As we count down to the New Year, it is hard to ignore the flood… wait … considering what happened this past year I think its best to avoid weather related terminology. I hope that we can avoid relating things to politics also.
Anyway, as we fight off that empty feeling that Christmas leaves us with and begin the mad scramble for that mythical reset button so that we can start the New Year with a “fresh” start it is now time for every media outlet to force-feed us a recap of the year. Best of, lists, things missed, top rated, and most viewed — no matter how you put it … basically a bunch of talking heads reminding us of stuff we already knew about or crap we could care less about. The absurd part is that we cannot get enough of them. As my wife would say, “Cheetos for the mind,” i.e., tastes so good going down, but, no nutritional value whatsoever.
On a personal level, I think it has been a very good year. For one I started this blog, drank a lot of new craft beer and … son of a bitch! This almost turned into one of those annoying Christmas letters that you get from family you met once and somehow they always manage to have your address. If you or anyone you know still sends those, it is time to stop. Post that nonsense on Facebook so we can ridicule, judge and stew in jealously efficiently and with pictures.
There is no saving this now so without further ado.
A Number of Craft Beer Related Things You Should Have Done
Yes, the title needs work, there is always next year.
Enjoy a Beer in the Rain
This might be a little Arizona specific but that is where I live so deal with it. Call in sick, don’t go to class, whatever your day to day is … drop it the minute it starts raining and head to a local brewery. You do not even need to go to one with a view or a patio just go get wet and have a beer. Besides, in Arizona people lose their minds when they are driving in the rain so you’d be late to work anyway.
Take your Dog to O.H.S.O
Not only does O.H.S.O boast one of the best patios in the state it is by far the most dog friendly place there is. Your dog will get a water bowl with their name written on it. They serve your pup homemade dog biscuits on a well-shaded patio. Finally yet importantly, there are leash holders so you can relax a bit to enjoy your beer and a grass area where dogs can do dog things.
Go to a Can/Bottle Release
Despite how you feel about waiting in line for beer this is something you need to do at least once. It is so much more than beer and waiting in line early in the morning is a completely different atmosphere than any other time of day. It also provides a great opportunity to talk about beer with like-minded people and there is a good chance you will recognize a few people from social media or maybe even meet a brewer or two in line.
Go Back to School
More specifically go to Beer School at Helton Brewing; a well-organized event designed to teach craft beer lovers about the craft and the symbiotic relationship it has with the community. The curriculum is diverse thanks to the other breweries invited to teach at this event. Beer School is also a chance to try beer from places that are a little hard to visit. As far as I know, a class happens every few months and they always try to bring in different breweries, but I would gladly attend a class with repeats.
FYI – As of this writing Beer School 5.0 will take place January 28, 2018 — Check it out!
Brew your Own Beer
Even if you have zero interest in brewing beer, it is something that needs to be done at least once if you are a fan of craft beer. No one needs a fancy system to start, just pick up one of the single gallon kits that can be found at most stores. Hell, you don’t even need to make drinkable beer! Which is good news because if you use one of those gallon kits chances are good it will not be drinkable or, in my experience, result in something resembling a 5th grade volcano experiment. The point is to experience the process. There are things to learn that just cannot be appreciated by reading a book or watching what others do. I guarantee it will give you a new level of appreciation of the craft.
Join a Club
With the quality of craft beer that is being produced, it is only going to get harder and harder to get the beer you want. There will still be plenty on tap. I’m talking about cans, special bottle releases, one-offs and barrel aged stuff. Lucky for us, several breweries have rolled out membership programs that provide discounts, glassware, stickers and most importantly first priority on beer releases. Wren House has the Saguaro Society, Helton has the 2144 Club, Tombstone has the Barrel Society, and That Brewery has the Mug Club. One could also join the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild membership, which gives discounts and early access to events like Real Wild and Woody and the Strong Beer Fest. More memberships will probably open up soon; Wren House recently added 100 more spots to the Saguaro Society and I watched it sell out in a little over 30 minutes! You have been warned.
Best Place for a Date
This is a 3-way tie, technically.
Barnoné …. Alternatively, is it Bar None or Barn One? I have it on good authority that if you are not sure, then Barnoné is the proper pronunciation. 12 West, Garage-East and Fire & Brimstone are all located here as well; a collection of small shops inhabited by true craftsmen – No, not those Craftsmen. This is a collective inside a barn located in Gilbert, AZ. Food, beer, coffee, art, wine as well as a few surprises. Everything you could want all within a few feet of each other. It is like a mall food court for hipsters. Yes, you could easily find a place that served craft beer, wine and pizza but there is something unique about having these three entities focused on one skill.
Now that Garage-East and 12 West have a shared patio I truly believe it is a perfect place for a date. I don’t say that in the typical men drink beer women drink wine way. It is nice to enjoy a glass of wine with my wife and sometimes we will both switch to beer. The unique thing about the patio is that its two different atmospheres that are not in conflict. Whether you are drinking wine or beer, if you’re sitting on the 12 West side it feels like a brewery patio. Still, it is not in the center of the city so a little more relaxed. If sitting on the Garage-East side there is a romantic feel and somehow the sunsets are just a slight more beautiful on that side. A typical trip to Barnoné is sharing a glass of wine then heading over to Fire & Brimstone to order a pizza and a quick stop at 12 West for a beer. It sounds like a lot but the distance is probably the same as walking from your own patio to the kitchen.
It is a real shame that this location is not on more of those Top Ten Patio lists that seem to come out once a week here. Also, do yourself a favor and pick up a can of breakfast wine from Garage-East during your visit … you’ll thank me later.
Now the moment everyone has all been waiting for.
The number one thing to do in 2017 and that should continue into 2018 and beyond.
ENJOY YOUR BEER!
That’s it. As long as you’re enjoying the beer in front of you, everything else is just noise.
See you Next Year.