Overcoming the six foot snow banks and ice-laden interstate highways, your reward was to reach the Woodlands Plaza Hotel in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona where the prize of food, beer and music awaited. 650 thirsty beer drinkers braved the savage winter weather and were accommodated by 22 beer vendors and a few local restaurants and bakeries. The one large ballroom featured hanging crystal chandeliers and housed most of the breweries as well as the stage where the band blasted Latin music to keep the mostly college-age crowd constantly animated. A local radio station also added to the festivities by hosting give-aways based on such competitive criteria as color of your underwear. The competition was fierce but entertaining!
The Arizona brewing scene is expanding at a rapid rate and this was evidenced by the number of new breweries showing their products here for the first time. Nimbus Brewing from Tucson presented their first batch of Palo Verde Pale Ale; straw colored and medium-bodied, the flavor profile was dominated by a strong hop flavor and aftertaste. Look for their brews to reach the Arizona market in February of 1997. Sonora Brewing Company has been operating only three months with their 20 bbl system but they have 35 draft accounts lined up throughout the Phoenix area. Their Sonora Amber is a clear amber color with an even hop/malty flavor. The Sonora Weizen is a clear straw color with a wheaty, sweet flavor, light body, and finishes very cleanly. Seasonals are planned for the future. The Winter Ale from McFarlane Brewing has a sweet, spicy flavor with hints of cinnamon and orange peel. The Hefeweizen is a hazy gold color with a clove aroma, slightly tart flavor, medium body, and crisp finish. Both are available at 140 draft accounts around central Arizona supplied by the brewery's 20 bbl system and four 40 bbl fermenters. From the new Four Peaks came their Pale Ale, a clear amber color, the nice hop over malt flavor was matched well with the medium body. The Scottish Amber is a clear amber color with a dry malty flavor, medium body, and short aftertaste. The Arizona Peach has an intense peach aroma and flavor with a nice mouthfeel. Look for products from this 7 bbl system to be available at 30 draft accounts around Tempe.
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - January, 1997
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