Friday, October 23, 2009

Four Peaks Brewing Co (Tempe, AZ)


Spent a Sunday morning with a bar full of rabid Minnesota Vikings fans, rooting for the last minute Raven field goal to miss and it did. If in Minneapolis--no big deal.  Doing it in Phoenix before flying back to the Twin Cities chill--a unique drinking and eating experience.

Besides being a Vikings bar, Four Peaks beer is quite good. Several of the beers have changed since I was here six years ago, but most match my rates and memory. The standard beers seemed to have improved a bit, according to my notes, and the new beers are good additions. HopKnot, an American IPA, was very tasty, especially you like big American hops and don't mind a bit of grassiness. The seasonal was a Pumpkin Porter, which my wife drank for the rest of the game. Mostly allspice for the pumpkin part, but blended well into the porter for a very pleasant beer.

Food was hot, fast and good. Surprisingly fast since the place was pack with purple clad fanatics that I've never seen anywhere short of the Metrodome.  And, while not as creative of a brewpub as others, the base beers are well brewed. Drinking in the heat (100 degrees in October!), a lighter interpretation of each style can be forgiven--and even encouraged.

Love this bar--maybe it will be my retirement pub.  On my first visit, I bought a bucket hat that I wore when my wife and I rim-to-rim hiked the Grand Canyon.  Old and battered now, I replaced the original with may have been the last one in existence.  At least it was the last one in the bar--they sold me the one in the display case.  Whenever I head into nature, I bring Four Peaks with me.

Sadly, I've only made it to Four Peaks twice, but these visits epitomize the very heart of why I beer hunt.

Oak Creek Brewery and Grill (Sedona, AZ)


While some of the beers were of a passable quality, this brewpub suffers from the same problem as many tourist trap restaurants: there's no real incentive to be good when tourists are going to eat and leave. The Micro Light lager was the best beer, which I mistook for a positive sign at first.  Then it went down hill at a break neck pace.

Our food, beer battered onions rings, were bland and the dipping sauce runny. Service was fine, but slow--even though we were sitting at the bar. While watching a baseball game, we noticed a pile of shavings from the ceiling, seemingly when the TVs were installed or dust, on top of the medal display. In the bathroom, the layer of dust on the towel dispenser was thick and seemingly undisturbed. 

Easily one of the most disappointing beer stops in a long time. If you truly must hit a pub while in Sedona, it's better than wine, and maybe no worse than other tourist spots. Or, go to Prescott.

Oggi's Pizza & Brewing Co (Scottsdale, AZ)


Because Papago's couldn't let in our underage niece from ASU, we headed to Oggi's, which was fortunate. Most of the beers were repeats of the same names from the San Clemente Oggi's we visited on our previous California trip, but were well brewed and enjoyable. The Black Magic Stout was especially good, and a fine dessert after pizza. 

The five cheese pizza was fantastic, and possibly one of the best cheese pizzas we've ever had. With multiple TVs around the bar, it was a nice place to catch up on baseball and football games while travelling while not being distracting to our conversation. A highly enjoyable stop that I would gladly repeat.

Note on 11/8/12: Sadly, between the writing of this post and today, Oggi's in Scottsdale is reported as closed on BeerAdvocate.  Beer and pizza were good, but the odd, strip mall location might have had something to do with the closing, but just speculation.