Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I Love Flagstaff

Last week I promised I'd devote a post to the breweries in Flagstaff. Since my Las Vegas appraisal was so negative, this review should balance it out a little bit. I love homebrew and I hate having to negatively impact anybody in the industry; I guess culling the herd is usually a good thing. Las Vegas and Sedona were much more high-stress commercialized areas and neither one had very good beer. Makes sense right?

On our honeymoon, Flagstaff was definitely our favorite stop-over. We love college towns and mountain towns so a mountain college town is like hitting the jackpot of quaint liberal artistic young energy. We did more shopping here than anywhere else; there were delightful little nooks with odds and ends, Native American made crafts, and to my surprise, three breweries!

Lumberyard Brewing Company
This was my first stop in the early afternoon. I ordered a Lumberyard Red and a couple samples. The Red was awesome, made with crystal and caramel malts. At 5.8% ABV it was on the higher end with a sweet mildly hoppy taste. It wasn't dry but it wasn't watery either. Very refreshing with a slightly bitter aftertaste, I'd definitely recommend this ale.

The Lumberyard Brewery itself is sort of the companion to the Beaver Street Brewing company. It's less restaurant and more bar; I guess they were just that successful. It's not undeserved.

After chatting with the bartender, I learned that they can most of their beers. No that's not a typo, they put their beer in cans. Apparently this is a lot better for the beer since it is kept in the dark. The cans are also treated with something so they don't leech any metals into the brew. This kind of equipment isn't anything a home-brewer might have since the beer has to be carbonated prior to canning.

I guess this is more of a West Coast thing. I personally like having my beer in a bottle so I can examine it for sediment, color, and dead spiders. Since generally only cheap beer comes in cans, there are also assumptions about quality to overcome. I might change my mind eventually (like I did with Asparagus, Country Music, and New Jersey) but at this time bottles seem better.

Beaver Street Brewing Company
Everything I said about Lumberyard is also true about Beaver Street, except that it is more restaurant and less bar. They share many of the same beers, but they do have a few exclusives. I ordered the Beaver Street Oatmeal Stout. It tasted like chocolate and smoke with some slight hops. It had good lacing and was very dark brown and delicious.

The food at Beaver Street is amazing. They incorporate their beers into a lot of the recipes (which always adds character.) I wanted to eat the entire menu, then order things from it. I settled on something which had two kinds of sausage, the best mashed potatoes I have ever eaten, caramelized onions, and red cabbage. It was like Bangers and Mash ran head first into Sauerbraten with delicious consequences.

Flagstaff Brewing Company
I heard this was more of a tourist trap than a serious brewery, so I skipped it. If we're ever back, I may stop in to see for myself.

So if you're ever in Flagstaff, definitely stop in to Lumberyard or Beaver Street.

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