Archive for: August 2016

Tucson Hop Shop Now Open 7 Days

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TUCSON – The Metal Arts Village on Dodge Boulevard, just north of Fort Lowell has a new tenant and the residents of midtown couldn’t be happier.

Tucson Hop Shop opened in late September 2015 after a successful Kickstarter campaign that was fully funded in just four days. The dog-friendly craft beer and wine bar also has a large selection of bottles ready to go as well as a growler filling station.

The vast back patio

The vast back patio

This place has everything expected of a craft beer bar from bearded bartenders to an ever-changing selection of music-on vinyl. Yes, it may seem like an uber-hipster joint but fret not, my fellow beer lover, the people are super friendly and extremely knowledgeable.

As of August 22nd, co-owners, David 7 Jessie Zugerman decided to open up THS every day of the week so as not to disappoint those looking for a nice place to relax after a particularly trying Monday at the office.

“People deserve to drink great beer seven days a week,” bartender and Tucson craft beer legend Bruce Joseph said. “Everyday is an amazing day to try a new beer and Hop Shop is here to provide that day in and day out.”

Joseph was the bastion of the craft beer scene when he worked at 1702 Pizza and Beer. When word spread that he was moving to a new location, all the craft beer geeks were giddy with anticipation to see his take on a new locale.

The Zugermans did their homework and knew that if they were going to open up a new bar & bottle shop, they would need the best in the business, and they got it in Joseph.

To celebrate the new Monday opening, the Hop Shop welcomed people to a Mo’ Betta Bretta tasting from Almanac Beer Company. The Northern California craft brewery is a relatively new outfit, which starting brewing in 2010 and has quickly become a favorite among those seeking sour beers. The Farm to Barrel series has become extremely popular and widely sought after.

The Almanac Bretta Flight

The Almanac Bretta Flight

Monday’s visit included a flight of four beers from that series including the Lavender Honey de Brettaville, Tangerine de Brettaville, Apricot de Brettaville and the Saison de Brettaville.

My favorite of the four was the Lavender Honey variant with hand-picked lavender grown at Eatwell Farms in Dixon, California and aromatic wildflower honey together with our oak-fermented brettanomyces blonde base beer to create this this funky, floral delight.

Don’t be upset if you missed Monday’s Almanac showcase as the Hop Shop always has new and exciting events planned featuring some of the best craft beer to grace the Tucson landscape.

Upcoming events include advocacy in education, a gelato & craft beer pairing and a Pop-Up Beer Festival in collaboration with Craft Tucson featuring eight local Tucson breweries with proceeds to benefit Beads of Courage who provide Arts-In-Medicine for children in need.

 

The Details:

Tucson Hop Shop

3230 N. Dodge Blvd.

Tucson, AZ 85716

Hours:

Monday – Thursday 2-9pm

Friday – Saturday Noon-11pm

Sunday Noon-8pm

Camp Tontozona Ushers in 2016 Arizona State Football Season

Camp

The cool pines of Payson are an amazing getaway for Valley residents in August when the mercury reaches into the upper reaches of 110+ degrees for days on end. The Sun Devil football team returned to Camp Tontozona earlier this week for some time away from the heat, cell phones and all other modern distractions.

A week to focus on team building and bonding that has been a tradition since 1960 when legendary Frank Kush was at the helm. Save for a brief stretch during the Dennis Erickson era, the Tontozona practices have always signaled the beginning of a new football season for Arizona State University.

Coach Graham addressing the team

Coach Graham addressing the team

The team arrived on Tuesday night and got settled into their bunks and prepared for a return to the hallowed practice grounds on Wednesday morning, but Mother Nature had another idea. The team had to move to a nearby turf field due to the rain and head coach Todd Graham was the first to admit that it felt a little off.

“It’s a little bit different starting out here, but I like it,” he said.  “It’s a great surface to practice on, so if it rains, we’ll come down here.”

The biggest question surrounding the program and the only thing that people seem to be interested in is the quarterback situation. This year’s stable conssists 0f four highly sought after signal-callers but the worry on most people’s minds is that there is a total of zero combined games played by the group…zero. Redshirt sophomore Manny Wilkins seems to be the leader but redshirt freshmen Brady White and Bryce Perkins are hot on his heels with true freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole proving to be just as capable as the others.

Is Manny Wilkins the starter?

Is Manny Wilkins the starter?

Aside from the field generals, another area for deep concern is the Sun Devil secondary. Last year’s group was abysmal giving up an NCAA-worst 337.8 passing yards per game. No lead was ever safe when it came to the Sun Devil defense including the embarrassing post-season performance against the University of West Virginia in the Cactus Bowl. In front of a home crowd in neighboring Phoenix, the Sun Devil secondary allowed a record-breaking 532 yards in the air and five passing touchdowns.

Defensive backs coach TJ Rushing knows that he has his work cut out for him this year and into the future. his main focus will be on deep coverage and worked on deep plays for a good portion of the time at camp.

Saturday’s final practice and scrimmage is the pinnacle for the week when droves of Sun Devil faithful head up the mountain making the small area a logistical nightmare. I have memories of driving around for what seemed like forever, looking for a parking spot. Once that was achieved, we had a good 20-30 minute walk ahead of us before arriving to the practice field.

Conditioning drills

Conditioning drills

Given these difficulties, the alumni association and other student groups have chartered buses to get the most people there with the fewest amount of vehicles clogging up the works. If you are planning to go, plan to leave early and follow these simple steps courtesy of 12News.com:

  • Parking for the general public for Saturday, Aug. 6 will be in a closed section on the eastbound side of SR260 near Camp Tontozona Road.  Please follow the message boards, speed limit, and event parking signs on SR260 to the designated event parking areas.
  • Coming from Phoenix/Payson, please keep right on SR 260 once you leave Star Valley.  As drivers approach mile marker 267 they should merge to the right and proceed through the traffic restrictions and follow signs to the designated event parking area.
  • Coming westbound on SR 260 from point’s east, drivers will be asked to turn left at Kohl’s Ranch Rd.   Gila County Sherriff’s will assist with traffic turning across SR 260.  Please follow the signs and DO NOT use Christopher Creek Rd. or Spring Creek Rd.
  • There will be a limited number of shuttle carts on Camp Tontozona Rd. for limited mobility and disabled guests who may need assistance. Due to the expected large crowd and high volume of traffic, the shuttle service could potentially have a long wait. Fans should prepare for a long walk into Camp Tontozona from the parking areas.

Camp Tontozona is a beautiful place and a great tradition for fans of Arizona State football. The scrimmage is fun to watch and there is a great family atmosphere and vibe going on. However, after being only a couple times, I find it difficult to justify a return trip especially since I have lived in Tucson for the past nine years.

If you have never been, it’s a must-see, but plan accordingly.

IPA Day at Dragoon Brewing Co.

Dragoon logo

If you ask anybody that has tried “craft beer” for the first time, they will most likely regale you of stories of a hop-forward IPA or India Pale Ale.

It’s popularity and accessibility has made it the poster child for the entire craft beer movement nationwide. According to the Brewers Association, the American-Style India Pale Ale had the most entries at last year’s Great American Beer Festival with the Imperial IPA coming in second.

Partaking with a friend

Partaking with a friend

A popular question that I have heard is “Why do we even need an IPA Day?” or grumblings that everyday should be IPA Day. While I love the IPA and celebrate the big flavors from the various hops used, it is not my everyday go-to beer.

Now in its sixth year of celebration, IPA Day falls on the first Thursday of August and was originally limited to a “social media holiday” but it has grown to be something much, much more.

With the sudden influx of craft breweries in Tucson, there was a bevy of beer houses that I could have visited to celebrate this occasion but ultimately, I decided on the brewery that has gained national recognition for its flagship beer, the IPA. No fancy name, no witty hop-based moniker, just a straight forward true West Coast IPA.

Since its inception in 2012, Dragoon Brewing Co. has offered two beers, the Stronghold Session Ale and the IPA.

It was my honor to be invited for the grand opening just over four years ago and within a few short months, the Dragoon IPA was being heralded as the best IPA not only in Tucson but also in Arizona. The combination of Summit, Columbus, Apollo, Magnum and Nugget hops make this herbal, citrusy beer a local favorite.

No School IIPA

No School IIPA

Along with the astounding IPA, there was another reason that I was going to hit up the west side brewery; their No School double IPA. A non-traditional double or imperial IPA, the No School IIPA is brewed with some of the newer and most exciting hop varieties including the experimental E-07270, Eureka and Dr. Rudi. The Dr. Rudi hop is a dual-purpose hop bred in New Zealand with bittering and resinous pine attributes.

I say that the No School is a non-traditional IIPA because most Imperials pack both a hop and high A.B.V. punch. This version, however, barely surpasses the original IPA, clocking in at 7.5 percent ABV and 90 IBUs.

“We wanted it to be bigger,” Dragoon Manager Tristan White said about the beer. “It is still quite amazing and I am quite pleased.”

The No School is a deceptively smooth and highly drinkable beer on a hot Arizona day. The surprising take-away from this IIPA, once you get by the bitterness, is the strong malt backbone. The darker color and feel comes from the use of Crystal, Sonoran White Wheat, Caramel and Honey malts that blend incredibly well and beg to be drank with a nice plate of charcuterie.

Regardless of what day it is on the calendar, you will not be disappointed by the beers put out by the Dragoon Brewing team who now employs four brewers and a full complement of tasting room staff.  If your hankering for a fresh Dragoon beer hits early in the week, you will be out of luck as the tasting room is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. They are open from 3-10 pm Wednesday thru Friday, 12-10 pm on Saturday and 12-5 pm on Sunday. When you go, be patient as the bar is usually quite busy – but with good reason.

Bruce and Eric Greene & Tristan White – Dragoon Founders