Monday, August 8, 2016

Camp Coolship, The Arizona Wilderness Brewing adventure.

Wow, what an amazing week. Spontaneous fermentation on-the-go was supposedly at the heart of the adventure, but, it was the relationships and amazing company that took center stage. When #campcoolship was originally discussed, we hadn't the faintest idea what it could become. When we hosted Brooklyn's Other Half Brewing Co. back in April, we trekked up to the Mogollon Rim for what would be an unforgettable experience. You see, taking 2 wine barrels worth of wort and the mobile coolship certainly isn't the main point and can technically be viewed as an arbitrary amount. We disagree and oblige to the idea of more is better. Rather, we view it as a showcase of this industries unrivaled camaraderie. Not only are we showing our friends the state we dearly love, not to mention our regions culture, but we are also stepping away from the daily grind that inhibits us.  It's taking the operations out of the equation and purifying the brewing process to its simplest form. After our experience in April, Other Half and us knew we wanted another shot at this, and we knew we wanted to bring friends! Matt Coats (, the incredibly talented photographer/videographer (he recently did a photo shoot with BeyoncĂ© and numerous different projects in the brewing community.), was the perfect fit for documentation and a catalyst for this event. So...who else to invite?

We decided on breweries that represented their areas respectively and dabbled in the wilder side of brewing. We certainly wanted to add more, but there was too many elements in play, so we avoided chaos as much as possible. Many of the breweries were ones that we had previously worked with and we comfortable with. Some we poured next to at festivals. Some we met the week before. All in all, we needed a group that was cohesive and at the top of their game in this industry.

Once the lineup was chosen, the arduous task of planning, communications and, let's be honest, rolling the red carpet out for our fellow brewers began! After months of emails and focusing on the event,  I'll admit I was exhausted and thrilled all at once as it approached. It was finally here! The schedule went like this:
-Monday: Brewday at Monkish in L.A.
-Tuesday: Bring Monkish Henry to PHX via the I-10. Back home, Tired Hands Brewing was collaborating with Patrick and our Head Brewer, Chase. We teamed up with Welcome Chicken and Donuts to create a unique culinary IPA.
-Tuesday evening: A majority of the brewers arrived in hot and steamy PHX. We fed them, drank with them, pulled nails from barrels, and had an amazing night! Our staff really showcased the team effort, and I couldn't say thanks to them enough! Cocktails at Brickyard and  beers at Champs, then off to bed with the big adventure looming!
-Wed morning: I'll admit, I couldn't get an hour of sleep - 40 people were counting on me to make this thing work! As I made my way into the brewery, our staff high-fived me and I knew it was going to be a special day. Our AMAZING kitchen staff made breakfast. They could have whipped up eggs, bacon, and toast - But no way! They created bowls of woven bacon to be filled with the accouterments. So good!
-Wednesday afternoon: John, the Hero that he is, showed up in his @azbrewerytours buses. Hearding cats is difficult, especially if you have ADHD and are a sporadic plan changer. But we loaded up nicely...and off we went!
The destination was near Hart Prairie at the base on Mt Humphreys. I rode with the film crew for interviews and an AZ topography lesson. The Bradshaw Mountains put on an awe inspiring summer monsoon show! We arrived at Hops On Birch for an Almanac/Wilderness tap takeover.  The out-of-towners  got to see the REAL AZ as a MASSIVE monsoon nailed we did some swimmin' of course! It was great to showcase the AZ high-country with all its glory. We headed to camp, where Todd and Jay, good friends of the brewery,  had selflessly set up the camp for the nearly 50 people in the mud and rain. Those guys really made this happen!
- Wednesday eve: Patrick and team Wilderness showed up with the hot wort and mobile coolship to applause and elation from the brewers. The cameras were rolling, and I am anticipating something amazing from the crew when the footage is released. We wracked out the wort into the coolship, with many curious eyes gazing in. Imagine, some of the best brewers on earth standing in the rain, in the mountains of AZ, watching the wort steam and rapidly cool. What a moment! The rest of the night was....'ll never know.
-Thursday morning: We wracked the now cool, spontaneously inoculated wort back into the barrels for the drive home. Nico in Gilbert was the dinner choice, and we all went to bed extra early. We all were exhausted!
-Friday morning: Creatures Comforts Blake joined us for a collaboration brew. He brought his house mixed culture and Georgia wheat. We combined cultures and wheat for a cereal mashed saison to be fermented in the brand new 30HL foudre. I took several brewers to The Crack in the Wet Beaver Wilderness, I snagged a photo, and we swam the day away. Dinner...Elote in Sedona of course!

Obviously I left out a massive amount of details. There is no way I could come close to covering all the amazing moments. Draft Magazine was there, along with Good Beer Hunting and the film crew for solid documentation. Just imagine what 45 or so like-minded brewers in their natural element would act like.

I'll end with this: I couldn't have scripted this any better. The trust that people from all over the country placed in us was humbling. No one knew what to expect, yet, they still came out full of ambitions and willingness to explore. That is the art in all of this. I believe that Craft Beer is in an awkward position. Massive growth, corporate buyouts, stress--Oh the constant stress to perform. For two days, I do believe we all forgot about what we left back in the city. I believe that we were a part of a snapshot that will be viewed 100 years from now. Folks in the future, the ones in flying cars and shoes that self inflate, will hopefully say, "Those people brewed with pure passion and no artistic barriers. They stretched the limits., creating more that liquid. They created culture. They represented the Craft Beer industry with honor."

The snapshot will forever live in my heart.
Thanks too:
-Jester King-Almanac-Holy Mountain-Tired Hands-Perennial-18th Street-JWakefield-Stillwater-Other Half-Creatures Comforts-Prairie Artisinal/American Solera/ -Monkish Brewing-Firestone Walker Brewing Co-Jackie O's

Thursday, September 25, 2014


 fu·ture: of, relating to, or constituting a verb tense expressive of time yet to come.

How powerful is the past? Extremely powerful. We can learn from it as a guideline of great successes and extreme failures. It's a definition of who we are and where we truly came from.  Lets be honest though, we can't change the past. It's the future that truly holds all of the power.

Speaking of past: I can remember in 1999-2000 "ish" a time when a new band named, "Jimmy Eat World" was coming into the scene as a mega player in the rock world. Their album titled "Clarity" was, to say the least, revolutionary, dynamic, and darned near perfect (to some of us music fans).  Bleed American was where I really began my in-depth enjoyment of the music that the band was creating.  I was scheduled to see Jimmy Eat World in concert for my first time in Sept of 2001.The show was at the New Port Music Hall in Columbus Ohio. The show never happened, as the date of that day was Sept. 11th.  I always wondered what the heck did they do, stuck in C-bus Ohio for that day with all of that grief. Years later, as I am sipping beer with Rick Burch, their bassist, I found the answer. They were devastated  and wondered aimlessly in the fields of Ohio, pondering the tragedy, as most of us were doing as well. , In my mind back then, the band was a legendary figure that was almost surreal. With wisdom, you come to realize in life, everyone is normal, and has to all fight to survive the same way.  Don't get me wrong, as these guys have stayed together for 20 years making amazing music. They really are a class act group of guys, with a love for the state they started in and continue to live in.

Rick and I have became good friends over the past few months.  Our passion for AZ is certainly something that we have in common.  A few months back, we were talking about his upcoming Futures 10 tour, when he let me in on the meaning behind the name, and the title song "Futures". Essentially, Jim, the front man and lyricist, was expressing the need to be proactive to make a better future. We are in a world with he power to vote, and make changes with our daily actions.  Over that very pint is where Rick and I forged the #Futures10 Saison idea and story based on the bands original sentiment.  Our meeting over a pint wasn't the only occurrence to help shape this collaboration beer. You see, I never thought the road behind my house meant more than a word. I never knew that Sossaman Road lead to a revolutionary plot of land which holds the long time farmed land called Sossaman Farms. Now I know. This farm along with a gentleman named J.D. Mclelland changed my life, and the future of AZ forever.  I must make a long story short, so I digress in summary.  J.D., Steve Sossaman, and Chris Bianco, of Pizzeria Bianco, began a project a couple of years ago, which was to highlight the emergence of the AZ heritage grain scene.  Over the years, they have constructed a small AZ project into a project of national pride.  In form of a documentary, Rise of the Grains, highlights the national effort to rebirth indigenous grains, and the farmers who grow them. Steve Sossaman and many others are changing the future, based on the ignorance of the past. That's the torch that I, Rick, and many others carry. 

That pint of beer that Rick and I shared became 2 and 3 pints, but what really came out of that invigorating conversation was a spark. An idea. A desire to change the future. We wanted to make a beer that highlighted a bands 10 year album release, Arizona agriculture, and just plain Arizona.  We wanted 10 AZ ingredients and most importantly, we wanted to give the profits to organizations who would greatly benefit our community. When Jim, Tom, Zach, and Rick walked through our brewery doors this morning, the energy was high, and the passion was endless.  We talked about our charity choices, and how excited we are to send some funds there way.  As Arizona Wilderness we chose The Arizona Chapter of the MS society. Sarah, who reps them locally, was kind enough to stop by for the shenanigans. She was a great wealth of knowledge and clearly passionate about her subject.  My wife has had MS for near 10 years now, and we are honored to be a part of the MS Society. Jimmy Eat World all chose "Little Kids Rock", a foundation which supports kids' right to have quality and relevant music education in their lives.  Music has meant a whole lot to them, and it's a sad fact that the arts are usually the first programs to be cut in public schools.  Little Kids Rock and The MS Society we are honored to be on board with your efforts!


It's base is a saison. We love saisons for there versatility and lets be honest, they were brewed in farmhouses with the ingredients grown on the farms. Originally we thought the 10 ingredients would be difficult to gather and find.  NOPE!  
Here are the 10 AZ ingredients:
1. Prickly Pear Fruit (Thanks to the Siphon Draw Apothecary for allowing us to legally pick fruit on their private land. Look these guys up as they are a business changing the future!)
2. AZ chamomile- Yep, it grows wild here in AZ! Again, thanks to a friend for allowing us to use flowers from his yard!
3. AZ sun dried salt. From a Glendale salt mine to your glass! Sun dried AZ salt is just better! (Hayden Flour Mills)
4. Queen Creek Mesquite Honey (The Bee Dudes) 
5. Bay leaves (Thanks to Joe Johnson and Agritopia farms!)
6. Purple Barley (Sossaman Farms, Hayden Flour Mills)
7. Blue Beard Barley (Sossaman Farms, Hayden Flour Mills)
8. Sonoran White Wheat (Sossaman Farms, Hayden Flour Mills)
9. Emmer (Farro) Wheat (Sossaman Farms, Hayden Flour Mills)
10. Red Fife Wheat (Sossaman Farms, Hayden Flour Mills)

Wow, look at that! Arizona produces baby!  Blue beard has officially made its debut appearance, not only in beer, but in ANY commercial product.  Thanks for allowing us to showcase your amazing and tasteful product. 

This will be released at our pub the last week of Oct. The main events will be Oct 29th at the Rialto Theater in Tucson, and Oct 30th and the Marquee Theater in Tempe. Go see a great AZ band who puts great effort into changing the future!

I sincerely hope, with all of my heart that the efforts of  Arizona Wilderness are changing the future of Arizona.  I will go to the grave trying, I can promise you that!

Jonathan (proof read by Rick, and he approves)