I just got back from a week's vacation in the southwest. We started out visiting some friends in Albuquerque and ended up visiting some friends in Phoenix and in between we enjoyed time in Flagstaff, Sedona, and Jerome.
As you might imagine Matt and I checked out some breweries along the way. In Albuquerque, our friend took us to several and most of them were quite good. There was only one we really didn't like. It was a great time.
Our next stop was Flagstaff, AZ. We knew nothing about the town before driving across the desert toward an impossible mountain and it turns out that it is an awesome little mountain/college town not entirely unlike Asheville.
We stayed at a quirky hotel right on Route 66. I would have liked it to be quirkier but it was just fine. We were also walking distance to all four of the breweries in the small town. We tried three out of the four. I'm not really sure why we never made it to the fourth because it was right next to the sushi place where we had dinner but I think we were tired and the time zone difference was finally catching up to us.
We had a favorite, though. Since it was right on the walk between our hotel and downtown we stopped there more than once in our two nights in Flagstaff. It is called Mother Road Brewing. Their tasting room has a sweet warehouse feel and the staff was awesome. We sat at the bar the first night and talked with the bartenders. They only had four beers on tap but the quality was outstanding. I love a place that concentrates on making a few beers extremely well than trying to make hundreds of styles that each taste average. My two favorites were their Gold Road Kolsch, which went down very easy, and the Lost Highway Imperial Black IPA. Gold Road was crisp and refreshing but had enough body that it didn't taste like a corporate beer. Lost Highway was super hoppy but with chocolate malts that enhanced the experience.
I do want to give an honorable mention to the little town of Jerome, Arizona. We were at Bar of Soap here in town doing laundry before our trip and a couple people recommended that we check it out. It is pretty crazy. There is one tee-tiny road going up a very steep mountain and it is the only way up and back. Because it looked over the desert you could see Mount Elden by Flagstaff in the distance. The reason it was recommended was because Caduceus Wine Cellar is there - owned by Maynard from the band Tool. On the plane out west we watched the movie Blood Into Wine about the winery. Very good movie.
We enjoyed the winery as well and while we don't often drink wine we enjoyed the tasting that we had. Caduceus uses all Italian grapes for their wines which we know we like and they are all very robust and flavorful. We might have brought some back with us.
I love that Asheville as such a rich beer culture. I also love that this whole country has such a rich beer culture. No matter where you go you can find amazing craft brew places.