Note: Sorry for posting this late. I have not been feeling well the last couple of days and I fell behind.
We have wanted to review Four Peaks for quite a while. Xavvi and I both loved the place and we got a couple different wing recommendations for the place, specifically to try the Buffalo and Spicy Thai Peanut sauces that Xavvi reviewed in last week’s review. Given these things, Four Peaks was a natural spot to pick for our first review venturing out beyond wings into breweries and ale houses.
This isn’t to say that Four Peaks isn’t without its flaws. Sure, they make the most well known and some of the best tasting beer in Arizona, and they match that with great food and atmosphere, but parking is a bitch. They don’t have a regular parking area. You just have to find a spot somewhere along 8th Street and there are not a whole lot of spots to go around. So, when I spotted an open spot about a half a mile down the road I was quick to snag it.
When I got to there I found Xavvi sitting at the bar, drinking a Pumpkin Porter, and waiting to get a table. I ordered myself an 8th Street Ale and we wandered outside to hang out until the called us up for our table. It was packed out there but we did manage to find a decent spot on the patio to hang out.
Even while we were just waiting for our table the service was good. Somebody came around when we had finished our beers to take our order for some more. Xavvi had let me try his Pumpkin Porter and it was good so I ordered one for myself. I think Xavvi got another for himself as well.
I am usually not a big fan of Pumpkin Porters because it seems like they really beat you over the head with the pumpkin flavor. They remind me of a lot of suicide wings: they focus solely on the one aspect of the flavor but the overall product suffers. Four Peaks managed to come get it right. The pumpkin flavor is subtle and adds to the beer instead of overpowering it. It was actually a very good beer and I would order it again.
After we finally got our table we ordered up some wings to start that Xavvi covered in the first part of our Four Peaks review so I will not go into further detail on that. We also ordered up a flight of beer each featuring their eight regular rotation beers. We figured a flight would be a good way to get a general feel for the place when we review a brewery.
Not long after our server came out with with two wooden trays holding our glorious beers. Each beer was labeled on the tray itself so you know what the hell you are drinking. The beers were: Sunbru, Kilt Lifter, Oatmeal Stout, 8th Street, Raj IPA, Hop Knot, Hefeweizen, and Arizona Peach.
This being our first foray into covering beers in any detail, we actually took some notes on what we thought. I won’t be getting away with saying I forgot because the flavor wasn’t memorable enough this time.
To keep things simple I will just share my thoughts on each beer individually:
Sunbru (Kolsch Style Ale): I remember thinking that this beer seemed very light and refreshing when it first hit my tongue but that it was somewhat lacking in taste. That is made up for with a nice finish with a little more flavor.
Kilt Lifter (Scottish Style Ale): This is one of the Four Peaks beers I was most familiar with already. We always to enjoy a few of these when I am hanging out with my in-laws. It tastes good out of the bottle and better at the brewery (just like all the beers). It is always a solid choice but there is really nothing about it that stands out as special to me. It just doesn’t have that extra flavor I expect out of a local or craft brewery.
Oatmeal Stout (English Style Stout): This beer was excellent. It has a somewhat chocolate and creamy taste to it. It is reminiscent of a Guinness but I actually like this a lot more (at least than the American variety of Guinness; I hear it tastes different in Ireland). Easily one of my favorites. I would love to try the milkshake they have on the menu made using this on some return visit to Four Peaks.
8th Street Ale: This is my favorite beer in the brewery. It is somehow not quite the same coming out of a bottle as it is when you get it at Four Peaks itself. This one has actually won some awards as well. It is a balanced beer that is easy to drink. You would be happy you ordered it if you get one. Great, great beer.
Raj IPA (English-style India Pale Ale): This one was the first of two IPAs on our tour. It has the strong hop flavor typical of an IPA and was more on the bitter end of things. It wasn’t bad but it certainly wasn’t one of my favorites. This is really probably more a reflection of the style than the brewery but I think I just prefer the flavor of an American-style IPA.
Hop Knot (American-style India Pale Ale): This was the second of the IPAs we tried. Like the previous beer, this one had the powerful hop flavor and bitterness. This beer is brewed using five different hops. It is extremely good. It is easily one of my favorite IPAs and on of my favorite beers at Four Peaks.
Hefeweizen (Bavarian-style Wheat Ale): This beer has a subtle banana flavor to it. I found it to be good but not great. Again, this is more likely a reaction to the style of the beer not the quality. I have just never been overly impressed with a hefeweizen. If you do happen to like them, then you probably won’t be unhappy with this one.
Arizona Peach (Golden Ale with Fruit): Unlike the Pumpkin Porter I mentioned earlier, this beer really doesn’t hold back on the fruity flavors. I thought the peach was too much for my tastes. I have never been a big fan of overly fruity beers and this one doesn’t seem pull any punches. It almost seems like this was a gift to drunken frat boys trying to get girls drunk.
In order of preference I think we agreed that 8th Street was the best, then the Oatmeal Stout and Hop Knot. The Sunbru and Kilt Lifter were not too far behind either. The Raj and Hefeweizen were good enough to drink and neither of us liked the Arizona Peach much.
We did enjoy more than just the beers on our trip to Four Peaks. We had the wings that we covered last week and we split a pizza as well. We opted for the Classic Italiano which is topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni, sun dried tomato, red and green peppers, mozzarella, parmesan, and romano cheese. We enjoyed this with our beer flights.
Xavvi talked about the attention to detail and the quality of things in regards to the wing sauce and ranch in the first part of this review. The same was especially true for the pizza.
Everything about the pizza seemed to showcase Four Peaks dedication to quality ingredients. The dough was amazing. Like the wings, it probably could have been cooked a little longer but it was hardly a complaint.
The pepperoni was good but the sausage was unbelievable. I feel like pepperoni is pretty close the same regardless of how quality the pizza is. That is probably what makes it the ultimate topping on cheap pizza. Sausage on the other hand varies in quality a lot. The sausage on this pizza was incredible. I have never had a pizza topping I liked more.
The bell peppers were the big shock to me though. I don’t like bell peppers. I especially don’t like bell peppers on pizza. At least, I used to think so. The bell peppers on this pizza were so fresh and delicious that even I couldn’t resist them. It did give me a weird moment with each bite where my brain would panic and try to remind me that I hate bell peppers but my taste buds didn’t give a fuck.
I think this was the best pizza I have ever had and it was entirely due to the superb quality of the ingredients.
The pizza sort of reflects Four Peaks as a whole. Everything they do is done with a great attention to detail and with the utmost quality.
I can’t wait to head back to Four Peaks even if I do have scour the street for parking and fight my way through crowds to get in.
Four Peaks Brewing Co
1340 E 8th St
Tempe, AZ 85281
Sampled October 25th, 2012