“L’appel du vide” is the French term for that nagging urge to jump when you look over a cliff or swerve into an oncoming car on the freeway. It translates quite literally to “The Call of the Void.” The ghosts and ghouls here at Masters of Brewtality are intimately familiar with this dark yearning; it is, after all, one of the main reasons we drink! Arizona Beer Week brings out similar lusts as well. For the 11 days this raucous festival takes hold of our fair state, it’s not uncommon to dream of quitting your job, abandoning your family, pawning everything of value and just getting righteously tanked from morning to night on smooth, delicious craft beer. But, as we said to that gentleman on the bridge that time, we’ll also say to you… Don’t do it. Ruining your life will only lead to drinking Thunderbird under bridges and we can say with authority that, yes, it’s glamorous, but you’ll never afford a fine stout or hazy IPA again. 

Flagstaff of course is bringing some true beer cult viciousness to the celebration, which is currently coming in at over 200 different events around the state. Every year, the town’s brewers get together at a secret location at the crack of dawn to begin drinking heavily and concocting a collaboration beer to be released for the fest. For years, it’s been the Flag Seven Collaboration; however, 2017 saw the opening of Trail Crest Brewing on Milton Avenue right off campus, hence this year it’s now officially Flag Eight. The family expands! Masters of Brewtality was on location for the mash in on this round, and it was everything you’d imagine a party of brewers to be. As the sun began peaking over the horizon, effigies of Adolphus Busch and Eberhard Anheuser were burned in the parking lot, and the first drinks were opened and passed from a mountain of growlers off to the side. There was a wide variety of pastries too, and at some point, the police showed up. Pure decadent insanity! The end result of this hedonistic display was an exotic coffee-infused Baltic Porter, which Beaver Street’s head brewer Steve Hendricks described as “smooth and delicious.” When pressed for a sneak peak on the other flavor profiles, he drained a beer, cracked open a new one and said, “No.” He did, however, sneak us a sip of his legendary Rumski, his handmade rum aged in a whiskey barrel for seven years that was honestly thought to be local myth on par with the insane asylum cells under Taylor Hall or the Mogollon Man. It was sweet, smooth, spicy, bold and as rare as drinking chupacabra blood.  

The Flag Eight Collaboration will debut at the Arizona Strong Beer Fest on Feb. 8 at Steele Indian School Park down in Phoenix and at select locations here in Flagstaff along with our next local(ish) collaboration, Murder She Oat. Murder She Oat, in addition to being one of the puniest named brews in the history of pun-named brews, is a throwback Oatmeal IPA brewed exclusively by the state’s female brewers. Back in times of yore, when beer was first by the Mesopotamians some four thousand years ago, brewing was a strictly woman-only pursuit. Even the first god of beer was a woman dubbed Ninkasi by the ancient Sumerians and the proud tradition continued right up until the 1800s. Fast forward to the 20th century and craft beer, like pretty much everything else, has become a boys club. However, in the last 20 years, women are steadily reclaiming their rightful place in the brewing industry. Which is great! Locally, this tantalizing beer has the elite ladies from all your favorite Flagstaff breweries’ influence in its 6.7 percent, 44 IBU deliciousness, along with a cross section of female brewers from around the state. Brewed with London Ale yeast and Simcoe, Mosaic, Centennial and Melon hops, this is sure to run out almost immediately. 

If you can’t make it all the way down to Phoenix, there’s plenty to do here in beautiful northern Arizona. In Cottonwood, State Bar is doing a tap takeover with 1912 Brewery and a Reggae dance party at THAT Brewery. Here in Flagstaff, Flag Brew is holding a whiskey and beer flight combo. Lumberyard is hosting beer trivia, Historic is releasing a S’More and Bear Arms Imperial Stout, and Pizzicletta next to Mother Road is having a pizza/beer pairing. Naturally, one of the stars of the entire event will be the local release of Murder She Oat at Beaver Street’s Brews and Cues on Feb. 9. The entire NORAZ shindig will come to a culmination Feb. 17 with the ABV Beer Dinner. All proceeds go to Veteran Services, and it features every brewery, meadery and distillery in town with some of the best chefs our city has to offer. This is its fourth year, and it keeps getting better! Happy Beer Week!