November 2, 2008

Tempe Love

Not that Tempe, AZ was my last event on my tour, but it was the last one before my hometown crowd in LA, and from here, I only have 3 remaining events all in the Pac NW. So in some sense, though I've been denying being fatigued, part of me just wanted to get it over with, but that was until I showed up at the Four Peaks Brewing Co. where a huge crowd of thirsty (and hungry) supporters were waiting to meet me. Holy moly.

Huge, massive, ginormous thanks to Holly at Changing Hands Books for setting up the event, garnering lots of local press and interest, and selling out of copies at the brewpub! Though if you live in the Tempe/Phoenix area, there should be a few signed copies left. Four Peaks was the most crowded brewpub I think I've ever seen, and crazier still is that it was a Wednesday night. Is it because many brewpubs are places where people can get decent local brew and decent grub but 4P pours and serves stellar selections? That's my guess. Steve the GM brought me a flight of their brews and because I'm a fan of a great session beer, my vote is the 8th St. Pale Ale, which is actually more of an ESB. Smooth and mellow and a great quencher for the AZ sun. It was 93 degrees that day.

But back to the event. Not only were all the seats full and I had a blast table-hopping and really getting to talk to book buyers, but there was a VIP table for the extended family of Electric Beer, subject of a chapter in the book. I was SHOCKED to see Electric Dave all the way in Tempe, when he rarely makes his way from Bisbee to his neighboring Tucson. Also on hand were New Dave and the brewery's new owners including friends and family. Best news of the night: Plans for an Electric brewpub in Tempe! Finally, a city trying to put the Southwest on the beer map.

(Above: Erika and her mom Paula, who kindly offered me a crash pad somewhere west of Phoenix that night.)

The next day, I stopped back into Four Peaks for a tour with brewmaster Andy and one of the owners, Jim. Steve once again hooked me up, this time with lunch: a jalapeno popper burger. What's that? A massive, tasty burger with a veritable brick of cream cheese and spicy sliced jalapenos. Hoo-wa. Needless to say I didn't eat until the next morning after sleeping in a $29 roach motel just across from the AZ/CA border in Blythe. But it was totally worth it since I discovered the Courtesy Coffee Shop in town, where it's always 1961. Let me just say this: Farmer's Breakfast, consisting of scrambled eggs, chopped sausage, bell peppers and onions on a bed of hash browns smothered in both gravy and cheese, with hotcakes on the side.

From Blythe, I sped clear across the last of the barren desert in time to catch my 4 year old niece's Halloween pageant (she's the princess in the middle of the back row). I also got to catch up on the goings-on of my 6 year old niece (a wigless Hanna Montana)

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