Strong Beer Fest Wish List by Beers N’ Buddies

In many ways, craft beer enthusiasts during the weeks and months preceding any great beer festival are unnervingly similar to children at Christmas time. We fondly reminisce about past experiences, hoping that this year’s event will eclipse those that came before, we recall the tastes, flavors, and smells that tickled our senses, and most importantly, and very much like Santa, we make lists, and depending on the number of beers ingested, we likely check them more than twice. Although Christmas is behind us, we want to keep that feeling alive and with Arizona Strong Beer Festival just around the corner, we get to do just that! As the event rapidly approaches, we can’t help but fondly, and perhaps a bit hazily, reminisce about all the wonderfully “high octane” beers that we sampled.

As we think back to 2017, you know, fourscore and 2,000 beers ago, we recall how excited we became at the hundreds of breweries in attendance and the thousands of beers available at our fingertips. Again, a kid at Christmas! Scott had attended many festivals across Southern California, but for Aaron, this was a new experience. After making a game plan to bring backpacks full of water, sunscreen and snacks, we set out to plan our beer fueled day at Steele Indian School Park in Central Phoenix. With so much beer available, how does one decide where to go? Which beers and breweries do you visit and which beers are worth the lines? Thankfully, the Arizona Brewers Guild is also like Santa and they provided a list, two in fact: one of the breweries and one of all the beers. Ergo, yes, that’s our fancy word, we could make not only a wish list of beers we wanted to try, but a list of breweries we love that we wanted to support. To Scott’s glee, one of his favorite breweries out of Temecula, Iron Fire Brewing, was present on the list and looks like they will be bringing their most prized triple chocolate bourbon barrel aged stout called, Last Rites. Yum!

Now, the thing that makes this difficult, besides the sheer number of beers, is that when you actually attend the festival, some of the most prized beers are unavailable upon opening of the event. Many breweries will have a schedule or specific times for when they plan on tapping the special release brews. For our first year, and likely our second, a trick that helped us was using our smartphones to set various alarms to sound when the time drew near to head off to the specific tent. We also made sure to give ourselves a buffer of time before the actual tapping, to ensure that we were towards the front of the line when these rare release beers were pouring. Okay, let’s be honest, we arrived at some locations so early that we were the line for a hot moment. All that said, now that we have the 2017 Arizona Strong Beer Festival under our belt, we are once again planning our adventure, and this time, we are making our personal wish lists, our letters to Santa, as well as suggestions of who we think is worth a visit and we want to share them with you. Okay, strap on your belts and hold on because here we go.

Scott’s Wish List:

Bomb! – Imperial Stout – 13% ABV
Prairie Artisan Ales – Tulsa, OK
Description: Bomb! is an imperial stout aged on Nordaggio’s espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans, and ancho chile peppers. All the flavors meld to create a truly unique beer. The peppers add just the right amount of heat to complement the intense coffee and chocolate flavors.

BA American Presidential Stout – Russian Imperial Stout – 12.5%
American Wilderness Brewing Co. – Gilbert, AZ
Description: Imperial stout with AZ cacao nibs and AZ chilies aged in George Dickel whiskey barrels.

Shugga Momma – Imperial Porter – 10.9% ABV
Black Bridge Brewery – Kingman, AZ
Description: Very rich Imperial porter made with two types of imported Belgian Candi Syrup.

Blonde Oatwine – Barleywine – 13.5% ABV
Mcfate Brewing Company – Scottsdale AZ
Description: Blonde barleywine brewed with Arizona Mesquite Honey and two types of oats. Smooth with a fruity honey finish.

The Calling – Imperial/Double IPA – 8.5% ABV
Boulevard Brewing Co. – Kansa City, MO
Description: Our most heavily hopped beer ever bursts forth with unmistakable tropical fruit and pine hop aromas and flavor supported with a slightly sweet malt character, tapering to a crisp, dry finish. Heed your call and enjoy.

Aaron’s Wish List:

The Buck Stops Here: A Tombstellation Collaboration – Imperial Porter
Ballast Point & Tombstone Brewing – San Diego, CA / Tombstone, AZ
Description: Wood-fermented Imperial Porter

Astro Cookie – Imperial Milk Stout – 9.2% ABV
Dark Sky Brewing Company – Flagstaff, AZ
Description: Brewed with waffle cones and conditioned on more than 2,000 Oreo cookies.

Ol’ Dirty Barrel – Russian Imperial Stout – 10.5% ABV
Belching Beaver Brewery – Vista, CA
Description: This Russian Imperial Stout is our biggest beer brewed to date. Aged in Rye bourbon barrels, this beer is a 2014 World Beer Championship Gold winner!

Dosvidanya Rye Barrel W/ Coffee – Russian Imperial Stout – 12.5% ABV
Destihl Brewery – Normal, IL
Description: Rye bourbon barrel aged with rich notes of dark chocolate, toffee, black cherries, and coffee, along with robust and roasty maltiness that finished dry

Bourbon Peach American Wild Ale – American Wild Ale – 8% ABV
Unity Vibration – Ypsilanti, MI
Description: This unique brew begins with our gluten-free, raw and vegan Kombucha Tea which is then bourbon barrel-aged with the addition of fresh, whole, organic peaches. Slightly sweet with subtle notes of bourbon

Suggested Breweries to visit at Strong Beer Festival:

  • Button Brew House
  • Goldwater Brewing Co.
  • Council Brewing Company
  • Ironfire Brewing Company
  • Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
  • Prairie Artisan Ales
  • Scottsdale Beer Company
  • The Beer Research Institute
  • Dark Sky Brewing Company
  • Alesmith Brewing Company
  • Epic Brewing Company
  • Modern Times Beer
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Company
  • Wren House Brewing Company

What a list, but this is just a sample of what is to come and only a fragment of the beers on our list: but they are the main ones. That said, we’d love to hear what breweries you’re most excited to see at the festival and what beers you are looking forward to drinking the most. At the same time, if you hear about something super rare and/or exciting that will be released at the festival, please let us know so we can try as well! I mean, anytime Aaron or Scott got a cool gift at Christmas, well, the other one wanted one too. Lastly, if you happen to see us at the festival, please feel free say hi and let us know what amazing brews you’ve been able to try, for as the saying goes, sharing is caring.

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