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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
21 minutes from hotel – Have food – Wide range of styles – Hard to tell anything else from website

Helio Basin Brewing Co. – 3935 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.


Somewhere in my years of collecting I found a nice self descriptive term in the words labeorphile or labeorphillist, one who collects beer bottle labels or beer bottles.  However, I don’t collect only bottles.  I also collect cans, and pint glasses, and coasters, and stickers, and t-shirts, and hats, and anything I can get my hands on related to beer.  Thus, I was pretty excited when I was in West Virginia and someone showed me a magazine directed at collectors of beer cans and “other brewery collectibles”.

Beer Cans and Brewery Collectibles magazine

At the time, I vowed to fine out more about the people and/or organization behind this magazine.  Well, mission accomplished.  The magazine is put out by the Brewery Collectibles Club of America (BCCA).  For the low, low price of $40, I received a backlog of the magazines, a year’s worth of new issues of the magazine, a certificate, a roster and resource guide, and a bunch of random breweriana.


Brewery-whats-a-whos-it? Yup.  I found yet another word for what it is that I do.  Breweriana refers to the collecting of anything containing a brewery name or brand.  This includes my pint glasses and coasters and stickers and all of the other fun.  The BCCA seems primarily focused on cans. But there is enough focus on other aspects of beer collecting that it keeps my interest in general.  It’s always good to find that there are others out there that have the same interest.  And now I have a mission to someday get to Canvention.  I won’t make it to Portland by August.  But, we’ll see where it lands next year.

I’ve already had interesting talks with one of the members about a beer can database that the BCCA maintains and such interesting topics as whether to open beer cans from the top (as you would any other can) or if you should go old school and puncture holes in the bottom of the can so that the pop-top stays pristine.

As I continue to figure out what I and the BCCA can do for each other, I will (of course) let everyone know.

No one rocks as hard as Mrs. UsedHair

No obscure quotes or links for the start of this post. Just a statement of fact. Mrs. UsedHair (Hedy) is the greatest! Apart from the obvious traits of being smart, sexy, and having a great sense of humor… here are some reasons why:

1. She supports my beer container collecting hobby.

I don’t mean she tolerates it. She supports it. I have talked to other people that have attempted to have container collections. More often than not I see people giving up on it because “my other half made me get rid of them” or “I’m not allowed to display them in the house” or some other such nonsense. Hedy goes beyond “letting me display things in the house”. She actually makes me decorations that add to the display.

Office sign created by Mrs. UsedHair
Beer office decor created by Mrs. UsedHair
Giant bottle cap created by Mrs. UsedHair
Beer cap sign created by Mrs. UsedHair

2. She likes to go to breweries and beer festivals.

Central Florida is a rapidly growing craft brewery market. There always seems to be a new brewery to visit in the area. Or when we travel to new beaches along the east coast, or when we travel anywhere for that matter. It’s very important to me that I don’t feel like I’m dragging someone along when I explore a new brewery. She really enjoys drinking beer and has really started to explore her tastes in craft beer. We explore new breweries and we have a great time doing it.

Mr. and Mrs. UsedHair at Tampa Bay Brewing
Mr. and Mrs. Usedhair outside Tampa Bay Brewing
Hat lady and Mrs. UsedHair at DeLand Craft Beer Festival
Mr. and Mrs. UsedHair at DeLand Craft Beer Festival

I could list a hundred more reasons. But we’d be here all day and ain’t nobody got time for that. It takes a village to make a blog. And I’ve definitely had help from a lot of villagers. But, trust me when I say this blog would not exist without Mrs. UsedHair. Let’s all thank her for being such a fantastic person!

Statistics are like bikinis

I have a background in Cognitive Psychology that comes with a smattering of statistics. Apart from the phrase “correlation does not imply causation”, I think the most important statistics I learned was a quote from Aaron Levenstein. “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital”.

With an ever growing collection of bottles and cans, I have to keep track of them somehow. The easiest thing for me is to keep everything an Excel sheet. This is the sheet that tells me when I reach 1400 bottles and cans or 500 breweries. The number of bottles and cans is a suggestive statistic. I think a more vital statistic is the number of “unique” beers.

Across different sizes of cans/bottles, having classic cans, collectible artwork, etc. I have 8 different items in the collection that are “Pabst Blue Ribbon”. So, they count as 8 for the total of bottles and cans, but as only 1 “unique beer”.

Long story short (too late), I reached 1,500 unique beers today. Actually, I passed it and have logged in 1,516 unique beers.  But I can’t celebrate each one, so we’re looking at 1,500.  If anyone else gets a kick out of statistics, here is where the full stats sit right now:

Beers Added 1,576
Repeats 43
Size Difference 17
Still to drink 65
Cans 296
Bottles 1,280
Unique Beers 1,516
Breweries 532
Classic Cans 44

I’m right on the verge of some other milestones as well.  1,300 bottles and 300 cans are both right around the corner.  And, 1,600 beers added is waiting next in the wings.  The collection gets more impressive all the time.

So, what is the lucky 1500th unique beer? That would be Mothman Black IPA from Greenbrier Valley Brewing in West Virginia.

Greenbrier Mothman Black IPA
Greenbrier Mothman Black IPA

The can itself has a great description of the West Virginia Mothman legend.

Mothman beer description

I like that this brewery embraces their West Virginia heritage. They have beers describing  Mothman, The Hatfield/McCoy feud, and even Sasquatch.

Greenbrier beer selection

I didn’t realize Sasquatch was a West Virginia thing. But, who am I to argue with the brewers. I hope that the beers I get when I hit 1,600, 2,000 or 20,000 unique beers are as unique as the Mothman Black IPA.

Riddle me this Batman

I’ve discovered an odd quirk in Google Maps. You younglings can experiment along with me at home if you want. Go to a laptop or desktop computer, bring up Google Maps in a web browser, find a location of your choice, and do a search for the term “brewery”. Every time I do this I manage to find good local breweries in the area (if there are any to be found). However, for some crazy reason, I also manage to find every US Post Office in the area as well. Works every time.

Google Maps search for “brewery”

An odd extension to the experiment reveals that if you do the same search on the Google Maps App for a mobile device, the post offices don’t show up.

Google Maps App search for “brewery”

The questions of the day for all you super sleuths out there are:

  1. Why does Google Maps report US Post Offices when you search for “breweries”?
  2. Why is there a difference in search results across the web browser and mobile app versions of Google Maps?

If anyone can figure it out and provide the right answers, I’ll send a beer coaster to the first person to put the answer in the comments of this post.

I feel so official

Step one is complete. I have business cards for the blog.

Usedhair business card back
Card Front
Usedhair business card front

Now I’m just waiting for the beer coasters I ordered to come in. Wait til you see those!