AZ Survival Guide’s Brewery of the Month: The Shop Beer Co.

With so many new microbreweries in the Phoenix area, I don’t often find myself using the phrase “TheBest” but …Hands down, The Shop Beer Company currently has the best beer-related Groupon deal I’ve ever seen.  And they are also brewing up some high-quality craft beers!

So here’s the deal: 2 flights, 2 pints and two 32 Oz crowler cans for about $29! It’s a deal so good you may feel like you’ve gotten away with a robbery. Without a doubt the Groupon will get you in the door but it’s the delicious and massive varieties of Ales will keep you coming back.

Church Music IPA

The Shop is located on a quiet suburban street in Tempe. I would describe the interior of the tasting room as farm house modern. It is a simple and warm space accented with wood grain and exposed cinder blocks. Attached to the quaint tasting room is a lager outdoor seating area. The Fire and Foraged Food truck is a permanent fixture on the exterior beer garden. This food truck is serving up delicious, locally sourced foods Monday- Friday 11 AM – 3 PM. The menu features items like Chipotle Chicken Street Tacos, BBQ Pork Sandwiches, Chicken, Pesto, Mozzarella sandwich and pretty much everything else that pars well with an ice-cold beer.

The highlight of my shopping spree was the Church Music IPA. This beer has a beautiful cloudy golden blonde appearance, medium-bodied mouth feel, pleasant floral aroma and a hoppy finish. Caution: this beer weighs in at a 6.7% ABV. So that 32 Oz crowler may be best shared with a friend.

The Shop Beer Co offers so many style and varieties of their own craft beer that at first glance the menu can be daunting. Fortunately, I’m forecasting a couple of upcoming seasons of perfect outdoor drinking weather, plenty of time to work your way through the entire draft list from the comfort of The Shop’s patio.

 

-AZ Survival Guide

The Hottest Salsa Recipe on the Block

Most restaurants and grocery stores in America only have 2 levels of salsa heat available: mild and medium. If this lack of spice epidemic has got you heated, I’ve got the salsa recipe for you!

I personally feel that the key to a great salsa is limited ingredients and an element of sweet to balance out extreme heat. This simple-to-make salsa checks both of those boxes.

Word of caution- this recipe is not for general consumption. This is specifically targeted towards a segment of the population that looks for words like Atomic, Inferno, and Nuclear on the labels of their hot sauce and salsa. (You’ve been warned!)

Ingredients:

10 small / medium  habanero peppers

Half of a medium sized tomato (with seeds and liquid removed)

½ cup of baby carrots

Half of a white onion (diced)

1 teaspoon of minced garlic

1 lime

¼ cup of white vinegar

¼ of water

3 teaspoons of olive oil

*makes roughly 16 oz.

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Directions

1. Coat saute pan with olive oil  and heat to medium

2. Add 1/2 cup of baby carrots to saute pan and cook for 5 minutes

3. Add half a diced white onion and 1 teaspoon of minced garlic to the pan. Saute onions and garlic with carrots for an additional 5 minutes

4. Place sauteed vegetables, habaneros, the juice of one lime, half of one tomato, 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1/4 cup of water into a food processor

5. Blend salsa until you have reached an applesauce like consistency

6. Eat at your own risk

I suggest letting this mixture chill in your refrigerator overnight before eating. This extra time allows all the flavors to combine. This is an extremely easy recipe to make, you really can’t go wrong! But any time you are using real habaneros, spice levels can vary. If you find that the salsa is too hot or too mild, feel free to play with the carrot-to-habanero ratio.

When it comes to application, think outside the box. Don’t limit yourself to just run of the mill tortilla chips… throw a spoonful on a slice of pizza, cheeseburger, fried chicken, salad etc. This is a truly versatile puree that transcends the limits of most standard salsas.

If you are not sweating after consuming a healthy serving of this salsa, then you did something wrong!

 

*Enjoy responsibly*

-AZ Survival Guide

See Frida and Diego Before They Go

Frida Kahlo is perhaps best known for her thought provoking self-portraits, bold fashion sense and iconic uni-brow. This exhibit from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection is more than just a display of her work; it’s an exhibit that celebrates the legacy of one of the world’s most famous Latin American painters.  This instillation features dozens of original masterpieces from Frida Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera.

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As you shuffle along the exterior walls with the flow of the crowds, you take in over 50 photos that provide a behind the scenes look at her life and works. This exhibit also features an attention grabbing T-shaped catwalk featuring roughly a half dozen manikins adorned in some of Frida’s most iconic and colorful outfits. This show will leave you with a deep appreciation for Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s contributions to contemporary art.

Frida and Diego’s impact on the contemporary art scene is permanent but this exhibit is not! The Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibit runs through August 20th at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. This is the only North American stop for this world tour so there’s no time to monkey around.

Tickets to the Heard Museum are $18 each plus an additional $7 to access the special exhibit. Visit heard.org for more visitor info. Pro tip: check your local library for a Culture Pass that covers the cost of general admission for 2!

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– AZ Survival Guide

 

A Beerhaus You Can Bet On

Ask anyone in Las Vegas if you can find a craft beer and a snack for $8 or less and they will tell you that the odds are not in your favor. If you find yourself down to your last Hamilton, we’ve got a happy hour spot for you. 

Beerhaus Las Vegas is located right in between New York-New York and Monte Carlo. This is a relatively new restaurant so if your Uber driver is like ours, you may have to provide directions. 

This establishment is set back about half a block off Las Vegas boulevard. It’s in the middle of an area called The Park. As the name implies, it’s a space filled with monuments, statues, water features and outdoor benches (outdoor seating was not getting much use on this sunny 103 degree day). The exterior park/courtyard vibe is a nice contrast to the hustle and bustle of the strip. 

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I would describe the interior design as modern industrial. It’s a nice mix of exposed brick, poured concrete and blonde wood grain table surfaces that complete the intended turn of the century factory decor. 

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Happy hour is from 2 to 6 PM daily. You will quickly discover why one Yelp review crowns this bar “best happy hour in Vegas.” 

The craft beer selection is impressive. We decided to go with the Lovelady IPA, a beer that’s brewed in Henderson NV. Slightly cloudy, amber gold color, with a hoppy citrus floral finish, it is delicious! And at the $4 happy hour price I couldn’t resist doubling down. Now when it comes to eats, this beer house features all The Oktoberfest classics that you would expect at a beer hall. They have everything from brats to soft baked pretzels. Most of these items are featured on the happy hour menu for about $4 as well.

We went with the fries and cheese dipping sauce. We weren’t expecting much (after all it was just an order of fried potatoes). After crunching down on our first golden brown, salty crispy fries my wife and I both simultaneously thought ” wow these might be some of the best fries we’ve ever had”… I soon learned that these fried chips did not reach perfection by accident. The executive chef went through 18 different combination of potatoes and oils to to craft these mouth watering gems. The warm creamy cheese sauce was a perfect pairing. It will have you thinking “Who decided that ketchup has to be the industry standard designated fry condiment?” 

Next time you’re in Las Vegas and you find yourself in mid-day recovery mode or just killing time until the night life pops off, the Beerhaus is a must visit happy hour. 

 

– AZ Survival Guide

Top Secret Classified Sangria

It’s sangria season and if that’s not a real thing then it should be! This delicious wine-based fruity cocktail pairs perfectly with a hot summer day and believe it or not, it is illegal to serve in the state of Virginia.

Now anyone and everyone who has tried this special sangria has loved it and requested more. Want to be the hit of the next summer pool party? Then this highly guarded (embarrassingly easy) recipe is our gift to you.

Here’s a clue as to why we are hesitant to reveal what is actually in it: the main ingredient is one of the cheapest wines you can buy by the jug.

1 bottle (1.5 liter) of Carlo Rossi sangria *stick with us here*

1 can (20 oz.) of pineapple chunks 

2 shots (3 oz.) of Triple Sec

sangria ingredients

(Nothing but the best!)

In a pitcher, add the sangria, pineapple chunks WITH the juice, and 2 shots of triple sec  

***The real secret is to mix these together the day before you will be serving it***

This is the base of the recipe and it is delicious as is. However, it is also extremely easy to modify to your taste. Oranges, peaches, apples, berries – whatever you have in the fridge – can be thrown in the mix. Just be sure to wait until you are ready to serve to add these additional ingredients.You may also add some soda or flavored sparkling water to lighten it up. Enjoy!

sangria rocko

Sorry Rocko, you’re not 21 😉

 

– AZ Survival Guide

The Most Interesting Drink of 2017 (so far)

We are slightly past the halfway point of 2017 and it is safe to say I’ve just experienced the craziest cocktail of the year thus far. On our annual road trip from Phoenix to Las Vegas, my wife and I decided to roll the dice on a new restaurant off the strip called Sparrow + Wolf. This hip modern eatery is located about a mile from The Palms. The food was delicious! I ordered the Campfire Duck which was cooked to perfection. This was a decadent combination of medium rare moist duck breast topped with a smoky melt-in-your-mouth slice of foie gras. It is served atop wood ear mushrooms and a gravy-like salted cucumber, plum and duck bone broth ($22.00) But heads up – anticipate upscale restaurant portions. If you come hungry, you’ll leave hungry. But sometimes in a city full of all-you-can-eat buffets, a little moderation is a nice change of pace. 

(Our Charcuterie)

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The Drank

Now a good rule of thumb is when you see the cocktail section of the menus label “Libations”, you are in for an artisan handcrafted treat. With names like “Get Off My Lawn” and “Where There’s Smoke”, choosing a single drink to go all in on was the biggest gamble I took this weekend. The cocktail I opted for was titled “Jump The Shark ” (think Happy Days). The description read Plantation Pineapple Rum, Peanut-infused Bourbon, Banana, lime and Mint. Pretty much every major food group. Believe it or not, this was quite tasty – a great balance of sweet and tart. The subtle hint of banana added an interesting and memorable finish. Our server described this drink as ” the strongest drink on the menu”  and this gentleman was speaking the truth. Here’s the best part- this Sharknado of rum and bourbon is served in a gray and sky blue ceramic shark’s head! That alone makes this crafted cocktail worth trying. (Footnote; I learned the hard way that the ceramic shark head is “not a souvenir “)  

shark

Take a trip off the strip. The smoke filled casinos, celebrity chef restaurants and $10 Bud Light bars will always be there. Next time you’re in Vegas, grab a drink, a bite and a breath of fresh air at the Sparrow + Wolf. 

 

– AZ Survival Guide

Take off to Barrio Brewing Co.

I will be the first to admit that I had no idea there was an airport in Mesa and unless you were looking to charter a G6 you might be as oblivious to the existence of the Mesa Gateway Airport as I was. But there is a must try brewery waiting in the wings!

The phrase “Grabbing a beer at the airport” typically conjures up memories of chugging a quick over priced tasteless domestic beer prior to your zone number being announced on the Sky Harbor PA system. This is not the case at Barrio Brewing Co of Mesa. Barrio offers 12 of their own craft beer with ABV’s ranging from 4.6%-10.1%. The decor is tasteful and modern. As you sit at the solid poured concrete bar you are surrounded by a panoramic view of the tarmac and private jets.

Inspired by the sound of the Allegiant airplane soaring overhead, my wife and I decided to start with a flight consisting of the pale ale,raspberry ale, Citrazona and the grapefruit IPA. My personal favorite was the grapefruit IPA. Most IPA connoisseurs would concede that Ballast Point has set the industry standards for all grapefruit related beers. Barrio’s version measures up pretty well. Their grapefruit offering is sweet and tart. It’s has a beautiful slightly cloudy amber hue. After the 4 ounce tasting, I could not resist ordering a full pint of this amazing beer. It may be a bit too sweet to drink more than one or two of these in a single session. I would suggest following this beverage up with Barrio’s flagship beer, The blonde (4.7 ABV). This light crisp and refreshing craft ale was the perfect accompaniment to this 112 degree summer day. This golden yellow beer was perfectly carbonated and served ice cold with a slight malt finish.

This brewpub features a full food menu with all bar staples. The tequila-cilantro Buffalo wings are amazing. They start with a medium spicy kick up front with a sweet cilantro finish. The sauce is so tasty you will honestly consider eating your napkin.

This is a first class brewery I recommend adding to your itinerary.

Pricing:

All hours brewed craft beers $5

Happy Hour 2-7 PM Monday-Friday $4 beers
Growlers can be filled and purchased
$12 refills
$17 new growler purchase

Click HERE  to visit Barrio Brewing’s official site

 

– AZ Survival Guide

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