If You Love Cartel's Coffee, Wait Until You Try The Beer
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out and let you know our initial impressions. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Heather Hoch Cartel used to spell productivity for us -- maybe not anymore.
In our book, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who love Cartel coffee and liars. Well, maybe not liars, but when we ask naysayers where they prefer to get their joe, they typically name some flouncy cafe that serves, you guessed it -- Cartel coffee. Whenever we need to get a boatload of work done, we grab a hyper-caffeinated, low acidity large iced toddy from Cartel and hunker down at one of the small metal tables, not needing the overly adorable ambiance its competitors supply. We remember the day we saw a public zoning notice outside, getting pumped for the day it would serve home-brewed beer. Well, that day has come.
Cafe/Bar: Cartel Coffee Lab
Location: 225 West University Drive Suite 101, Tempe
Open: Since 2007, though the microbrewery has only been tapped this week
Drink: In-house brewed beer to match the in-house roasted coffee
Almost a year later, that day has come -- Cartel has expanded into what used to be a tanning salon and Ash Ave. Comics' old location and added a bar and brewing station to accommodate the suds. We shall now refer to that expansion as "Bartel." While the Cartel-brewed beer is currently only at this location, the Scottsdale location does have a beer license, so it should be there soon, too.
Heather Hoch We dub thee Bartel.
The new half of the cafe is full of simple booth seating near the bar. It has two taps serving in-house brewed beer exclusively, though we hear word from brewer Matt Johnson that a third and fourth beer will be added to Cartel's repertoire in the near future. (A spicy amber rye and imperial pale ale for the curious beer nerd.)
Johnson was pulled into the mix as a friend of the business who's been home-brewing for the past decade. In that time, he learned a thing or two about IBU (international bitterness units), ABV (alcohol by volume, duh), and other beery things and brought it to Cartel. But enough background -- how's the beer?