Labor Day weekend traditionally marks the end of summer. It is usually the last trip for families before school starts; it is the last time that bedtime is not an issue, and to some it can be the last time that beer becomes a primary drink to provide refreshment for meals. However, with a new generation of craft breweries producing incredible beers, beer might be finding a place at the dining room table for the entire year. Over the next few weeks, the Epicurean Pilgrim is going to look at some craft brewers that are creating incredible beers that both stand on their own and compliment quality food.
I was recently in Gilbert, Arizona, where I found a brewery that is changing how people look at beer and eating. Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company is producing some great beers and outstanding food that stands by the concept of locally sourced and produced. Owners John Buford and Brett Debtmere, along with Master Brewer Patrick Ware and Chef Mike Irmarosa have created a destination that is making in an impact in Gilbert and around Arizona.
If you have been in Arizona during the summer months, you realize the enjoyment of quality cold beer to quench the thirst that 110 degrees creates. Recommended by our server, Danielle, the EP began with a Bear Wallow with Grapes, which is Arizona Wilderness’ Berliner Weisse made with local Sonoran white wheat from Tempe’s Hayden Mills with 500 lbs. of table grapes from Steadfast Farm at Agritopia in Gilbert. This refreshing yet tanging beverage was unbelievable. With a slight souring effect from temperature controlled bacteria, and slight evanescence, the Bear Wallow hit the spot.
Alone the Berliner Weisse was outstanding,however, the EP decided to see how it would stand up to one of the handcrafted burgers that they made. The decision was easy when the Apple and Brie Burger was sighted on the menu. Made with a brisket blend patty, topped with double cream brie, caramelized slic
ed apples, local Arizona honey, and thick cut bacon all on a brioche bun, this burger provided a complex panorama of tastes from the tanginess of the brie and caramelized apples to the hints of spices from the brisket and thick cut bacon. The piece de resistance was the brioche bun, which is made by a local bakery using the spent grain from the brewery!
After coming out of the dream state of the beer and burger, I could not leave without trying one more of their beers. This time the choice was the Hummingbird Springs Saison, which is the brewery’s Sour Saison made from Sonoran white wheat from Hayden Mills. With hints of citrus and tropical fruits on the tongue, and the sourness from the yeast, this makes the Hummingbird refreshing. This would be a beer best enjoyed with a spicy dish, like wings.
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company is creating fantastic beers and top quality food which produces an incredible experience for their guests. Not only are the brewers there regularly, but you might find Chris Rodgers, the head brewer, behind the bar pouring their creations from the tap. When you are traveling to the Phoenix area, make sure the schedule time to make trip over to this great place. Ask for Danielle and tell her the Epicurean Pilgrim sent you.