I think I mentioned in my last blog post that I’m realizing that Arizona has a great craft beer community. Ricky has met several people at Total Wine, and I have started participating in some of the Arizona Girls Pint Out events. It’s really cool to find girls into craft beer!

One of the things we have been hearing a lot about lately around here is Arizona Beer Week. This is a week every year that bars, breweries, and restaurants around the valley come together to celebrate the awesomeness that is craft beer. The big kickoff to the festival is the Strong Beer Festival, which was held yesterday. And, of course, we were there. Pretty much anyone who is into good beer here was there. People have been talking about it for weeks. It was a great day for us – great friends and great beer, what more could we want?

I found out about Arizona Beer Week and the Strong Beer Festival a few months ago, and we managed to snag some media passes to it since we are beer bloggers. (I’m guessing if you read my blog at all, you already know about 1001 Bottles, but if not, that is our beer blog.) We got there prepped and ready to drink beer, with some pizza in our stomach and pretzel necklaces around our necks to soak up all the booze we knew would be flowing. The reason this particular festival is dubbed “strong beer” is due to the presence of beers with a high ABV (alcohol by volume) at this event. So it’s best to have some form of transportation arranged for when you leave the fest, instead of being behind the wheel yourself.

The cost of the festival is either $35 or $45, depending on when you buy your ticket and what kind you get. VIP tickets cost $45 when they go on sale, and they get you in to the fest an hour early. They also inevitably sell out long before the day of the festival. Regular tickets start out at $35 and go up to $45 if you don’t buy them early. They also sold out the day before the festival. So don’t wait until the last minute to decide to go! For the cost of your ticket, you get a little 4-ounce beer mug that you carry around with you as you walk around. You also get 15 beer tickets. As you stop by each brewery’s booth, they each have a few beers on tap that you can get your beer mug filled with. Each fill costs you one ticket. So essentially you will get a total of 60 ounces of beer of varying ABVs throughout the course of the day if you use all your tickets.

Because of the high ABV content and the amount of beer you have access to, there are definitely some things to remember if you want to prevent that dreaded hangover the next day. First of all, definitely eat something before you go. Second, the pretzel necklaces are a good idea because they can keep you munching on something as you drink. And also – drink plenty of water throughout the day! These tips can help you have a much more pleasant experience by the end of the day.

Having said all of that – Ricky and I had a great time at this festival. It is a great way to kick off the rest of Arizona Beer Week. There were a ton of breweries present, including some that don’t normally distribute here in Arizona along with some of our local favorites as well. One of my favorites that had some really good beers was Marble Brewery out of New Mexico. Their Marble Reserve and Imperial Stout were probably my favorite beers that I got to try yesterday. I definitely hope they start distributing here soon. Of course everyone’s favorite Arizona brewery, Four Peaks, was present. They had several great bourbon barrel aged beers to try, and the wine porter with cherries that I tried early on ended up tapping out before we left. At least I can look forward to their location near us getting Sirius Black soon (the beer, not the Harry Potter character)! Bell’s, a favorite of ours from our time in the Midwest, was present as well. While we were hoping they would have some of their Black Note, which we have only tried once, we were still lucky enough to snag some of their 9000, which quickly tapped out as well.

All in all, it was a great day, spent hanging out with friends and fellow beer lovers and talking about what we were there to enjoy… craft beer! It made me look forward to what is to come for the rest of Arizona Beer Week as well as glad I live where there is a community of others who appreciate the art of craft beer also.