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A Return Visit to the Valley of the Sun

Every year at this time, I make my annual trek to the Valley of the Sun, which is essentially the Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe area of Arizona. I returned there last week and as I was preparing to write my article about my most recent beer travel, I came to the realization that while I went to Arizona last year and took photos, I never wrote about it. These photos will begin with my visits to O.H.S.O. Eatery & nano-Brewery, and McFate Brewing Company in 2017; and will end with my visits to Wren House Brewing, Scottsdale Beer Company, and Blasted Barley in 2018.

My typical Valley of the Sun weekend begins with go-kart racing in Scottsdale and ends with a convention in Tempe. This means that I set my GPS for a brewery that will get me closest to the race track in Scottsdale. In 2017 my first destination was O.H.S.O. Eatery & nano-Brewery, a brewpub located in the Arcadia area of Phoenix. Continue reading

Phantom Carriage Three Year Anniversary Photos

These photos were taken Saturday evening at Phantom Carriage Brewery in Carson, where they held their 3 Year Anniversary Party & Nuclear Blast Beer Release party. The event featured more than 20 of Phantom Carriage’s wild beers, including cellared rarities, plus rare guest beers from local craft breweries. Naturally their house-smoked BBQ was available, as was the music; the horror films, as usual, were available inside.

If you had not heard, Phantom Carriage has stepped up their brewing game and are actually canning some of their beers now; on Saturday they released a collaboration they did with Nuclear Blast USA, the self-described “world’s biggest independent heavy metal record label.” The beer, Blast Beast, is a Black India Pale Lager. I do not know how much is still available; you should probably just head over now if interested. Continue reading

A Visit to Kern River Brewing Company

These photos were taken Wednesday afternoon at Kern River Brewing Company in Kernville, and Lucky Luke Brewing Company in Palmdale. I needed to do someone a favor in Gorman, and since that was 75 miles of a 175 mile drive, I decided it was time for me to make my long overdue visit to Kern River Brewing Company (KRBC).

As I drove along the Kern River I thought back to the days that I used to ride up to Kernville with my buddy Gary; it was then that I realized that it had to be close to 40 years since the last time I was up in that area. I wondered if I would even recognize the few landmarks that I remembered from our exploits of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Continue reading

The Craft Beer Guy 2017 Year in Review

As the year draws to a close, it is time to think back on what 2017 has brought to the craft beer world; more specifically what has happened in the Craft Beer Guy world. As 2016 came to a pretty crappy end for me, I did not do one last year; for that reason, I will begin with the end of 2016 as it segued into 2017.

steelcraft soft open

Smog City – Steelcraft – Bixby Knolls

My coverage of 2016 ended pretty much the way 2017 started, with the opening of Smog City Brewing Company’s satellite tasting room, Smog City – SteelCraft in the Bixby Knolls area of Long Beach. They opened the location at the end of December; by the middle of January they had applied for, and were granted the ability to sell growlers and bottles to go.

Later in January the inaugural L.A. Beer and Food Festival was presented by the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild. The sold-out event featured close to 50 member breweries of the LA Brewers Guild as well as 15 local food vendors. This year the L.A. Beer and Food Festival will be held Saturday, January 27. Buy your tickets now, before it sells out.

Just a bit of trivia; while there were about 50 LA County Brewers Guild members in January of 2017, today there are almost 70! Continue reading

Sonoma Pride Tour

Sonoma Pride was originally conceived by Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing in July 2015 to celebrate living and working in Sonoma County. Since then they have released two beers annually under the Sonoma Pride brand. After the wildfires of early October, Russian River began brewing Sonoma Pride, a blonde ale, with all the proceeds from that beer going to help victims of the wildfires. To ensure the monies they raised went to the people that need it, they teamed with the King Ridge Foundation to begin a fundraiser for the victims of the Sonoma County wildfires. In a show of unity, more than 60 craft breweries and craft beer related businesses joined in to donate a brew that proceeds would be donated from; to date they have raised over $400,000.

When I left Sparks I had friends to visit and breweries to see, so I headed west on I-80. As there had been snow overnight, it made for a very scenic drive. Continue reading

Craft Breweries of Sparks Nevada

As I mentioned in my last article, I went to Sparks to bury my good friend, George. I did not bother using Google to check out the craft beer scene in Sparks because I did not know how much free time I would have; besides my friend Jon Urch had gifted me a bottle of Leafy Greens from Revision Brewing a couple months ago, so I had a good idea where I was going to head after the reception.

The reception after the funeral was held at Paddy & Irene’s Irish Pub, which meant nothing to me at the time but when I pulled into the Victorian Square parking lot I immediately got the feeling that George was looking out for me as right across the walkway from Paddy & Irene’s was Great Basin Brewing Company. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: New Mexico

Leaving El Paso, I headed west for about an hour to Las Cruces, New Mexico which was a planned stop for the day. I was aware of three craft breweries in Las Cruces, but as it was Monday, one was closed; I chose High Desert Brewing because it was the closest to my motel.

High Desert Brewing Company is a brewpub that has been open since July of 1997 and is apparently the second oldest brewery in New Mexico. Everything they brew is done in small batches of about 100 gallons each. Apparently they brew 27 different beers; on the night of my visit they had 11 available as well as their root beer.

While being shown around the brewhouse, I was told that High Desert Brewing never had any aspirations of becoming bigger than they are; they always just wanted to be a simple, local spot for craft beer and food lovers. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: Texas

These photos were taken over the course of three days in Texas, beginning with Grapevine Craft Brewery on October 21, Jester King Brewery, Freetail Brewing, and Pint & Plow on October 22, and finishing with Ode Brewing on October 23.

When I left Louisiana I set my sights on Grapevine, Texas and Grapevine Craft Brewery.

Grapevine Craft Brewery is a production brewery that has been around for four years. I picked it as a destination primarily because I thought Grapevine was Van Horn; which meant once again I had no idea where I was. I had meant to avoid Dallas, but there I was; at least I had a friend that lived down the road a piece and she met me at Grapevine. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: Alabama and Mississippi

These photos were taken in Anniston, Alabama on October 19; and various parts of Mississippi on October 20, as I continued to work my way home.

There is something to be said for technology, but sometimes I wish I at least carried a decent paper map with me since trying to see the big picture on an S4’s screen is a lot easier said than done. When I left South Carolina I had decided that instead of taking I-20, I would take I-10. Unfortunately, I did not know what city to put in that would force my GPS to head to I-10 so I made a guess that was totally wrong. I would mention where I was, but I have no clue; I was not on an interstate, they were basically county roads. I was in the middle of nowhere South Carolina where it abuts nowhere Georgia. I also ended up on I-20.

What this meant for me craft beer-wise was that nothing in the part of Georgia I went through, including Atlanta, opened until 4:00 PM. I am sorry, but I was not going to stick around Atlanta for rush hour just to wait for a brewery to open. I will hit Georgia on another trip. Continue reading

Craft Beer Tour 2017: South Carolina

These photos were taken over the course of two days; October 17 in Columbia and October 18 in Charleston, South Carolina.

When I left Charlotte, I set my sights for Blythewood, South Carolina where I would be spending the night with my brother Steve and his wife. A few weeks back I asked Steve if he had any favorite breweries we could visit; he responded that he had shared a flight once, with our dad, back in 2010. We were going to have to go another route.

Fortunately, Steve has friends that do know craft beer and we were directed to Conquest Brewing in Columbia. Conquest Brewing is a microbrewery that has been open about five years and is Columbia, South Carolina’s first production craft brewery. Continue reading

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