Congratulations to 1702 (1702 E. Speedway) for being named to DRAFT Magazine’s 100 Best Beer Bars for 2014. It was the magazine’s sixth annual ranking. The magazine defines the winners as places that have “thoughtfully selected beer with an eye toward variety … in the kind of place you’d want to stay awhile, delivered by someone who knows their stuff.” The bar measures up favorably with well-known taprooms in San Diego, Portland and Seattle. Just another indication of the sophistication of Tucson’s beer scene. And it just keeps getting better!
In other 1702 news, the bar is now selling bottled craft beer to go. Owner Austin Santos said 1702 has always had both an on- and off-premise license. It recently replaced a two-door cooler with a six-door cooler capable of handling 100 bottles of beer. It takes nine distributors and the “hometown brewers” to keep the cooler stocked. Santos said off-premise sales were “going very well.”
It’s Arizona Beer Week again. From Feb. 15-22, more than 200 beer events will be held throughout the state. It kicks off with the 14th Annual Arizona Strong Beer Festival, held at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix on Feb. 15.
Locally, Craft Tucson is overseeing events throughout the community. Tap & Bottle’s Rebecca Safford is on the local committee. She said the festivities include a beer, bars, breweries and bikes event downtown — Brew ‘N Bikes, which runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 15. It starts at Barrio Brewery, 800 E. 16th St., and takes riders through the heart of downtown and ends at SkyBar, 536 N. Fourth Ave.
Borderland’s Mike Mallozzi will present on the history of the science of beer on Feb. 20 at the Maker House (283 N. Stone Ave. at Toole Avenue.) And on Feb. 19, there will be a pub quiz at Borderlands, 119 E. Toole Ave.
On Feb. 21, “Beer on a Roll,” a movie about a bicyclist riding across the country and stopping at craft breweries, will be screened. The closing event on Feb. 22 will be at Maker House, featuring beers from across Southern Arizona. For details and updates, check www.arizonabeerweek.com .
A friend recently asked me about cask beer. While I thought I knew a little about it, I figured Tristan White at Dragoon Brewing Co. (1859 W. Grant Road, Suite 111) would know better than I, since it actually makes cask beer. White explained that cask beer is brewed in a “traditional English method” that originally used wooden kegs. The practice almost died out in the ’60s and ’70s, but has been revived using metal kegs.
White said it requires special equipment to keg the beer and is a “finicky” and “hard-to-do” process. Because the special keg has a larger opening than a normal keg, it is easy to flavor the brew. For example, Dragoon recently had a stout porter flavored with oak chips.
Cask beer is served warmer than normal kegged beer, and because it is naturally carbonated, is less carbonated than regular kegged beer. It can go stale in two days unless a “two-way valve” is used that introduces CO2 into the keg as the beer level decreases.
White said Tap & Bottle and the Whole Foods Market at 5555 E. River Road also serve cask beer.
And congratulations to Taylor Carter, Matt Gordon and Jeremy Hilderbrand on the opening of Sentinel Peak Brewing (4746 E. Grant Road). After enduring months of construction, they opened on Jan. 11 to a packed house. They have a nice assortment of beers, good food and a great view of the Catalinas.