Phoenix, Arizona Brewpubs

A previous get-away took me to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur (BCS), Mexico, popularly known as "A sunny place for shady people." Knowing that I wouldn't experience any full-bodied beers for two weeks I scheduled a one night stop over in Phoenix, Arizona.

Stop #1: At 7000 Camelback Road is Hops! Restaurant Brewery in the Scottsdale Fashion Square, with a serious emphasis on "fashion", telephone (602)945-4677. The building stands alone but close enough to the action that thirsty recession-fighting shoppers are drawn off course in their battle plan against the giants; Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macys. The brewhouse is visible from the outside and one inside the glass walls offer good viewing of any brewing activities. To reach the bar area one must pass by the attached restaurant whose decorum flaunts elegance. the bar itself is elongated an topped with polished stone. The bartenders and waitstaff were formally attired and by the looks of the crowd at the TVs and throughout the lounge, one couldn't help but think of the "Y" word.

The Pilsner was a light straw color, lightly carbonated, with a medium body, a mild hop flavor, a yeasty/hoppy aroma, and a short aftertaste. The Wheat was a similar color but well-carbonated with a good head, aromatic, smooth, tangy, served with a lemon slice, and finished cleanly. The Amber Ale was ruby-colored with light carbonation, an excellent malt/hop balance, fine bubbles, and a hoppy finish. The Stout was opaque, surprisingly carbonated, medium-bodied, and well-hopped but with a tangy flavor. As good fortune would have it, then Brewmaster Julius Hummer was just tapping a wooden mini-keg of his New Year's special; Barley Wine. At more than 1100 OG (original gravity), it had a malty aroma, dark amber color, no discernible carbonation, a very smooth alcoholic and sweet flavor, and no aftertaste. The upscale surroundings, interesting 14oz. Weizen-style glasses, and tasty beers at $2.75 made HOPS! worth experiencing.

Stop #2 Barley's (now Coyote Springs) at 4883 N. 20th St. Phoenix, telephone (602)468-0403. The brewhouse is fully visible from the bar and the components are well-labeled; 403 gallon Mash Tun, Hot Liquor Tank, 503 gallon Brew Kettle, and four 434 gallon Fermenters. There was TV, music, pizza, and finger food available as well as six taps pouring three standards and a specialty beer. The Trick Pale Ale was a light straw color, lightly carbonated, and with a hoppy flavor and aftertaste. Also on hand was the Fair Dinkum, an amber and the Toby Stout.

Stop #3: Bandersnatch at 125 E. 5th Ave. Tempe, telephone (602)966-4438. They offer a full bar with music and the brewery visible form the bar stools. The interior seemed a bit dark and required some attention to navigate its corridors but this may not have been so much a function of the building as of the particular person trying to maneuver. The Premium Ale was a golden color with good head and a hoppy flavor. The Christmas Ale was ruby-colored with an excellent head and a very spicy flavor. The Milk Stout was left for another day.

I recommend a visit to each of these brewpubs but advise everyone to allocate plenty of time, given Phoenix' beer selections and the lack of mass transit.

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - November, 1993.

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