In no particular order and based on entirely subjective rankings, I’ll be detailing some of the best craft brews of each state in the Best of the Brews series.
I’m starting this series off in Arizona, my adopted home state and a state saturated with great craft brews. I don’t know why that is actually—it’s not exactly instinctual to make craft brew in Arizona, what with the heat and the subpar water quality. It’s here though and there are some amazing people around the state mixing grains and hops for the ultimate mouth parties. (Yep, mouth parties—it’s weird but let’s go with it!)
With brews that focus on malt characteristics, rather than the psycho-hopped IPAs coming out, Nimbus manages to shine with their heady Old Monkey Shine–an English Strong Ale–and their Oatmeal Stout, which is creamy and full-bodied without the sweetness that sometimes characterizes Oatmeal Stouts. In other words, delicious.
Four Peaks is one of the largest craft breweries in Arizona with a few locations around the Phoenix valley. The hype is well-deserved. Kiltlifter, one of their most popular brews, is a full-bodied Scottish style Ale that finishes with a dry, somewhat smoky finish. Their Pumpkin Porter, released for only a few months every year, tends to run out fast because of its rabid fan following.
In my humble opinion, San Tan is creating some of the most wicked brews in the state. It also helps that the brewery is only a short bike ride away from me. Their seasonal Sex Panther Double Chocolate Porter is a dream of malty chocolaty goodness, while the Epicenter Amber Ale stands solidly as one of the most classic, drinkable Ambers I’ve had.
THAT Brewery is a relatively new brewery in the state, but it’s quickly picked up fans with its selection of great classic beers. Their earthy Red IPA is balanced and incredibly drinkable, while their nitro Irish Stout makes for some more easy drinking.
Located along one of the lost portions of Route 66, Mother Road champions beer alongside local history. And don’t you love beer with a story? Their Lost Highway Imperial Black IPA is one of the finest IPAs I’ve had in a while. It’s a big heavy beer, rich with roasted coffee flavors that balance out at the end into a smooth finish. The Gold Road Kolsch style Ale—dry and slightly fruity—was positively made for warm summer afternoons.
What Arizona craft breweries am I missing? Which state should I profile next?
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