Great Arizona Beer Festival 2012

On Saturday, March 3, the HTBN team lived up to its Have Beer? Will Travel motto and sojourned to Tempe, Arizona, for the 24th Annual Great Arizona Beer Festival.

The event featured beers primarily from the state of Arizona. Neighboring California and Colorado breweries and distributors of a variety of imports from Europe also joined the party.

This was kind of nice, so when you found that tasty AZ Wit, you could wander over to the Hoegaarden booth and compare. All in all there were about 265+ beer to try from some 55+ different breweries.

The event is only four hours long but you do get a cute 3 oz tasting mug and 18 tickets. I printed out a list of the pre-event beers and was not too surprised to either find a couple of missing (or hidden – or hidden in plain sight) breweries on the list. More than a few did not bring what they pre-announced – and brought other stuff as a surprise – in many cases a pleasant surprise. However, after the first 10 5-9% ABV tasters, keeping track of new finds failed as a journalistic pursuit, and wallowed instead in gleeful self-indulgence in the 80 degree sunshine at the Tempe Beach Park.

There were a lot of Amber and Red Ales at this festival and Dark IPAs.  As with most festivals, there were the traditional styles, and the creative concoctions with clever names.Lines got long pretty fast at most of the stations, but moved pretty quickly. Especially if you made the effort to get a taster, and get in another line while you enjoyed it.


My favorite beer of the day was a unique offering from Mudshark Brewing Company called Hava Blue; a wheat ale infused with blueberry and vanilla bean. The Coco Mole from New Belgium was also an interesting brew.

As always a high point at the festival is talking to the fellow festivites. I expected to meet a lot of people from Phoenix, but instead my first five “hellos” were answere by people from Michigan, Colorado, and California. It was a great day for learning more about the craft brewing industry. It is certainly alive and well in Arizona. Now I get to go visit some of the local hot spots like Four Peaks, San Tan, Oak Creek and others.

Photography by Kelly Shoemaker
Editorial Content by Bob Shoemaker

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