Good weather calls for good libations, and this weekend beer and wine lovers will find two fun places to sip drinks in the East Valley.
It’s not as if anyone really needs a reason to drink beer, but The Great Arizona Beer Festival offers a good one: raising money for Sun Sounds of Arizona.
The 23-year-old festival, open at 2 p.m. Saturday in Tempe, is a major fundraiser for the Valley organization, which provides audio access to information for people who cannot read print because of a disability.
More than 230 craft brews, including ales from familiar Arizona brewers SanTan Brewing Company of Chandler, Oak Creek Brewing Company of Sedona and Prescott Brewing Company, will be poured. Out-of-state brewers will also be out in force, especially those from the West and Southwest, says spokesman Greg Fretz with Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery.
Two to try: Sonoran Brewing Company’s White Mountains-inspired White Chocolate Ale, a light wheat beer good with coconut shrimp or lobster, and Santa Fe Brewing Company’s Chicken Killer Barley Wine. The potent brew is more than 10 percent alcohol, with flavors as intense as the New Mexico sun.
General admission is $40-$50 and includes 24 three-ounce pours and live music from The Crown Kings. Food is available for purchase. Access to a VIP lounge, available for $80-$90, buys you catered food and casino-style gaming, a T-shirt and gift bag, and — perhaps the biggest perk of all — separate restrooms not open to the beer-swilling masses.
If you’ve only tasted wine from the bottle, you’re in for a treat. Wine lovers are invited to sample vino the way winemakers do — straight from the barrel — in Chandler.
Kokopelli Winery & Bistro hosts its eighth annual barrel-tasting Friday through Sunday during its Jazz, Wine, Blues & Barrel Tasting Festival.
“We’ve brought in six barrels of limited-release wine from our production facility, and the idea is to give people a chance to taste the wine prior to it being bottled and filtered for the last time. It still has a little bit of sediment in it, and it’s coming straight from the oak (barrel), so it’s going to have a bit more oak-y taste,” says manager Mike Pigford.
Offerings include petit sirah, fume blanc, petit verdot and port, and two cabernet sauvignons — one each in American oak and French oak barrels. Twenty additional bottled wines will be available to taste.
Four live bands will also play: The Paris James Trio from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Big Daddy D and the Dynamites from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Krimson Kord from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and Stan Sorenson from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. A special menu will include Memphis- and Chicago-style barbecue and Creole dishes, such as gumbo.
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