SanTan Brewing Company – Chandler, AZ

Located at 8 S San Marcos Pl, Chandler, AZ 85225
Open Sun-Thurs 8a-11p; Fri & Sat 8a-12a
http://www.santanbrewing.com

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The town of Chandler is a suburb of Phoenix with a long history of cotton farming. A few places in town have the word “historic” attached to them but I have to say that the term seems like a misnomer. I’ve written about other “historic” places like Bisbee, Prescott and Jerome. Chandler has a more modern, fabricated feel to it. Its cookie-cutter houses and major-chain-businesses make the place pretty much indistinguishable from the surrounding suburbs like Mesa and Gilbert. I don’t mean to shit on the town but I doubt I’d ever be making a trip to Chandler at all if I wasn’t visiting today’s microbrewery. Especially considering that the only strip club in town was closed for Easter Sunday, which totally screwed up my holiday plans something fierce.

Today we’re visiting SanTan Brewing Company, a popular joint that’s been around since 2007 and which I’ve been meaning to visit since I‘ve been seeing their cans pretty much everywhere craft beer is sold in Arizona. I’ve been talking about the change in Arizona weather for a couple of weeks now and SanTan is the perfect place to go now that the sun is coming back in full force. $8 gets you a flight of seven beers, six are year-round brews and one is seasonal.

The cool thing about SanTan, though, is that they have nine leftover seasonal brews that I also tasted during my visit. I wrote last week that a good beer or wine is amplified by the environment where you drink it. Well the weather is certainly part of a drinking environment and it was cool seeing how the winter season beers stacked up against the lighter, summery flavors.

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SanTan was pretty packed for an Easter Sunday. It was probably full of people either going out after church or straight up avoiding it, which I totally understand. My dad would often find a bar to hide out in on Sundays as a way to avoid both church and his child support payments.

The food selection here is pretty standard for most of the brewpubs I’ve been to so far. You can get wings, salads, pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and tacos.

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As you can see from the picture, there’s only one dark beer in the mix. As a guy who loves mostly dark beers this place was definitely an adjustment for me but I was fully committed to this new, summery drinking style. The dark thing is called the Gordo Stout which is very smooth and has a lingering coffee flavor. Definitely a great beer for people who aren’t too into drinking dark stuff. In fact, most of SanTan’s year-round brews can be a great introduction for people new to craft beer.

Their Sunspot Golden Ale tastes like the light macrobrews you’re probably used to but without the factory flavor you get in a Budweiser type beer. You know that flavor. The vague, assembly-line-type of taste you get from the mass produced beers. Once you’ve had a few microbrews you can’t help but feel that taste lingering in your mouth every time you take a sip of that cheap Coors you ordered at the crappy strip club by the airport that you had to go to because no one thought to tell you that the strip club in Chandler was fucking closed for Easter.

The Hefeweizen and Epicenter Amber are also great beers for beginners. The citrus on the Hef is mild at first but finished strong and the Amber has just the slightest kick of sweetness to it. All three are super refreshing and pair perfectly with a summer day. SanTan’s tap room embraces the atmosphere with wide open windows and a patio with bar seating from the outside.

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The Hopshock IPA lives up to its name by starting off light and smooth but with a shockingly good, strong, hoppy finish. The bitterness lingers on your palate long after the sip is gone and hopheads will love this beer. The Devil’s Ale is SanTan’s flagship beer (seriously, I see these cans pretty much everywhere) and it has a similar flavor to the Hopshock but it’s way milder on the hops. This is a great beer to use if you want to introduce someone to the world of Pale Ales.

The final taste on the flight is a seasonal wheat beer called Mr. Pineapple. The pineapple flavor in this is very mild and it really amplifies the traditional wheat beer instead of overpowering it. It was refreshing with just the right amount of sweetness to easily make it my favorite of the flight.

As I mentioned, there were some winter seasonals still left on tap as well as some beers that were part of a “Pilot Series” which I assume means beers that are being tried out. All together there were nine more beers to try and SanTan doesn’t pour flights of these…but if you ask nicely and tip really well and avoid being sexually-harassy with the attractive, young bartendresses you might be able to convince them to pour you samples of each of them, like I did. You’ll have to pay flight prices, of course but it’s worth it for someone like me who would rather drink a little bit of a bunch of different styles than drink a lot of just one type of beer. Be warned, though. You may end up doing what I did and completely blow up your palate and end up feeling like you basically just sucked on a wet pine cone.  But considering that most of my drunken nights out in my early twenties ended with me sitting on my kitchen floor stuffing cold French fries into a street taco then washing it all down with a glass of cheap whiskey I’d say there’s nothing really delicate about my palate any more.

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Anyway, I won’t list all of the Seasonals and Pilot beers here. You’ll have to run out to SanTan and get them before they’re gone. I’ll run through a quick list of my favorites. The Sex Panther is a double chocolate porter that really doesn’t skimp on the chocolate. It’s heavier than the Gordo and I would’ve loved to sip this on a chilly, Arizona winter night. The Mad Czar is a Russian Imperial Stout that is so smooth, the sip will be gone before you even start to taste the bitter, caramel finish. The Fat Alebert is a brown ale that warms the corner of my heart that loves punny beer names. It has a strong, complex flavor that’s sweet and smoky at the same time. Definitely another great winter beer. I miss the cold already…

But no matter, because my drinking will adjust to the times. Luckily SanTan had something called a Gargoyle IPA, which sounds (and tastes) badass. Like the Hopshock there’s  a significant disconnect between the citrusy flavor at the beginning and the strong, hoppy finish. The Gargoyle has a much stronger citrus taste than the Hopshock, though, and I like how it lulls you into a false sense of security but then when you least expect it, BAM! Hops punch to the face! I decided to take some of it home with me.

Apart from growlers SanTan has these awesome 32oz cans that get filled and sealed on demand right in front of you with any beer you want to take home. They call them Canzillas and they’re the coolest thing I’ve seen in a brewery since that time I saw an illegal cockfighting ring in the basement of a Flagstaff brewery that I will not name because the criminal investigation is ongoing.

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SanTan Brewing Company is a great place to go if you’re in Chandler and looking for good beer and good food. Know that the place can get pretty packed and if you’re looking to get a table when it’s busy you may have to wait a while or make a reservation. But they have ample bar seating and you can always get food served to you there so you don’t have to wait. Besides, who makes reservations at a microbrewery anyway? Oh and be sure to pick up a Canzilla. Holding the thing in your hand feels great and you don’t even have to pour the beer into a glass. You can just drink it straight from the comically oversized can in one sitting for maximum flavor/sadness.

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Salud!

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