Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hopping Hand-crafted Beer

Touring Arizona's fastest-growing brewery

More and more Arizonans are raising their glasses with craft beer brewed right in Downtown Chandler.

In the last few years, SanTan Brewing Company has expanded into restaurants and grocery stores across The Valley.

The secret to this local brewery’s success amidst a tough recession? “We are a small-scale, hands-on brewery,” said brewmaster Patrick Ware to Cactus IFT members on August 25, 2011.

He explained that at the brewery’s core is a mission intended by its founder and owner Anthony Canecchia to create a company dedicated to the culture of “hand-crafted beer for pairing with craft food and the art of great conversation.”

Conversation is what Ware had plenty of while giving a brewery tour to curious Cactus IFT members who riddled him with questions about the company’s beer-making process (see Page 3) and packaging capabilities.
Ware handled each of the questions with ease including ones about malt buying, fermentation vessels, hops straining, and alcohol percentage. He also addressed how the brewing process differs to produce a variety of beer flavors.

After the tour, Ware guided a beer-tasting and taught Cactus IFT members how to properly pair the company’s signature craft brews with foods.

According to Ware, the company’s wildly popular citrus-hop-balanced-with-caramel-malt Devil’s Ale lives up to its name paired with bacon. Another favorite, the intense HopSchock IPA goes down nicely when paired with blue cheese.

“The strong flavors don’t compete but dance on the tongue,” Ware said.

The more light-bodied SunSpot Gold didn’t disappoint when paired with a chicken taco and there was little question that nutty caramel toasted-malt Epicenter Amber Ale complemented a cheeseburger. The German wheat beer, Hefewizen, required cheese to balance its sweet banana clove flavor. And lastly, the roasted coffee Gordo Stout served on nitrogen could only be perfected with dark chocolate.

As the night went on, the pleasures of good food and drink were only accentuated with lively discussion and networking of Cactus IFT members.

— David Despain