By Alison Bailin Batz
Today there are more than 100 breweries statewide, up from 30 just a few years ago. The movement is so popular, in fact, that nearly every grocery store, liquor store, bar and restaurant in the Valley carries a selection of local brands. Among the many Arizona-made brews, we found eight “big boy beers” – those with high alcohol by volume (ABV) and/or outrageous flavor – to try this summer.
1912 Brewing Co.
This Born & Brewed People’s Choice Award winner is an imperial gose (a top-fermented beer) with a punch of citrus so strong you may think you’re drinking a screwdriver or a mimosa. Every sip begins with coriander on the nose and finishes with a heavy helping of tart blood orange flavor. ABV: 8.5%. www.1912brewing.com.
White Russian Imperial Stout
SunUp Brewing Co.
A must-try dark beer, this stout has plenty of body and a full mouthfeel that embodies huge notes of coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and caramel combined with rich fruit undertones of plum and raisin, which are highlighted by the use of dark and roasted malts. ABV: 9.4%. www.sunup.beer.
Rum Barrel-aged Bière del Bac
Dragoon Brewing Co.
This Belgian-style quad is made with piloncillo sugar and dark Belgian Candi Syrup, but don’t let the sweet-sounding ingredients fool you. They lend complexity to the flavor profile, but, above all, the beer boasts out-of-this-world peppery spice and spirit notes as it’s aged in rum barrels. ABV: 10.1%. www.dragoonbrewing.com.
F.Y.I.T.M. (fight-em) Double IPA
The Shop Beer Co.
Though it has an extra hoppy nature, The Shop Beer Co.’s double IPA manages to remain drinkable and balanced. Grapefruit and citrus undertones burst on the tongue, and the higher-than-average ABV will certainly sneak up on an unsuspecting imbiber. ABV: 10%. www.theshop.beer.
Shot In The Arm Imperial Stout
McFate Brewing Company
Aged for one year in Old Forester whiskey barrels, this heavy, double-mashed imperial stout is not for the faint of heart. The warm, rich flavors – amped up by the whiskey – work even in the summer months, but it’s ideally best at dinner versus by the pool given its high alcohol content. ABV: 14%. www.mcfatebrewing.com.
Coffee Chocolate Mead
Arizona Mead Company
Made from fermented yeast, honey and water – and often also fermented with fruits, spices, grains and hops like beer – meads are a trendy cousin to traditional brews. This stunner is flavored with notes of bitter dark chocolate and coffee and balanced with smooth vanilla. ABV: 14%. www.azmeadco.com.
Taildragger Hop Snob
Saddle Mountain Brewing Company
“Hop heads” from across the country come to Saddle Mountain for this showstopper. A West Coast IPA, it is brewed with five varieties of hops and presents with fantastic character throughout. It is both crisp and bold with a bit of grapefruit and is dry on the finish. Its ultimate goal – to make its drinkers “hoppy.” ABV: 6.5%. www.saddlemountainbrewing.com.
Lost Highway Double Black IPA
Mother Road Brewing Company
Expect an espresso-colored head, followed by an enticing aroma of orange zest and roasted malt. Bitter notes of orange and chocolate balance hints of sweeter dark caramel in every sip. ABV: 8%. www.motherroadbeer.com.