Saturday, May 28, 2016

Iron John's Brewing (Tucson, AZ)

On a recent visit to Arizona I had the opportunity to twice visit Iron John's Brewing Company, near downtown Tucson, must a bit south of the University of Arizona campus.

Iron John's is a nanobrewery, started by head brewer John Adkisson. Adkisson was a homebrewer for twenty-five years, and long ago set his sights on opening his own brewery.  Two tears ago he made it happen, and it is a lovely little brewery.

The brewery is set up in one of those warehouse/shop space strip mall sort of places and is pretty nondescript from the outside, but inside is a cute, welcoming little tap room. The people who work there are really nice, willing to answer questions and make suggestions, and happy to chat with newcomers and regulars alike, about beer or whatever happens to come up.

Iron John's has a two barrel batch capacity, put out on a brewing setup designed and built by Adkisson around two 60-gal soup kettles, obtained, I was told, second-hand from a prison kitchen.

As for the beers, not only are they tasty, but Iron John's is committed to expressing theri region in their brews.  Code Talker. for example, was named after Chester Nez, a Navajo Code Talker who served with the Marine WWII.  El Tiradito Belgian Triple is named after a beloved local shrine.  And, it goes beyond just names: In Saison de Juhki, named after the rainy season using the Papago word for rain, they seek to evoke the "smell of the coming monsoon rain" by brewing the beer with sage, orange peel, and creosote flowers.

I started with a flight of four 4-oz samplers, and liked what I had so much that I went for the remaining two beers on the tap list plus a taste of Pedro, a nice double IPA brewed with almonds and pine nuts, which was being offered from the bottle.  For me, the standouts were Saison de Juhki, Hey Momo Belgian Peach Wheat ale, and El Tiradito (I liked this one so much I had it on both visits and took a bottle home).

Iron John's Brewing Co.
245 S Plumer Ave #27
Tucson AZ 85719

Southern Pacific Brewing

Finding myself  in San Francisco on a chilly April Sunday, I went in search of lunch and a good beer. Tucked away into a quiet corner of the Mission District, on Treat Ave, Southern Pacific Brewing was a welcome and pleasant discovery. 

The brewery and bar and grill all occupy a large warehouse space whose large windows, lots of skylights and high ceiling provide lots of light and give a sense openness.  There is enough light in fact to support a couple of trees growing in the restaurant area.  Despite the name, the decor and ambience is not particularly train-oriented --which could be a relief to some, and a disappointment to others.

I found the beer I had to be quite good.  Of the two I specially enjoyed the Belgian Blonde.  It had a nice Belgian character without being overly fruity or spicy.   I also tried the Barrel Aged Blend. It was not particularly oaky or sour, which is kind of what I had been expecting, but I did enjoy it as well.  I think they told me it was aged in a Chardonnay barrel, but I may be wrong about that.  

I wish I had tried some of the other beers to get a fuller picture of their brews --as it turned out the Belgian Blonde was a major part of what went into the barrel, so the flavor profile of both beers I tried was pretty similar-- but being alone and facing a long drive home I had to limit myself.

In any case, it would certainly be worth a return trip when in the neighborhood.

Southern Pacific Brewing Co.
620 Treat Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110