A Day of Haze: Wandering Tortoise to host first annual Hazy Fest

Photo from Wandering Tortoise

Open for a little more than a year and a half, the Wandering Tortoise is well known in the Valley beer community. A popular destination for both the beer nerd and casual drinker alike, it is as popular a taproom as you will find.

Part of what leads people to the Tortoise, which is off of 24th Street and Indian School, is its impressive selection. With a carefully curated taplist along with a well-stocked fridge, you are bound to find something enjoyable to drink.

That goes for pretty much all the time, yet if you are into IPAs – especially the hazy variety – you will want to stop in on Saturday. The Tortoise will be hosting its first annual Hazy Beer Festival, and it will be something you will not want to miss.

“It’s the most trendy beer style in the US, if not the world right now,” said Justin Evans, a co-owner of the taproom. “It’s nice that I can do that mostly with local beer. That’s really crazy, isn’t it?”

As of this writing, the Facebook page for the event lists 12 breweries being represented. More will undoubtedly take part, but of the 12, 10 are from Arizona. Evans said the goal was not necessarily to feature local beers, but instead offer the best IPAs he could.

Evans recalled an interview he did in the past, where the reporter had the impression that the he and the Tortoise did not care much about featuring Arizona beers. Not only that, but it was assumed he held an anti-Arizona beer bias.

“I was like, we choose the best local,” Evans recalled. “There’s no wiggle room. We won’t support somebody just because it’s local, but we’d prefer to.”

So when you look up at the list Saturday and see Arizona well represented, that means something.

There is noticeable excitement in Evans’ voice when he talks about having beers from the likes of Pueblo Vida, Dark Sky, the Beer Research Institute and Arizona Wilderness, among others. Lining them up next to offerings from Modern Times and Burgeon Beer Company will make for an enticing list to pick from.

That doesn’t even include the cans that will be offered, which include beers from Wilderness as well as Tucson’s Crooked Tooth Brewing and possibly Pueblo Vida.

In short, you can expect quite a crowd. Not only of beers, the number of which will lead to the Tortoise bringing out their extra keg cooler, but in the amount of people they are expecting to drop by.

The Tortoise is used to hosting events similar to this one. You may have even been some of them, such as the Fortnight of the Monsters, a Modern Times tap takeover or the Sours Fest that was held a couple months ago.

But when comparing the response he’s seen from Hazy Fest to other, similar events — such as the place’s first anniversary party – there is little contest.

“It’s double the response of anything we’ve ever had,” Evans said, noting what he’s seen on Facebook and Instagram.

That’s why he said along with the regular staff, there will be upwards of five guest bartenders. Have to be prepared, right?

The same can go for anyone looking to attend. Parking can be a little tight at the Tortoise, though the lot to the east of the taproom will be available. Folks can also park in front of the tuxedo shop located just south of the Circle K or on Amelia Ave., which is also south of the Tortoise.

It would not be a bad idea to take an Uber or Lyft, either. Evans figures most people will be showing up planning on drinking a lot, and it’s important everyone stays safe.

The festival starts at 11 a.m., and it would be a good idea to arrive on time to ensure you get to try any of the dozens of beers you have your heart set on. Some beers will surely last through the night and into Sunday, but others most definitely will not. Evans of course does not know for sure which kegs will blow first, but he has a pretty good idea.

“Definitely the Modern Times (Hedge Witch) or the Pueblo Vida (Baseflow, Thermo), those are going to go quick,” he said.

Adam Green

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