The tap handles at the Meritage Tavern

H onestly I was just walking the hallways of the Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix to get to 10,000 steps on my Fitbit. I don’t know how these things happen to me. I found the Meritage Tavern near the resort’s Wildfire Golf Club. I’m attending the Filemaker Developers Conference for a few days and was trying to get some exercise and relief from a difficult travel day. I had to scramble to the Atlanta airport after Delta canceled my Augusta flight because of the big storm that hit Sunday night. (Delta got me here but only after I suggested to them how to fix it… I digress).
I stepped into the Meritage to scope out the tap handles at the bar. I was very impressed that 90% of them were local brews. I told Tim the Bartender I was planning what to try tomorrow night. I was also impressed that they have a Crowler station so you can take a 32oz can back to the room if you want. Cool.
So, I was leaving but that little voice said look at the menu again. Big mistake. I notice they had flights. My butt was in the seat and Tim was making his recommendations.
I’ve never heard of any of these breweries but I wouldn’t expect to. There are so many local brews in every nook and cranny of the US and if you don’t have millions to invest in a production system that allows for mass distribution you are going to stay local and the good news there is you have people making beer because they love to make beer. Of course they want to make a living but they are driven to create. You know the local beer scene by the local brews.
I only make this little editorial digression because I saw on the Sleepy Dog website that the founders, who started in 2009, had recently found new owners. The good news is that they sold to other craft brewers who love to make good brew. Keeping it local.
And for those who don’t know what a Crowler is that’s a aluminum can version of a growler. Oskar Blues pretty much invented it and has been selling them around the country. I digress.
Here’s what I had (click to see more):

  1. Sentinel Peak 1811 Desert Blonde
  2. Dragoon Stronghold Session
  3. Sleepy Dog Parched Pooch
  4. Mother Road Lost Highway Double Black IPA

My flight, from left to right in the order I posted them

My brew notes:
Sentinel Peak 1811 Desert Blonde | Tuscson, AZ
5.2% ABV, IBU 29. They had the biggest tap handle. This flagship brew is an easy drinker. Not too heavy but nice smooth malt up front. On the finish it goes a bit dry with a sweet lemon flavor. Might be year round but easy drinking summer ale. Here’s what their website says: “Flagship Beer: A blonde ale is often seen as a gateway choice for people interested in craft beer, but not yet ready for an IPA or Stout. 1811 Desert Blonde is just this kind of brew. Slightly hoppier than a traditional blonde, 1811 embraces its desert roots and gives a familiar flavor experience with just a little edge. Not too bitter and incredibly crisp, 1811 is a casual hanging-out-with-your-friends kind of beer that everyone at the table can enjoy.” Website
Dragoon Stronghold Session | Tuscon, AZ
English Dark Mild Ale ABV 4.8% IBU 32.They have the smallest tap handles I’ve every seen. Only about 6 inches tall. Compared to the palmetto branch tap handles of Palmetto Brewing it’s the David of tap handles. Almost looks like a small musket loader. I like this one. Has a bit of a reddish hue. I think it has a hint of peat. Like a peaty scotch… no where as strong as a peaty scotch but the hint of that earthly flavor that melds with with some sweet malts, every so slightly sweet. I was surprised at the grain bill but then again I was so immersed in the earthy flavor I probably overlooked them. It tasted dark but wasn’t super heavy. I guess that peaty flavor was the roasted malt and bittersweet chocolate. Lots of flavor especially for a 4.8% brew. I might have to get a Crowler of this one.
Here’s what their website said: “This beer starts at a relatively low gravity, and thus finishes with a low alcohol content (about 4.8%). Make no mistake though, it is by no means a light beer. It is rich with roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, and a touch of herbal hop flavors. It is made from a blend North American and British base malt”s with rolled oats, chocolate, brown and caramel malts. We finish it with a great big dose of earthy American hops.” Website
Sleepy Dog Parched Pooch | Tempe, AZ
Hefeweizen. ABV 5.0%m IBU 10. This is a Hefeweizen. A slightly fizzy mouthfeel but still with a bit of malty smoothness. Banana flavors up front. Very smooth and lush on the sides of the mouth, but dry to the taste buds in the center. I stretched these 4 ounces out so I could see how the flavors changed as it warmed. Got a really long finish. Here’s that their website says: “A German Style Hefeweizen brewed with the finest German Hefeweizen yeast that naturally produces flavors reminiscent of bananas, citrus and clove.”
They also make a Wet Snout, which I would love to try.
Here’s another piece from their website “Since 2009, Sleepy Dog Brewery has brewed hand-crafted, specialty beers that have helped the company become a staple in the growing Arizona craft beer scene. In late 2016, the founders of Sleepy Dog made the decision to look for a new owner and found the perfect match in Two Brothers. As fellow brewers in the local craft beer community, Two Brothers Brewing Company now brings their local resources and 20 years of brewing experience to insure that Sleepy Dog Brewing fans can continue to enjoy the Sleepy Dog craft beer they have come to love, as well as keep the local Arizona craft beer community vibrant and strong. Sleepy Dog Brewery will continue to operate under the same name and location in Tempe, and will continue to produce great craft beer for its growing fan base.” Website
Mother Road Lost Highway Double Black IPA | Flagstaff, AZ
ABV 8.0%, IBU. This is the brew that Tim mentioned than pushed me over the edge and got me to stay and try the flight. IPAs are not my favorite especially West Coast IPAs. Phoenix is pretty West Coast as far as I’m concerned. When I taste this brew when it’s very cold I taste an IPA. Darker for sure but the bitter side is still overpowering.
As it warms up the roasty/toasty dark side starts to make it self apparent. Not sure I can detect the “bitter orange chocolate balance” mentioned on their site. Not sure if they are saying “bitter orange and bitter chocolate” or “bitter” balanced with “orange and with chocolate” or “bitter orange with chocolate.” I get the bitter and possibly the bitter chocolate. Orange not sure much.
If you like IPAs and you like dark beers then this is a great intersection of the two that you’d like. I like it better than most IPAs but it is an IPA. I’m glad I tried it.
Here’s what their website said: “Lost Highway Double Black IPA is dedicated to the road less traveled. It pours deep black with an espresso colored head that leads to an aroma of orange zest and roasted malts. Hints of bitter orange chocolate balance with notes of dark caramel to round out the adventure.” Website


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