Recently, I have noticed a significant increase in craft beer movement in the state of Arizona. Four or five years ago I could walk into a number of places that offered craft beer and would have been one of the few customers that even knew what an IPA was. Now, almost everywhere I go, I am hearing people ask for IPA’s, saisons, imperial stouts and cask conditioned beers.
It got me wondering what happened in Arizona that may have caused the increase in awareness for craft beer. The conclusion that I came to was that there were finally enough well-versed people in Arizona that have taken initiative upon themselves and have spread the word.
This list contains those in Arizona that I believe have the most “Beerfluence” on our community. It was very difficult to narrow it down to 5. It was especially difficult to leave one particular person (James Swann) off this list, but he was edged out by a hair, but check out our review of The Watering Hole to see how he has transformed a Whole Foods into a craft beer destination. I hope you enjoy the list and we would love to hear your thoughts!
5) Chuck Noll
Several years ago, I found myself happening across a morning show in which a gentleman was talking about his knowledge of beer. At the time, I had just moved from Colorado and thought that I had more beer knowledge than anybody in Arizona. After watching the show, I was crushed. I felt that instead of being an expert, I had barely scratched the surface compared to the guy talking with the news anchors. I finally found that the guy’s name was Chuck Noll and he was employed at a distribution company here in our state. He had also completed his Cicerone and was one of only a few to have done so in the Arizona.
Chuck has been instrumental in bringing some great beers to Arizona through his position at the distribution company. It probably wouldn’t be far from the truth to say that he may have been an early
mentor for those searching out completing the cicerone. I know Chuck has been a huge inspiration to me and I enjoy chatting with him from time to time.
Rob has immersed himself deeply in the scene here in Arizona. Here is just a quick excerpt from his Google+ profile:
Rob has been brewing beer for over 10 years and is well-known for hopping flights for beer fests and brewouts. Rob’s travels have brought him to Belgium, Germany, the UK and 8 of the 10 Top US Beer Cities. Among Rob’s homebrewing accolades are winning the 2009 Papago GABF Pro-Am competition and a Best of Show in the 2009 Las Vegas Winterfest. Rob is currently a moderator at Homebrewtalk.com, a board member of the Arizona Society of Homebrewers, a recognized BJCP beer judge. Rob is passionate about spreading the culture of beer to Phoenix.
If that doesn’t prove that he has his hands in everything, I am not sure what will. I have had the opportunity to meet with him several times and have been impressed every single time. His knowledge of beer is beyond any that I have dreamed. But it is not just about his passion for beer, he also has a passion for spreading that culture to others throughout Arizona. What is not mentioned in his Google+ profile is that he is also the leader behind the blog website www.beerphxation.com which is committed to helping Phoenix get its beer information in one place. We hope to continue to see Rob draw in Arizonians.
Anthony and the San Tan Brewery (our review) have been one of the most community involved breweries I have witnessed. They host dinners very frequently ranging from fund raisers to dinners, helping introduce new beers being unveiled to the state of Arizona (Maui Brewing). Furthermore, he helped put together and host one of the most exciting and eye opening brewfests Arizona has seen, the AmeriCan Canned Beer Festival (read our review of the event here).
Beyond events, Anthony has always been revolutionary as far as his interactions with the general public. Similar to other people on this list, I have met Anthony on a number of occasions, and I have been treated as a long time friend. As a big time brewer, passing on and discussing industry information is always appreciated by passionate followers.
The first week I moved to Arizona, I made my first visit to Beverage and More (BevMo) which had opened a few days prior to my move. I walked in to find out that a local brewery had their head brewer on location to chat with customers. Little did I know that I would be meeting the leader of the best selling brewery in Arizona, Four Peaks. Meeting Andy was pretty awesome, and I could tell that he was also enjoying meeting his fans.
Since that day, Andy has continued to expand the brewery, as well as develop himself in the way of an influential person in his industry. He currently has a column in the Arizona Republic called “Beer Buzz” in which he discusses beer topics ranging from basic information to topics slightly more advanced. Four Peaks has gained a lot of recent publicity nationally and have had their names on several lists of places to go for great beer. I am hoping some day they will begin distribution outside of the state (a first for Arizona) so other states become aware of the our beer scene.
It used to be that men would get together over a few pints and chat about beer. If you are beginning to notice that your lady knows more about beer and has been attending beer events around the valley, you probably have Maureen to thank for that. For those of you who don’t know, Maureen is the Arizona chapter leader of Girls Pint Out (AZGPO), a successful group of women who get together to drink and learn about beer.
The reason why I have her as number one is because she has focused on the market segment that the big breweries leave out by showing women that beer is not just for men. In addition to running AZGPO, she is also an active member in the Arizona Society of Homebrewers. Maureen and her husband Hunter brew fantastic and creative beer (if you missed our review of their Lady Clovender, check it out here).
Overall, I think each person has had an influence, not only on me, but the whole state and I look forward to seeing where they can take the state of Arizona. Prost!