I recently survived a local beer festival at the Tempe Center for the Arts. It was something my beer guru Tylar suggested- 'Real, Wild, and Woody'. You do have a beer guru right?
Real, Wild, and Woody is all about casked beers and specially conditioned ales of any sort. Fairly common things like stouts aged in Jack Daniels barrels, and less common things like Farmhouse Sours that have rested in oak or old port barrels. Generally the kind of beer that you will either want to make love to or burn with fire.... or both...beer is complicated like that.
Anyway, this was the first time Tara and I had a chance to use Uber. If you haven't heard of it yet, its like a taxi only cheaper and with nicer drivers because they are normal people like you and... well like you. If you haven't signed up yet, use this link
and I'll get a free ride just for you signing up. Either way it was really fantastic. You select your pickup spot and destination in their phone app, select the kind of car you want (Uber-X is the cheap one) and then you can actually watch the car on the map as it drives to you. When you get to your destination you just exit the car. The payment is done automatically and tip is included in the price of the fare.
So with tickets in hand and Pretzel Necklaces
all ready to go, Tara and I were Uber'd off to the festival. We got there just a little before it opened. This was great as we got in before everyone else, but not so great as it was about 300 degrees outside and there was no shade. Why we don't build everything in phoenix under giant umbrellas is beyond me?
Once inside, we received a badge with numbers for each beer you use up (you were supposed to get 20 3oz samples), and a small glass to drink out of. Everyone used the glass - absolutely no one used the badge. This seemed like a dream at first but despite my best efforts there was simply no way to choke down more than a dozen samples even if you wanted to. Nothing there was what you might call 'easy drinking' so no one bothered marking anything off.
Between Tara and I we tried a ton of different stuff. My favorites were a Four Peaks Peach Ale that had been aged in oak and a Pale Ale from Papago Brewing that was so good it gave me goosebumps. She found a Peach Ale from Hess/Huss? that was equally good but completely different and a wonderful lager from Flagstaff Brewing. All in all just fantastic stuff with a few exceptions like 'Breakfast Hash' - which actually did taste a lot like someone put luke warm eggs and bacon in your beer. No clue why someone would want that...
We stayed about 2 hours and had a really great time overall. The only issue was that it was absurdly crowded in there. It was billed originally as an 'Intimate' affair and only so many tickets were supposed to be sold. Intimate my left buttock - there was no elbow room in the main area, and upstairs near the casks it was sardine city. Still, it was air-conditioned which is a huge step up from the sun-burn fests that we normally get here.
I'm hoping they find a bigger venue for next year as I'd love to go again but don't think I'd attend there. Simply unreal how many great brewers have sprung up in the Valley over the last few years. Props to all of them and hopefully I'll be able to get cask aged Four Peaks Peach one of these days at the bar :)