Welcome to Liquid Lowdown, a column exploring the unusual, stunning world of native drinks. Every entry will highlight one craft liquid made proper right here in metro Phoenix (or simply past). Lowdowns will characteristic largely beer, however we’ll additionally take detours into different alcoholic drinks. Snap open a can or thrum the cork from a bottleneck. Cheers. Let’s get bizarre.
Model: Barrel-aged mix
Title: Grand Cru
ABV: 11 %
Maker: Tombstone Brewing Company
Lowdown: Sadly, small-town breweries on this state and others are typically hit and miss, largely miss. Tombstone Brewing Firm may be Arizona’s most notable exception. The brewery has maintained a robust fame on the beer scene. Till just lately, you could possibly solely discover restricted Tombstone releases at bottle retailers, craft beer bars, and the like, if exterior the brewery in any respect.
That started to alter this fall in a mid-pandemic shakeup.
In October, Tombstone co-owner Matt Brown bought Helio Basin Brewing Company at 3935 East Thomas Highway. This not solely will increase the provision and number of Tombstone brews in Phoenix, it provides head brewer Weedy Weidenthal and crew expanded manufacturing capability — together with the flexibility to make new beer types.
Like many breweries, Tombstone has largely been identified for its IPAs, at the very least in metro Phoenix. Of their mash and fermentation tanks down south, the brewers turned out spectacular variations of the fashion, together with doubles, triples, and hazies. Although even the unique Tombstone goes far past the IPA, its absorption of the brand new area unlocks new types.
For one, the brew crew couldn’t do saisons within the previous brewery. Now they’ll. Actually, it was the very first beer they made in Phoenix.
The second beer they made was a triple IPA. Later, they fermented a kolsch, shepherded alongside within the basic fashion of Cologne, Germany. For these used to savoring heady sips of Tombstone beers powered in spirit largely by hops, now you can discover IPAs at Tombstone North in spades, in addition to a door opened to far more.
As we speak, although, we’re going to snap open a beer that started life in Tombstone. Grand Cru, just lately launched for the brewery’s fourth anniversary, has the firepower to rival even the city’s half-minute gunfight that has echoed by means of the ages.
Actually? Sure, actually. This beer unites 9 completely different imperial stouts — “imperial” usually denoting a beer with an alcohol content material at or north of 10 %. Additionally combined into the mix is Not Actually a Barleywine, which, properly, occurs to be a barleywine, although one brewed in a darker, thicker fashion. The mix contains an 11th and last beer, a Russian imperial stout. Every beer within the potent darkish combination has been barrel-aged for 10 to 18 months.
This can be a large mix of robust aged beers, which seeks not the freshness of IPA however the complexity and unholy depth.
The mix is available in a reflective, coppery can. It pours nearly precisely like Coca-Cola — the low hissing and all — at the very least till a frothy head begins to assemble because the liquid climbs up its glass. It’s black and opaque, with no gentle escaping from one facet to the opposite. And its taste matches.
The top on this beer is even creamier than it appears to be like. That is possible due partly to the physique of the beer itself. When barrel-aging, the cracks between barrel staves, although tight, are usually not sealed completely shut. There may be nonetheless an infinitesimal crack for air to steal in, that means there may be nonetheless evaporation. Over the course of a barrel-aging lasting many seasons, these tiny openings result in higher evaporation, that means a beer with extra creaminess and physique in the long run.
And that’s simply the feel. The flavour of Grand Cru is far and wide and but, on the similar time, fairly fastened. It is because, I believe, the brewers have fastidiously blended so many beers into one. There may be heat spicing, however it’s onerous to pin a person spice. There are dusky, roasty flavors someplace between espresso and chocolate. There’s additionally a little bit of vanilla, one thing of a tiny milky sweetness.
Nonetheless, at its coronary heart, this isn’t a remotely candy beer. It’s a heavyweight of a blended darkish ale, one with nuance and intrigue. The beer has warmth and warms you. It’s robust sufficient that you may really feel it rolling by means of your head after a number of sips.
A full can prices $15. You will get a smaller pour on the Tombstone brewpub at Thomas Highway and 40th Road for a friendlier value. I like to recommend checking it or one other restricted launch out if solely to get a style for what Tombstone can do, in addition to a preview of the place its domestically obtainable beers would possibly go.
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