SanTan Beer Dinner at Cafe ZuZu
This summer, Cafe ZuZu at the Hotel Valley Ho launched their inaugural Brew Master Series held once a month on a Thursday night. Each dinner features a beer cocktail with passed bites and 3 courses paired with beers from a featured craft beer brewery. On September 17th, I was invited to visit Cafe ZuZu as they hosted SanTan Brewing Company, a local award-winning brewery crafting seasonal and Southwestern-style ales.
We were greeted with a refreshing beer cocktail made with Sunspot Gold, a blonde ale with light hops, combined with Campari, grapefruit juice, and St. Germain elderflower liqueur. A perfect welcome beverage on a sunny Arizona afternoon.
Delicious mini-Reubens and crispy pork belly bites were passed to accompany the cocktail.
We were seated in the colorful mid-century modern atmosphere of Cafe ZuZu as Executive Chef Charles Wiley described his menu and introduced SanTan Brewing Brand Ambassador Erin Garlock. "I love to work with wineries and craft breweries, chefs and beverage professionals that are passionate about what they do," he told us. "We have some great craft breweries right in our own backyard and one of those happen to be in historic downtown Chandler. They opened their doors in 2007 and they helped to really pioneer the whole craft beer movement here in Arizona.”
Erin informed us how this month marks Arizona’s second largest brewery's eight-year anniversary, that SanTan brews fresh Southwestern-style ales, it is the only brewery in Arizona that brews an Oktoberfest, and every October they throw a party in front of the brewery [this year it was October 3rd]. And what makes it Southwestern style? "We ferment our beers to completion, which creates a lighter-bodied beer, what you want in Arizona. We up our carbonation levels just a little bit above US standards so it’s not so heavy - it's quenching, it’s refreshing, it's effervescent."
Mr. Pineapple, SanTan Brewing Company’s most popular seasonal beer, accompanied a flavorful first course of prawns and manila clams in a charred tomato broth with smoky Spanish chorizo. This fruity wheat ale was originally created for the SanTan annual luau, but due to overwhelming demand is now being brewed year round.
Oktoberfest, a malt-forward lager, was an equally winning pairing with a hearty braised beef short rib topped with a slab of melted Shaft's blue cheese and served with crispy shoe-string potatoes tossed with spinach and honey jus.
Dessert paired Devil's Ale, a beer that Erin told us is their "flagship beer that pretty much put SanTan on the map", with a decadent toffee cake with creme anglaise and ice cream. I especially liked how the citrus notes and caramel malt paired with this finale. A fun night was had by all, with excellent pairings that made me a bigger fan of both Cafe ZuZu and SanTan Brewing Company. We had fabulous service from Cali, and it was also nice to chat with Erin Garlock and Meg Hebert of the SanTan team.
Follow the Events Calendar to keep up to date with the 2016 Brew Master Series.
I was hosted by Cafe ZuZu and this dinner was complimentary.