Tag Archive for brew

U.S. Convinces Iran to Turn Nuke Program Into Brewery

U.S. Convinces Iran to Turn Nuke Program into Brewery

Tehran, IR—The State Department is hailing the recent development of Iran’s decision to convert their uranium enrichment facilities into breweries as a “major achievement”. Iran won’t have any power but they will have porters. The United Nations supports Iran’s decision to brew beer and approved the distribution of cans, bottles, and growlers. They have yet to give Tehran the go-ahead to produce 22 oz. bombers as there remains a lingering fear that this could be a gateway size.

Iran Brewery will feature several flagship beers including a dry-hopped Infidel IPA, a Sharia Sour, a peach-flavored Genocider, and a Death to American Pale Ale. The Mohammed Malt Liquor was pulled from the racks, however, after an artist died on the rack for what Iran officials are calling “a label design mishap.”

Secretary of State John Kerry said, “I am very pleased with Iran’s decision to take a page from the Great Satan and have a great time! I stayed an extra few days on the tax payer’s dime just to attend their Fatwa Firkin Friday. Wow, those Mullahs can party like it’s nine hundred and ninety nine.”

President Obama said, “I’m looking forward to trying their first seasonal beer, a Behead Imperial Red. Yum! I’ll tell you what, those Iranian brewers Ji-had me from hello!”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is condemning the opening of the brewery in the strongest possible terms. “This brewery pales in comparison to our own HeBrew Pale Ale, but I am more concerned that once Iran has such a facility this could trigger an ales race across the Middle East.”

Western Breweries Fight Drought With New Extra Dry IPA

Western Breweries Fight Drought with new Extra Dry IPA

Carlsbad, CA—The water is about gone in California and breweries are responding to Governor Jerry Brown’s call to action. Instead of moving back east with their parents, many master brewers are thinking outside the box. Many California residents are praising brewpubs owners for their ingenuity, but others are questioning the final product.

Drought Brewing is excited to announce the release of their Arid Ale as well as a Bone-Dry Bitter. Jack Parched, the Master Brewer of H²No Brewery, said, “We’re also aging a barley wine style beer as our seasonal. I call it the Barley Drinkable.”

Dusty Mugs of Desert Fountain Brewery said, “I think we can work around this no-water issue. First off, during the growing process we’re only watering the hops with our own spit and urine. Then we kind of skip the second part of the brewing process.”

One regular of Dry-as-a-Stone Brewery said, “Hops are crunchy and spikey and very hard to swallow. Sometimes my gums bleed after a pint.  I’m going to need a dental plan.”

Others locals remain hopeful, “At my age fiber is fiber. I like it. I drink less too, as it takes me all the way until last call to finish a pint.”

Top 10 Guinness Pours in Tucson Revealed!

Mick Zano

Tucson is an interesting town. I immediately got a sense of the local color here, which is beige. All color in Arizona, local or otherwise, is some derivative of beige. Upon pulling into town I was greeted by a man yelling out of his car window, “Pick a lane, asshole!” and I thought, “Wow, I’m home.”

In comparison, Phoenix is akin to some giant retirement community. I think over the years all the freaks were driven south and I mean that lovingly (the under-cactus railroad?). After only a short time wandering the streets I decided it was time for a follow up to my Best Guinness in Vegas Revealed feature, as a bartender from The Hut explained, “Tucson takes its beer seriously.”

But first an important cultural observation:

Nearly every couple in Tucson had a homeless/mentally ill panhandler following them. It’s as if everyone had already paired off, into threes, or as Arizona calls it: the Jan Brewer Model. I eventually found a nice free couple and started babbling to them about ancient aliens, the Rothschild family and alternate street parking. They seemed appreciative and I made a fast buck.

Ground Rules:

I don’t rate on the six Guinness pouring principles. I rate on taste and taste alone, and I am not going to mention those establishments that didn’t make the cut, because that would be completely Maloneyious of me. So without further a-brew, onto our Guinness winners (in reverse order).

Number 10: O’Malley’s

Drinkable, but let’s move on, shall we? Had I had more time in this town, this one would have likely been dropped faster than some psychedelics with Hunter S. Thompson at the Fremont Experience.

Number 9: The Shanty

Fourth Street Tucson has a variety of cool enough sounding bars, but unless you like country and western, or Coors and Budweiser, keep moving. The closest bar on Fourth Street to my hotel, however, The Shanty, poured a decent pint of Guinness. The place allegedly has a pool table and a nice patio, but I was only able to find one of these. (Hint: don’t try shoot pool on their patio. They hate that.)

The Shanty, giant moai

Number 8: The Hut

This place spared no expense having a giant mo’ai transported all the way from Easter Island. That’s dedication. It’s a great tribute to Guinness, as I believe the mo’ai acquired the original Guinness recipe from the leprechaun’s after storming St. James’s Gate during the Alamo. Did I mention I failed history?

Anyway, The Hut is a great beach-bar-themed joint and they pour a pretty darn good Guinness.

Number 7: The Hotel Congress

Whereas I love this hotel, I didn’t have any hope for a winner here. The bartender poured my pint in about 11-seconds (and not into an imperial pint).

“Because our Guinness pours go to 11!”


Being quick on the draw is important in the old west, but not so much when we’re talking about a proper Guinness pour. Despite this fact, it was a surprisingly good. It reminded of the Orlean’s in Vegas. Full story here. Beginner’s luck? A fresh keg, perhaps? Not sure but it was only one staircase away from my room and any hotel with four bars in the lobby gets a Zano four star rating. Coincidence? No.

Number 6: Mulligans

This joint is not downtown, but it wasn’t too far from my conference so I decided to venture Guinnessward. Sure beats going to a conference. As the barkeep poured my drink, I thought, wow, she’s letting this Guinness settle nicely and then I realized, wow, she just forgot to top me off and abandoned my drink entirely!

So I eventually walked back over to claim my beverage and then her cohort, in charge of table deliveries, proceeded to spill half the foam onto my seat. It was like the passing of the baton—near the end of an Irish barcrawl. This method may work well in porn, but not so much during a Guinness judging contest. I kid the help. The Guinness was tasty…well, the part I didn’t sit in.

On a side note:

If this is my boss reading this, I went to the conference.

If this is my probation officer reading this, I wasn’t drinking.

Number 5: The Red Garter

The Red Garter is the kind of place I spent most of my undergraduate work frequenting. The Guinness was poured into a pint glass, not an imperial pint, but it was still a force to be reckoned with. I later heard the Red Garter is always steep competition each year at the perfect pint competition.

But Are They Sithing the Point?
Imperial Guiness Darth Vader
WTF? Even Lucas’s Imperial pints aren’t imperial!

Number 4: The World Beer Market

I ran into Kiva somewhere and she suggested I hit her alma mater, the World Beer Market. The World Beer Market was an arduous journey from my hotel room, aka, across the street. The pour there was very creamy and it tasted like a winner, but there was a bitterness that began soon after the initial sips, a bitterness that kept this puppy from the medal round. I’ve had this happen before, but I’m not bitter about it. It was still a damn good pint.

giant palm

Number 3: The Frog & Firkin

This is the view from my Guinness, well, were I to fall from my chair and pass out on my back—which, incidentally, I did while snapping this picture. Nothing says Guinness like palm trees, well, if you’re an idiot. The Frog & Firkin has a great draft selection and it’s a wonderful place to enjoy a great pint. Kudos! This establishment earned its medal round status. These last three are all winners. Mmmmm Guinness!

Number 2: The Auld Dubliner

The sister bar of this Tucson pub scored 4th in my Vegas Top 10 feature, here, so I kind of figured it would be a contender. I do like the layout of the Lake Las Vegas Auld Dubliner better. This place has the football cranking and was set up more for the college students over at nearby U of A.

Key point: People should really consider my needs when opening businesses. It’s amazing how often this doesn’t seem to be the case. This can likely be attributed to their keen desire to stay open.

To Clint’s credit, though, he beat out his Las Vegas brethren. I have been to the Auld Dubliner in Vegas several times but I think his pint is a step better. On a related brewery note, Clint talked me into trying an Iron Maiden ale, a limited edition type thing:

Maiden Beer

It’s a good beer, but as far as novelty UK beers go, Monty Python’s Holy Ale wins that contest.

“All right, we’ll call it a draw.”

—The Black Knight

Oh, and this very beer helped me catch a ghost in my haunted Hotel Congress feature, here. Onward to our winner. Come, Patsy!

Bumsteds!! Bumsteds!! Bumsteds!!!

Number 1: Bumsteds!! Bumsteds!! Bumsteds!!!

Doesn’t that beer look good? I want to head over there and get another one, right now! The beer depicted in this picture wasn’t the winner. I went back to tell Andrew the good news and he bought me a pint, which gives me a diabolical idea…hmmm. No, I wouldn’t do that…well…maybe. This pour was truly one step above the competition. Bumsteds is hidden deep amidst Tucson’s Fourth Street rabble, but I had gotten a tip they poured a mean Guinness and it turned out to be the hot tip of the trip.

Congrats Andrew! In the immortal words of Douglas MacArthur, “In war there is no substitute for victory!”

No wait, the other one, “I shall return!” In fact, maybe next weekend.

Mother Road Brewing and Deschutes Unite!

Mother Road Brewing and Deschutes Unite!

Flagstaff, AZ—Mother Road Brewing made the fatal mistake of informing The Daily Discord about an important event. On February 5th they combined forces with Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery to brew one spectacular Super Brew. It’s kind of like that Wonder Twins thing, but instead of rings they use vats. Wonder Twins activate, form of ethanol! Video preview at the end of the article!

And, yes, we will be releasing the entire video on this momentous day, theoretically soon. For some history, about a year ago there were only four brewpubs in Flagstaff. Mogollon Brewing recently closed, but three more cropped up in its place, which begs the question is slaying a brewery like killing the hydra? You lop off a head only to find more sudsy heads emerging in its place?

Hey, just be thankful I didn’t go with my original Mead-dusa joke. You would have immediately turned to Stone…Brewing.

Zano, anymore puns like that and YOU’RE FIRED!!


Pierce X. Winslow, CEO

Hey, I’m working here…

Anyway, it all started when the Discord crew attended the local Brew Ha-Ha on January 19th—which is also where we found and hired our new cameraman Greg, who hence forth shall be known as Greg!

Deschutes Brewery
Visual Design Studio
Alex Bone, Cokie McGrath, Mick Zano and The Pharmacists at Brew Ha-Ha
Alex Bone, Cokie McGrath, Mick Zano and The Pharmacists at Brew Ha-Ha

Yeah, I’ve been working out a little. Actually, that guy in the back tried to photo bomb us, so we showed him…by turning him into me! Take that, brew fest photo bomb dude.

I didn’t cover the Brew Ha-Ha for the Discord this year—not because it wasn’t fun—it’s just I’m getting lazy in my old age. If you want to get the true flavor of Flagstaff’s premier winter beer festival, check out my coverage from last year here.

Oh, but when my agency’s CEO made a surprise appearance this year, for my day job, I was just thankful the gang talked me out of my “great idea”.

“Hey everyone, let’s all run up to him and dump our beers on his head like it’s Gatorade and we’d just won the big game!”

Yeah, my friends…I’m kind of surprised they stopped me.

Meanwhile, at the Brew Ha-Ha we ran into the founder of Mother Road Brewing, Michael Marquess. He is already a bit too familiar with the Discord gang, but despite this fact remained shortsighted enough to tell us about his little Deschutes collaboration thing on the 5th. The idea was for Deschutes personnel to drive from Bend Oregon to Flagstaff Arizona and pair up with Mother Road as part of their initiative to support your local brewery.

Mike started brewing as a hobby in 2000 but now, 13 years later, his shiny new brewery was just recognized by the city of Flagstaff as the Business of the Year—narrowly beating out The Daily Discord, which has over 11 viewers, because our fans go to 11! Mr. Marquess was then presented with the key to the city, which in retrospect the Mayor now regrets as he got the town as far as Sedona before being pulled over by police. It’s sad, really, because no matter how big The Discord gets I can’t see the Mayor handing us anything. That bridge has sailed…or something.

We were able to corner Mike for an interview and here’s how it all went down:

Zano: I have only one question for the founder: why, night after night, do you serve this man (pointing to Alex Bone) when you know what’s going to happen? Isn’t doing the same thing over and over again the definition of insanity?

Marquess: My license states I have to treat and serve everyone fairly, even when he is—shall we say—less than himself.

Bone: (towering over both of us) I’m more than myself!

Zano: I just want to say, your black IPA is phenomenal, your recent Anniversary brew is phenomenal, you are a real up and coming brewery in this little town. Wouldn’t you say your black IPA is your signature beer?

Marquess: Yes.

Zano: Then please tell me how do you brew a black pale ale? That’s an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp or …wait, I have more. I prepared them (Zano reaches into pocket).

Marquess: We can argue all day about Cascadia ale, American black ale, so just call my beer Lost Highway—

Bone: I saw the movie Lost Highway.

Marquess: —keep drinking it, and we can agree to disagree on whether you can call it a pale, or black, or whatever the hell it is.

Zano: I love this man!

Marquess: We like you guys too, but please stop downloading that stuff you’re downloading off our free internet. I keep getting letters from my internet service provider.

(Our answer to this important accusation is best left to our video response. Hint: it involves dolphins.)

Alex Bone then interviewed Casey Carhart of Deschutes Brewery and asked him questions ranging from demonic possessions to zombie apocalypses. Bone isn’t well.

Alex Bone, Mick Zano, and Casey Carhart of Deschutes Brewery
Alex Bone, Mick Zano, and Casey Carhart of Deschutes Brewery

This is another reason I Iove Deschutes. Doesn’t this sound like the perfect event?

Deschutes Brewery

The video captures more of our antics and our ultimate ejection, but we really feel we accomplished some important work that day, or at least that’s what we keep telling ourselves… Our official apology to both breweries is included in the video, coming soon! Check your spam folder. Until then here’s the opening. Enjoy.

Flagstaff’s Brew Ha-Ha Gets the Last Laugh

Flagstaff Brew-Ha-Ha
Mick Zano

After the Made in the Shade incident, I swore I would never cover another brew festival again. I made this proclamation to my wife the next day, or maybe she told me. Well, the beauty of being me is no longer being burdened with any long or short term memory whatsoever. And, in retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have gone to that second party afterward.

Yep, I just keep making the same mistakes over and over again. My life is like Groundhog Day, only I don’t remember I relived the same day until the end of said day. My only goal prior to the festivities was to get a good brunch base in me and avoid any and all alcohol. Of course, I got that reversed. As I am finally ordering a breakfast sandwich, I get a call from Stephanie, “Dude, it’s two, where are you?”

Cancel that order…

Mick Zano with Abba

Yes, I did in fact attend the Brew Ha-Ha with the members of ABBA. Actually, in an effort to prepare for every contingency, I took along several pharmacists. It pays to plan ahead. Did you score the perks, Fernando?

They also had a psychic-reading booth at the festivities. Psychic readings? at a Brewfest?

Now there’s a tough job. Let me take a crack at it:

Today you will partake in a great variety of hops, malts, and barley…oh, and wait, I see a porcelain God in your future!

“But what about our long term future?”

I see liver cancer for you, Mr. Drunk 24/7 T-shirt guy, and pancreatitis for your lovely wife.

There, that wasn’t so hard.

A Brew-Ha-Ha psychic?

For some history, the first Brew Ha-Ha was held in this town in 1887, when Jebediah Flagstaff was the first man to successfully keg surf down the San Francisco Peaks. Okay…Winslow doesn’t pay me enough to do actual research, so Google it. But don’t Google the Jebediah Flagstaff part, or you will only find this post again, which seems counterproductive…in a virtual wormhole kind of way. Anyway, this year a larger brew event was occurring at the same time down in the Valley of the Sun, so it was rookie night here in Flagstaff. I would pony up to the booth and say something like, hey, so where’s this brewery located? And I would get, “Umm, Oregon or Washington, I think.”

That’s nice. And what beers will we be sampling today?

“Umm, there’s a red one and one that isn’t quite as red.”

That’s nice. What about the yellow one in the corner?

“Umm…they just don’t give us any bathroom breaks.”

That’s nice. Geesh.

The breweries also didn’t bring up what they said they were going to: Old World Brewery said they would be bringing a scotch ale and a porter, they had a blonde and a honey wheat; close, real close, fellas. Sierra Nevada said they would bring over a barely wine, they lied. Mother Road said they’d bring over their Black IPA but, apparently, they drank the entire keg during the arduous three block journey from W. Phoenix to the Highland Conference Center…and the list goes on. Leffe didn’t even show at all, the bastards! Oh, and the “Elvis has Leffe the building” joke was omitted by the management (consider yourselves lucky).

Before I discuss the winners, keep in mind, I only sampled the beers that I was relatively unfamiliar with. So there were other great beers in attendance that were old hat for me. Speaking of which, Old Hat Porter was very good, albeit fictional. My medal round winners are as follows:

1st Mogollon’s Mesquite Porter – This local brewery really wowed em.’ Great stuff!

2nd Stone’s Black Double IPA – very nice. Stone rarely disappoints.

3rd Oskar Blues’ Old Chub (a scotch ale) – I’m a sucker for a good scotch ale.


By the end of the festivities everyone started looking like my friend Brad here, blurry and silly. Later that night we ganged up and destroyed those nasty green glasses of his. The next day we called it a fashion intervention. He’s a good sport and even stopped crying when we promised him ice cream.

To give you a brief Mick Zano itinerary of the day’s events:

2:00-6:00 PM — Brew Ha-Ha

6:00-7:00 PM — Cuvee Wine Bistro (for dinner)

7:00-10:00 PM — Some party or another, where I apparently filled my bead cans from the fest with appetizers (for later). Oh, and I won myself a dozen fresh eggs during a game. But I then lost said eggs before I could even hurl them. Talk about a missed opportunity for mischief.

10:10 PM — Urinating in public

10:12 PM — Listed on Arizona’s sex offender list (land of the bloody free!).

10:59 PM — Threw up in the appetizer filled cans

11:00PM — Forgot and ate said appetizers anyway.

11:00-3:00 AM — After hours party with the pharmacists, which went smoothly until Melinda decided we needed to do shots of something minty. Nothing like drinking for 12-hours straight and then having someone have such a brilliant boozular brainstorm (BBB). During an orange fight that soon ensued, you know……..I think I’m going to end it here. Suffice to say it was a little sillier than the New Years Eve party at the same venue, which ended with a concussion and a broken chair.

3:00 AM — My wife picks me up for the traditional drive home of shame (DHS) with much fear and loathing on Cedar Ave. No, she’s a great sport. She’s just meticulously keeping a journal for the lawyer.

Yeah, for dignity sake I need to stop. Kidding! I don’t have any of that…well, I might have once, but did I mention my memory issues? I’m sure I did…reasonably sure. I will definitely attend the Brew Ha-Ha next year, and would like to cordially invite the whole Havoc gang next year…That should calm things down.  I’m doing this even though I have officially sworn off brew fests in general. Ah, there’s plenty of time for me to forget about those little promises.

Oh, and you can find my coverage of Flagstaff’s Made in the Shade here. That one didn’t end as well. Or at least that’s what it is says on the police report. By the way, I did eventually figure out why things went so horribly wrong during that last event. I remember thinking: you only get twenty 4-oz beer samplers, so what’s the worst that can happen? Never say this. Apparently, I ran out of my allotted samples so I started cutting pieces out of my Daily Discord business cards into little pieces and folded each piece over to vaguely resemble the tickets. Sadly, this worked for the last hour of the event. Never again!! …well, maybe.

So who’s with me?

Top 10: The Best Guinness in Las Vegas Revealed!

Mick Zano

This post is over two years in the making, but only because I just learned how to use Word. It took longer for Bald Tony and I to complete this arduous Irish/Vegas pubcrawl than it took Frodo and Sam to journey to Mordor. Granted, we would have remained at the Green Dragon until the orcs razed the place, but, who knows, maybe Sauron would have kept us on as Middle-Earth beer tasters? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Yes Mr. Winslow, I just compared you to a dark sorcerer, but in a good way…really. Oh, on that note, I’ve just released a Nazgul toward Barad dur with our receipts.

My first visit to Sin City I realized this place took its Guinness seriously. So I finally assembled the pile of bar napkins, coasters, and scribbled notes into one comprehensive list of Vegas’ best of the best. This is my crowning achievement. This is the stuff of legacy and legend (sadly accurate where I am concerned). This top 10 list is by no means all inclusive. It’s the best on-line to date, at least for the moment. This is an attempt to rate the best Irish pubs anywhere in the greater Las Vegas metropolitan area. I actually pissed in all the corners, so I know the territory fairly well, but if you feel we missed your establishment just hit our Contact Us button and we’ll be there. Seriously, if you click the button we’ll be there within ten minutes. Or the pizza’s free. On the other hand, getting us to leave…I can offer no advice.

About 10 places did not make the cut, so let us never speak of them again. An honorable mention type shout out to the Crown & Anchor—a place completely disqualified for being an English Pub. Nevertheless it’s a great place with rare outdoor seating. I like the one on E. Tropicana; the little one on Spring Mountain is cramped and looks to have once been a Long John Silver’s. Oh, and Hennessey’s is number 11, because our lists go to 11. I like Hennessey’s. It’s located amidst the Fremont Street Experience—old Vegas, Hunter S. Thomson Vegas. This place gets a nod for location, location, location, but the pint, meanwhile, needs some improvement.

The Mulligan (not to be confused with Mulligan’s video poker) Award goes to the Todd English P.U.B. (public urban bar), located at City Center. Whereas I enjoyed the Double Grimmbergen very much, their Guinness remains the highest I have ever paid for a taste of old St. James’ Gate to date. It’s like nine bucks! And it’s among the most tasteless versions ever! I have notified the Men in Green (MIGs), who will be there shortly…and may the Lucky Charms leprechaun piss in your corn flakes.

I found it easier to break these puppies into tiers (within tiers there’s not as much difference in quality). And now, without further adieu, the much anticipated Top 10:

Tier 3 (the two that barely made the cut):

10. J.C. Wooloughans:

Truly the biggest disappourment. It’s located in the Rampart Casino, about as west as you can get and still be in Vegas. It happens to be ranked number 2 on another Irish pub listing. Oh, it’s number 2 all right. Where’s the TP? Maybe I hit it at a bad time, but I certainly wasn’t going to order another one, especially after a dry and uninspired turkey sandwich to boot. Boooo! I will never darken your doorstep again and, I assure you, this has nothing to do with your decision to bar me. This 10th spot is clearly in danger. So hit our Contact Us button Irish pub owner type peeps and I will gladly knock this bitch down a notch. And, remember, for a free pint you get a Discord exclusive. Yes, we are stout whores.

9. Murphy’s Law:

This is another one that is supposed to be a very highly rated joint, but I just wasn’t that impressed. This one is in danger of falling off the list as well. It might have lost some of its luster since I hit two of the medal winners in the same day, aka, it pale ale’d in comparison. Sorry, a pour joke for sure.

Tier 2 (solid pints of Guinness worthy of a stop):

8. Three Angry Wives:

Let’s be clear here. This is a sports bar. It has an awesome name, but Vegas needs to stop catering to the global ADHD populations. Vegas is a shiny neon, ever-changing ball that calls out to anyone who forgot to take their Ritalin that day. But I still have no use for sports bars outside of hockey season. The pint was surprisingly good, but let us never speak of it again.

7. Quinn’s (formerly Fado):

This place is located in the Green Valley Ranch Casino complex in Henderson. Same tap set up as Fado, just new owners. It has the slightest of bites in the after taste, but otherwise a solid pint…if I don’t slobber so myself.

6. Brendan’s (formerly Brendan’s):

Located in the Orleans Hotel, only a stone’s throw away from one of our medal winners, this place has no business being this good! We were only there to hit the comedy club next door. The guy literally poured the beer straight into a large hefe glass. He filled that wheat beer glass to the top in one shot and then swung the bitch over to me. No shit. My jaw dropped and I may have lost control of my bladder—which is unrelated, yet still noteworthy. Am I missing something? besides my adult diapers? Does that technique work in a hefe glass? I’m thinking this was more about beginner’s luck than anything else, because after the beer settled, some six hours later, it was damn good. BWTF??!

5. Sean Patrick’s:

A good Irish name. Admittedly, I was kind of drunk when I was here, but this didn’t hurt the scoring, nor should it. Vegas Great Bald Tony said I declared “this pint ROCKS!” before being escorted out. And his word is good…well, in increasingly small circles.

4. Auld Dubliner (a class by itself):

This is nearly top tier. It’s kind of in a class by itself (see earlier parenthesis). It’s just a smidge below the medal round, yet way better than most of the second tier rabble. Nice and creamy. The Auld Dubliner, in Lake Las Vegas Village, is actually a chain of about eight locations across the southwest. It had a nice set up and friendly staff….Kudos! I really like this place. This is the only top ten’r I journeyed to without the Great Bald One and, as those of you who know me can attest, I really should be supervised.

The Village is a Europeanesque group of restaurants and bars complete with cobblestone streets and piazzas (I recommend the pepperoni). By the way, they call every stinky little canal in the southwest a lake. Come to think of it, the smell probably adds some authenticity to the place. I’m waiting for them to name one of them Canal Superior or something. Let’s hope our failing economy doesn’t kill The Village too quickly as it is about the most unique spot this side of Tuscany. Oh, and Candace and Whitney were great hostesses who both thwarted my advances like pros (aka, the usual).

Tier 1 (The Medal Round!!!):

3. McMullan’s:


This is the best all around Irish pub in Vegas! And probably the best overall establishment as well. It’s just west of the Strip and it’s a real Irish pub—not some casino nook carve out, or mall-mart special like the rest of these posers. The layout is awesome, the beer is wonderful, the food is great, and there’s a rare outside area to enjoy your brew in the sunny Mohave. This is one of my happy places.

2. Nine Fine Irishmen:

Nine Fine Fisherman

This place is the more traditional winner. It’s actually the winner, but just about everyone designates this place as numero uno and I am not everyone. I have been to Nine Fine Irishmen six or seven times now and I have never had anything but the perfect pint. They go through so many kegs each day—about nine (ten when I’m there)—and it’s just such a fresh wonderful pour every time. It’s located in the New York New York casino and it’s another one of my happy places. Start spreading the brews! Sorry. It’s the Guinness talking…trust me, it’s better than what it says later.

And the winner is…wait for it…

1.Ri’ Ra’!!!!!:

Ri Ra

Actually, I placed Ri’ Ra’ as #1 just as a shocker. Nine Fine Irishmen and this place are both neck and neck, but wow did they put a pint in front of me. Ri’ Ra’ set out to make a statement in the Las Vegas world and I want to help them in their quest. Is it better than our number two and three contestants? Not sure, but it’s awesome and it’s been there about three minutes, so I urge you to check it out. In the malls where I am from they had Spencer Gifts and the Gap…this place could make me a Smithian Mall Rat out of me yet.

Umm, but we didn’t get off on the right foot with the Ri’ Ra’ians. Three pretty women in black (WIB) were guarding the door. Are you the gate keeper? Apparently, a high roller had rented the whole joint out for a private party, so we were not permitted into the establishment, per se. Sadly, I relayed some un-pleasantries (not directed at the pretty ladies, of course, but I asked them to pass along our general disgust to the high roller in question). Didn’t they recognize Vegas Great Bald Tony? Well, they’re new, so we’ll cut them some slack. My vision of this “private party” was of a bunch of wine spritzer, non-Guinness drinking Mafioso types, watching a football game…Notre Dames vs. Notre Dudes or some nonsense (sorry MJ!).

So outside of Ri’ Ra’ I had this moment of profound sadness and angst—of fear and loathing, if you will. We had only come to the Mandalay Bay region for the christenings of this latest of Vegas Strip Irish pubs. Now we would have to settle for free pictures with Pete Rose at the Sound of Music next door.  NOOOoooooo! Damn you Ri’ Ra’!!

I told Tony, “I have to get in there! They have, not one, but two of those groovy Celtic doohickey’s over their name. It has to be good!”

So I coaxed Tony into heading down an adjacent hallway where we were able to sneak in the backdoor, albeit barely, and made our way barward. Within a few minutes, not only were we enjoying one of the best Guinness pints EVER, but the bartender, Fitzy, took my picture to commemorate our awful deed.

Mick Zano at Ri Ra
I really look like that…it’s the lightening, really

Fitzy hails from New Jersey, or so he told me with a thick Irish accent. Ri’ Ra’ means fun, excitement, and ruckus. It’s also the same letters as the Real Irish Republican Army, so what better place to do an Irish car bomb? Of course, now that I Googled Real Irish Republican Army, I will never be allowed to fly to Ireland, but isn’t America awesome!

On the way out Tony talked me out of my idea to tell the women, you know, the ones who wouldn’t let us in:

“Mr. Such & such is not pleased you turned away his close personal friends.  He would like to speak to you immediately.”

In Riraspect, Tony was probably right. The beer was great, Fitzy was great, and eventually I need to learn to behave myself.

Congrats Ri’ Ra’!!!

Made in the Shade Brew Fest: Bring Sunscreen

Mick Zano

Flagstaff, AZ—Brew Fests…what are they?  Why would someone attend these things?  What are the inherent dangers?  They don’t want you to know any of this, but I think the information in this post is crucial.  Here are ten simple rules that can save your life at such an event.  So let’s go do the hop.

Made in the Shade is one of the most prominent Brew Fests in all of Northern Arizona, not to mention one of the only ones.  This year, under blue and unforgiving Arizona skies, it occurred on Saturday June 25th. For some history on the event, Google it…I never do my homework.  Truth be told, I haven’t been to any Brew Fests in a long time—not since the 2007 Boston “incident”. Actually, the advice to avoid these things came from a slew of doctors, law enforcement officials and close personal attorneys.  Kidding, it came from other people who have gone to brew festivals with me.

Frisbee Totter

Rule #1: Don’t bring this guy.  I did.  And I think it’s important the rest of you don’t.  Kidding, he’s a lot of fun—but, all the same, don’t do it.

Rule #2: When attending any festival called Made in the Shade bring copious amounts of sunscreen; there was no shade whatsoever.  The only break I got from the sun was when I was lucky enough to pass out underneath the salsa bar.  By the way, great salsa! I wish I could remember the brand…er, I wish I could remember any of the details of the event, but that’s brew festivals for you.

Rule #3: Scope the place out and go directly to the best area first.  In this case it was the Carlsbad connection—Lost Abbey and Stone Brewing were in the same corner.  While everyone is getting on line for Podunk Pale Ale and Lowtide Lager, you’re sipping a double abbey, which segues nicely to Rule #4.

Lost Abbey

Rule #4: You don’t always have to rush.  In the picture at left, it’s tough to tell, but the woman on the left is serving Podunk Pale Ale.  Notice that line curving onward to the horizon?  The woman on the right is serving our silver medal winner for the day’s event, Lost Abbey’s Dubble.  Yes, we waited on the wrong line for ten minutes before we realized there was no actual line for the good stuff.  Not a soul.  Sad but brew.

Rule #5: Perhaps the biggest pitfall is this: they trick you into playing games.  This is important.  Remember, you have long lines to contend with and only four hours to taste.  But, despite my mission, I found myself trying to hit a bowling-pin-shaped thing off a pole with a Frisbee.  Sometime around my 75th agonizing toss I realized this is all a diversion!  “Follow the shiny ball Mr. Beer Taster guy.  Step right up, everybody’s a winner.”  Well, not this time, bitches…   I put the Frisbee down and remembered what I was there to do.  Oooooo, ring toss!!

Porta Potty

Rule #6: Never ever bring a camera…mine barely made it out alive, especially after I jumped that chain link fence.  Besides, the longer into these fests one gets the more unfathomable your pictures become (see right).

Rule #7: Make sure your tetanus shot is up to date after climbing that rusty chain link fence…you know, that fence you climbed for reasons you don’t quite remember.

Rule #8: There is no rule #8.   There was a rule number eight at one point, but this is also the nature of the beast at such events.

Viking Helmet

Rule #9: You need to bring a Viking helmet.  There is nothing cooler at a Brew Fest than a Viking helmet.  This is one of the eternal truths.

Rule #10: Always have a designated driver.  For this fest I designated the guy holding the two beers with the Frisbee on his head.   Always a safe bet.

The winner of the Made in the Shade festival was an imperial stout from Squatters Brewery in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It’s called Outer Darkness, which is coincidentally also what I named my hangover the next day.  It pains me to crown this brewery king as I was thrown out of that joint about 15 years ago.   I still blame Shag for that one.  It helps to blame…it really does.  Hey, maybe that should be rule #11?  Blame Shag.  Until next time, be careful out there, so they’re not playing taps after you’ve been hitting those taps.  And whatever you do, don’t get distracted—oooo, ring toss!

Celtic Crossings: Best Guinness Pour in AZ

Celtic Crossings: Best Guinness Pour in AZ
Mick Zano

Prescott, AZ—This article has been a long time in the drinking.  I have several crib notes on this place that have since been completely lost, which is a compliment to the establishment.  I found Celtic Crossings a couple of years ago and now it has become one of my favorite Arizona Irish pubs.  In fact, this pub changed my life…just not for the better.

How did it I find it, you ask?  Well, therein hangs the tale.  The girls and I were shopping one day at the Gateway Mall in Prescott, which is one of the coolest malls EVER.  This is one mall where I could learn to become a mall rat.  There’s an outdoor section with a Wildflower Bread Company, Makaros, as well as the aforementioned Celtic Crossings—all right across from a Barnes and Noble.  Too bad they banned me.  For the record, I think you should be able to trip your balls off, naked, in the New Age section…but that’s just me. Besides, they should never have good pubs too close to good book stores; it’s a dangerous combo.

Back to the pub: so we’re doing some Christmas shopping and everyone wanted to eat.

“Let’s eat somewhere here,” my wife said.

And, I quickly countered with, “Ahhh, we’re a few miles from downtown Prescott, a town where I have a number of ‘happy places.’”  I decided to counter with this: “Sure this is a very cool mall, but…no, two words ‘downtown.’”

My wife walked over to the directory and said, “Look honey, there’s an Irish pub right here in the mall.”

“Wow, what will they think of next?”

I have been to my share of mall bars and, by that I mean, I’ve walked into many a dark rectangular-shaped hell hole.  You know them as those places where men sit in a shopper’s purgatory, waiting for their women to finish off their credit history. They sit there sadly sipping at any number of overpriced Budweiser products while contemplating suicide, or worse.  Sorry, experiencing 17,000 of these poorly-lit Bud Light shitholes have jaded my opinion.  Sure, shitty mall joints serve their purpose, but after  thousands…fool me a lot shame on you, fool me twi…we won’t get fooled again!

Back to the story, so my wife wants to eat at the mall.  She’s a cheap date, which is why I married her, but still not wanting to concede, I resorted to “bu-bu-but the Raven, and Prescott Brewing Co. and that place that still lets me in…”

This battle I thankfully lost as they were hungry and I was outvoted 2 to 1.  So we entered Celtic Crossings, a place destined to become one of my favorite AZ pubs.  I recently did a story on Mooney’s Irish Pub, which has a very good Guinness on tap, but the gold star standard goes to this joint.  Great Irish tunes are always playing, there’s an outdoor area, and the fish and chips are the best in AZ, hands down.

The place has no business being this good, in a mall

Gary, the owner, is doing the thing he was born to do…  "wait on me."
Gary, the owner, is doing the thing he
was born to do…  “wait on me.”

The owner, Gary, is serious about beer.  I usually talk to Dave, the owner’s son, who is not beyond wearing a kilt on any given Tuesday.

Your 10th Guinness is on the house at the Crossings, but I have had little luck on any of these card bunch freebies south of Flagstaff.  Between Flag and Prescott (exit 262 on 17) stood Over the Hill Espresso.  To commemorate my 10th Americano there, the placed closed.  I still have the completely punched card and sometimes I gaze upon it and weep.  My 10th Guinness at this bar ended no differently.  Did I mention the place is 90 miles from my home?  My 10th pint anniversary happened to fall on my father’s first trip to Celtic Crossings.  He treated all of us to food and drink, so the freebie went all but unnoticed when the bill came.  In fact, he tipped an extra five spot just to rub it in.

If you ever find the women folk shopping in Prescott, let them shop…I have a plan.

The View from My Guinness: A Stout Pours in Sedona

The View from My Guinness: A Stout Pours in Sedona
Mick Zano

I have been living in northern Arizona for almost a few years now and I have both loved and loathed nearby Sedona.  It’s such wonderful place, a place sacred to both the Hopi and hobo alike, and yet there’s always something missing.  One thing that comes to mind is the lack of a well poured Guinness—actually, any Guinness for that matter.

Oak Creek Brewing Company has two locations and I love them both, but otherwise Sedona is seriously lacking good beer.  I know, hard to believe.  Even Oak Creek Brewing rarely has a stout on tap.  God loves making beautiful canyons but I’ll bet he wants to admire his work over a good stout.  He is hopnipotent, after all. Sedona is angering the Brew Gods and has brought the wrath of the Great ‘Sudsy’ Spirit down on this unsuspecting red rock community.

My stout seeking ended last week at Mooney’s Irish Pub, a place open about six months now. How did I find this place, you ask? Well, the other day I was perusing the fine art and sculptors over at the Exposure Gallery and decided to check out the place next door. OK, I only ended up in the Exposure Gallery after turning into the wrong parking lot—I had already Googled Mooney’s the night before.  Oh, and with a name like the Exposure Gallery, I thought they’d have a better sense of humor about practical jokes.  Admittedly, my joke would have been more apropos at Mooney’s.

The Guinness is great!  A very nice pour.  It doesn’t beat out Celtic Crossing over in Prescott but it’s a close second.  The place is small and otherwise doesn’t have much going for it, atmosphere wise.  There is a little area set in the rocks for outdoor seating.  Those tables have a nice view, looking northwest over Sedona.  I saw an awning off the side of the building and thought there was another outside area but, as it turned out it was just an area for the air conditioners.

Just an area for the air conditioners

What are the owners thinking? Here’s your party place, peeps.  Do I have to do everything?  You could even have stairs from the above area to the tables below.  Heavy drinking and steep stairs go together like peanut butter and jelly…for those allergic to peanuts.  Get to work on that project now.  I don’t care if you have to push the business upstairs out.  Don’t bother me with the details, just make it so.

When the fish and chips arrived that’s when this place lost serious points.  The fish was uninspired, of course it was dead, which might account for that.  The chips were not chips, they were fries and soggy ones at that.  The whole “entrée” was served in a plastic Chinese food take out container.  It came with a $12.50 price tag.  That’s actually not bad for Sedona; some places charge you more than that for the pickle.  The “meal” came with two lemons, no ketchup, no tartar sauce, and I got the feeling if I asked for malt vinegar I would get a blank stare.  So, of course, I asked, “Do you have any malt vinegar?”  See above for response.

Actually, they had some, but only for the purpose of wrecking that last joke.  Bastards! You don’t need malt vinegar for soggy fries, but now I must go through the ritual of making these sad little potato strips even soggier—while smiling blankly at the waitress who brought me the malt vinegar.  Yum.  Maybe I’ve invented something, Slush Puppies.

I still rate this place highly for the sole fact they have a good Guinness on tap, making them an Irish oasis in an otherwise stoutless desert.

A hiking trail I found in Sedona

At right is a hiking trail I found in Sedona.  It leads from the Irish pub all the way to the Elote Café next door.  I have made the journey myself down the flat, nearly 20 yard arduous schlep through an arid and unforgiving land.  That’s my kind of hiking trail!  Oh, and to the left of Mooney’s there’s the Javelina Cantina, a place with decent—and by Sedona standards, affordable—Mexican food.  It has an outdoor area and a cool bar inside.

The view from inside the cantina

At left is the view from inside the cantina.  Unfortunately, there’s only Oak Creek Amber and Dos Equis worth drinking on tap. They could clearly use a tap line upgrade, but overall a nice joint.  Wait, no WI-FI!  Forget everything I said; the place sucks.

Mooney’s makes this little pocket of shops worth the stop.   I have driven past this complex on a number of occasions and if not for the new Guinness umbrella, I’d have kept right on driving.   Well, my Guinness is kicked and it’s time to check out the nearby Elote Café.  I have a long journey ahead.  Almost 20 yards of dusty desert terrain lies between me and my next pint.  If necessary, I will set up a base camp at the edge of the Elote parking lot.  Looks like I might have time to drop my pants in front of the Exposure Gallery one last time.  Wish me luck.

Flagstaff’s Big Red Poor

Bald Tony

I figured, Zano’s been up to see me in Vegas 5 times now, it was fine time to go see him.  Never do this.  He arbitrarily picks a weekend, and leave it to Zano to be completely oblivious about it being one of Flagstaff’s biggest event weekends.  Driving into town was worse than going from Caesar’s to Mandalay Bay on a Saturday night. Geesh! And I wasn’t even getting paid!  I think a 10 to 1 Vegas-to-Flagstaff visiting ratio from now on, Mikko.

The Arizona Cardinals big scrimmage was this weekend, we both hate football, but the Big Red Pour was a beer and music festival right in downtown Flag in honor of the happy pigskin event.  And we do like beer.  Besides, Vegas was about 35 degrees hotter and for that kind of relief I’d even put up with Zano’s company.  Mick’s brother-in-law, MJ, was in town for the festivities, so when he arrived, we took to the streets of Flag. The town blew me away.  It was the monthly First Friday Art Walk, the AZ Cardinals were in town, and there was a music brew fest, all within a couple of blocks. Guitar and bongo players on every corner and an umpa band outside the German restaurant.  Wow!  Two hotel bars, three brewpubs, two Irish pubs, and one very intoxicated Partridge in a fermented Pear Tree. We hit em’ all.  And the Weatherford Hotel has the most amazing old hotel bar I have ever seen, and I’m from Vegas, baby!  It features the Zane Grey saloon, an old ornate western bar shipped in from Tombstone, complete with a wraparound third floor balcony. And if that weren’t enough, free popcorn!  Apparently, this is where Zano, Fenski, and Alex Bone meet each week both to the delight and horror of Discord fans everywhere.

MJ and Mick told me a story about getting kicked out of there one night, by throwing legions of coasters up into the chandeliers and harassing the help.  Back in the lobby, they met the perfect foil.

Mick walked up to the manager and asked, “If we’re thrown out of the Zane Grey, does that mean we’re thrown out of Charley’s?  (The Weathford’s downstairs bar).

He of course, said, “Yes!”

So, arm in arm, they walked back up the stairs to the Zane Grey.

“Where are you going?”

“You said we were kicked out of Charley’s?”

This went on for several minutes.  The manager/foil managed to keep saying the perfect line, sending MJ and Mick, not out onto the street but, rather, walking past him between the two bars to the backdrop of the manager’s increasingly bulging neck veins.

At the brew fest, the Big Red Snore, we paid 10 bucks each at the door and twelve more for 10 four oz pours.  They had everything ranging from crappy light beers to crappy pale ales.  Honorable mention to Shiner Bock dark lager.  Yes, it was that bad.

A drunk woman accosted me for beer coupons, and then said, “Sorry, I’m obnoxious.”

I said, “Hi obnoxious.  Nice to meet you.  I’m apathetic.”

Dustin, a brewer at Four Peaks, one of the better breweries in AZ, was there.  Mick and MJ proceeded to wow him with their Beer Geek Speak (BGS) for what seemed an eternity, while I chatted up Enya, a cute Australian exchange student.  MJ and Mick then butted in and ruined my moment:

MJ: So where are you going after the fest?

Enya: Back to my place to sleep.

Zano: OK, if you insist.

The music was pretty good, but with three pints in us, 4 oz times ten, we headed out for adventure.  Overall, Flag really rocked that night. It has a kind of a hippy, animal friendly feel to the place (which is why Zano is tolerated). And one coffee shop is better than the next.  Funny thing, but Mick seemed to know all the bartenders and police officers…imagine that.

We skipped the second day of the brew fest due to our ailing livers.  We are not 21 anymore, even though we act like it sometimes.  Day two, we drank chamomile tea, coffee, and ate stomach friendly foods.  But we’re heading to a party now and tomorrow it’s hiking in Sedona, so I guess there’s little left in the tank.