Getting Untappd: The Lighter Side of Things
By Aaron Forrester and Scott Keys: Collectively known as Beers N’ Buddies
If Arizona is known for one thing, beyond its emerging craft beer scene, it is without question the scorching heat of its summers. While the North of Arizona has a more temperate climate during this period, the Phoenix Valley from June to September is something altogether different, a landscape fitting only for the most “cool” people on the planet. As one Arizona booster wrote in the 1930s, “Welcome to Arizona, where summer spends the winter, and hell spends the summer.” Indeed, Arizona summers are ripe for swimming pools and crisp refreshing local craft beer, and for those who enjoy a “pool side,” lawn mower, or river ale or lager, well, you’re in luck because the Phoenix Valley has got you covered.
Although the heat waves of summer are still a few months out, we thought we would get a head start with our summer plans; where others are planning summer vacations, we are planning our summer drinking schedule. To do this, we are taking a look at the lighter side of local craft beers brewed by some of the finest brew masters in the Phoenix Valley: Pilsners, Kolsch, Light Lagers, and blondes. As indicated in our previous comparisons on IPAs and Stouts we will be using the data collected from Untappd, and for this assessment, each style is being considered on their own merit, that is, with no barrel aging, no imperial versions, no souring, and no other variations. We will get sour with all of you later, so just remain cool, summer is on its way.
Like many other styles, the Phoenix Valley is not at a loss for fantastic lighter brews that beer enthusiasts seek after during those hot summer months. The valley produces so many great beers that even some of our favorites, such as Helton Brewing Company’s Pilsner, did not quite make the cut. That said, some of these beers are so close in their ratings that the highest rated beer could be dethroned at any moment and then back on top the next day: kind of like the top twenty best songs of summer. Ultimately, what this really says to us, is that they are all worth trying, and indeed they are. Okay, let’s heat this thing up, look at the ratings, and see, according to those who drink these beers locally, who is going to keep you cool this summer.
Kolsch – Kolsch – 4.5% ABV
Pedal Haus Brewery – Tempe, AZ
3.57 Untappd Rating
Description: Mild German brew traditionally fermented with ale yeast at very cool temperatures, creating a flavor profile that blends apple-like fruitiness with a finish of crackery malts.
Inside the Park – Blonde Ale – 5.2% ABV
Oro Brewing Co – Mesa, AZ
3.58 Untappd Rating
Description: Easy-drinking beer that is visually appealing. Rounded and smooth and is known to be a classic style or beer.
Kolsch – Kolsch – 4.8% ABV
Wren House Brewing Co. – Phoenix, AZ
3.71 Untappd Rating
Description: Brewed with traditional German ingredients and a touch of honey malt, our Kolsch is a true-to-style take on a classic. Biscuit like malts and fruity aromas give way to a clean finish.
Baboquivari Blonde – Belgian Blonde Ale – 7.1% ABV
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. – Gilbert, AZ
3.74 Untappd Rating
Description: A soft sweetness from continental pilsner malt & slight touch of honey malt. Saaz hops set an herbal hop balance to some of the finest local honey (Bee Dudes) you’ll ever taste.
Bunk Beds Kolsch – Kolsch – 6.2% ABV
12 West Brewing Co. – Gilbert, AZ
3.74 Untappd Rating
Description: Light in color and malt character. This style’s fermentation process yields a light vinous character which is accompanied by a slightly dry, crisp finish.
Lolli – Belgian Blonde Ale – 8.2% ABV
The Beer Research Institute – Mesa, AZ
3.75 Untappd Rating
Description: This 8.2% Belgian Blonde is semi-sweet, highly carbed and easy to drink. Look for notes of bubble gum, banana, clove, and fruity pebbles.
There you have it, these are the top 5, okay 6 really, best lighter brews of the Phoenix Valley that are sure to please the palate and keep you cool this summer, or anytime really. So, the next time hell comes to town for the summer, don’t stress, don’t even get into a random state of undress, just hop off your bunk bed, drive until you can get inside the park, and once you do, don’t lolli around, just take that Baboquivari blonde you brought with you and get both of you an ice cold kolsch. With only one sip, you too will have something to boast about: Welcome to Arizona, where great craft beer resides…all year long.