Last Weekend's Beer, Today

Eno Sarris, March 14, 2016

Six packs and pitchers are made for friends. It almost doesn't matter the quality of the beer.

A great beer in a pitcher was made more fun by quantity this last weekend. A terrible beer in a sampler -- at Desert Eagle -- was made more tolerable by a good friend. A boring couple of beers were made more annoying by arriving in my house in a six pack. 

Stone IPA
Four Peaks Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale

Context made one of these better, the other worse. 

The first was had at a Boring Bar in downtown Scottsdale. The bar was full of people older than I, more excited than I about Bruce Springsteen, as they were pre-partying for his show around the corner. So we barely snagged a seat as doors opened, and through the crowd all I could see that I would even put in my gullet was Boddingtons. As the seas parted, our waitress informed us of another underwhelming beer list, so my friend wasn't able to take a picture of me drinking Miller Lite as he wanted. The Stone tasted like liquid gold. 

Later on, we were talking baseball, and that was fun. But I had to pay seven dollars a pop for semi-warm Kilt Lifter, which I find boring anyway. Made warm by my hand in a bottle, it was way worse than boring. So I focused on the baseball talk at the Society of American Baseball Research Analytics Conference, which is good. 

Arizona Wilderness Refuge IPA
Dubina Brewing Bell Road IPA
Mother Road Tower Station IPA

All of these beers were had in a pitcher at the FanGraphs / BeerGraphs meetup last Friday at the Paradise Valley OHSO. I love when breweries have other taps on hand, it really makes it easier for me to visit them. 

The Hoppy wasn't the best beer of the night, but since it was bright and citrussy and light, it was a perfect pitcher beer. Those pitchers got "et" up by the crowd. The Refuge was also great, but more west coast and dank. Somehow, despite the deeper malt character, it was less strong than the Hoppy (6.7% to 6.8%), but it felt way bigger. Both were hits with most people. 

The Dubina hit me all wrong. Like fermented spoiled oranges. Like they wanted to add some Belgian characteristics but instead ended up with yeastiness and citrus and that's all. I had my three ounces and was so happy there were other people to drink that one up. 

So I finished the night with pitcher after pitcher of the Tower Station. Not by myself, that would be over the top. With many friends. Who, I think at least, agreed with my idea that this was a beer that almost provided a bridge from the east and west coasts. Pineapple juicy fruitness at least gave a nod to the northeast, while there was more malt and caramel from the west coast. The result is piney and pineappley, which is a really fun combo. This beer gets no hype but try to get some. 


Saturday I spent eight hours trying to get from Phoenix to San Francisco, which is about five hours too much. Rain! 

SanTan MoonJuice IPA
SanTan HopShock IPA
Three Floyds Alpha King APA
Hops & Grain A Pale Mosaic IPA

SanTan makes a few good beers, but they all fall short of great for me. The MoonJuice features galaxy, the HopShock nelson, and I love those hops! The MoonJuice has a ripe mango nose that makes you want to drink it! The HopShock has that stone fruit sweetness that gives you hop juice! The MoonJuice is a bit flat and doesn't come with anything after the nose. The HopShock comes with too much malt and caramel (born on 1/16/16) to impress. 3.5 star beers, in almost every way. But at least they are doing things that make me interested! 

While I gave away as many of the rest of the six pack of the SanTans as I could, I wish I could have more of the Alpha King. Three Floyds never lets you down, and they do a bit of zigging when others zag. This aggressive pale ale that drinks like an IPA is piney and wonderful and a bit old school in some ways, but then it has this floral element that sets it apart. Some call it tea, if you want another word. What a world. 

The Hops & Grain was a nice introduction to a brewery I hadn't had before. A friend brought it from Austin. It starts perhaps better than it ends, with that noice mosaic stone fruit nose at the beginning, and a decent body, but maybe not enough bright crispness at the end to get it more than four stars for me. I want more from them, though, and hey, just a bit of missing brightness was a really the smallest of flaws when put up against the body of beers I had this weekend. (Still, it was a baseball weekend in Arizona, so it was great.)