Tag Archives: Arizona

In-Cider Guide to AZ’s Newest Cidery

The core of downtown Mesa is being revitalized! Locally owned Cider Corps cidery and tasting room is serving up a dozen original, unique and delicious hard ciders. Current offerings range from “Tried & True” (a dry hopped cider with a clean, crisp and bright traditional apple cider flavor) to the “MH84 AKA Mango Grenade” (a sweet cider that starts with topical mango notes and finishes with a surprising hint of habanero heat.)

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The large simple modern-industrial tasting room is the perfect venue to sample a flight of apple cider served up in a baking tray.  With so many varieties of cider on tap you are bound to find at least a couple concoctions that please your palate. Friendly and knowledgeable owners are more than willing to offer up recommendations and break down the science behind the Cider.

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Cider Corps is a refreshing addition to downtown Mesa and the Arizona microbrew community. We recommend that you swing by and see how you like them apples.

Cider Corps Facebook page

Currently open Saturdays 12 PM – 12 AM – look for new hours in 2018

-AZ Survival Guide

New to the Boulevard: Hop Social

Hop Social is one of the newest restaurants to stake claim to the highly coveted real of Chandler Boulevard. Hop Social occupies the space previously held by Elephant Bar.

This standalone building has been extensively remodeled. The exterior features an elegant upscale look. The first thing you observe prior to walking through the main entrance is the well-lit ample patio space. This promises to be the perfect place to enjoy an AZ winter al fresco dining experience.

The interior design is also quite impressive. The dining room features an interesting play on modern and vintage ascetics with the focal point of the space holding a striking set of large emerald green tufted sofas. The overall feel is a nice contrast from the multitudes of basic chain restaurants that surround this establishment.

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In an unprecedented move, Hop Social kicked off their “soft” opening weekend by giving away meals! I can confidently speak for all Phoenix area foodies when I say I hope this is a trend that catches on. Hop Social sent out a lunch and dinner invitations offering meals to local residents from 11/16-11/18.         

My wife and I were limited to ordering two specific entrees during this soft opening. I went with the Caesar Salad and the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger.  The Caesar Salad was fit for a king. It arrived with ample amounts of shredded Parmesan and house made croutons all coated with a creamy dressing.  Now I’ve never had a burger that’s been life changing but this was pretty delicious. The bread was fresh and soft and the beef was juicy and cooked to perfection. The salty thick cut smoky bacon took this decadent sandwich to the next level. The side of coleslaw was so-so, bit bland and uninspired. I would suggest going with the rustic thick cut French fries when it’s your turn to choose a side.

The most difficult choice of the night was picking a drink. With 52 craft beers on tap this was somewhat of a weighty decision process. With the word “hop” in the name I anticipated this dilemma. Fortunately with beers like Tower Station (by Mother Road Brewing) and Papago Orange Blossom (by Papago Brewing Co) you can’t go wrong.

Hop Social also hosts happy hour twice a day 7 days a week! With an extensive beer list, eclectic and reasonably priced food menu and prime location Hop Social will be a welcomed addition to Chandler Boulevard.     

Visit the Hop Social website

-AZ Survival Guide

AZ Survival Guide’s Brewery of the Month: SanTan Brewery

LRG_DSC01523In 2013 I took my first tip to Arizona. I knew very little about the extreme desert heat or the rapidly expanding microbrew scene. SanTan Brewery was the first of many beer establishments I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. Located in the heart of downtown Chandler, SanTan is one of the city’s oldest and most popular brewery. They opened their doors in 2007 and have been serving great food and beer ever since.

The brewery resides in a space that was once a bank. The teller lines and safe deposit boxes have long ago been moved aside to make room for the floor to ceiling stainless steel fermenters and all the other needed equipment necessary for a fully functioning brewery. A single industrial vault door is the one hint that this brewery was once a financial institution.

LRG_DSC01489SanTan’s beers can be found all throughout the valley. You will be hard pressed to find a bar or supermarket in the valley that does not care one of their offerings.

Food is one of the elements that sets this brewery apart from its many competitors. The menu is comprised of a balanced mix of your standard pub fare along with some of the best Southwest dishes in the area. SanTan prides themselves on utilizing the best local ingredients.

LRG_DSC01488On my most recent visit, I went with a pint of their flagship beer – Devil’s Ale. This delicious American Pale Ale is served ice cold in the heaviest pint glass ever manufactured (maybe.) In the twilight of the spacious patio this beer appeared to have a hazy dark amber maroon hue. It is characterized by sweet citrus piney aromas and a caramel malt flavor. This well-balanced beer weighs in at 5.5% ABV and is a crowd favorite for sure.

*other notable offerings

Mr. Pineapple – super popular seasonal wheat beer. Try it mixed in their Vacation in a Glass cocktail

Moon Juice IPA / with Grapefruit makes it even better

Hop Shock IPA

Unfortunately, the secret is out on this establishment. Anticipate a bit of a wait for table on a weekend night. But if some quality craft Beer, great service and delicious food is what you seek, you can definitely bank on SanTan Brewery.

Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 3pm-6pm

Reverse Happy Hour: Sunday-Thursday 9PM-Close

SanTan Brewery 

-AZ Survival Guide

 

Roars & Pours Returns!

Lions, tigers, and beers, oh my!

Roars and Pours has returned to the Phoenix Zoo.

After an extremely successful run in the spring of 2017, this event has come roaring back to Phoenix. On Thursday October 5th, Boston based brewery Sam Adams brought their brew to the zoo.

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Your $10 entrance fee granted you general admission to the zoo and access to a plethora of free Sam Adams samples! This 21 plus event featured some great tunes piped in by the on site DJs of 93.3 ALT AZ, a fascinating animal show and an entertaining Oktoberfest themed stein hoisting contest.

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But what would a zoo experience be without the animals? Dusk seemed to be the magic hour for the animal kingdom. All the animals were fully awake and active. I can only assume that the animals were extra active in an attempt to persuade someone to let them sample the delicious craft beer (a gesture strictly prohibited by zoo staff.)

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If you missed this epic evening of ales and tails you need not fret – there are currently 4 more opportunities to enjoy this unique kid-free zoo experience. Roars and Pours events are scheduled through May 19, 2018.

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The next scheduled event will be on Thursday November 2nd and will feature samples from Huss Brewing Co.   Click HERE to purchase tickets

– AZ Survival Guide

Ditch Your Checked Bags and Carry On!

About 6 or 7 years ago I was introduced to the concept of traveling without the hassle of checking luggage. I was apprehensive at first but after just one international trip I fell in love with check free travel.

Most major commercial airlines will allow you to board the plane with one carry-on bag typically 45 linear inches (22 x 14 x 9 in) and one “personal item” (purse, briefcase, laptop bag, small backpack.) If you are judicious with your packing you will find yourself with ample cargo space to survive a 7-10 day adventure.

Here are the pros and cons of check free travel:

Pros:

Save Time. When checking a bag it is not unusual to step off a multiple hour flight and then spend an additional 30-45 minute awaiting the uncertain arrival of your luggage. At this point in your trip fighting your way through a pack of stressed, tired and highly irritable travelers to stake claim to one of the several dozen black rectangular roller bags is probably the last thing on your vacation to-do list.

Not checking a bag allows you to simply disembark the plane, walk out of the airport and start your adventure.

Save Money. Generally, checking a bag will run you about $25 each way. This means you and your travel mate will spend an extra $100 just to transport luggage. I feel this $100 is best spent on a couple pints and an entrée in your destination city, but to each their own.

Peace of Mind. There is no worse feeling than watching your valuables being tossed into the under belly of the aircraft by baggage handlers that appear to be taking part in some type of Nordic strong man event. At that moment you can be fairly certain that everything in your bag that can break is broken.

On the other hand it is an extremely comforting to know that your valuables are with in an arm’s reach at all times. The peace of mind this provides is priceless.

Cons:

Liquid Limitations. Airlines limit the liquids that you can bring onto the plane. All liquids, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less and fit into a single quart-sized clear, plastic, zip-top bag.  With those limitations it may be necessary to forgo the Aqua Di Gio, but fortunately items like cologne, sunscreen and hairspray can be purchased when you reach your destination.

Space Limitations. Traveling with one bag will force you to be a little more strategic with your packing strategy. Since you will not be able to bring every article of clothing you own, try to stick with one color scheme. Ideally pack pants and shirts that you can mix and match to make multiple outfits.

A couple other suggestions – pack some powdered laundry detergent in a Zip Lock bag so that you can wash a few items that you may want to wear again. Pack some old clothes (pajamas, underwear) that you can throw out at the end of your trip to make room for souvenirs.

Traveling with just a carry-on bag and a small messenger style bag has been a game changer. It is truly liberating to just touch down in a new city and immediately start your adventure. My advice for any frequent traveler is to ditch the baggage!

 

Special thanks to the good people at KingsLeather for providing this carry-on approved travel bag. Cabin Max bag available on Amazon.com

-AZ Survival Guide

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

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