Being in the media has its advantages. Case in point: getting to check out the menu and beers at SanTan Brewing Company in Chandler. For this event, SanTan wanted to highlight beer pairings and the normal menu without any specials, but also showed off the backroom where the brewing is actually done. Unlike other breweries I’ve been to, we were encouraged to bring a beer along for the tour, and that beer was the StrataBlaster IPA, part of the brewery’s pilot series and a great place to start.
SanTan founder Anthony Canecchia (a Four Peaks “defector”) stands between the tanks that started it all for SanTan, which were acquired from the DuClaw Brewing Company in Baltimore, Maryland. SanTan just celebrated its 10th anniversary, making it seem a bit old in the world of craft brewing, but the DuClaw tanks show that craft and micro brewing have been around long before the recent trend.
The MoonJuice IPA was paired with a salad, so whatever on that. But the IPA was tasty, being brewed not with the more well-known Cascade or Bavarian hops, but with Galaxy and Nelson-Sauvin hops originating from Australia and New Zealand, respectively. You could say it’s out of this world, but considering how grounded (in a good way) the IPA tasted, I’ll just say it’s from the other end of the world.
The HefeWeizen was paired with the Pesto Chicken Pizza. And while the pizza is not exactly unvegan-friendly – featuring mushrooms and spinach, I could appreciate the core of the pie – namely the crust and pesto sauce. I’m also not generally a hefe fan, but the Arizona heat seems to be pushing me in that direction. Despite looking the contrary, SanTan’s hefe is not filtered, but the cloudiness simply settles out in the brewing process, leaving a crisp, if not overly exciting hefe. Full disclosure, I haven’t had an exciting hefe in a very long time.
The Devil’s Ale is probably the best-known of SanTan’s beers, if for no other reason than the fact that the Arizona State Sun Devils make their home not far from Chandler and have pretty much adopted the beer as their own. It’s a very drinkable American Pale Ale and pairs so well with the carnitas enchiladas that I got to thinking they should rebrand it as Cerveza del Diablo to start getting it into all the local Mexican restaurants.
Ah, the Winter Warmer. It’s a beer that probably has no place in the Phoenix area due to the lack of a concept of winter, yet just felt right at SanTan. It was borne out of necessity due to the Great Hop Shortage of 2008, which was actually a thing, but has become a favorite of local SanTan drinkers, drawing a line annually when it taps. Like any good winter warmer, the beer evolves as it warms, leaving you with a very different final few sips than the first few – in a good way. The winter warmer is always served with the house made ginger snap cookies that some people like to throw into their beers for an added touch. But not me, I was perfectly happy to switch off between bites and sips, enjoying every last drop and morsel.
If you want to be the second (because we were the first) to try out the 2017 Winter Warmer, SanTan is hosting a vertical tasting on November 15th, giving you the chance to go back in time to 2014, 2015 and 2016 and taste the difference that a few seasons of winter warmers can make.
Or, you could show up on November 20th for the official tapping, but then you’d be the third group to try out the 2017 Winter Warmer and while getting the bronze medal might still get you on the Olympics Podium, you’ll always know you could have done better.