from the malts and I gave it 3.5 stars out of five.
Craft Beer aficionados know all about 1702-The Address for having one of the largest selection of craft beers in Southern Arizona, but a select few have tasted their very own brew, the Rainy Day IPA. This pale, hazy beer with a thick head has the great undertones that one would expect from an IPA- hops, hops and more hops. I hear they are working on a double IPA and for that I am truly excited. Anyhow, back to this one – the light flavors of citrus and a touch of honey make this beer more refreshing than your typical punch-you-in-the-face IPA. This beer received 3.5 out of 5 stars as well.

Noche Dulce Vanilla Porter

Right down the street from the hotel is Borderlands Brewing Co.A recent addition to the local brewing landscape, Borderlands opened up in 2011 and of course, I was there for their grand opening. Needless to say, it was beyond hectic and with no tables and a hot evening to boot, our experience was less than stellar. I was ready to give them another shot and see if the bad atmosphere hindered my taste buds and the beer was misjudged. The first one I sampled was their Prickly Pear Wheat, sounds good but I could taste neither the prickly pear nor the wheat. It had flavors, but none that I would want in a beer. Their flagship beer, the Noche Dulce Moonlight Vanilla Porter was considerably better with sweet undertones of caramel and vanilla. Although the beer is a dark brown, almost black in color, it was surprisingly light and smooth, almost to a fault. This was a definite crowd favorite and won the Best Specialty/Seasonal Brew and will be offered this holiday season at Maynard’s Market and possibly in the Tap Room of the Hotel as well.

Clever Marketing from Nimbus Brewery

Moving along to another well established brewery in Tucson, Nimbus Brewing Company. Nimbus is the only brewery that has more than one location, with two bistros, one in Tucson and one in Scottsdale. Their beer is synonymous with Tucson and their Dirty Guerra is absolutely delicious. An extremely light, refreshing session beer that can be enjoyed again and again and again. Moving on to their heavier offering in the Old Monkeyshine. A traditional English Strong Ale, Old Monkeyshine uses seven varieties of various malts and brown sugar for sweetness. This beer packs a punch though, at 8.2% ABV, it was the strongest beer in the competition and among the best I tasted. An extra special bonus brewery was in attendance last night as well but was not in the competition due to it’s location in Bisbee, not Tucson. Dave’s Electric Brew showed up and offered up his flagship Electric Brew. This American Adjunct Lager has great flavors and heartiness that you would expect from a lager. Nothing incredible or amazing about this beer, just smooth, mellow flavors that go down easily in the Arizona heat.

The Best Beer in Tucson

I have been singing the praises of Dragoon Brewing Company since they opened earlier this year and I couldn’t wait for others to try what I have grown to love. Along with their IPA, they also brought their Ojo Blanco witbier. A light beer brewed with coriander, lime and cumin for complexity and like most witbiers, it is unfiltered and arrives with a cloudy appearance and flavors of banana and clove. This light, refreshing beer pleases on all notes and unlike their other offerings, this beer is relatively low in the ABV category, topping out at 5.6% which makes it a great session beer for those afternoons on the patio. Dragoon was founded by Bruce Greene and his son Eric. Eric studied at the American Brewers Guild in Vermont and interned in Boston at the Harpoon Brewery. After returning to Tucson, Eric and Bruce met Tristan White through the Tucson Homebrew Club and the beginnings of the brewery began to take shape. When they opened their doors to the beer drinking populace of Tucson, they had the Stronghold Session Ale and their IPA, no fancy name, just a great beer. The honor of Best Beer in Tucson is bestowed upon this true West Coast IPA with a strong, floral beer with a slightly fruity aroma. Brewed with simple malts and Northwest hops, this beer is one that will bite you back…and you’ll like it.

Tucson Beer Cup

Craft brewing is the latest and hippest trend to hit the country since the wine heyday in the 90’s. Thanks to the movie Sideways, America fell in love with wine and the upscale lifestyle associated with it. There is no movie, song or celebrity endorsement for the recent craft beer surge in popularity, just the desire to break away from the same old thing produced by the large macro breweries in this country.

The recent explosion on craft breweries is at epic proportions and according to the Brewers Association, there are now over 2,000 craft breweries in the United States with more than 350 new breweries to open nationwide in the last year alone! Tucson is becoming a hotbed for this trend with two breweries opening up in 2012 and 2-3 more on the horizon. What makes this even more incredible is that overall beer sales have decreased in the past year except for the craft industry that has been delighted with a 12% increase in sales so far in 2012. Brewers Association Director, Paul Gatza was quoted saying “Beer passionate Americans are opening breweries at a rate faster than any time since the day Prohibition ended for the beverage of moderation. There is nearly a new brewery opening every day of the year, benefiting beer lovers and communities in every area across the country.”

Breweries in the United States

Hotel Congress Beverage Director, David Torkko is a certified sommelier and has noticed the trend by offering beer pairings and brewery dinners at the Hotel’s quaint Cup Café. Building on the popularity of those dinners, Torkko came up with the idea of holding a local brewery face-off competition and announced the inaugural Born & Brewed: The Tucson Beer Cup. The competition pits six local Tucson micro breweries in a head to head blind taste test for a chance to be voted Tucson’s best beer. Each brewery will put up two of their best beers for the public to taste and the winning beer will be featured in the Tap Room of the Hotel for a year. Here is a quick rundown of the competitors.

1. Nimbus Brewing Company 3850 E. 44th St.
What began as a small, local brewery in the spring of 1996 has grown into the largest brewery based in Arizona with three 150-barrel fermenters that stand nearly 30 feet tall and holding nearly 5,000 gallons of beer each. They offer six styles of beer and have locations statewide with bistros in Tucson and Scottsdale. The original brewery is hard to find off of Alvernon, but when you do, you’ll never forget your trip there.

2. Borderlands Brewing Company 119 E. Toole Ave

Borderlands was started in 2010 by close friends and avid home brewers, Mike Mallozzi and Myles Stone. Mallozzi and Stone aren’t your typical bar/brewery owners as Mallozzi has his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Stone is in medical school. Shortly after opening, they brought on one of Tucson’s most respected homebrewers, Blake Collins. The three offer six different styles of beer out of their facility in the Warehouse Arts District that was built in the 1900’s and located just south of the train tracks for the authentic Old West feel.

3. Dragoon Brewing Company 1859 W. Grant Rd. #111
Dragoon is the new kid on the block, opening up this Spring with only two beers, but those two beers were amazing. They currently brew six styles of beer that consistently impress their customers. They opened with the normal brown and IPA but have since explored into newer styles like the Saison Blue, a traditional Belgian farmhouse ale with a healthy 7.1% ABV, the Uno Russian Imperial Stout a big, black and strong beer coming in at 10.4% ABV and the Ojo Blanco, a Belgian style witbier with a spicy banana clove flavor.

4. Thunder Canyon Brewery 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd.
Located at the Foothills Mall in the northwest portion of the city, Thunder Canyon has been a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. After opening in late 1997 as a brewpub, they have expanded into a full service restaurant offering contemporary bistro cuisine and hand crafted beers. They have 15 barrels on premises and currently offer 12 different styles on tap including the Cuppa Joe Porter, a coffee flavored porter, Strawberry Lightning and their award winning India Pale Ale.

5. Barrio Brewing Company 800 E. 16th St.
Barrio Brewery along with Gentle Ben’s are local treasures that have graced the Tucon landscape for over two decades. Gentle Ben’s began brewing a stone’s throw from the University of Arizona campus back in 1991 with three styles and have since expanded to eight including an Oatmeal Stout, a gigantic ale brewed with more than 100 pounds of oatmeal, the Taylor Jane’s Raspberry Ale and the newly named RichRod Red after the new U of A football coach. The Barrio is located just southeast of downtown and across the street from the railroad tracks and offers discounted beers when the train rolls by, gotta love that!

6. 1702 The Address Brewing 1702 E. Speedway Blvd.
When 1702 opened up its craft beer and pizza emporium on Speedway in the heart of the University of Arizona campus, students rejoiced. When they started carrying 46 different craft beers on draught from across the country and the world, beer aficionados rejoiced. Now that the guys at 1702 began brewing their own beer, you guessed people are rejoicing. I have sampled their IPA and Double IPA and was impressed by the depth and flavor of both beers.

The Battle of the Beers happens Friday night, September 21st in the lobby of the Hotel Congress from 7-10pm. For $20, attendees will receive 12 tasters (2 from each brewery) a keepsake mug, gourmet beer snacks and will have 2 votes for Tucson’s Best Beer & Best Specialty/Seasonal Brew. The food that will be served looks incredible as Executive Chef Mike Byrer & Sous Chef Tony Coluci have outdone themselves once again. The first offering is a house made jalapeno bratwurst with pickled cabbage and spicy Sonoran mustard. Secondly, there are St. Louis Riblets – mesquite smoked with a spicy honey BBQ sauce. For those non-meat eaters, there are also offering a vegetarian chili with white, black & pinto beans with tomatoes, seitan, peppers and spices. Complimentary pretzel sticks, house smoked spicy peanuts and mini jalapeno and cheddar biscuits will also be served. There will be live music and the hotel will host an after party from 10pm -1am for the general public with all brews available for purchase. They did sell out the advance tickets, but I have been told that there are a limited amount of walk-up tickets available.
Hotel Congress 311 E. Congress St. (520) 622-8848

Tucson’s Greek Festival – Opa!

With Fall right around the corner, it is becoming more evident in other parts of the country with the crisp night air and changing leaves. Here in Arizona, the forecast high in Phoenix is 105 and a slightly cooler 100 in Tucson so suffice to say that we are a ways off from experiencing the Fall that most of the country enjoys – maybe Winter.

The one tell tale sign that Fall is approaching is the 37th Annual Greek Festival at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church. The expansive grounds of the church are set up in the rich history of Greece and the atmosphere is electric with a vast array of Greek music and dancers. There is also an Oktoberfest feel with the beer garden community tables where thousands will congregate and enjoy a somewhat cooler evening.

Everybody Loves the Greek Festival

With all the Greek dancers and music to create such a festive atmosphere, the real draw is the food and for a large number of people, including all my friends – the beer. Festival goers will be treated to Greek specialties such as Roasted Lamb Shanks, Athenian Baked Chicken, Souvlaki, Spanokopita and my all-time favorite – Saganaki This wildly popular appetizer is cheese dipped in a special batter and pan-fried and flamed with Greek brandy and lemon juice – Opa!

Preparing the Saganaki with Greek brandy

Fret not, there are still the old standby dishes that you might be more familiar with like Gyros, Hummus plates & Greek salads, but I urge you to try something new & exciting – maybe even the Dolmathes – grape leaves stuff with ground beef, rice & seasonings served with a tangy lemon sauce.

Now onto the beer – KEO is a traditional Greek beer that is brewed on the nearby island of Cyprus and is the exclusive import beer of the Tucson Greek Festival. This light straw-colored lager has a rich head yet surprisingly light flavor. This is the perfect session beer if you plan on making a night of it which always seems to happen with my group. Bottles of Greek wine and shots of ouzo always seem to make their way to our tables and no trip to the Greek festival would be complete without dessert. Baklava, Ouzo cake, Loukomades & Kataifi are the most most popular and are a definite must-try for that sweet tooth in your life, I rarely eat sweets, but these treats are absolutely divine.


The Festival begins tonight and runs through Sunday. Hours are 5-10pm tonight, 5-11pm on Friday & Saturday and from Noon-6pm on Sunday. Admission is FREE tonight, so go to their website to print out your free ticket. Otherwise, the admission is $3 per adult per day or a 4-day pass for $5. Children under 12 and Active Duty military with ID are always free and Adults over 60 are free on Saturday from 4-6pm. There is free parking on site as well as shuttles form the Amphi Plaza parking lot and Salpointe High School on Friday & Saturday nights.

Tucson’s Brainy Beauties

The year was 2004 and David Freedman was a senior studying business at a school world renowned for its bevy of beautiful women that wear as little as possible to class due to the hot desert climate. Freedman’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to start Tempe 12 at Arizona State University wherein he would select a group of the campus’ hottest women for a purpose. He knew that if he had a dozen of these beautiful women to model and promote for local businesses, everybody would benefit; the ladies, the businesses, the student body and the community.

The selection process was simple, the ladies would either self nominate or be nominated by another with three criterion; a current full-time student, a 3.0 minimum grade point average and a desire to help the community through promotions and philanthropic events with the only payment being the knowledge of being the best and brightest on campus.

After six years of building a successful brand at Arizona State, Freedman took his idea down south to the Old Pueblo and began Tucson 12 and the women were beating down his proverbial door to represent the Wildcats and the Tucson community. Freedman has expanded into San Diego this year and will announcing the inaugural San Diego 12 in the coming weeks, good luck to all the hopefuls in my hometown.

The newest group of 12s was recently announced in Tucson and their coming out party was to be a party for the ages. The venue was the recently renovated, remodeled and renamed Social House-SoHo across the street from Arizona stadium. Thursday nights on any college campus are usually super busy so that made this party extra crazy. When I arrived and tried to speak with Freedman, he was running around the club making sure everything was perfect for his next crop of ladies to be introduced to the community, but I finally captured some time to meet with him and ultimately the girls.

After interviewing all of the ladies, I noticed that all of them were very well-spoken and extremely polite as well as incredibly gorgeous – Freedman may well have the best job ever! The ladies ranged in age from 18 to 22 and hailed from across the country and even Puerto Rico. From Louisiana to Chicago, San Francisco to Las Vegas, even local Tucson and metropolitan Phoenix girls, these ladies will be a great addition to the community as they embark on several events in the upcoming year.

With such stunning beauty, you might assume that these ladies were looking to get by on their looks alone…and you would be wrong. Bear in mind that the minimum GPA for a 12 is 3.0 and many of the girls are above 3.5 so it was not surprising to hear about their lofty goals and dream jobs. Seanise Hawkins is a Pre-Business & Marketing major that is a member of the Blue Chip Leadership Program and aspires to be a political advisor. Lydia Sampson is a Psychology major and works with Best Buddies designed to assist those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and plans to become an Air Force officer upon graduation. Julia Peerenboom is also a Psychology major that works with Girls on the Run that inspires young girls to be joyful, healthy & confident; she is heading to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix for graduate school and plans on being a Pediatric nurse.

Julia & Nicole

One of my favorite ladies of the evening was Leah Goedecke who is double majoring in Veterinary Sciences and Nutritional Sciences and is an amateur boxer, yes – a boxer. She plans on continuing boxing and helping people and animals, what a great spirit. One of the most common responses among the other 12’s was to enter the media upon graduation, there are myriad opportunities for intelligent women with stunning beauty and I can’t wait to see these girls follow in the footsteps of U of A graduate Alex Flanagan.

Tales of a Tailgate Hero

In the dusty borderlands of Tucson, Arizona there lies a basketball school many regard as Point Guard U. After 25 straight trips to the NCAA Basketball tournament, the University has tried in vain to exhibit success in the mother of all collegiate sports. They have everything in place to make a great program, great weather, an exuberant student body and a huge grassy area known as the mall that welcomes thousands of co-eds and locals alike partaking in the age-old tradition of drinking fermented beverages as “punishment” for losing in any number of games including red solo cups, ping pong balls and bean bags. You thought I was talking about their football program??? I’m sorry, Head Coach Rich Rodriguez has a long way to go but their pre-game tailgate is top-notch.

Getting the Party Started at U of A Tailgate

The Mall at the University of Arizona is a multi-use facility that is available to rent by students, clubs or its most important use – tailgating. The area has become overwhelmingly popular over the past decade that the University sells season passes for the mall depending on the size of your vehicle and party. Since its inception, the school has sold out passes well before football season begins and has a waiting list for those hoping to get in on the action. You may be asking how do thousands of people show up with limited passes distributed and the answer is that the passes are only to bring your vehicle onto the mall, anybody (and seemingly everybody) can park and walk and party on the mall.

Tailgating Paradise in Tucson

Last Saturday was Opening Day for the football team and eager tailgaters were all waiting for the mall gates to open six hours prior to kickoff since there is a first come, first choice policy for all those holding the “golden ticket” or tailgate pass. After talking to friends that have passes, the best spot depends on what mood they are in or how they feel about their chances of winning the game. If they feel like they are going to get blown out, it is best to park right by the front gate for an early exit, if it is going to be a packed rivalry game than they prefer to be in the middle of the action to check out the best “scenery.”

Tents for miles

Expectations going into Saturday’s game were high as they had a new coach, a new regime and were going up a lesser opponent in the Toledo Rockets out of the MAC. We arrived around 2pm and fought our way through the maze of young, nubile bodies all decked out in their red Zona Zoo shirts and began drinking. A game of beer pong was progressing slowly at our area so we meandered to a neighboring spot that had the roar of flip cup and although we didn’t know them from Adam, we asked if we could join in the next game. Although my friend and I graduated college many, many years earlier, we were gladly welcomed because we knew how to impress the kids… a lot of free beer. We definitely held our own against the youthful group and headed back to our area for some of the best food in the region – carne asada. For 24 hours prior to each game, my friend would buy a couple hundred dollars worth of the Southwestern specialty and marinate in what I call “magic juice,” it makes the meat, so sweet yet with a spicy kick, so tender that you don’t need any utensils other than a tortilla, incredible with beans and rice or by itself.

Is it Game time yet?

After chowing down, my buddy and I went for a stroll throughout the vast landscape “to see what there was to see” and we were by no means disappointed. As the day grew hotter and the coeds became drunker, we were privy to several displays of flashing females as well as our fair share of drunken douchebags, the god outweighed the bad and we even had a chance to meet up with some cheerleaders. The next day, I saw that my buddy had posted his picture with the cheerleaders as his profile picture on Facebook and the running theme in the comments was that he was their tailgate hero. All in all, I would say it was definitely one of the best ways to spend a hot Arizona afternoon on the campus at the University of Arizona, now to work on that football team.

The Devil’s Dirty Dozen – Part I

With so many options available for tailgating in Tempe prior to Arizona State football games, by the time you found the best spot, the football season will be drawing to a close, and if ASU is still like it was when I attended, by the time the next football season rolls around, you’ll have forgotten what you learned from the year prior, so keep this list handy for years to come and you’ll never go wrong.

In the land of the bold saguaro cactus and misted patio bars, the lovely ladies of ASU don their gold shirts, their shortest shorts and prepare to celebrate on one of the hottest campuses in the country, literally and figuratively. The tailgate parties at ASU are legendary with the legions of hot, sweaty and inebriated youth gathered to participate in any number of drinking games including but not limited to beer pong, flip cup and corn hole. Loud music, muscle shirts and flying footballs are the norm, so be prepared for the meatheads if you want to enjoy the lovely ladies in all their daisy duke glory.

For those that are looking for a crazy party, but don’t care to spend your Saturday afternoon sweltering in 100 degree plus temperatures, I have compiled a list of the best bars near the stadium complete with atmosphere, drink specials & food specialties, because we need to keep you nourished as well as intoxicated. In the coming weeks, I will count down the 12 best bars to get your pre-game on…without further ado – the Devil’s Dirty Dozen.

Cadillac Ranch – 2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway

12. Cadillac Ranch
Although Cadillac Ranch is located in the Tempe Marketplace, a couple miles away from the stadium, there is always a good reason to go to there, whether it is for pre-game shenanigans or just to get together with friends for a cocktail or twelve. Owned by Arizona State alum, Chris Osborn has made the ultimate adult playground right down the street from his alma mater.
With 30 plasma high definition televisions and a 150 inch projection screen, there is always a game on and the crowd is always entertained. If the games are not entertainment enough for you, people watching at “The Ranch” is always a great option. One of the best happy hours in town makes for a more relaxed crowd and then they get on the mechanical bull. Yes, there is nothing in the world like a group of giggling sorority girls lining up to take their turn shaking all they got for the bevy of onlookers.If you are looking for a great time with 5 or 500 of your closest friends, you can’t do much worse than Cadillac Ranch Tempe.

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop – 414 S. Mill Ave.

11. Fuzzy’s Taco Shop
There is always a special going on at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, but on game days, the specials are amazing! If you are looking to front-load prior to the game, Fuzzy’s has $2 domestic pints, $3 wells & Beer-Ritas for those look to live a little on the edge, or the border in this case. The location at the corner of 4th St. & Mill Avenue is prime with a large misted patio that is always packed to the hilt. The food goes above and beyond just tacos and blends the best of the Baja cantina with Tex-Mex specialties.

Chronic Cantina – 15 E. 6th St.

10. Chronic Cantina
Just east of famed Mill Avenue on 6th St. lies a little taco joint with a tequila problem. The problem being that it is always on special…and not the well stuff either, we are talking 2 for 1 Patron shots! Their “fatty” tacos are always on special and rolled up in corn or flour tortillas with your choice of carne asada, pollo asado, carnitas, al pastor, pescado or camarones. If you have no idea what those are, have another couple shots of Patron and you will understand. Their outdoor patio is small so if you want a spot on game day, be sure to show up early.

Bison Witches – 21 E. 6th St.

9. Bison Witches
If you are looking for some of the best sandwiches and soups made in fresh, homemade bread bowls AND goblets of beer within a stone’s throw of the stadium, then Bison Witches is the place for you. The original Bison Witches opened up in Tucson and when the owners put in a request to open up in the heart of Sun Devil country, there was quite the outcry. No true ASU fan could love something so wrong, something so Wildcat. The owners adapted the names of their signature sandwich from the Wildcat to the Sun Devil and it wasn’t long before Bison Witches became a staple on the campus with such great specials and yes, goblets of beer.

Canteen|Modern Tequila Bar – 640 S. Mill Ave

8. Canteen | Modern Tequila Bar
Returning to the hub of all things ASU, we are back on Mill Avenue on the corner of Mill & 6th St. in the shadow of behemoth corporate giants of Gordon Biersch and Hooter’s lies this small, locally owned gem. With over 60 types of tequila to choose from, you will be speaking Español before you leave this popular college bar. Canteen specializes in tequila and tequila cocktails and only uses tequila that is 100% pure blue agave, so no rot-gut Cuervo Especial is ever served. This newer addition to the culinary landscape has garnered numerous accolades including Best Happy Hour and Top 25 New Restaurants in all of Metro Phoenix. Their game day drink specials include all beers and house margaritas with specials on their appetizers as well.

World of Beer – 526 S. Mill Ave,

7. World of Beer
If it is beer that you are looking for, then head over to the newest addition to Mill Avenue – World of Beer. It is truly a site to behold with 58, yes 58 beers on tap and well over 500 bottles line the multitude of coolers that flank the massive tap handle “island.” Although World of Beer is a corporate entity based out of Florida, they are representing local Arizona breweries and beers by vowing to carry at least 20 local beers on tap at tall time. The only thing that makes a artfully crafted brew better is to have it drawn or poured from the gorgeous staff at World of Beer. Come for the beer, stay for the beauty. The bonus here is that you can bring your own food or order it from any of the nearby restaurants.