Bogrolls & Barley Wines
Raising Arizona

I spoke with a science teacher at Worthington schools the other day, who pointed out that Columbus has as many grey days as Seattle. No wonder Lady
Roberts and I were feeling the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Thus, it came as a welcome break to make the trip to Phoenix, Arizona, for my
company’s National Meeting. The dreary skies of Ohio’s cowtown were left behind as blue skies and warm temperatures beckoned.

Our time in Phoenix was carefully mapped out, but at the end of the three-day meeting, we had an evening to ourselves and four of us cabbed it down from
our mountain resort to Scottsdale – home of beautiful people and the filthy rich – and also home to Four Peaks Brewing Co.

My research prior to this trip had noted several brews on tap at this microbrewery and one look at the “beers on tap” board at this brewpub had this person
of Royal descent drooling – let us begin….

1) Raj IPA  - on cask - (6%)
It doesn’t get any better than this, a brewpub with a cask conditioned ale on tap.
*Note to British beer snobs: cask ale is alive and well in the US. The Raj IPA
was a total delight; a beautiful smooth IPA with distinctive grapefruit flavours and assertive hop bitterness. Warming pear flavours made their presence
known as the tastes mellowed out. An absolute classic and worth the trip to Four Peaks alone.

2) Sunbru (5.2%)
Sunbru is based on the German Kolsch-style of beer, a style that originated in the city of Cologne. It’s generally a pleasant, refreshing, light golden ale with
minimal bitterness. Lady Roberts is very partial to the Kolsch brewed at The Outer Banks Brewing Station, in North Carolina. And indeed, Sunbru was very
tasty – a little heavier than what I’m used to from a Kolsch – more like a tasty Pilsner, but nevertheless another winner.

3) Hefeweizen (5%)
Four Peaks uses 51% wheat malt in their Hefeweizen recipe and being unfiltered gives the beer its cloudy look, as if a tin of London Fog had been poured in
the glass. Hefeweizen is a Bavarian style of Wheat Ale and this example displayed the classic aroma and delicious tastes of banana and cloves.  I’m not sure
that Lord Gutekunst and Lady McHugh were overly thrilled with the Hefeweizen, but this was an excellent example of a classic German style. A beautiful beer
in every single way.

4) 8th Street Ale (4.7%)
Now we’re talking – 8th Street Ale is based on the English “Best Bitter” style and accordingly, it featured a spicy, peppery, grassy hop character (Four Peaks
uses imported Kentish hops from the UK) balanced with tangy fruit and sweet nutty malt. A lovely, mellow ale.

5) Oatmeal Stout (5.2%)
At this stage, we were on a roll with no sign of it ending. Despite being a nitro-keg ale, this fantastic stout was totally top-drawer. This was a deliciously
creamy, rich black stout, with mild roasted flavours and a slightly bitter chestnut finish. Flaked oats were added to the mix in order to enhance the
smoothness. I tried to see if I could pick up a 6-pack, but the folks at Four Peaks told me they hadn’t found a way to bottle a nitro-keg ale (as yet).  Dare I
say a brilliant stout.

6) Hopsquatch (11.5%)
Their winter seasonal and as appropriate for bitterly cold temperatures and several feet of snow (in Scottsdale ?), Hopsquatch is good old-fashioned Barley
Wine, generously hopped and featuring lots of malt to deliver a 11.5% alcohol by volume. It’s aged for 12-months in stainless steel tanks in order to bring
out those rich, strong flavours of sweet malt, pear drops and marmalade, with a bitter hoppy finish. Dare I say a brilliant barley wine.

7) Kiltlifter (6%)
This was getting a bit silly. I can’t remember a time when every beer in a tasting was superb and yet here we were with 6 straight classics. Could it continue
with Kiltlifter ? Well, not exactly. Kiltlifter is based on a Scottish Ale – in other words, lots of sweet malt with smoky notes and less heavily hopped than most
ales. Malt flavours tend to work for me in Barley Wines, but in a lesser ale, I find them to be somewhat nauseating. One example where it does work for me is
the beautifully balanced Conway’s Irish Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co, but Kiltlifter wasn’t quite there for me. It was amber in colour, lots of malt, but a bit
on the weak side. A poor man’s Fuller’s London Pride, if you will.

8) Arizona Peach Ale (4%)
Now, it’s well known throughout Roberts Manor and my surrounding estates that I am not a fruit beer bloke. The ghastly best selling Raspberry Wheat ale
from the now-defunct Marietta Brewing Co was nothing more than fizzy Ribena with a raspberry twist. Thus, with trembling hands I approached the Arizona
Peach Ale. And….what a bloody gem ! The aroma and flavours were all about peaches, but in a gentle, subtle way, without being sickly sweet or syrupy. It
was absolutely delicious and as Lady Kurfess pointed out, perfect for a summer evening by the pool or barbie (or both). Dare I say a PEACH of an ale!

9) Hop Knot IPA (6%)
Brewed with only American malts and American hops, Hop Knot gets its name from the weaving of four different hops added at four separate times during
the brewing process. This was a lot heavier on the grapefruit flavours than the Raj IPA, with appealing deep notes of lemon and lime emerging later in the
taste. It was also distinct from the Raj IPA by having no hop bitterness in the finish – after all, not everyone is a hophead!  

10) Raj IPA – the not cask version – (6%)
Bring on the hop bitterness ! It was a little unfair to compare this with its cask conditioned version because cask ale is quite simply the cat’s whiskers, and
what Real Ale is all about. I love the bitter hoppy flavours of an IPA, with the various fruits that come to light and while this version of Raj was more tart-like
and less smooth, it still stood its ground -  rather like a face off between Chelsea and West Ham fans – and provided a delectable alter-ego to the Hop Knot

And that, combined with the biggest slice of cake in the entire world, sums up our visit to Four Peaks Brewing Co.

The following month, I spoke with Jay Wince, Head Brewer at Weasel Boy Brewing Co at the Columbus AleFest. He knew Four Peaks Brewing Co. and spoke
fondly of it. When one brewer speaks highly of another you know there’s some good things going on!
So that's what a blue sky looks like!
Columbus sky, eleven months of the year.
The Royal selection - Hefeweizen is at the top right.
Lord Roberts of Tewkesbury and Lady Kurfess of Bowling Green.
Desert - almost 12-inches tall, the spoons acted as stabilizers.
Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix - our escape from the  
Ohio winter weather.
Looking towards Phoenix and them mountains from the hotel.
The Royal room is in the yellow building - hiking gear not supplied.
...and the water isn't frozen either!
Dining Al Fresco - am I dreaming, or is it really
12-degrees and we're knee deep in snow??!!
No, it's Al Fresco - nice Mexican buffet, I might add.
They're not joking when they call it a "cliff" resort!
Just a reminder of what flowers look like.
Now, this is well smart - a real live Orange tree.
View from the Royal room.
And now....time for a nice healthy hike...
...Well, maybe not - the air's a bit thin in these parts.
"When I grow up, I'm going to be a bloody great cactus!"
More hiking at the resort.