Monthly Archives: February 2014

AZ Beer Week – Day 3

The third day of AZ Beer Week brought lots of events and plenty of new beers to taste.My first stop was at Whole Foods in Chandler.  They were hosting a beer tasting for Quail Distributing and their variety of small breweries that they distribute for.  The one brewery I really wanted to check out was the Nebraska Brewing Company because it hits so close to home and it’s good to support those from where I grew up.  Here’s a summary:Stop #1 – Chandler Whole Foods – Quail Distributing showcase
Cismontane (Ranch Santa Margarita, CA) – They had by far the most interesting beer here.  It was called The Mesa and it was essentially half beer, half wine.  Not figuratively, but a literal 50-50 mix.  Pretty much a sour but the rep made a great point that it was a good transition bee between wine and beer.

Black Market (Temecula, CA) – I was hit or miss on their beers.  Their Hefeweizen was very true to the style with good amounts of smoothness and banana taste but their Imperial IPA wasn’t anything special

Black Diamond (Concord, CA) – I tried the Peak XV Imperial Porter and I wasn’t too impressed with it.  Nothing that stood out too me but not terrible.  I was impressed with the quality of their beers and later in the night bought a White Pale Ale to try later.

Nebraska Brewing Company – I tried a couple beers from them.  The first was the EOS Hefeweizen which was a basic Hefe, nothing to write home about.  I also Melange A Trois which is a pale ale aged in Chardonnay Barrels.  I wasn’t overly impressed with it but definitely interested enough to try a full bottle when I find it next.

Rough Draft Brewing (San Diego, CA) – Their selections varied from IPA to IPA to IPA.  Not a whole lot of variety but they did have a few different types, including a session IPA meant to be an easier drinking beer and a Southern IPA using only Southern hops.  I wanted to love these beers but I didn’t.

Destihl Brewery – I actually have tried this brewery before.  I was part of the initial West Valley kickoff (at Ground Control) a couple months ago.  The only problem for me is that their sours are highly featured and I’m not interested in them.  I liked their IPA and one of other beer I tried.  Here I tried the 120 Schilling Scotch Ale which I did like a lot.  I talked a lot with the rep from their company and they seem to have a strong backing.  They are rapidly expanding across the US with both their regular and sour beers.  The rep showed me pictures of all the room that they had to expand at their production facility and the options they’d have in the future.

-The final brewery was Unity Vibration Living Kombucha Tea.  Let’s just just call it hippie drink.  I not sure that it qualifies as beer because it’s actually that was dry-hopped.  The one that I tried was Bourbon Peach American Wild Ale.  It was a sour and it didn’t interest me at all.

Event #2 – Dogfish Head Tap Takeover @ World of Beers Tempe
-The main goal was to try the 120 Minute IPA.  At this event, the only way to try the 120 Minute IPA was to buy a flight of 4 beers.  Knowing that I needed to drive later, I decided not to do all DFH beers

-Beer #1: Firestone Walker – Pivo Pils.  One of the beers that chose to balance out the massive IPAs.  A pilsner is a very light beer that’s popular in Europe.  It’s a good change from the usually bitter beers that I drink but just not a beer style I like that much.

-Beer #2: Weizenbock – a beer week collaboration between several local brewers (Wanderlust, Mother Road, Four Peaks, Huss, Dragoon and Ten Fifty-Five).  This was interesting beer that I had to try to help celebrate Beer Week.  Weizenbock is a German-style Dark Wheat Beer.  I wasn’t too familiar with the style and expected it to be a lighter beer, it wasn’t.  I wasn’t a fan of this beer.

-Beer #3 – Dogfish Head – Hellhound on My Ale.  A very strong Imperial IPA (10% ABV).  This was very tasty but the strong alcohol taste kept it from being a favorite.

-Beer #4 – Dogfish Head – 120 Minute IPA.  I’m still not convinced that the waitress poured the right beer!  I heard her telling another customer that she was sorry that she poured the wrong beer and that they weren’t marked very well.  My 120 looked different than the guys next to me, much darker.  I liked the beer I was given but I don’t know if it was the elusive 120 minutes IPA.

-Overall this stop was a bust.  I had high hopes for this event with all the great beers that Dogfish has but I wasn’t overly impressed with any of the beers that I tried.

Stop #3 – Freaks of the Industry – Taste of Tops – Tempe
-I’ve never been here before but I read up on it…a great liquor store that installed some taps and keeps premium craft beer on tap as well as local favorites.  Finding a spot to park was tough!  I ended up parking at a CVS and walking.

-The bar itself was very small and even worse with the huge crowd.  The event brought together the beers of Odell’s (Colorado) and Green Flash (San Diego).  Doug Odell, the owner of Odell’s and Chuck Silva, the brewmaster at Green Flash were both at the event.  I was able to talk briefly with both of them.  The beer selection was a little tough…I love Odell’s beers but their Friek line is their sours, so no thanks!  I went with Le Freak from Green Flash, a Belgian IPA.  It was good but nothing that blew me away.

-After finishing that beer I checked out the liquor store which had a great selection.  I settled for a 6-pack of Sucks from Lagunitas.  This their seasonal double IPA that was popular enough to be full time.  Once I got home, I gave it a try and it was easily the best beer that I had all-day and could become one of my favorite beers.

AZ Beer Week – Day 2

I wasn’t able to make it out for the first day of Beer Week due to work.  That cause me to miss the biggest events, more specifically the Strong Beer Festival on Saturday.  I decided to take off Saturday and wait to start until Sunday.

My first event was on Saturday at Ground Control.  They were running a special on Flagstaff beers.

Stop #1 – Ground Control:
-Flagstaff flight.  They were offering a flight of 4 beers, two from Historic Brewery and 2 from Wanderlust Brewery.  However, one of the Wanderlust beers was already gone, so I got to choose another.  My choice was the Breakfast at Ian’s.  The beer was made by the local brewery, Fate in Scottsdale and named after the craft beer expert at Ground Control, Ian.

-Piehole Cherry Vanilla Porter from Historic.  This was one of the most impressive local beers that I had all of Beer Week.  It was delicious, unique and just about all you can ask for from a local brewery looking to make a name for themselves.

-Chateau Americana and Joy Ryed.  A couple local IPAs with quite different styles.  They were good but nothing special.

-Breakfast at Ian’s.  I wanted to love this beer, but I didn’t.  I have great respect for Ian and everything he’s done for craft beer in the west valley but this beer was just average.  Nothing extraordinary about it to make it stand out against other beers.

-I decided to try another beer, Agrestic Ale by Firestone Walker.  I asked if it was a sour but the bartender wasn’t sure.  I was a little skeptical because it was an ‘American Wild Ale’ and sure enough it was a sour.  It was a little bit better than most sours I’ve had but I still haven’t acquired the taste for sours.  The bartender was gracious enough to offer me another beer.

-Das Alt Folks – Huss Brewing.  Another local brewery in Tempe.  The Alt style is a traditional German style.  I wasn’t too fond of this beer.  I guess I’m just not a fan for the style.

AZ Beer Week – Pre-Beer Week

With my fiance out of the country, Valentine’s day became my unofficial kickoff of beer week!  I mentioned in my previous post that Arizona is not really on the radar for craft brewing.  Well if you divide up the valley, the West Valley is even further behind than most.  Just recently the first brewery in the West Valley opened, Peoria Artisan Brewery.  Don’t let the name fool you, it’s actually in Litchfield Park but more on that later.

The West Valley is also short of beer destinations but that is slowly changing.  Leading the charge is Ground Control, a gastropub in Litchfield Park.  They live by the simple policy of ‘No Crap on Tap’, all craft beer, no filler.  Another great location is Caballeros, a restaurant with good food and even better beer list.

On this eve of Beer Week, I decided to check out some of these west valley establishments.

Stop #1: Peoria Artisan Brewery – Litchfield Taproom
-This is the 3rd or 4th time that I’ve been here and each time their beer selection has been vastly different.  The reason for that is that it’s a very small establishment and they only have a 1 barrel system (makes ~ 2 large kegs).  One of their biggest challenges right now has been keeping beers on-tap because they’ve been doing so well.  They had to limit the number of growlers they fill just to make sure that they have enough on tap.

-So the name…there are a couple of breweries that would like to make Peoria their home but the city of Peoria is having a hard time getting the licensing set-up for a brewery to open.  Freak’N brewery has a spot in Peoria but hasn’t been able to open yet.  The Peoria Artisan Brewery decided to take another approach and open a taproom to get their name and beers out there.

-The first beer I had was “Hop Hunt” which was a collaboration with 8 Bit Brewing, another brewery in the West Valley that’s just waiting for the right time and funding to get up and running.  They are looking in the Avondale/Goodyear area.  This beer is a double IPA and very tasty.

-The second beer I had was the “Haboob” their black IPA.  Initially this was just going to be a seasonal beer but they’ve had such a great response that it’s gonna be in the regular rotation.  This is my favorite beer from them.

Stop #2 – Caballeros
-First beer – Rubicon – Monkey Knife Fight – An interesting pale ale from the Sacramento area.  Nothing too special about this one.
-Second beer – Dirt Wolf – Victory Brewing in PA.  My first beer from Victory as they just started distributing to Arizona.  This is an Imperial/Double IPA.  Coming in at 8.7% ABV it is very strong but the alcohol is masked very well.

Arizona Beer Week

Arizona Beer Week is coming to a close tonight.  Arizona is far from a beer destination, especially with two of the two beer meccas (San Diego and Colorado) being so close.  At this time, I don’t think you’d be able to find any Arizona beer outside the state.  The two big breweries in-state are Four Peaks Brewery in Tempe and SanTan Brewery in Chandler.  Four Peaks has long been the state’s flagship brewery but it is SanTan that’s making the first big step in becoming a regional brewery that will now distribute to several states in the area.

The craft beer scene in AZ is booming just like in most areas.  Several new breweries have opened in the last year and many more are in the planning stages.  Arizona Wilderness Brewery in Gilbert has received rave reviews especially from the website Ratebeer.com.  They named Arizona Wilderness the top new brewery…in the world.  They also listed two of their beers on the top new beers and listed the brewery as one of the top breweries period.  Pretty lofty accolades for a brewery that’s only been open for about 6 months.  AZ Wilderness is just one of the new breweries that has the potential to put AZ on the craft beer map.

The AZ beer week not only highlighted the local breweries but also put on events involving other breweries, including many from close by and some from not so close by (Oregon and Chicago).  It was a great week to be a craft beer enthusiast.  The next few posts I will highlight some of the events I attended, the beers I tried and what I found at these events. 

What’s in a Name?

Biff is a nickname that I first received while in pharmacy school.  A classmate decided that I ‘looked like a Biff’ and it just stuck with me since then and I have embraced it.

I use Biff’s Brewing Company and other variations when talking about the beers that I make.  So no, I don’t have a brewery, I just like to pretend that I do.  When I get interested in a hobby I get to go all-out with it and that’s what I’ve done with homebrewing.  Not only do I brew my own beer, but I bottle it, make labels, give it out to friends and now put it in kegs.  It’s become a passion of mine and who knows, maybe in the future there will be a Biff’s Brewing Company but for now it’s just a name.  Below are three examples of beers that I made at the end of last year and the labels I designed.

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Biff’s Brewing

I’ve decided to use this blog as a way to document my time as a homebrewer and craft beer enthusiast.  I hope that this blog will help people find great new beer that they’ve never tried or even make their own.  I started off drinking Bud Lite and not considering any other options but now I’ve learned about all the different styles and beers that are out there.  I became a serious homebrewer about a year ago and here I am trying to pass that craft onto others.