A few days after the World Series ends, a group of dedicated baseball nerds descends on Phoenix for one last baseball fix. Or maybe it's more about getting first dibs on the offseason and the looking forward, because we all watch some of the best prospects in baseball play in the Arizona Fall League and talk about how we can best win our fantasy leagues next year.
Either way, it's a gathering of nerds from all over, and in the last couple of years, a subset of us have added beer nerdery to the occasion. We hump beer in from all over and share it while we play poker, sit outside comfortably in November, and discuss the young baseball players we saw that day.
It's great fun.
Unibroue La Fin du Monde Belgian Tripel
Mudshark Desert Magic IPA
Elysian Space Dust IPA
Thursday the game got banged for rain, which happens like once a year in Phoenix. So I did away with the baseball and drinking and focused on the drinking. We went to a place called Cold Beer & Cheesburgers, which is aptly & straightforwardly named. They had 40 taps, which worried me, but I didn't taste a hint of dirty lines, and they seemed to have a high-velocity bar going, so no chance for staleness.
The Fin du Monde was way crisper than I remember, and that's great for me because Tripels are often cloying and over sweet to me. The Mudshark was a supermeh citrus pine malt IPA, and the fact that I encountered 40 taps and ended up drinking Space Dust all night is a little damning of the quality at CB&C. But: I still like Space Dust. It's big and beautiful and I had too many.
Tallgrass Buffalo Sweat Oatmeal Cream Stout
Columbus Brewing Company Bodhi DIPA
Funky Buddha Hop Stimulator DIPA
Melvin Brewing 2x4 DIPA
Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale Session IPA
Night Shift Santilli IPA
New Glarus Spotted Cow
Did a live podcast and some people actually showed up, which is awesome. Took questions, fed off their energy, and drank some Buffalo Sweat while I was on the mic. The beer didn't change my life, but I did enjoy the thickness (not super thick, but thick enough) and the sweetness (choco coffee oatmeal). I'd rec Tallgrass generally, their IPAs are also good, but the only place I've had one before was Chicago.
I can't believe the Bodhi is a double IPA, in retrospect. It was very bright for an 8.5% ABV double, maybe because there was a bit of grassiness to the pineapple pine flagship from Columbus. I really enjoyed this beer, and I don't think the comparisons to Pliny are that off. This new version of Bodhi may be more Citra than Pliny, but it still had a bit of that pine/grass brightness on a thick fruity DIPA.
The Funky Buddha fell flat for me because it was too thick and didn't have enough of that grassy/bitter finish. You need that finish to... finish the taste. Otherwise, that thick fruit middle stretches out and consumes your palate. I had a one-word review of the beer -- "overripe" -- and people took it to mean unfresh. No, I meant more that it was a bit too sticky sweet and syrupy for me. There was some consensus on this too, it wasn't just me.
The Melvin was more enjoyable. The citrus finish on the pine IPA is a tried-and-true approach, and the 2x4 was well balanced so that no aspect weighed it down. I can see how this is a multiple award winner, and having had their Hubert pale ale last week, and this one this week, I'm now a Melvin fan.
We did things in the wrong order a bit, mostly because we were drinking. But, in a way, despite the palate concerns, that Rising Tide came at just the right time. I still got some mandarin and pineapple and then even a bit of pine in the bitter -- but it was very refreshing and acted a bit like a palate cleanser.
The last two of the night were classics. Night Shift Santilli is amazeballs -- mosaic but crisp, so not too vegetable. Tropical and grassy, I had it out of the can (the horrors!) so I don't know how hazy it was, but it's more bitter and crisp than an NEIPA, so I think it was just a precursor maybe. I also enjoyed the Spotted Cow straight from a can, it just felt right at that point in the night. Cream Ales aren't my favorite style, but there's enough there, enough mouthfeel, that I'd have a few of them in a row. Therefore, can.
Other Half Amarillo IPA
Hill Farmstead Arthur Saison
Goose Island Halia Sour
Victory Sour Monkey
SanTan Moon Juice Galactic IPA
Got a little run down as the weekend went on, so I took most of Friday and Saturday day off. But once we got back to the hotel after a late dinner, I made up for the lack of quantity by sharing some really stellar beers as we fought off the end of the weekend.
The Other Half IPA was an 'orange sunset' to me -- enough orange and grassy bitterness to make it an IPA, but a creamy, thick feeling that felt like the end of the day. Other Half is good, I'll admit after a few false starts in our relationship.
I've had the Arthur before, but while I was drinking the tart 'wheat beer' that reads much more like a saison, I had a comp that I hadn't thought of before, for some reason: Sante Aidairius. The Santa Cruz wizards make somewhat similar tart saisons -- full of thickness and funk, ending with a nice hoppy finish that imparts some fruit or other interesting taste on the whole experience.
Next up was another repeat, but I'll drink Halia whenever. That peach sour is perfect for me. It doesn't matter who owns them.
The Sour Monkey! What was that?! I've never had a sour Tripel before, so maybe I just didn't know what to expect. What I felt I got was something like a lemon tea with honey in it, finished off with a tart spike that ended the taste. I could count something like four different 'movements' in every taste, it was basically an opera. I don't have a particular proclivity towards Belgian Tripels and Dubbels, but if you throw them in a barrel with some souring yeasts or bacterias, I think you undo some of that cloying sweetness that gets me from traditional Tripels. I can't say I love Belgians, obviously, because I love me some Saisons and Sours. This was a confusing but beautiful mouthful.
Sipped on a SanTan as I said goodbye to the few people still awake. I could have stayed up all night talking with that crowd, but it was time to pack it in and get ready to go home to family. The SanTan I bought because it was a Galaxy Grapefruit and I wanted to compare it to Grapefruit Sculpin. In some ways, I might have liked it more than Grapefruit Sculpin -- it was nowhere near as sweet, at least. Tons of grapefruit without the sugary grapefruit juice that makes Grapefruit Sculpin almost shandy-like for me.
It's really great to drink great beers from all over with friends late into the night. I recommend it!