Sep 18, 2018

Touring Tempe
May, 1999

By Bobby Bush

Hey, itís part three of a twelve brewpub trek through the Phoenix area. Pick up the last two issues to get up to speed with the program.

Dinnertime was approaching as we sauntered into Arizona Roadhouse & Brewery to find a friendly, somewhat curious group of employees and customers. Speaking at length with head brewer Scott Bartman and chef Jason Villines, we partook of much needed and delicious meals of be-planked salsa salmon and sandwiches. As good as the food was, the beer from this new (opened December 1997) brewpub was even better. From light to dark, we tried all available. Sun Light Ale was a sweetly hopped cream ale. Bavarian in style, Hayden Mill Hefeweizen was subtly spiced, not overbearing like many hefes. A malty body followed by hidden hop flavor endowed Roadhouse Red, while Arizona IPA was hop, hop, hoppy. Like a chocolate milkshake, Baseline Brown Porter was smooth, although a little thin. Likewise Superstition Stout, while tasty, lacked appropriate body.

Beer, food and good company, what more could we ask for? Arizona Roadhouse was a fun place. But (thereís always that but) itís time to move on to an even newer establishment.

Opened only since May 1998, Gordon Bierschís Tempe location fit the Palo Alto, CA chainís image to a tee. A huge stainless brewery gleamed behind glass. This second floor brewpub overlooked 5th Street. Somewhat formal but unpretentious, Gordon Biersch is the class of chain brewpubs. And its German-style beers are always right on. We skipped the Pilsner, but ordered tall, cool glasses of the rest. Marzen was supple mild with medium body, leaving a sprite finish. Dark and sweet, Dunkles (pronounced DUNE-kless) would be more appealing with increased body. Blonde Bock, deep gold in hue, was a meaty, hoppy lager more to my liking. A seasonal Wiesenhelles offered light refreshing taste within its sparkling gold presence.

Time was wasting as we hurried out to Tempeís original brewpub, Bandersnatch. A bar forever and brewing since 1988, this dark though personable brewpub sits across the street from Arizona Stateís football stadium, also home to the luckless NFL Cardinals. Though Iíd visited many times before, itís always interesting to see what Bandersnatch is up to. Sun Devil IPA was nitro-instilled, full of hops within its medium body. Pazz Pazz Az was a fruity, sweet amber, while nitro-ed English ESB was bland. Also boosted with nitrogen, the Sweet Stout was extremely smooth, topping a milky, roasty body with slight hop essence. Leaving in too big of a hurry to try a taste of Classic Pale Ale, Amber Ale or BanderWeizen, we rushed to the nightís final destination.

Iíd also visited Tombstone Brewing years earlier, shortly after it opened in January 1996. What once was a warehouse and hopeful Brew-On-Premises brew-your-own facility, had changed only slightly. Barren concrete floor were now furnished with tables and booths. A BOP was under construction behind the bar. And the beers were very disappointing.

Memories from Ď96 left me with pleasing thoughts of tasty- though not crafted to any particular style -brews. Actuality, some two-plus years latter, revealed a overly tangy, effervescent, thin Saguaro Pale Ale and a medicinal, astringent though dark, Snowbird (oatmeal) Stout. Other choices, werenít even tempting. We passed on usually attractive brews like Sedona Scotch Ale, Prickly Pear Porter and an interesting sounding Honey-Lemon Ale. Hey look, 1) the night was really late; 2) we were all road weary; 3) we still had to negotiate the streets back to our Scottsdale hotel rooms; and 4) nobodyís perfect. Iíll give Tombstone another try when travel and weather conditions take me back to that friendly Arizona locale.

Meanwhile, we have one more day to finish this beer adventure. Hang on to your pint glasses and join us for more exciting adventures of.... sorry, I got carried away. ĎCheers, Ďtill next time when we're Departing Phoenix.

This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.

© Bobby Bush


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