Located at 1050 Fairway Dr #101, Avondale, AZ 85323
Open Mon-Thurs 4p-9p; Fri 4p-10p; Sat 12p-10p; Sun 12p-8p
Today’s epic adventure takes place in the hamlet of Avondale, which is about half an hour west of the kingdom of Phoenix, as the dragon flies. My destination was 8-Bit Aleworks, a video game-themed microbrewery that opened in June of 2015 A.D.
Legend held that 8-Bit offered four flagship beers and three seasonal or experimental beers classified as the Miniboss, the Boss and the Extra Life. The legend further stated that any would-be adventurer must defeat a series of enemies in order to prove themselves worthy of the beer. And if there’s one thing The Classy Alcoholic considers himself it’s worthy of any beer. I was ready for the challenge.
I picked up my broadsword from the blacksmith where I had dropped it off for cleaning last week after I spilled a bunch of tequila on it during my last adventure. I put on a necktie and hopped onto my trusty horse named Poontang Pie and set forth to Avondale.
Before I arrived at 8-Bit, however, I knew that I couldn’t embark on this epic quest alone. I needed a partner with a special set of skills who could provide backup. I needed to find my old friend, a perpetually drunken wizard named McCracken the Wise. Apart from general wizardry, McCracken had the ability to heal his own mind so that he could drink as much as he possibly could without having to suffer from wet brain and he was occasionally able to cast a sobriety spell in others. There was no better partner for my adventure.
I spent half a day riding to several crappy Phoenix strip clubs before I found the one that McCracken the Wise hadn’t been bounced from yet. I discovered him just in time too because it happened to be Free Taco Night at that club and McCracken had raided the entire taco bar into extinction and a bunch of drunk frat guys were about to try and kick his ass over it. Luckily I saved their lives by bringing McCracken with me.
We rode to the castle were 8-Bit Aleworks was located and we walked in expecting hostile territory. I was surprised when we found the exact opposite.
The lovely Maiden behind the bar welcomed us into the tap room with a smile. The place had video-game related art on the walls, table decorations with Mario and other characters, an old school X-Men arcade game and awesome tap handles that were shaped like NES controllers.
“Greetings, fair Maiden” I told the bartendress. “My partner and I are here to face the gauntlet and drink all of your beer offerings.”
“I admire your bravery,” she said to me. “But I am legally required by the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses & Control to inform you that you will have to face many deadly foes throughout your quest. No one has ever completed the entire gauntlet successfully before. And no one has even made it to the final level. That one is guarded by a vile witch who eats adventurers alive and protects the last beer with her life.”
“I know exactly who that Final Boss is, Maiden. I know she is a vile witch but at the same time I feel she may be simply misunderstood. No matter what, my questing partner will have my back.”
“You mean that drunk-ass wizard outside?”
I looked back at the parking lot and saw McCracken the Wise puking his brains out. Dammit. I couldn’t take that guy anywhere. I went outside to grab him and gave him a breakfast burrito from the Magic Man Purse I always carried around my shoulder. That would soak up some of the booze from the night before.
“Anyway, Maiden, we’re ready for the quest now. Let’s just get this started before McCracken has to puke again.”
“Very well, adventurers. You start by drinking our first beer called the White Mage. It’s an ale with the slightest hint of white cacao beans. It’s light on the body but with a great flavor that’s perfect for introducing newbies to the craft beer scene. Before I open the gauntlet I’ll give you an Extra Life beer for your Magic Man Purse. This beer is to be used only in the event of an emergency. Godspeed, adventurers. And don’t forget, you can quit the gauntlet at any time.”
“McCraken the Wise and I have never quit anything, Maiden!”
“Um, actually, I quit my last three marriages, bro,” McCracken chimed in.
“Oh,” I said. “Wait, do marriages count? ‘Cause I’ve quit a couple of those too, actually. Anyway, whatever, we won’t quit this. So let’s do this shit!!!”
The Maiden opened the door to the brewing area in the back. There was a large green pipe sticking out of the floor and the opening was just wide enough to fit me, McCracken the Wise and my horse, Poontang Pie. We all dove in and dreaded whatever came next.
It was nighttime in the first level. It looked like a huge metropolis, bigger than Phoenix, New York and Los Angeles combined. There were giant skyscrapers all around us but none of them had any lights on. It seemed like there was no power to be found in this entire cityscape. The only sources of light in this entire world came from either the moon or the fires raging through the city. McCracken the Wise took his Fleshlight out of his back pocket and used his wizard power to turn it into an actual flashlight, strong enough to light a man in a black suit floating in front of us. I got the feeling this was our first villain.
“Greetings!” The Man in the Black Suit shouted at us. “I am the ruler of this realm. Are you two investors who wish to buy stock in my beer stores and become millionaires? Or are you leeches who wish to siphon money from me and my powerful friends in the kingdom of Wall Road?”
“We are neither, Man in the Black Suit,” I said. “We wish to drink the 8-Bit Aleworks beer offered in this realm.”
“Fools! Only the richest, most entrepreneurial beings are worthy of this beer. You may wear an admittedly fancy, beautiful necktie and your wizard friend may wear only a robe that he stole from a five star hotel and no pants underneath but the two of you are no more than moochers who wish to steal the beer my people have claimed. For this insult you both shall die!”
The Man in Black stretch out his arm and shot dozens of gold coins out of his palm at us. The ends of the coins were serrated and sharp enough to slice right through us. McCracken and I rolled out of the way and hid behind a dumpster and in an alleyway. The Man in Black floated toward us.
“Do you even know what the 8-Bit beer in this realm is?” The Man in Black shouted at us. “It’s called The Black Mage Stout! It’s nowhere near as heavy as other stouts and it has a very good malty flavor that makes it a good dark beer for a hot place like the greater Phoenix area. And it makes it a perfect beer for a perpetually hot kingdom like Wall Road where my rich friends and I control all of the beer supply in the realm. People have to pay extremely high premiums for the privilege of craft beer and the ones who can’t afford it are stuck drinking Miller Fucking Light!”
I was getting so sick of this rich asshole. I saw McCracken across in the alley pulling one of Man in Black’s serrated gold coins out of the wall where it was stuck. He made a baseball bat-swinging motion and I knew what he was getting at. I nodded and pulled out my broadsword. McCracken threw the gold coin at me as I ran out into the open. The Main in Black saw me and held his hands out about to shoot his weapons at me. I turned my broadsword sideways and slammed the gold coin McCracken threw at me as hard as I could, like I was hitting a baseball with a bat. The coin flew at The Main in the Black Suit’s head and lodged in between his eyes. He immediately fell to the ground, lifeless.
Another green pipe came out of the ground behind The Man in Black’s body. The Black Mage Stout beer was on top of the pipe. McCracken and I had a sip and it was just as he described. A great brew for people who like dark beers and light enough that it could be drunk at any time of the year. Even during summer in Avondale. The Man in Black was wrong. This beer wasn’t made for only the rich. Craft beer was made for everyone. Sure, some people would rather buy a case of a dozen Miller Lights than a single five dollar craft beer but we shouldn’t look down on those people. As craft beer enthusiasts we should show them alternatives but, if they decide to stick to what they know, we should respect their decision.
The skies starting clearing up in Wall Road World and the fires in the city started fading. McCracken the Wise and Poontang Pie and I went down into the green pipe together and into the next level.
We came out of the tube into a dungeon with skeletons hanging off of chains along the walls. Clearly some bad shit went down in here. McCracken the Wise and I saw a podium with two glasses of beer on it. A sign above the beer said it was 8-Bit’s Hopsassin’s Creed, a hopped up session IPA. We looked around and saw no villains so we decided to have a sip.
The beer was light on the bitterness from the hops and it was strong on the citrus flavor that surrounded them. McCracken was a total hophead and loved beers that tasted like sucking on a pinecone. I wasn’t anywhere near as much into IPAs as he was but we both loved this beer. It was the great equalizer when it came to IPAs.
We were almost finished with our beers when a gravelly voice boomed throughout the dungeon. It was almost deafening.
“DO YOU LIKE IPAS???” it asked. “THERE IS A DOUBLE IPA AT THE END OF THIS LEVEL IF YOU CAN LIVE THROUGH IT!!!”
The dungeon walls opened and dozens of zombies lumbered toward us with their arms outstretched and instead of moaning, “Braaaaaaains,” they instead said, “Hooooooops!”
Poontang Pie and I started riding through the room while I sliced the zombie heads off with my broadsword. McCracken was blowing them up by shooting lightning out of his fingertips. We kept fighting for what felt like hours but the zombie hordes didn’t stop coming. McCracken’s lightning was becoming weaker and weaker, probably because he was dehydrated from all the body shots he did off of the strippers at the club last night. My broadsword was becoming duller and duller with each swipe and Poontang Pie was becoming increasingly tired, probably due to dehydration because he was also doing body shots off of strippers last night. Some clubs are horse friendly, don’t you know?
Just when I thought we were about to be eaten alive by the hop zombies I saw that there was half of the Hopsassin’s Creed beer left in my glass. That’s when I realized the zombies weren’t after brains. They were after hops. I threw the glass across the room and watched it shatter.
McCracken yelled in pain at the sight of wasted beer. Tears streamed from his face as if I was stabbing him in the stomach. But the zombies chased after the broken glass and crowded on the small puddle of beer on the ground. They cleared the way for McCracken, Poontang Pie and I to escape. Hop zombies couldn’t resist a delicious beer like Hopsassin’s Creed.
McCracken and I rode Poontang Pie down the dungeon hall and saw another green tube with a new beer on top of it. It was called Legend of Zymur and it was a Double IPA. I’m normally not into Double IPAs but this one was very smooth with a strong hop flavor that wasn’t overly bitter and brought out the best in this style of beer. Just as I finished it I saw the zombie horde running up behind us, trying to soak up any hop leftovers, even if they had to eat through us. We all slid down the green tube into the next level.
We ended up inside of a white marble castle, the exact opposite of the dark dungeon we just left. The walls and floors were impeccably clean and my horse’s shoes tracked blood onto the tile as we approached a huge, golden throne with a young, seemingly college-aged kid sitting on it.
“’Sup, bros?” the college kid on the throne asked. “You here for the Miniboss?”
The beer on this level was indeed categorized as the Miniboss. It was named “Princess” but I wasn’t sure why.
“Yes, we are here for the Miniboss, young man.” I said, with my hand on the hilt of my broadsword. McCracken had his right hand ready to fire more lightning and his left hand was reaching for the Taco Bell Dorito-shell taco that he was saving in the pocket of his robe.
“Alright, Brosefs. I’m da Miniboss, biiiiiiiiiiiiitch!”
The college kid did a double flip off the throne and landed right in front of us. He round kicked me and McCracken so hard we flew backwards across the castle hall. This kid clearly took some kind of martial arts and also some speed that made him faster and stronger than us.
“Y’all know no one has ever made to the final level, right, brahs?” the college kid Miniboss said. “The Final Boss told me to destroy anyone who tries to get in her way.”
McCraken shot lightning at the kid but he flipped out of the way. I tried to get close enough to swipe at him with my sword but he was too fast. He ducked and punched me in the crotch every time I got anywhere close. I knew I was too slow and McCracken was too drunk to beat this guy. I decided to take another approach.
“Miniboss!” I yelled at him. “Do you really think the Final Boss cares about you? Do you really think she doesn’t think of you as anything more than a tool?”
“What do you know about the Final Boss, bro?”
“I know a lot, Miniboss. I used to date her. I know her real name is Rosario. I know she uses people and makes them do her bidding while making them think they’re thinking for themselves. I’ve been her getaway driver and her alibi to the cops and her mule at the Houston Intercontinental Airport after we both came back from South America more times than I can count. The only reason I’m here is to stop her from creating this dangerous gauntlet that craft beer drinkers have to face. She’s drunk with power. And also with cheap tequila. Don’t let her do this to you.”
The Miniboss clearly didn’t know how to take this. He was angry, confused and jealous. I thought for a second I was getting through to him…but he couldn’t handle the truth. He pulled a knife out of his back pocket and lunged at me. I couldn’t pull my broadsword fast enough. He was coming at me in slow motion and I saw the tip of the knife about to plunge into my chest.
That’s when McCracken jumped in front of me and took the knife in his own chest. He used his last bit of strength to put his hands on the Miniboss’ head and let loose the last bout of lighting he had. Both of their bodies landed on mine.
I crawled out from underneath them. The Miniboss was down. McCracken was mumbling softly, trying to say something to me. I leaned my ear down to his face to try and decipher what he was saying.
“Please…find my…weed stash in my house…hide it from…from my mother. She’s…[cough]…she’s Mormon. She’ll be…[cough]…so disappointed.”
McCracken died in my arms. I saw the green tube come up from the floor beckoning me to the next level. It had the next beer on top of it. It was the Princess peach IPA. It was just what it sounded like: a peach-flavored IPA that was light enough on both the peach and hop flavors to complement each other. It wasn’t overly hoppy or overly fruity. It was a great addition to the 8-Bit brew selection.
I hopped into the green tube into the next level.
I came out of the tube into a large warehouse. It was very boring compared to the other worlds I had just visited. There were dozens of boxes around me that were labeled “Hefe” and no sign of any life. I got my broadsword ready.
There was a bright flash of light in the warehouse and Rosario Vargas appeared in front of me, floating above the ground in a long gown that she wore over her Grumpy Cat t-shirt and her skinny jeans that were so tight they made her look like she had a muffin top despite the fact that she had, like, zero percent body fat. I don’t know how that was possible.
“Hello again, you devilishly handsome alcoholic,” she said. “I should’ve know you would be the first person to meet me at the final level.”
“What are you doing here, Rosario? Why are you hoarding 8-Bit Aleworks’ beers? This is the first microbrewery in the suburb of Avondale. And they’re one of the few places you can even get craft beer in this town. This beer should be as accessible as possible to anyone.”
“You still haven’t learned have you? The scarcer the beer, the more we can charge for it. It’s a commodity because it’s in a place like Avondale that isn’t oversaturated with microbreweries. I’m going to be the queen of the west side Phoenix craft beer!”
“I won’t let you treat craft beer like you treat the homemade meth and sex toys you sell out of the back of your trunk, Rosario. Craft beer isn’t a rare commodity to be overpriced. It should be available to everyone for an affordable price of five dollars a glass or so!”
I hopped onto Poontang Pie and charged Rosario with my sword. She extended her hands and shot lightning bolts out at me, just like the power McCracken the Wise had. Hmmm….she probably inherited that power after having sex with him. Dammit, McCracken the Wise!
Anyway, I charged forward through the lighting to Rosario’s surprise. She probably though I would’ve been put down by now but Poontang Pie and I had enough beers to numb the pain of the lightning running through our bodies. We took a final lunge and I stabbed my broadsword right through her stomach.
The lightning stopped. Rosario’s eyes looked back at mine. She shed a tear and I shed many more. She disappeared into a cloud of smoke as Poontang Pie and I collapsed on the floor. The final beer came up from beneath the floor. It was a wheat wine ale called The Hefe Is A Lie.
The Hefe Is A Lie has been brewed in several forms. This one was the 5th. Previous forms have been brewed with strawberries, raspberries and cacao nibs. This 5th form was brewed with rum soaked, spiced figs. It had an amazing aroma and a super strong flavor that was both smooth and spicy and had the heavy mouth feel of rum while still having the light taste of a wheat beer.
This was by far my favorite beer that 8-Bit had to offer and I wished I could’ve lived long enough to take a growler home…
That’s when I realized I had something in my Magic Man Purse.
I reached in for my Extra Life Amber beer. It had a strong malty flavor to it and was also smooth going down. It was the last of 8-Bit’s offerings and I kept sipping as the room got darker and darker…
I woke back up in the tap room sitting on top of Poontang Pie with McCracken the Wise sitting at the bar drinking his fifth glass of Hosassin’s Creed.
“Congratulations, adventurer!” the fair Maiden at the bar said to me. “You have defeated the Final Boss! The evil witch won’t hold our beer hostage any more. Thanks to you we’ll be able to brew more beers for our loyal customers. You’re a true hero!”
“Thank you, Maiden. But my work is not done. I did not defeat the Rosario Boss. I merely ran her out of this realm. But Rosario can be anywhere. And my fellow adventurers will not rest until we rid the world of her dark influence.”
McCracken and I rode Poontang Pie out of the brewery together and we headed toward the sunset. 8-Bit Aleworks was a wonderful brewery and the hamlet of Avondale was better off thanks to its presence. I looked ahead to the next brewery visit and the next kingdom in need of my protection.