Summertime in Arizona means frequent trips to the lake with a group of friends and a cooler filled with your favorite Four Peaks beer. Four Peaks Brewing Company has been creating some of Arizona’s most popular local beers since 1996. The first step to making great beer starts with the people who are in charge of the brew process.
Andrew Harden has worked at Four Peaks Brewery for 13 years. For the last eight years, he’s been a Head Brewer. His days start when the rest of us are still asleep in bed, usually before the sun comes up. Andrew is in charge of running the production facility at the Wilson Street location. He manages a team where he’ll outline what they have to do and prep them for what needs to be done that day. He’ll make sure they have everything ready to go when it comes to brewing Four Peaks beer.
Like every great creation, Andrew says ingredients are very important. When it comes to beer, the secret is to have great hops. About 80%-90% of the hops Four Peaks uses comes form Yakima Valley hops. The Washington company has over 140 varieties of hops that they produce. Chances are the Four Peaks beer you’re drinking right now has hops from Yakima Valley. Four Peaks also sources hops from Hopsteiner or from a farm in Germany.
During their busy season (August – May), Andrew states that Four Peaks’s Wilson Street location will produce about 1,900 barrels of beer per week. It can be a struggle to meet the demand of producing that much beer. So Four Peaks had to hire more brewers and packaging staff. When summer brings warmer temperatures, business slows down a bit. This allows the brewers to catch their breath.
But don’t think for a second that being a brewer at Four Peaks is all work and no play. Andrew happily informs me that brewers get to come up with their own beer creations as a part of the Single Tank Series. A brewer will come up with his own recipe and brew one tank of it, which you (the public) can try. As a matter of fact, have you heard of the Helles Lager at Four Peaks? It’s based off of a Munich-style Helles Lager. It was so good and such a popular Single Tank Series creation that Four Peaks has decided to keep producing it and add the Helles Lager to their rotation of mainstay beers. When brewers aren’t brewing up their own creations, new ideas for beer come straight from owners Andy Ingram and Jim Scussel. Andy will suggest a style to produce, then the team sits down and starts creating.
Something that Four Peaks is great at is pairing beers with their menu items. All employees have a lot of knowledge when it comes to suggesting what beer will pair best with what dish. Ever wonder how this happens? The chefs and brewers work together very closely. This allows the brewers to know what ingredients are in each dish and lets the chefs create menu items that will work well with certain beers. All of them will sit around and sample dishes with various beers until they get a pairing just right. Sounds like a fun night. If you want to learn more about beer and food pairings, you can watch our video that we made with Four Peaks for some great suggestions.
Next time you find yourself trying to decide which beer to get, try the Pitchfork. It’s Andy’s favorite.