How to prepare for a trip

I thought it might be nice to show a different side of the process today.  I’m getting ready to take a trip to Phoenix, AZ and that means that I have to do some prep work to figure out which breweries I want to try to get to while I’m there.  Here’s what I do.

Step 1:  Get a list of breweries in the area from BeerAdvocate.  There are 33 breweries listed on this page.  Definitely have to start culling down.  If you look close, 2 of these breweries are Gordon Biersch and one is a BJ’s Brewhouse.  Nothing against these places, but they are national chains and I can visit them anywhere.  They get culled down right away.

Step 2: Go to the website of each of the breweries on this page.  Check out the beer selection and try to cull out places that don’t look like they are either closed or not open yet.  In this case, the very first brewery on the list (Cartel Brewery) comes up with a dead website and is listed as permanently closed on Google Maps.  Better to find this stuff out ahead of time.

Step 3: How does the place come off based on their website?  Do they have a good beer selection?  Do they look like they might have some interesting twist that would make them good to talk about on the blog?  When you look at 30 or so brewery websites, it can get extremely repetitive.  Even I can lose interest after a while.  So, I try to find distinguishing things like odd beer styles or something that makes the brewery stand out.  In this case, there were two notables.  The first is The Perch Brewery.  On the down side, I can’t find any information whatsoever on their website about their beer.  Not a good sign.  But they have a collection of tropical birds that I’m sure will make for an interesting blog post. So they will sit high on the list.  The second place that stands out is Helton Brewing.  First, they have a 1 year anniversary party on a night that I will be in Phoenix. That’s a good sign.  Second, they have a really interesting video on their site that tells me they have a fantastic sense of humor.

Step 4: Does each place serve food?  This is a way for me to sneak in extra brewery trips (or sometimes any brewery trip at all) when I’m on travel.  I tend to travel with other people.  If I have a list of breweries that also serve food, I can suggest them when the group is looking to go to dinner. For this trip, I am traveling alone.  But I’m attending a conference and sometimes a group at the conference will want to go to dinner.  Same trick applies.  Not having food doesn’t take a brewery off the list or count in the rack and stack phase.  It’s just something that I can reference when I need to find a place fast that has food.

Step 5: How far is the brewery from the hotel?  If I’m stuck on a trip without a rental car, this step is critical as I’ll only be able to hit the breweries super close.  However, I will have a car for this trip.  So, it’s more of a lower key decision maker.  Do I want to drive 20 minutes to get to brewery A or 15 minutes to get to brewery B?  In other words, does brewery A looks so much better than brewery B that I’m willing to drive more.

Step 6:  Double check Google Maps. BeerAdvocate is a good site.  But, they aren’t perfect.  Often going to the general area where the hotel is in Google Maps and simply typing in “brewery” will show a few additional breweries that I would otherwise have missed.  I still have to be careful here as I can still find places that don’t look open yet, such as Grand Avenue Brewing Company.

Step 7: Get advice.  In the case of Phoenix, I know a good number of people there and can have them chime in on the list that I’ve made.  They may have insider information that I’m not aware of.

Step 8: Rack and stack.  Time to go through my list and prioritize.  I don’t like to take anything off the list at this point.  Just put them in some sort of order.  This way if I’m (for example) hanging out with people in Scottsdale or Tempe, I can look at what is close by and see what I have on the place in my handy dandy list.

So, what does the actual list look like for Phoenix?  Why, it looks much like this at the moment:

Pearch Brewery – 232 S Wall St, Chandler, AZ 85225
http://perchpubbrewery.com/
26 minutes from hotel – Have food – Have tropical rescue birds! – Interesting styles such as cinnamon honey nut brown and grilled lemon cream ale
Mon-Fri 11am -1am Sat-Sun 9am-1am

Helton Brewing – 2144 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016
http://heltonbrewing.com/
7 minutes from hotel – Have food – 1 year anniversary party May 20 – Funny beer fairy video on website – good selection of beer
Tue-Fri: 3pm-10pm, Sat: 12pm-11pm, Sun: 12pm-8pm, Mon: Closed

Sun Up Brewing Compnay – 330 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85014
https://sunup.beer/
10 minutes from hotel – Have food – Wide selection including interesting names like May The Schwartz Be With you and interesting styles like Barrel Aged Plum Barleywine
Sunday – Thursday 11:00 – 11:00, Friday – Saturday 11:00 – 12:00 midnight

Pedal Haus Brewery – 730 S Mill Ave #102, Tempe, AZ 85281
https://pedalhausbrewery.com/
16 minutes from hotel – Have food – Really interesting beer selection including Japanese style rice lager
Mon-Thu: 11am – 11pm
, Fri-Sat: 11am – 1am, Sun: 11am – 10pm

Wren House Brewing – 2125 N 24th St, Phoenix, AZ 85008
http://www.wrenhousebrewing.com/
6 minutes from hotel – No food, but allow deliveries – Historic building, “scour the earth for recipes”
Fri-Sat: 12pm-11pm, Sun: 12am-9pm, Mon: 4pm-9pm, Tue: 12pm-10pm

Beer Research Institute – 1641 S Stapley Dr, Mesa, AZ 85204
http://www.thebeerresearchinstitute.com/home.html
23 minutes from hotel – Have food – Interesting name, not sure it’s more than just a regular brewery
Fri-Sat: 11am-12am, Sun-Wed: 11am-10pm

Goldwater Brewing Co. – 3608 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
http://www.goldwaterbrewing.com/
18 minutes from hotel – No food – Interesting looking, brewing equipment off to the side of the bar – good selection (have a scotch ale)
Fri – Sat: 12pm – 12am, Sun: 12pm – 8pm, Mon – Tue: 2pm – 10pm

North Mountain Brewing – 522 E Dunlap Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85020
http://www.northmountainbrewing.com/
22 minutes from hotel – Have food – Good selection of beer including belgians and scotttish ales
Fri-Sat: 11am-11pm, Sun: 11am-9pm, Mon-Wed: 3pm-10pm

Arizona Wilderness Brewing – 721 N Arizona Ave, Gilbert, AZ 85233
http://azwbeer.com/
21 minutes from hotel – Have food – Wide range of styles – Hard to tell anything else from website
MON-THURS: 11AM-11PM, FRI-SAT: 11AM-1AM, SUN: 11AM-10PM

Helio Basin Brewing Co. – 3935 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018
http://www.heliobasinbrewing.com/
10 minutes from hotel – Have food – new brewery – featured in beeradvocate, but styles don’t range much
Tue – Thur: 3pm – 11pm, Fri- Sat: 11am – 11pm, Sun: 10am – 9pm, Mon: Closed

McFate Brewing – 1312 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85257
https://mcfatebrewing.com/
13 Minutes from hotel – Have food – Pretty sure I’ve been there before when they were Fate Brewing – Don’t have any growlers or bottles
Sun-Thurs 11am–10pm, Fri-Sat 11am–Midnight

Four Peaks (8th St) – 1340 E 8th St #104, Tempe, AZ 85281
https://www.fourpeaks.com/#/beers/mainstays/0
15 minutes from hotel – Have food
Mon-Thurs : 11AM-Midnight, Fri : 11AM-2AM, Sat : 9AM-2AM, Sun : 9AM-Midnight

Huss Brewing Co. – 5042 N 2nd St, Phoenix, AZ 85012
http://www.hussbrewing.com/taproom/
14 minutes from hotel – apetizery food
Fri-Sat: 12pm-10pm, Sun: 12pm-8pm, Mon-Thur: 3pm-9pm

Mother Bunch Brewing – 825 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006
http://motherbunchbrew.com/index.html
11 minutes from hotel – Have food – reasonable beer selection
Mon-Thurs: 11a – 10p · Fri: 11a – 12a · Sat: 10a – 12a · Sun: 10a – 10p

Papago Brewery – 7107 East McDowell Road, Scottsdale, Arizona 85257
http://papagobrewing.com/
18 minutes from hotel – Have food – Only 2 of their beers on tap, rest is other breweries
Sun-Thur: 12pm – 12am, Fri-Sat: 12pm-2am

Sleepy Dog Brewing – 1920 E University Dr # 104, Tempe, AZ 85281
http://sleepydogbrewing.com/
15 minutes from hotel – Have food – OK beer selection – not a lot of info
Sun-Mon: Closed, Tue-Wed: 4 pm – 11 pm, Fri: 4 pm – 12 am, Sat: 2 pm – 12 am

The Phoenix Ale Brewery – 3002 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85034
http://phoenixale.com/
8 minutes from hotel – Not sure if food or not (strange Central Kitchen link on website) – Only 4 beers (IPA, Pale, Hef, Watermelon)
Mon-Sat: 12pm-7pm, Sun: 12pm-6pm

Sonoran Brewing Company – 3002 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85034
http://www.sonoranbrewing.com/
8 minutes from hotel – no food – looks like only 2 beers – deliberately nearly no information about anything on their website (like hours of operation or anything useful)
Mon-Sat: 12pm-7pm, Sun: 12pm-6pm

Uncle Bear’s Brewery – web site not working, not sure if operational
17 minutes from hotel

Grand Avenue Brewing Co. – No information on hours of operation, only a nearly empty Facebook page. Think they are not open yet.

Author: UsedHair

I am a labeorphilist (one who collects beer bottles) looking to discuss the adventures often involved in obtaining the bottles and the challenges that accompany the hobby.

3 thoughts on “How to prepare for a trip”

  1. So, I see your list and can comment on a few of them. Also, as you know, happy to join you whenever possible at trying one 🙂
    These are the ones I’m familiar with:
    SunUp – Definitely worth it. I’ve been there a few times. Great beer list – lots of unusuals and good food and atmosphere.
    Wren House – I haven’t been, but I do know beer aficionados who go there on the regular to get new things.
    Beer Research Institute – Again with this aficionados… but can’t give a personal recommendation. I believe they have a wide variety.
    Arizona Wilderness – Decent food, the beers were weird when I went there.. which means unusual to people who have a more varied palette. Got a growler there for Ralph once as a gift. He loved the beer there if I recall correctly.
    McFate – We’ve all been there. I didn’t find them impressive or unusual, but other Pan members were fans.
    Four Peaks – Pretty standard and not unusual or really worth it. It’s a local chain and probably not as impressive as other options, but not bad in any way. Always crazy annoyingly busy.
    Papago – another Pan favorite with varieties, but as you mentioned, not necessarily their own
    Sleepy Dog – Interesting selections, often changing, and they have yummy mead. The food situation was odd last time I was there. They provide local delivery menus and you order in from other places. (It’s been a while so not sure if that’s changed)
    Uncle Bear’s – I was JUST there last month. It’s dog friendly so expect a lot of canines if you sit outside. They have this amazingly delicious peanut butter beer. There was food but I didn’t eat so cannot comment. It was pretty decent overall.

    I don’t know if that helps, but there you go 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you and awkwardly trying to find beers I like! haha

    1. Thanks CJ.

      I was going to ask the group about McFate/Fate. I remember going there before, but I don’t have any bottles/growlers from them.

      Good to hear on Uncle Bears’s. It’s hard to take a risk when there is so little information on them. They will move up in the rack and stack if I know they are still in existence and a good place. And peanut butter in beers are always great.

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