Catalina Brewing Company – Tucson, AZ

Located at 6918 N Camino Martin #120, Tucson, AZ 85741
Open Weds & Thurs 4-9p; Fri 4p-10p; Sat 12p-10p; Sun 11a-5p
http://www.catalinabrewingco.com

Part 2 of a 3-part series called “A Better Life.” Read Part 1 here.

I had left the town of Goodyear (a suburb of the Greater Phoenix area) and made my way south toward Tucson. I was feeling lost, still trying to find that different lifestyle that would speak to me and help me make some positive changes while still allowing me to drink lots and lots of booze. Luckily the Arizona craft beer scene was always willing to help.

I reached out to my Tucson fan base and ended up communicating with a young lady named Marisol who said she was willing to share her healthy, active lifestyle with me…and also she promised that it still involved beer. She asked if I could meet her at Catalina Brewing Company in the Northwest side of town.

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I walked into Catalina’s taproom and was immediately intimidated by the bicycle theme decorating the walls. Even the goddamn tap handles were made out of spare bike parts that I couldn’t name because I hadn’t been on a bicycle since I had to race through the Sonoran desert in my early 20’s dodging Border Patrol bullets just so I could smuggle my mom’s medicinal meth into the United States. (It was medicinal because my mom’s heart rate was super low after the Quaalude OD and she needed a pick-me-up.)

I soon found out that I had no reason to feel intimidated because Catalina was a very welcoming place. They also laid out the metaphorical red carpet for teachers. Up to the point that teachers got a discount at this place!

Catalina Brewing Co. had ten beers on tap and a crowler machine so you could take your beer home in style. Their regular flight included five beer samples. But they also had a slightly cheaper, four beer sampler served on a board shaped like a teacher’s paddle. I stayed the hell away from that one because I already spent a large chunk of my childhood trying to avoid paddlings from teachers. Not because it hurt but ‘cause I was afraid it would evolve into a weird fetish.

I sat at the bar and sipped the first beer in the flight. It was a Pale Ale called 0200 and it was the homebrew beer that Catalina’s current owners were drinking when they decided to open a brewery. It was smooth at first but with a firm, citrusy finish. I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to see a beautiful woman with her hair in a bun, wearing one of those bike spandex onesie things.

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“You must be The Classy Alcoholic,” she said as she sat down next to me. She let her hair down and her long, shiny, black locks fell all the way down to the small of her back. “I’m Marisol.”

I was taken aback by how attractive this woman was but I knew I had to turn up the charm and make a good first impression.

“Hi, pretty lady! I’m Classy, I have a drinking problem and I ate a bunch of bacon without pants on this morning.”

SHIT! That was the opposite of what I intended to say. Thankfully Marisol actually laughed, thinking I was making a joke.

“My friends told me you were kind of a weirdo. In a good way though. Do you mind if I share this flight with you?”

I was about to say, “I’ll share everything I have with you ‘cause I love you and also do you want to meet my mother?” but instead I played it cool and just said, “Sure, bruh.”

She took a sip of the E-Beer, which was not a digital brew but rather a sweet, tart and citrusy beer infused with electrolytes.

“Wow, that tastes really good,” Marisol said. “I’ve never heard of a craft beer infused with electrolytes before.”

“Me either. Finally, a beer I can legally drink at the gym!”

Marisol cracked up again at my stupid joke. I couldn’t believe how hard I was killing it with this girl.

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“So I hear you’re looking for A Better Life, Mr. Classy.”

“That’s the name of the story, yeah.”

“Well I think getting into the biking community would be perfect for you. You can get tons of exercise and spend all your free time outdoors in the desert, connecting with nature without TV or Wi-Fi anywhere nearby and just sweating. All the time. Just sweating like a motherfucker.”

“Um.” Everything she said sounded awful but I had an in with this girl and I wasn’t going to let it slip away. “That sounds fabulous! The only problem is that I don’t have a bike and I’m not very good at riding.”

“That’s okay. I can teach you. When’s the last time you were on a bike?”

I didn’t want to mention the meth run from my 20s so I thought about the most recent time before that.

“I used to have a tricycle when I was a kid but my dad traded it for cocaine. Honestly, it got me around the neighborhood a lot faster than the trike did.”

Marisol looked sad. I could tell she was starting to pity me, which was great because a majority of my relationships started with attractive women feeling sorry for me. I drank the next beer in the flight. It was an IPA called 24 Hop that was only slightly bitter but very juicy at the end. It was named after a yearly event in Tucson in which cyclers would spend 24 hours riding out on a track in the Sonoran desert. Which, holy shit, these people actually did that. I’ve never spent a full 24 hours out in the desert except for that one time I pissed off that guy from that drug cartel and he made me dig my own grave and it took me a whole day. I’ll have to tell you that story sometime.

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Anyhoozle, things were going really well with Marisol and I decided to lay it on a bit thick. I told her how my lifestyle was in need of some major changes. I went on and on about how a life on the road discovering and writing about new breweries wasn’t as glamorous as it sounded (it was) and how I was starting to feel like I needed to connect with another person who understood me (I didn’t).

“I get it, Mr. Classy. I felt the same way until I found the Tucson biking community. I’m gonna help you out. My bike is outside and I brought some adult training wheels just in case you didn’t have much biking experience. Let’s practice right now!”

I drank another beer from the flight called Twin Pole Porter to get myself ready. It was a dark, smoky beer that was also very smooth. I walked outside to the parking lot with Marisol and got on her mountain bike. She kneeled behind me and got to work screwing in the training wheels as I pulled out my phone and looked up how much one of those tandem bikes for two people would cost. You know…just in case.

“Alright, Classy, the training wheels are ready. Just wait for me to-”

I didn’t let her finish ‘cause I was so goddamn pumped. I jammed my foot down on the pedals and rode off like the wind…but had to stop immediately when I heard Marisol shriek behind me.

Her long, beautiful hair was caught in the bike’s rear wheel and got wrapped in it like thread in a spool. I think I even dragged her a few inches across the pavement before I stopped. She yelled, “Fuck!” so loud she set off a few car alarms in the parking lot.

SHIT! That was the opposite of what I intended to do.

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About twenty minutes later some of the Catalina Brewing customers finished cutting her hair out of the bike wheel because they couldn’t unspool it. I sat at the bar ashamed, drinking my last beer. It was called Centella Point and it was a chocolate raspberry stout. It was a thin stout and it wasn’t as sweet as it sounded but it had a really good flavor to it…unlike me.

Marisol came up to me with her new, super short pixie haircut and a big bruise on the whole side of her face.

“I was about to tell you to wait for me to get out of the way of the bike before you started riding. So this exact thing wouldn’t happen. That’s why I keep my hair in a bun most of the time.”

“I’m so sorry, Marisol. I feel like an idiot. But I promise that won’t happen again. Next time we hang out and you teach me some biking skills-“

“Um, actually, Classy…you know, you’re absolutely welcome to join Tucson biking community. We’d love to have you…but I think my skills are a little too advanced for you. Maybe you could start off by learning from someone at your level. Like at a kids’ biking group?”

I could feel my heart slowly breaking into a million pieces as she spoke.

“Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. Where would I even find a kids’ bike group though?”

“Well you’re in luck because I have a son and he-”

“NOPE! No, thank you, I appreciate it and that’s very nice of you but that’s not gonna fit with my schedule and also, hey, look at the time! I have to go. Thanks a lot for your time Marisol. Sorry about the thing but you still look great with short hair. If you want to call me after your kid turns 18 that would be awesome!”

Phew! That was close. I almost got myself into a sticky situation and ended up raising someone else’s shitty baby. I needed to be more careful about these kinds of things.

Even though the Tucson biking community was very welcoming and friendly I realized that this wasn’t the lifestyle for me. I loved the beers and everyone at Catalina Brewing Company and I would definitely be back…but I probably wouldn’t be joining them on their weekend rides.

So I hit the road all by myself again. I still didn’t find what I was looking for but I was determined to keep looking. I figured heading South was as good of an idea as any. Somewhere out there I was going to find A Better Life.

To Be Concluded…

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