The aroma of polish sausages and roasted hot dogs wafts over Tempe Diablo Stadium as you settle into the emerald-green outfield for an afternoon with the Boys of Summer.
“Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite,” a hawker barks above the murmur of the crowd. Ah, yes, now the scene is complete.
Spring training is back, which means that lazy afternoons in left field, cold beers in hand, are in order.
What better way to shake off the frost of winter and ramp up for the swelter ahead than by enjoying this glorious period in the Valley?
And the stadiums that dot the East Valley — Mesa Hohokam Park, Scottsdale Stadium, Tempe Diablo Stadium and Phoenix Municipal — are surrounded by great watering holes to prime up for the game, or to recap the day’s events. Inside the stadiums, you may find a few surprises beyond the mainstream American brews as well, such as Old Style beer at Hohokam Park and Anchor Steam at Scottsdale Stadium. These two beers have been closely associated with the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants for generations.
Whether sipping inside the park or out, the following great spring training-centric brew pubs are the ideal way to welcome back Cactus League baseball.
Sluggo’s Sports Grill: Is there a more quintessential Chicago Cubs haunt outside the Windy City? I don’t think so. This longtime Mesa mecca for Cubs fans goes back to the Harry & Steve’s and Steve Stone’s days. On game days, plow into the affordable breakfast buffet and slake your thirst with $1.50 cans of Old Style. Skip the stress of parking and take advantage of the free shuttle to and from Hohokam Stadium. Check out their second East Valley location at the northeast corner of Sossaman and Baseline roads.
Details: 161 N. Centennial Way, (480) 844-8448
Blue Moose and Los Olivos: Blue Moose is the premier place to hang out before or after a Giants game at Scottsdale Stadium. The atmosphere is always festive yet relaxed as the tanned and chiseled down Coronas and the venue’s signature Moose Drool, a rich and creamy brown ale from Montana. TVs dot the spacious interior that seats more than 100, but the patio is where the action is. Make a day of it, and get here well before the game. After the game, sober up at Los Olivos across the way and down a bowl of albondigas soup and cheese enchiladas. Now you have the ultimate Scottsdale Stadium itinerary.
Details: Blue Moose, 7373 E. Scottsdale Mall, (480) 949-7959; Los Olivos, 7328 E. Second St., (480) 946-2256
Four Peaks Brewing Co.: You can’t mention great brew pubs and not include Four Peaks. Period. The Valley’s pre-eminent local beer maker with numerous national awards remains a point of beer-making pride in the Valley. Thankfully, Four Peaks’ Tempe location is just a hop over the riverbed to Phoenix Muni. When on location, you must have a glass of their acclaimed Kilt Lifter, a malty Scottish-style ale. Grab a six-pack to go for the barbecue this weekend. But you also may want to sample a glass of Four Peaks’ Hop Knot, a strong pale ale that won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival.
Details: 1340 E. Eighth St., Tempe, (480) 303-9967; Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Hayden Road, Scottsdale, (480) 991-1795
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse: A little farther away from the live baseball action, but worth exploring. I really like the spirit of BJ’s, which is passionate about its brews. If you’re a hefeweizen nut like me, give their Harvest hefe a try. There’s plenty of the refreshing fruit you expect but also some nice spiciness. I like this with or without the lemon slice. Another nod goes to BJ’s Brewhouse Blonde, a light, refreshing and easy-to-drink beer. This watering hole keeps at least seven hand-crafted brews on tap and mixes in other seasonal pours. The two mentioned here speak to fun in the sun.
Details: Chandler Fashion Center, 3155 W. Chandler Blvd., (480) 917-0631; Superstition Springs Center, 6622 E. Superstition Springs Blvd., Mesa, (480) 324-1675; Desert Ridge, 21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix, (480) 538-0555.
Got a wine- and spirits-related question you’d like to see addressed in a column? Contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.