Brewery: Sonoran Brewing Co.
Style: Blond Ale
ABV: 4.3 percent
Forced Family Fun. Fine French Furniture. Feisty, Fearless Females. Full Frontal Fridays. The triple Fs can stand for many things, and though most are enjoyable (especially that last one), Sonoran's summer release of FFF might be the best.
The second in Sonoran's four-part Chef Series of brews (here's the first), FFF was created in partnership with Chef Eddie Matney, owner and head chef of Eddie's House in Scottsdale. Turns out Matney and Sonoran Brewmaster Zach Schroeder share a hobby: fly fishing. The pair came up with the brew's unique recipe -- which features brown sugar, basil and juice from grapefruits grown by Schroeder's family in Tucson -- while sharing stories and favorite fishing spots.
Though the FFF moniker was chosen to honor Chef Eddie's three greatest passions in life -- family, food and fly fishing -- there are several other three-letter combinations that better describe this creative brew.
GGG, as in graceful, gold and good-looking. Poured into a tulip glass, floating particles blur the gilded liquid only slightly, giving it the look of goldenrod as viewed through morning mist. One inch of mountainous foam pops slowly, marking the glass with meandering trails of white lace. The bottle design is as attractive as the beer within, and was designed by Ellison Keomaka, a Phoenix-based artist.
BBB, as in holy behemoth basil, Batman! Partaking in FFF's aroma is akin to burying your face in a salad bowl filled with basil leaves -- the air above the brew is permeated with piquant herbs. Below the basil onslaught are notes of black pepper and some semi-sweet dough. It smells like a slice of pizza. The flavor is similarly crammed with basil, though here grapefruit juice lends sweetness and a mild citric bite. Flatbread, a little red apple and peppercorns galore meld before a mild, musty malt finish.
DDD, as in dilute, delicate and dangerous. Dilute thanks to the light, watery body, which is thin and nearly devoid of carbonation -- a light electric tingle on the tip of the tongue is all the indication of bubbles. Delicate because the brew retains a softness that dances across the tongue in ballet shoes. Dangerous because without even a trace of alcohol, an entire 22-ounce bottle goes down with ease. Altogether, it's less like a beer in this regard and more like a basil tea. 3
AAA, as in a rating. Bright, refreshing and unique, FFF is a tasty brew, but there is a qualifier -- you have to enjoy basil. Like, a lot. If you have no problem with your beer burps tasting like you just pounded dinner at the Olive Garden, you should be fine.
FFF premiered in early July during a tapping party at Eddie's House, a portion of the proceeds from which went to Chef Eddie's local charity of choice, Scottsdale Charros. It's now available in 22-ounce bottles and on tap in select bars, restaurants and bottle shops all over town.
Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone, an accredited guide to beer.