Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
By Stefan Canchola aka AZ Beer Jedi
In his private diary which would later become published, Samuel Pepys with good reason described the English “Public House” (Pub) as, “the heart of England”. It was often the case that the pub was the focal point of the community. This was not due to some pleasant accident or by way of chance. The history and necessity of the pub has ancient roots and served as the sustaining and revitalizing blood that built the most dominate military machine the world had ever seen at the time. Over some 2,000 years ago the juggernaut that was the Roman Republic and eventually the Empire built roads to more easily transport their military forces to ensure and maintain their dominance won through endless conquests. So prolific and pervasive was their road system that the phrase, “All Roads Lead to Rome” was coined.
To address the common travel that would take place on these roads and highways it became law that houses along the pathways provided lodging for those requesting it, thus the first inn’s were born providing shelter, food and drink. From these sprang a long history of establishments (Inns, Taverns, Pubs, Saloons, Taprooms, Beer Halls, Ale Houses etc.) all designed with the purpose of providing a place to rest, drink and enjoy a meal. These locations quickly evolved into meeting houses for common folk to socially congregate. It’s noteworthy to recognize that a common center piece of this hospitality was the availability of beer.
Today this history and practice is alive and well and very much thriving. So much so that it’s not uncommon when a new establishment is announced, being planned, or about to open it’s doors people will ask the question, “Do we really need another bar”? In the case of The Wandering Tortoise located in Phoenix, Arizona the answer is an absolute and definitive “Yes!”
The Wandering Tortoise stands out as something very special here in Phoenix. It’s not just another craft beer bar for the sake of being a craft beer bar. What sets it apart is it’s genuine quality, from ownership to how each employee demonstrates being personable and down to earth to the incredible and carefully curated selection of available beer.
Like the pubs and inn’s of old The Wandering Tortoise is always abuzz with some form of traffic: regulars stopping in for happy hour, people coming in for the first time to experience what has over the last year been raved about through social media or any of the impossibly awesome special events where the draft board reads like a bucket list of all-time greatest beers. The Wandering Tortoise has risen as a leader in the Valley of the Sun showing what could be with the right oversight and that just because it’s available to offer to the public doesn’t mean it should be. Teaching the lesson that to deliver quality involves having to say no often and being brave enough to face any backlash from setting a new standard that will probably upset a few people trying to get their beer in the doors.
The next phase of the craft beer industry is going to play out much like a professional wrestling match in that competition breeds excellence and many will rise to the occasion. However, someone has to be thrown from the ring. If beer is the wrestler then The Tortoise would be the arena. Trust me you don’t wanna this match!