White Point, an overlook on the Thunder Mountain Trail in southern Utah, is the place of a shared Summit Brew. It was here, atop the bleached rocks high above brilliant red rock cliffs and dreamlike hoodoos, that Brewddah and I cracked open some brewskis during a break on our mountain bike ride on this legendary trail. While my counterpart enjoyed a Mudshark Full Moon White Ale (which you can read here) I toasted the summit with another Arizona microbrew, the Ponderosa IPA from Prescott Brewing Company.
The mountain bike ride was a doozy, but since Brewddah already did a bang-up job of describing the trip in his report, it would be hopeless for me to try and emulate his poetic ramblings about the beauty we saw and rode through on that day. There was the usual ups-and-downs of mountain biking, the pedaling through pine groves and over ridgelines while stopping every few hundred yard for photos. We even discovered an outhouse without a door, providing one hell of a view for performing your business, but not allowing for much privacy.
Our summit came by way of White Point, a short hike up from the apex of Thunder Mountain Trail, which was the ideal time to enjoy a cold one before descending down into the canyon below. The beers were lukewarm from hours in the pack, but still cold enough to slake our thirst from riding the dusty trail. So with a toast to the day, we drank deep before continuing on our way.
Prescott Ponderosa IPA
I drank a lot of Arizona beer in the past few years, even sampling a lot of them at the Great Arizona Beer Festival in Tempe last fall. I hate to say it, but I don’t like most of them. Every AZ beer I drink seems to have a strange aftertaste, a musky flavor that I call the Phoenix Funk. I’ve found this less-than-desirable aftertaste in many beers, most notably from SanTan and Four Peaks. Is it the water? Do Arizona brewmasters use strange desert ingredients? Does the heat make beer go bad?
Despite my bias toward Arizona beer, I was happy to pick up a six pack of Prescott Brewing Company’s Ponderosa IPA. Since I haven’t tried this one before, I was hopeful that (since it is brewed in Prescott and not Phoenix) it would not suffer the funk. I was wrong.
Upon opening the can, I could smell the funk wafting out. So perhaps it’s not Phoenix, but the whole state. I shall now call this flavor the Arizona Tinge. This IPA is very malty for a India Pale Ale, and the hop characteristics are hidden behind the funk. That being said, it is easy to drink, especially out of the can on a hot day.
In the glass, the color is an almost think, amber shade, with a typical-looking head that leaves nice lacing when downed. When sipped, the front of the tongue lights up with a sweet, malty, caramel flavor that transitions to the “tinge” as it goes down. The floral notes are also musky, with little hops coming through.
So is there a beer in Arizona that’s actually good? Yes, there is. To my delight I found that Lumberyard and Mother Road breweries in Flagstaff make excellent beer, without a hint of the Arizona Tinge. Maybe it is the water, as Flagstaff is located high in the mountains above the desert, and has access to fresh and cold mountain water sources.
In all though, it’s not to say these beers are undrinkable, and I quite liked my time with the Ponderosa IPA from my seat on White Point.
For more, visit Prescott Brewing Company online.