Friday, August 26, 2016

Independent Distillery to Release Its First Batch of Handcrafted Spirits

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 8:55 AM


We've gotten word that The Independent Distillery is gearing up for the big release of it's first batch of locally made liquor. 

Donald Northrup, founder and CEO of the bar and distillery, said last night that the release will take place at the cocktail bar and distillery's big anniversary bash next month. There are many other spirits coming in the future as well, all crafted with the place's handmade "grain-to-grass" philosophy. 

The Weekly will have a full story about The Independent Distillery's first year—which has been awash in fine drink and mirth—and its plans for the future in next week's issue. 

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Food Truck Frenzy at Tucson Hop Shop

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 9:00 AM


Beer, food and friends. Three things that dissolve worries and leave one warm, hoppy and ready to take on another day.

Now it's one thing to go to the local bar for a drink and a bite and it's another to go to a place where the menu and the people making the food change from night to night. The Tucson Hop Shop at 3230 N. Dodge Boulevard offers such an opportunity. 

The wine and beer bar (they also fill growlers), located within the Metal Arts Village, has a mouthwatering line-up of different food trucks that will be there through the end of the year. Check out the calendar here. 

The bar also encourages patrons to bring their own food, or to order in and dine in the urban beer garden. Get to it!

More on Tucson Hop Shop, including a list of the beers on tap, is over here. 

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Crooked Teeth and a New Brewery

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 6:55 PM

Exactly the sort of people you want making your beer.
  • Exactly the sort of people you want making your beer.
What do dwarves drink after slaying dragons all day? 

Tucson brewer Benjamin Vernon is pretty sure it would be his Dwarvish Ale, an earthy brew with a hefty oak finish that will be one of the debut beers when his Crooked Tooth Brewing Co. opens Downtown this fall.

Vernon has been working overtime—as in, every spare moment he has—to get the place cranking. First was the renovation of an old auto-service shop at 228 E. Sixth Street, near the corner of Sixth Street and Sixth Avenue. Then brewing tanks came in. Then kegs. 

Vernon has 15 years of brewing experience and beer is kind of elemental to his existence. He and his wife plan vacations around breweries—they visited 16 on a recent trip—and the guy is generally gonzo about beer in a variety of ways.

"I just love beer, man," said Vernon on a recent evening, popping a beer while power tools roared in the background. "Crooked Tooth is going to relish in what makes us different, in what makes a person unique and not a clone. We're going to make good beer and we're doing it our way."

Having talked to many Tucson beer people over the years I must say his approach to beer, and life in general, is equal parts thoughtfulness and intensity. This could get interesting. 

The Tucson Weekly will have a full story on the brewery just before the opening, but for the time being you can keep up with the progress here. 

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Grab Your Pager and a Neon Windbreaker and Get Ready for the '90s Bar Crawl

Posted By on Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 4:00 PM


In the mood for a little nostalgia—and vodka? Plan to go to the '90s Bar Crawl this Saturday, Aug. 6.

The crawl will stop in at a plethora of downtown bars (Elliott's on Congress, Batch Cafe & Bar, Highwire Lounge, R Bar, Playground, O'Malley's, Borderlands Brewing Co., the Surly Wench, Maloney's, Che's Lounge, Mr. Heads, Sky Bar and the Hut), all of which will be blasting '90s tunes and giving out "goodies." 

Registration starts at the Hut (305 N. 4th Avenue) at 6 p.m. The Bar Crawl itself will run fro 8 p.m. to midnight, followed by an afterparty at the Hut from midnight to 2 a.m.

Your $20 registration fee gets you food and drink specials, into the afterparty and goes (in part) to support Pima Paws for Life.

So work on your outfit (there's a costume contest) and dance moves (and a running man contest). Tickets are available online.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Public Brewhouse Celebrates a Year of Great Beer

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2016 at 1:31 PM

Mike Gura measures grain for a new batch of beer while patrons share a drink in the background. - NICHOLAS A. JOHNSON
  • Nicholas A. Johnson
  • Mike Gura measures grain for a new batch of beer while patrons share a drink in the background.

Local nanobrewery Public Brewhouse is celebrating its one year anniversary.

It took Mike Gura and Cody Van Haren, the two head brewers and owners at Public, three years to open up their brewery. The two met while working as EMTs on an ambulance together and have been brewing together for five years now. The idea to open a brewery originated in 2012, and was a full-fledged goal a year later. In November 2013 Gura started a Kickstarter, which raised $36,000 for the brewery.

After two years of dealing with zoning codes, licensing and certification the nanobrewery was able to open up in August 2015.

Gura began brewing 13 years ago in Utah, mainly out of necessity.

“The alcohol laws in Utah were such that you couldn’t buy good beer,” Gura said. You had to buy beer from the state liquor store, you had to buy singles, and it was always warm. The selection wasn’t very good and the beer was always gross, because it got skunk from being hot.”

Instead of committing a long drive to Colorado for good beer Gura decided to start brewing his own. The passion he developed for the process is evident to those around them.

“When a new shipment of hops comes in they're like kids in a candy store,” Christa Weidenschilling, a bartender at Public said. “Mike and Cody will talk about beer for hours and hours. They’ll point out the differences in grain and hops. You really learn a lot working here.”

That sense of community isn't an accident.

“Our name, Public, comes from the idea that a pub is a public house. We really wanted to create an environment people feel comfortable coming into," Gura said. "I think we provide a service that people appreciate. We have a lot of regulars from the neighborhood, which is exactly what we wanted. Local people coming in and having conversations, and sharing stories."

Continue reading »

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Monday, July 25, 2016

The Lowdown on Sonoran Brews

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 1:00 PM

The giants of Arizona craft beer are coming together with Edible Baja Arizona to bring the good people of Tucson the mother of all tasting events: the Baja Brews Project.

Twelve local craft breweries are converging on Borderlands Brewing Co. (119 E. Toole Ave.) on Thursday, July 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. to show off their latest creations created for the event using locally originating ingredients. For this first round, beers made with saguaro and prickly pear fruit will take center stage. Your $15 ticket also goes right to Tucson non-profits working to improve food security in the community including Desert Harvesters, Native Seeds/SEARCH Iskashitaa Refugee Network and Trees for Tucson.

If you can't make it to this first event there's no need to fret, the Baja Brews Project is a yearlong collaboration between Edible Baja Arizona and everyone's favorite regional craft breweries. Count on many more tastings and beer exploration in the coming months, where you can sample, schmooze with the brewers and get educated on the ever-expanding local craft brewing scene.

For more information on the event and to check out the entire tasting list with notes, look for the Facebook event page. In the meantime, keep calm and drink local. 

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Glass of Punch May Pack a Punch, But the Two Have Nothing in Common (Etymologically Speaking, Anyway)

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 6:21 PM

  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin
I picked up Henry Fielding's novel, Tom Jones, once again after putting it down in the middle and moving on to other things. Back in April, I noted my surprise at finding that the phrases "ass kicking" and "ass kissing" were alive and well in the 18th century. In the part I'm reading now, our hero and others are on the move and stopping at inns along their way, and they frequently drink "punch" in the evenings. I wondered, is "punch" just a random alcoholic concoction in a punch bowl, or does it refer to something more specific? The answer is, it was a specific type of drink in the same way as, for example, a martini. It's of semi-exotic origins, as is its name.

Here are the basic ingredients, according to an online source, which are similar to ones described elsewhere.
In the beginning, punch was a simple mixture of five canonical ingredients: lemon or lime juice, sugar, water, "spice" (which could have been anything from nutmeg or tea to ambergris, a musky whale secretion now used only in perfume making), and, of course, liquor. Batavia arrack, a fiery but highly aromatic molasses-and-rice distillate imported from the Dutch East Indies, was the preferred spirit, but Caribbean rum and French brandy were right behind it. The earliest known reference to the drink dates from 1632, appearing in a letter to an India-bound merchant from an English colleague, who strongly warned against drinking it (if punch has a fault, it's the ease with which one can absorb too much of it).

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Tough Luck Club's Stephen Ott on the Art of a Summer Stirred Cocktail

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 4:30 PM

Mezcal and Irish whiskey play nice with sherry in Tough Luck's San Patricio. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • Mezcal and Irish whiskey play nice with sherry in Tough Luck's San Patricio.

I tell the same joke a lot during winter when people ask me what my favorite seasonal cocktail is. "Cup of scotch," I say, and everyone laughs (at least, in my head they do). Anyway, the thing is, if you're the type of person who enjoys just cups of booze, stirred and served up, summer can be kind of a downer. A parade of fruity ingredients, floral liqueurs and more can make and liquor lover hesitant to dive into cocktail bar menus. However, that's not all you'll find on Tough Luck Club's new summer menu.

Sure, the volume, which is illustrated by artist Veronica Stice, features bright drinks like the Summer Lovin'—a mix of basil vodka, Riesling, watermelon syrup and lemon juice—or the Every Morning Coming Down with white rum, spicy green chile vodka, lemongrass syrup and lime juice with a turmeric tincture. But, even some of those fruit-forward drinks have some deeper notes. Case in point, the Midnight Rodeo, which offers cognac, red wine, salt and a grilled blackberry syrup. Bartender Stephen Ott says the drink reminds him of "nighttime in the summer."

Summer Lovin' is a refreshing drink, embellished with Riesling. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • Summer Lovin' is a refreshing drink, embellished with Riesling.

Of the 15 drinks on the menu, six are dubbed "stirred and boozy." The trick to making a stirred cocktail that doesn't become burdensome to sip in the Tucson summer heat is the simple method of substitution. You can take the structure of a drink like a Manhattan or a Vieux Carre and switch out some of the heavier components, like sweet vermouth, for brighter liqueurs or sherry. The San Patricios does both, mixing mezcal and Irish whiskey with elderflower liqueur, amontillado and orange bitters. 

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Staff Pick


Grave robbing, torture, possessed nuns, and a satanic Sabbath: this legendary 1922 silent film uses a series… More

@ Loft Cinema Sun., Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m. 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

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