Located at 2045 N Forbes Blvd, #105, Tucson, AZ 85745
Open Weds & Thurs 4p-9p; Fri 4p-10p; Sat 12p-10p; Sun 12p-6p
Part 1 of a 5-part story called “Flux.”
Tucson has always been a good friend to The Classy Alcoholic. The city may not get the same attention that Phoenix does from a lot of people but since starting the blog I’ve seen the birth of a bunch of great, new businesses dedicated to craft beer. Plus, the beer community has always been very close knit there and I had been hearing chatter about some exciting collaborations between breweries around town. I took advantage of the fall weather and pulled a suit out of the back of my closet and got ready to hit up a few events.
I started my day off in the west side of town at 1912 Brewing Company, which is named after the year that Arizona officially became a state. I walked in to find a decent-sized crowd without many familiar faces. It had been a while since I attended a beer event so I wasn’t sure how many people in here even knew who I was.
Luckily I saw a table with four ladies I recognized. They were members of an all-female organization called Tucson Girls’ Pint Out. The group held meet-ups in town for women who loved craft beer and participated in a few collaboration brews during the past couple of years. I walked up to the founder of the group, Stefania, and said hello.
“It’s been a while, Classy,” she said. “I haven’t seen you since you stole my car eight months ago and drove it across the border.”
“What? I didn’t do that! Why would I steal your ’98 Ford Taurus? Not that I know that’s what you drive. If that’s what you drive then it was just a lucky guess. Because I’ve never even seen your car. Anyhoozle, how are the rest of you ladies today?”
Eliza, Fran and Selena – the rest of the Girls’ Pint Out crew sitting at the table – smiled and said hello. I walked away before Stefania could say anything else. She never liked me very much. Probably because I totally stole her fucking car that one time.
I went up to the bar and checked out the beers that 1912 had available. I was impressed by their twenty taps, seven or eight of which were beers that they made. Apart from guest beers they also had wine on tap as well as bottles of cider and mead.
1912’s own beers included a blonde, a couple of IPAs and an occasional dark beer. But their specialty, as far as I was concerned, was their collection of gose beers. This beer style originates from Germany and it’s characterized by tart and salty flavors. And 1912’s goses tend to have a lot of fruit added to them, which I absolutely love.
I started out with a glass of something called Sour of Discord. It was a tart beer with a pomegranate flavor and a mild spicy finish to it. I savored every last sip and was about to move on to the next gose when the brewery owner, Allan, came up to say hello. He mentioned that he hadn’t seen me around in a while and asked if he should be worried. I admitted that I had been laying low for a few months after yet another breakup between me and my constant ex, Rosario Vargas.
“Damn, dude,” he said, rolling his eyes. “Are you still hung up on Rosario? How many times does that girl have to do you wrong before you move on?”
“She didn’t do me wrong this time. In fact, it was my fault she broke up with me. I accidentally spilled beer and blood on her stripper heels after she stabbed me in the arm with a Bic pen. And those were her favorite work shoes.”
“What? She stabbed you again?!?”
“Yeah but that first time wasn’t her fault either. She was tripping balls and thought I was a panda ‘cause I was wearing a black suit with a white shirt. And she has a serious panda phobia after she went to the Beijing zoo as a kid and drunkenly fell in one of their cages.”
“Wow. This girl has a serious spell on you.”
“Rosario can cast a spell over any man. I’ve seen it happen.”
I sipped my next beer. It was another gose called How About Them Apples. It was a sweet and salty brew with a strong apple flavor up front and a mesquite smoked finish. It had a really intense flavor that seemed to taste better with every sip.
“I’m glad you showed up today, Classy. We’re about to release an awesome new beer in a minute. We collaborated on it with this new brewery in town called Flux. Have you heard of these guys?”
“No, I haven’t. I must be out of the loop. Where’s the brewery located?”
“That’s what’s cool about Flux Brewing Company. They’re everywhere. I’ll tell you more about it after I pour some samples. I think you’ll really like what we made.”
Allan passed out small flight glasses of the new beer to the crowd. Everyone raised their glass and gave a hearty “Cheers!” before taking a sip. I was about to taste the beer myself when I heard all the other customers gagging and spitting their drink out on the floor. A few of them started coughing and holding their throats as if they had been poisoned.
“What the hell are you doing, Allan?” Stefania asked. “Is this a joke?!?”
“Wait this isn’t the right beer,” Allan protested. “This isn’t what we made, I swear!”
I took a quick sip from my glass. The beer was light…too light. And it tasted like a pound of shrimp left on the sidewalk for a week during the summer. It tasted like someone wrung out a sumo wrestler’s loincloth into a glass. It tasted like someone put a bunch of urinal cakes and Larry The Cable Guy DVDs into a blender then poured them into a construction worker’s shoe. It tasted like fucking Budweiser.
I saw smoke coming from the walk-in fridge where the kegs were stored. I got Allan’s attention and we both went inside the fridge to figure out what was happening. All of the keg hoses that were connected to taps on the other side of the wall were clamped together by a black device with blinking red lights. A keg with a Flux logo sticker on the side of it shot a cloud of smoke into our eyes. The hoses attached to the kegs were transparent so I could see a bright, piss-colored fluid seeping out of the Flux keg into the taps behind the bar. The first tap started leaking the yellow, watery beer onto the brewery floor.
“That’s not the beer we made, Classy,” Allan said, shielding his eyes from the smoke. “I brewed a darker, English style ale with the guys from Flux. I don’t know what the hell is inside that keg but it’s not our beer!”
The lights on the device kept blinking. The piss colored liquid started flowing from the first hose into the one right next to it. The Budweiser-y abomination made its way into the second keg and back out through the tap. Before we realized it, four of 1912’s kegs were totally infected by this gross excuse for a beer. Their amber-colored gose also leaked out of the tap and turned into a bright yellow drip. Even their Demonic Chocolate – their newest beer that tasted like a chocolate-covered cherry with a sour finish and was normally dark as night – started turning lighter as it spilled on the floor. By the time the fourth keg started to turn the yellow liquid became a neon green sludge that looked radioactive.
“I know exactly what’s in the keg, Allan. It’s a virus. And if we don’t stop it right away it’s gonna infect every single one of the beers you have back here!”
“Step aside, men.” Stefania was standing at the fridge door with a samurai sword in hand. “I have this.”
Allan and I lunged out of the way as Stefania brought her sword down onto the keg hoses. She took a couple of quick swipes and sliced every single hose in half. The device stopped blinking, the Flux keg stopped smoking and the neon green sludge dripped onto the floor harmlessly.
I walked back to the bar and calmed my nerves with a beer that got poured for me before the keg infection started. It was called Gose On & Get It. This beer had an awesome combination of cherries, hibiscus and blueberries with a tart finish. I sipped it while I gathered my composure alongside everyone else in the brewery. Stefania sheathed her samurai sword and marched up to Allan, who was standing right next to me.
“Who is responsible for this?” she asked.
“I…I don’t know. I’m not sure I even know what just happened here.”
“I’ll tell you exactly what happened. The collaborators on this new beer were behind an attack on your brewery that very nearly succeeded. This keg virus was a deliberate attempt to turn all of your beer and your guest taps into gross, macro beer bullshit. So tell me, who did you collaborate with?”
“I think you mean ‘whom,’ actually,” I interrupted, even though I shouldn’t have.
“STAY THE FUCK OUT OF THIS, CLASSY!” Stefania yelled as she put her samurai sword up against my throat. “Allan, you’ve trusted our organization to defend you and the rest of the Tucson beer scene from external aggressors. So let us do our job. Tell me who you collaborated with.”
“Stefania, you know I appreciate everything you’ve done for us here but I don’t think this is so cut and dried. Flux Brewing couldn’t have done this. I’ve only ever heard good things about these dudes. They love craft beer and they’re dedicated to becoming a vital part of the Tucson scene.”
“Tell me everything you know about this Flux organization.”
“It won’t be much. It’s run by two guys named Mike and Andy. They’re considered ‘Gypsy Brewers.’ They haven’t rented a space for their own microbrewery; at least not yet. So far they’ve spent the last few months collaborating on beers with several established breweries in town. They pop up here and there but they’re difficult to pin down. No one really knows where Flux will show up next.”
“That’s a good start. We’ll take care of this. Girls’ Pint Out assemble!”
Eliza and Selena stood behind Stefania. Fran tried to make her way over but she slipped and fell on her face because she was fucking hammered.
“Arm yourselves, ladies,” Stefania ordered.
Eliza slung an arrow quiver across her chest and pulled a longbow out of her bag. Selena reached for a pair of steel batons that she twirled and holstered. Fran drunkenly sifted through her fanny pack looking for her own weapon.
“Oh em gee, you guys!” Fran slurred. “I think I left my throwing stars in the backseat of that Uber!”
“Goddamit, Fran. I swear, if you weren’t my cousin I wouldn’t saved you from that burning building last week.”
Stefania grabbed a small pellet from her utility belt and threw it on the ground. A cloud of smoke erupted and covered the entire Girls’ Pint Out crew. They had disappeared by the time the smoke cleared.
“Holy shit,” I said to Allan. “What the hell was that?”
“Oh, the Girls’ Pint Out ladies are also ninjas. You didn’t know that?”
“No, I didn’t know that. Since when does Tucson have fucking ninjas?”
“A few months now. You should really visit more often. Anyway, you have to do something, Classy. You have to find the Flux guys before Girls’ Pint Out does.”
“Why? They seem to have everything under control. Hell, it looks like you don’t need me for anything at all since you got them.”
“Don’t be a dick, man. You’ve also been a vital part of the Tucson beer scene. We owe you so much. But you bailed on us after that last adventure with your partner, Button. I get it; you had to do your own thing and handle your shit. But Tucson needed someone to turn to while you were gone. And Girls’ Pint Out stepped up when we couldn’t depend on you to defend our beer community.”
“I’m sorry, Allan. I should’ve been here.”
“It’s okay. You’ve helped so many craft beer businesses grow and you inspired a lot of good people to stand up for us like the ladies from Girls’ Pint Out did. But they have a different approach than you do and they don’t take aggressions toward this community lightly. They tend to slice and dice first and ask questions later. Normally I wouldn’t give a shit but I know the Flux guys aren’t behind what happened today. There’s something else going on here and you need to get to the bottom of it.”
“I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
“I do. Talk to your old friend Mike Mallozzi from Borderlands Brewing. He knows a lot about these dudes. He’ll lead you in the right direction.”
“Shit. I was hoping you wouldn’t send me to Borderlands. I haven’t been there in months. Hell, I promised myself I would never go back. I don’t know if you’ve heard the stories but suffice to say I can’t show my face there anymore. I used to be a Borderlands regular but now the place just reminds me of my failures. I can’t do it. I’m sorry to let you down but I can’t crawl back there after the humiliating situation I put myself in when I-”
“If you do this I’ll give you a free beer.”
“Fuck yeah! I’m in!”
To be continued…