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Pusch Ridge Brewery

5861 N. Oracle Road

STAFF PICK: The first pale ale was produced in that mecca of great beer called England, in the mid-1700s. This clear, hoppy, copper colored brew was quite the novelty at a time when all ales were much darker and cloudy with yeast. India Pale Ale was the version that was shipped, in the days when the sun never set on the Union Jack, to the parched and thirsty overlords of the subcontinent. I.P.A. was heavy on the hops to help avoid spoiling during the voyage. Despite the unfortunate imperialist connotations, India Pale Ale is a venerable benchmark of the brewer's craft. And the best you'll find in Tucson, or anywhere else, is the Lizard's Head I.P.A. concocted and served at Pusch Ridge Brewery, 5861 N. Oracle Road. Theirs is a classic brew, highly hopped and bitter (those "bitter beer face" ads you've all seen fail to distinguish between the desirable bitterness appropriate in a fine beer vs. the acidic formaldehyde skankiness permeating the products of the usual suspects), and only lightly foamy. Its strong presence is modified by a subtle flavor from aromatic fruit and nuts. Though there are many other solid, less challenging beers available at Pusch Ridge, the I.P.A. towers above. (Unfortunately, we hear the pub has closed its doors in recent weeks. Keep an eye peeled -- we also hear they'll reopen in a few months' time.)

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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