The kids are back in school, and the heat is finally starting to break a little. Just like when you were a kid and had to write an essay at the beginning of the year about the past summer, I recently took time to reflect upon the summer of ‘16.
Since I have some big trips coming up this fall football season, I did surprisingly little (for me) travel over the summer. Unsurprisingly, as revealed by revisiting the photos on my phone, the travel I did do always included stops at some new, relocated, or remodeled breweries. The locations are all popular travel destinations from Albuquerque, and were all fairly brief visits.
The first quick trip was to the Phoenix metro area. My boyfriend and I stayed in the Old Town Scottsdale neighborhood as we usually do, but due to the 115-plus-degree heat at the time, we spent less time walking and more time blasting the air conditioner in the car than usual. That afforded us the opportunity to visit places we probably would not have seen otherwise. We finally made it to some that have been around a long while like SanTan Brewing, and others that are somewhat newer like The Perch and Arizona Wilderness.
SanTan is a large place in downtown Chandler and the food looked really good, although we were not hungry at the time. Their beer sampler was large and the most reasonably priced for the size. They are only one of two Arizona breweries to distribute to New Mexico, along with Mother Road from Flagstaff.
The Perch, also located in Chandler, has a very unique atmosphere, both inside and out. You can visit exotic birds on their patio, and taste their exotic beer styles inside. In my opinion, it’s best to stick to other local beers they have on tap because their own beers were not nearly as good. But, they were very nice and they displayed a big shout out to Marble (see photo!).
The beer at Arizona Wilderness, located in Gilbert, was pretty good, and it is a nice place. However, I don’t think I will likely make the trek back out there. They are pretty proud of their beer, as it was much more expensive than the other places we visited. Additionally, they would not let you taste or even sell you samples of about half their beers (they do have a lot of styles). You had to buy a full pint, and at their prices, that was not an investment I really wanted to make without tasting it first. I stuck with a pint of one of their regular beers. (Editor’s note: I, on the other hand, rather enjoyed this place when I visited in March 2015. I guess they changed their policies since I got to choose my flight from all the beers listed. Personally, I highly recommend the beastly American Presidential Stout and hop-laden DC Mountain DIPA, which is my second favorite hop-forward beer in Arizona behind the IPA at Dragoon in Tucson. — Stoutmeister)
On the new brewery front, we visited Pedal Haus in Tempe. This brewery is on Mill Avenue in the heart of Sun Devil territory. (Ahem, you mean Scum Devil. — S) Take note, they are currently closed for remodeling, but should reopen soon. It is already a pretty new place, so I don’t know what the story is about the remodel. We were told by beer patrons at another brewery that it was already closed when we were there in early summer, but luckily I called ahead and that was not true at the time. This place is “yuuuuge,” folks, including the patio. The beer was just average, but our appetizer was outstanding. It’s a pretty great alternative to some of the other hard-partying places on Mill.
By far the best beer we had in the metro area was from the newest place. Only a few months old when we were there, Helton Brewing centrally located on Indian School in Phoenix, and is knocking it out of the park. It clearly already has a following, too, because the place was fairly crowded at 1:30 in the afternoon. They are keeping the styles limited at first, and concentrating on the quality. I especially liked their Rye Pale Ale. There is a roomy production area in the back, so it seems they plan on producing larger quantities in the future.
Other quick trips this summer included Vegas, Flagstaff, and Durango. The recap on these will be combined as one story, coming soon.