And might I add that it was a complete coincidence that my husband’s vacation time/our plans to visit family in Phoenix serendipitously occurred during Arizona beer week. Lucky us.
I had so many good intentions of writing all sorts of blog posts the whole week we were gone, but alas, this did not happen. You see, the hubs works a lot so it just didn’t seem right not to spend every minute of vacay with him. Awwwww. Sappy, I know. I did manage to tell you all about my deviled egg experiments which was pretty impressive (and delicious) so you have to at least give me credit for that. Plus there were so many awesome beer related activities that it made it hard to keep up. In fact, this is only part one of three for this Beer Diary, Phoenix Travel Edition post. I don’t kid about this Beer Diary by the way, I take notes on every beer I drink these days. Probably because my memory is terrible.
A while back I found this gem posted by a friend of mine on Facebook – a list of the 100 best beer bars in America. Always curious about this sort of thing (obviously), I discovered that Papago Brewing in Phoenix, Arizona ranked among the best. Hubby grew up in North Scottsdale and we’ve been back lots to visit so I was surprised to have never heard of this lovely establishment. Even better, as I looked through their website I discovered that for Arizona beer week they would be hosting a Stone Vertical Epic tasting. I immediately texted hubby with about a gazillion exclamation points. For those of you who haven’t heard of Stone Brewing and their truly legendary Vertical Epic Series, let me give you a quick rundown: Somewhere along the line, Stone Brewing came up with a brilliant idea. Starting on Feb 02, 2002 (02.02.02), release a beer each year with the intent of it being aged to perfection on December 12, 2012 (12.12.12.), and therefore drank on or just after that date. They carefully planned out the recipes for optimum flavor. Stone even went so far as to try each beer every 6 months to ensure that the beer was aging appropriately so they could sound out notification if the beer was gong past its prime. Apparently this didn’t happen but it is good planning, because having all that beer go bad would’ve been a tragedy. Mike (the oft-named hubby), and I have been saving several of these bombers for a while, but are a bit scared to actually try them. Unfortunately the storage conditions were not always perfect, aka the summer we moved to Cincinnati but couldn’t close on our house as planned, so had to leave our moving truck for 3 days in a blistering heatwave. Not ideal. That is another story, for another time, suffice it to say, we drank a lot of beer that week.
Thankfully, Papago Brewing decided to host a tasting of their own, starting with ’07 and including ’08, ’10, ’11, and ’12. Not really sure what happened to ’09, but beggers can’t be choosers. As you can see from the beer diary pic above, I took a few notes during the tasting. In brief:
’07 (far right in the picture above) was light in color. It had a sweet Belgian tripel vibe with lots of cardamom and flavors of fresh apple.
’08 was much hoppier and drier, but very drinkable. It tasted incredibly well balanced, like a perfectly aged double IPA.
’10 was a lot more like ’07, sweeter and quite good. Nothing else particularly stuck out for me apparently.
’11 was malty, sweet, but dry up front. Quite nice with an interesting spice character. This was more like a Belgian double. It had a little heat from the chilies that are supposedly in it but I wasn’t overwhelmed with spice. Overall tasty.
’12 I have to say, I have a dislike for anything too “holiday seasoned” especially if it contains nutmeg. Oof. Nutmeg. Not a fan. I feel that I cannot give this beer a fair review, just to say that personally I did not like. If you like dark, holiday beers you might love it, but it just wasn’t my
cup of tea mug of beer.
I have to say, for me, ’08 was the clear winner of this. It was just soooo well balanced. All the flavors came together perfectly. Yum. Good luck finding it though. Overall I agree that Papago brewing is a great beer bar. They had quite an extensive menu and some eclectic beers for sure, including some of their own. Unfortunately due to the volume (and alcohol percentage) of the Epic tasting beers I wasn’t able try any of the local Papago beers, but the next time we are in the area we will certainly be back.
Super excited to tell you about our other brewery adventures, but that will have to wait for another day. Until then!