33 World Beer Cup Winners to Look For in Arizona

Zach Fowle
Four Peaks claims another World Beer Cup award.
There are two major judging competitions for beer. One, the Great American Beer Festival, is held yearly in Denver. It's the largest and most competitive tasting in the country -- but entrants have to be from this country. Winners of a GABF gold medal are deemed the best examples of their respective styles among American craft brewers, but what of the men and women making beer in the other 195 countries across the globe?

These folks send their beer to the World Beer Cup, an earth-wide competition held every other year in a rotating selection of cities. This year's Cup got all Rocky Mountain high in Denver, very near its ancestral home -- Vail, Colorado -- where the competition was first held in 1996. That initial WBC featured 600 beers from 250 breweries; this year saw 4,754 beers from 1,403 breweries in 58 countries. All those brews compete for just 282 awards in 94 beer style categories, and the ones that win are considered by many to be the world's best.

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Ommegang Game of Thrones Fire and Blood Red Ale: Taste the Synergy!

Beer: Fire and Blood
Brewery: Brewery Ommegang
Style: Red Ale
ABV: 6.8 percent

Brewery Ommegang is onto something with this TV/beer thing, it would seem. Last month, Harvest Moon Brewing Company made millions of Trekkies ecstatic by releasing the first officially licensed Star Trek-themed brew, Vulcan Ale. Soon after, Dock Street Brewing Co. bottled Walker, its tribute to The Walking Dead brewed with smoked goat brains. We are awash in alcoholic cross-marketing.

It's not hard to see why more breweries are making beers that tie into popular TV shows. Ommegang's first foray into synergy of this level, Iron Throne Blonde Ale, sold out far more quickly than anyone expected. In response, brewers doubled the batch size for the second beer in the series, an anise-tinged stout called Take the Black. It sold out just as quickly. Never underestimate the attractive power of a show with so many boobs and beheadings.

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Founders Brewing Co. Expands Into Arizona



Sorry, lost a bit of my journalistic reserve there. I'm just excited because Founder Brewing is coming to Arizona.

This brewery, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been churning out beers since its founding in 1997 -- but, until recently, only to the eastern half of the United States. A $26 million, 165,000-barrel expansion of its Grand Rapids taproom and production facility, however, has allowed the company to expand distribution quite a bit. When complete, the new space should bring Founders' total annual beer output to about 340,000 barrels per year, which would put it in the top 10 breweries by sales volume -- the brewery was number 30 on the Brewers Association's list of top breweries last year. The brewery announced its entrance into five new states, including Arizona, in March, and just started shipping its beer to jolly old England. It even has its own app, for fk's sake.

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Hangar 24 Craft Brewery Lands in Arizona

Beer: Pugachev's Cobra
Brewery: Hangar 24 Craft Brewery
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 13.8 percent

The creation tale of many leaders of the craft beer industry began with a hobby; homebrewing. In need of a downtime activity, today's master brewers started cooking up and bottling beers. They soon found they were good at it -- so good that they could brew for a living. Their hobby became their passion, and their passion became their profession.

But after the mountaintop is reached, what replaces the hobby? What does a brewer do with his spare time? Jeff Brown, the president of Boulder Beer Co., is a master cyclist who's competed in several bicycle racing events. Adam Avery of Avery Brewing Co. loves to go rock climbing. But Ben Cook, founder and master brewer at Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, may have the coolest hobby of all.

He flies.

Airplanes, that is. The story of Hangar 24 began, appropriately, in hangar 24 of the Redlands Airport, where Cook (a licensed pilot) and his friends would often meet after a day of flying to talk planes and drink beer. Eventually, that more earthbound hobby won Cook's interest, and he followed it from the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Van Nuys, California, where he worked quality control, to the Master Brewers Program at the University of California-Davis. After graduation, Cook picked up some brewing equipment and opened Hangar 24 Craft Brewery right across the street from his favorite airfield.

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Alesmith Barrel-Aged Wee Heavy

Beer: Barrel-Aged Wee Heavy
Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Co.
Style: Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy
ABV: 10 percent

'Twas a time, dear readers, when getting your hands on one of AleSmith's barrel-aged beers was a Very Big Deal. These bottles were among the rarest and most highly sought-after in all the land; those who possessed them were beer geek royalty. Today, they're available on the shelf for any peasant able to scrounge up $40. What an age we live in!

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Blame Canada for Parallel 49 Salty Scot


: Salty Scot
Brewery: Parallel 49
Style: Scotch Ale
ABV: 7.5 percent

Another week, another brewery shipping its beers to Arizona shelves. Parallel 49 isn't your usual new entrant to the American craft beer landscape, however -- namely because it's not American at all. The brewery's located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada -- America's hat!

Parallel 49's three founders -- Anthony Frustagli, Nick Paladino, and Mike Sleeman -- grew up in east Vancouver, fewer than 10 minutes from where the brewery now stands. In 2008, the three friends quit their jobs to open the 40-tap St. Augustine's restaurant, a spot which quickly became a craft beer destination in British Columbia. Fueled by their connection to the craft beer industry, the guys teamed up with Michael Tod and Graham With in 2012 to found Parallel 49. The brewery's named for the 49th parallel, the latitude that makes up the 2,000-mile border between Canada and the United States.

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Mike Hess Brewing Co.: In Cervisia Veritas

Welcome, class, to today's Latin lesson. Now, you may be thinking there's no reason to learn a language that's been out of use for hundreds of years -- but you would be, as we say in Latin, in errare. If you knew Latin, for instance, you'd know that the phrase in this article's title means in beer, truth -- a wise mantra to live by. You'd also be more prepared to enjoy Mike Hess Brewing Co. and their Latin-themed brews.

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Nebraska Brewing Co.'s Barrel Aged Reserve Series

Beer: Melange a Trois, Hop God and Apricot au Poivre
Brewery: Nebraska Brewing Co.
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale, Belgian IPA, Saison
ABV: 10.1 percent

Before last week, the following list contained everything I knew about the state of Nebraska:

  • They grow lots of corn.

  • They have people whose job it is to husk said corn.

  • Now, however, we can add a third bullet point: they know how to brew some damn fine beer. This additional knowledge was brought about by the entree of Nebraska Brewing Co. to our ever-growing craft beer market. The brewery, founded in Papillion, Nebraska (about 10 miles southwest of Omaha), has been churning out quality stuff since November 2007, but lack of space in the tiny brewpub kept distribution limited to just a few states. The recent opening of a production facility in La Vista, Nebraska (just north of Papillion) has remedied that -- the new spot is expected to boost annual production from 1,500 barrels per year to around 10,000. Nebraska's also announced plans to install a canning line for its four year-round beers -- Brunette Nut Brown Ale, EOS Hefeweizen, Cardinal Pale Ale and India Pale Ale -- as well as some seasonals. The cans should arrive on Phoenix shelves eventually, but some special releases are already here.

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    The Arizona Beer Week Weizenbock

    Beer: Beer Week Weizenbock
    Brewery: Four Peaks Brewing Co., Wanderlust Brewing Co., Mother Road Brewery, Huss Brewing Co., Ten Fifty-Five Brewing, Dragoon Brewing Co.
    Style: Weizenbock
    ABV: 7.5 percent

    Happy Beer Week, readers! You tired of beer yet? Me neither.

    This week's brew encompasses the best that Arizona has to offer in both food and beer. Created to commemorate this glorious week, Beer Week Weizenbock is a collaborative effort between six of Arizona's best breweries that showcases our state's brewing brainpower as well as indigenous ingredients. Northern Arizona breweries Wanderlust Brewing Co. and Mother Road Brewery brought roasted piƱon nuts and high country hops; Tucson brewers Ten Fifty-Five Brewery and Dragoon Brewing Co. added locally grown Sonoran white wheat and Southern harvest hops; Phoenix's own Four Peaks Brewery and Huss Brewing Co. threw in some locally grown orange peel and native tepary beans.

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    Duchesse de Bourgogne: A Valentine's Day Beer for the Ladies

    Beer: Duchesse de Bourgogne
    Brewery: Brouwerij Verhaeghe
    Style: Flemish Red Ale
    ABV: 6.2 percent

    Because they tend to get me in big trouble both personally and professionally, I try to avoid making sweeping generalizations about the opposite sex. So it's at great peril that I start off this week's review thus: A lot of women don't like beer. Now, of course there are many who do -- I personally know some incredible women who sell beer for major craft breweries and brew their own. Several even own breweries. But they are vastly outnumbered by the ladies who seem to have been forcibly dragged into a craft beer bar by their significant others and, with sour looks on their faces, end up ordering a glass of wine because they just. Won't. Drink. Beer.

    The problem lies not in any difference of anatomy. More likely it's that a century's worth of mass-market beer advertising aimed primarily at men -- and the flavor of the beers being advertised -- has left a bad taste in their mouths. But I believe that anyone who says they don't like craft beer just hasn't found the right brew for them yet, and I have yet to meet a person with ladyparts who doesn't love Duchesse de Bourgogne.

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