Tearing It Up In Tucson – Part 3

By The Classy Alcoholic

What: Born & Brewed Beer Battle
Where: The Hotel Congress, 311 Congress Street, Tucson, AZ 85701
When: Annual Event

My adventure in Tucson happened to coincide with the annual Tucson Born & Brewed Beer Cup, a competition amongst Tucson breweries held at the Historic Hotel Congress. This hotel was made famous by the fact that Johnny Depp-based bank robber John Dillinger stayed there with his gang in 1934 and was identified by local authorities, which led to his arrest.

I celebrate Dillinger’s arrest every year by doing something stupid that gets me tossed in a Tucson drunk tank and then escaping with the help of the bail money I stole from an ex-girlfriend’s purse.

So the competition featured 14 Tucson breweries that each brought two beers: a flagship and a specialty beer. The event was held in the Hotel Congress courtyard outdoors, which was sealed off for the ticket holders. Unfortunately the courtyard was a little small for the number of people who came so it was really crowded and I ended up waiting in long lines to try small samples of beers that, for the most part, I already tried at some point in the past.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time hanging out with my Tucson beer fam and the wait I had to endure helped sober me up after my last couple of adventures but I really didn’t get much else out of it since I was no longer a craft beer newbie.

Also, the point of the event was for the attendees to vote for their favorite flagship and specialty brews so the winners could be honored with the People’s Choice Awards for each. But, just like with every election, I was too busy drinking to remember to vote. Before I realized it the emcee was announcing the winners while I was trying to steal beer sips from my friends’ tiny cups because I was sobering up faster than I could fight it with booze.

The votes were tallied and Borderlands Brewing Company, the best brewery in the entire state of Arizona, won the People’s Choice Award for the Best Flagship Beer. They won thanks to their Toole Ave IPA, a beer that’s been extremely popular in both Tucson and Phoenix since it hit the taps a year ago.

Then came the People’s Choice Award for Best Specialty Beer. And, as I expected Borderlands won that too for their German Chocolate Cake Porter. This beer was just recently canned and has been on sale at craft beer shops throughout the state. It’s an excellent, super sweet dessert beer made with praline and coconut. The best description I can come up with is “liquid sex in a can.”

I celebrated with my pals from Borderlands and totally forgot that there were other awards handed out by the judges. But I didn’t care. I’m a man of the people (as long as the people don’t touch me or look at me or get too close to my general vicinity) so I was happy just to know that the Tucson beer community twice recognized the brewery that I’ve been championing for years.

Overall the Born & Brewed event is something that newbies to the Tucson craft beer scene should definitely check out. You’ll discover a bunch of new breweries and try several samples of their best offerings. But for the rest of us who’ve been around the scene for a while we’re not really getting too much out of the event that we can’t get by paying a visit to the 14 breweries’ taprooms.

Unless you desperately want to vote for your favorite brewery to win I say you skip it and spend that time and money at the bars inside Hotel Congress. You can get probably get 4-5 full pints of craft beers with the amount of money you’d spend on an entry ticket.

And if you’re not a beer drinker then you should know the Hotel Congress bars serve up an excellent array of cocktails. I’ve gotten what I call “Dillinger Drunk” more than a few times at this place. And I look forward to celebrating John Dillinger again this year…as long as a friend of mine bails me out of jail ‘cause I ran out of ex-girlfriends to steal money from.

The video below and some pics are compliments of Hotel Congress. Thank you!


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Eric Walters
I love beer. Specifically Arizona craft beer. Oh yea, my family is pretty awesome too. An amazing wife and 2 awesome little girls make my life great. And did I mention beer?

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