From the tall pines of Flagstaff to the dusty borderlands of Tucson, the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild will be celebrating the state’s craft beer industry from February 15-22. The annual event will focus on craft beer education, the artistry of brewing and the all-important tasting of the state’s best suds.
“The purpose of Arizona Beer Week is to reconnect beer with celebration and sense of place,” Rob Fullmer, Executive Director, Arizona Craft Brewers Guild said Tuesday. “Of course, it starts with the Arizona Craft Brewers, but some of the most original and exciting events are those put on by the state’s bars, restaurants and homebrew clubs.”
The week begins with my favorite annual beer festival, the Strong Beer Festival. For the 14th consecutive year, the Strong Beer Festival features several beers with high alcohol content.
The event takes place at Indian Steele Park, 300 East Indian School Rd. in Phoenix with gates opening up to the V.I.P. crowd at noon and going until 5 p.m. Last pour will be called at 4:45 p.m. but it is highly doubtful that even general admission entrants (who are let in at 1 p.m.) will be clamoring for more beer come that time.
General admission tickets for the event includes a commemorative 4 oz. mug and 15 tasting tickets for $50. V.I.P. tickets for this event are well worth the price of admission. For the $70 price tag, you will receive five additional tickets and an added hour of tasting. Other swag includes a t-shirt and towel from the event along with access to reserved seating and restrooms; a meet and greet with the brewers, a pretzel necklace and a $10 food voucher. For the early birds, the first 100 to purchase V.I.P. tickets will also receive a reserved parking space for the event. Designated driver tickets will also be available for $10 each. Although strong beers will be the focus of the festival, several other craft beer types and styles will be available along with various food and music. Click the above picture to purchase tickets or through Showclix.com.
One of the hottest new trends is “beer running.” For more on the trend, check out @TheBeerRunner on twitter. Four Peaks Brewery will be hosting the Skirt Chaser 5K at the Tempe Beach Park from noon-5 p.m. There will be a beer garden, live music and an after party. Tickets for the race and after party range from $35-$75, register online here.
To complete your weekend, hop on your bicycle and head over to SanTan Brewery in Chandler for the annual BrewsCruise 2014. Plan on arriving early to enjoy their incredible pub fare and delicious variety of craft beers. The party leaves SanTan at 2 p.m. en route to The Hungry Monk, Dos Gringos-Chandler and ending up at Chandler’s newest nanoBrewery, Restaurant and Bar—The Perch. The $25 ticket price includes food at SanTan and a beer at each location. For more information and to purchase tickets for the BrewsCruise 2014, click here.
Boulders on Broadway in Tempe will also be hosting their 4th Annual Beer Festival at their location.
“Some of the bigger events are in Phoenix where the larger beer market is, but there are a number of events throughout the state,” Fullmer said. “It’s about the people and places throughout the state. As a person that is in tune with craft culture, you may not find a happy hour featuring a local pale ale too exciting, but to someone who is able to make that connection during beer week, well that’s worth it to us.”
Some notable events outside of the metro Phoenix area happening on a Monday night are Tucson’s Thunder Canyon Brewery craft beer education open house at their Foothills Mall location from 6-8 p.m. Brewery tours and discussions with the brewers will take place and there is no charge.
Flagstaff’s Wanderlust Brewing will collaborate with Pizzicleta Kitchen to host the Biggest Little Beer Dinner. The five-course dinner paired with craft beer will cost you $50, contact Caleb Schiff at Pizzicletta for reservations.
For the first time ever, Arizona’s two foremost breweries, Four Peaks Brewing & SanTan Brewing will collaborate for a beer dinner at Vintage 95 Wine Lounge. Executive Chef Michael Wahlberg has created a Brazilian theme dinner to pair with the rarest brews from SanTan and Four Peaks including SanTan’s Saison di Aleatico, Four Peaks Double Knot IPA and SanTan’s Russian Imperial Stout. A collectible beer glass with logos from all participants will be handed out to the first 100 patrons. $65 per person, tickets are available here.
Tucson’s 1055 Brewing Co. will host a beer dinner Wednesday night in the hip, downtown restaurant, Proper. Chef d’Cuisine Kris Volijk will offer up a multiple course dinner featuring beer from Ten Fifty-Five. Staying in downtown Tucson, Borderlands Brewing Co. will be hosting “an epic beer-related pub quiz.” Get your team of four together to battle it out for a paid-in-full bar tab at Borderlands Brewing Co.
The Arizona Homebrewers Association Rally takes place Thursday, February 20 at the newly opened SanTan Production Brewery in Chandler. The rally includes a VIP brewery tour; a meet & greet with the brewers, an in-depth Q&A session and a chance to win prizes from the AHA and SanTan Brewing. The rally is free for current AHA members and others can join and RSVP here.
Moving back to Tucson, Barrio Brewing will be hosting a five-course beer dinner and Maker House will host “The Biology of Beer.” Maker House co-owner and Ph.D. microbiologist Mike Mallozzi will discuss how the sciences and beer interact.
Friday night will be the perfect time to venture up to Pine and THAT Brewery & Pub. They will be hosting a different type of beer pairing—with donut holes and delicious sauces. Three THAT brews and pairings for $10. Staying in the middle section of the state, Prescott Brewing Co. will be featuring a different appetizer with guest’s choice of beer every day of the week for the incredibly low price of $8.99. Friday night’s special app is the Lodgepole Light braised chicken egg roll with chipotle honey dipping sauce.
The week closes out with a new event in Flagstaff, the Inaugural Brewery Bowl Off at Starlite Lanes. 10 of Arizona’s local breweries are expected to compete for a coveted tap handle spot at the alley for a year. The contest will be based on 75% taste and 25% bowling. Tickets for the general public include a commemorative 16 oz. glass, drink and voting tickets. Bowling and shoes are included in the bigger packages. Ticket prices range from $30-$50 and can be purchased here. This will be a fundraising event for the Shadows Foundation, dedicated to helping individuals who are affected by life threatening diseases.
Craft brewers have taken a big part in giving back to their respective communities that they serve and these events, while fun, all serve a greater purpose.
“The mission is to protect and promote the Arizona Craft Brewing industry through education. That’s really just the surface,” said Fullmer. “The men and women in this industry are the small business and community leaders in their towns and neighborhoods. They bring people in this state a wonderful product and they are the creators of the places where people gather together, meet their neighbors and build community. We need more of that in this state.”
We do need more of that, so make an effort to visit your local breweries and craft beer bars during Arizona Beer Week and thank them not only for their fine product but for also for creating a place for people to congregate and enjoy said libations.
I know I don’t have to wait for Arizona Beer Week for an excuse to visit my favorite breweries.