If you can’t beat the heat this summer, join it and drink it.
A couple days ago, on Twitter, Ricky asked for guest bloggers for his website. I volunteered, fully knowing I had never written anything like this before, but I thought it would be fun if he would let me give it a try. As of now, he has yet to reply to my offer, but as a sales manager, I didn’t take his silence as a “no” but more of a “probably not,” so I’m writing it anyway!
Ricky and I have some mutual interests that don’t end with hiking and craft beer, but since his site touches on those two topics often, I figured that would be a good place to start. Tucson often gets a bad wrap, especially from people who reside in Phoenix, however, there is a great adventure that I’m about to describe for you that takes place in the breathtaking landscape of Tucson’s east side.
A few weeks back I completed one of the more challenging day hikes that Tucson has to offer. The Blacketts Ridge Trail in Sabino Canyon (part of Coronado National Forest) offers a shorter but challenging hike that becomes extremely rewarding at the end with breathtaking views of Sentinel Peak, “A” Mountain by the University of Arizona, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the entire city and surrounding terrain.
The trail begins with a short paved walk from the Sabino Canyon Visitor’s Center to the trailhead. Once you reach the trailhead, it picks up in a hurry. You begin to ascend the ridge that separates the Sabino Canyon Trail and the Bear Canyon Trail which are two longer hikes into the valleys of Sabino Canyon. The trailhead offers many short switchbacks amongst rocky terrain as you ascend almost 1,700 feet in just over 3 miles. Your legs will start to burn less than a mile into the hike!
Along the way there are several spots to step off the trail and enjoy the view and snap a picture or two. About ¾ of the way to the top the trail levels off and the views get even better. The temperature drops at least 10 degrees and a cool breeze rewards you before you reach the large, flat rocks to rest on at the end of the trail. Going back down, the trail is almost as challenging as going up, but once you reach the bottom you are only a short car ride from the best part of your Tucson excursion, Sentinel Peak Brewing Company.
The Sentinel Peak that I speak of, located on the corner of Grant and Swan, is not another hike but an awesome local nano brewery in Tucson that I like to frequent to enjoy a cold IPA after a good hike. Their logo even showcases “A” Mountain that I described earlier from the top of Blacketts Ridge. They are locally owned by Jeremy Hilderbrand, a local firefighter, with a passion for brewing beer.
Their taps feature their four flagship beers: 1811 Desert Blonde, Icebreak IPA, Dewpoint Dunkel, and Salida del Sol Amber. They also have four seasonal, rotating taps that currently feature: Anniversary Ale, Starr Pass Oatmeal Stout, Blashie Scottish Ale, and Love Session Pale Ale. Lastly is my favorite beer they feature, a special beer that is served in 6 oz pours, which all proceeds go to the charity Firefighters vs. Autism. Their charity beer is called Overhaul Chili Beer, and is brewed with a combination of roasted jalapeño, habañero peppers, serrano peppers, Anaheim peppers, poblano pepper, and bhut jolokia, also known as ghost pepper.
My favorite combination to unwind post hike is to order an Icebreak IPA with an order of their jalapeño poppers and top them off with a 6 oz Overhaul Chili Beer. The combination is making my mouth water as I type.
All of their beers I’ve tried to date are good, and some are excellent. The Icebreak is crisp and not over powering with the hops, which makes it perfect after a hike. The Overhaul Chili Beer is definitely spicy, and as their website says, “not for the faint of heart,” but for anyone who likes chili peppers, beer and good causes it is a must try. The Salida del Sol Amber is a good, local take on a Mexican inspired amber beer that is smooth and pairs well with a lot of the food on their menu.
If you take my advice and try out the ridge to peak trip this summer, you will sweat on the hike as well as from the chili beer, your legs will burn from climbing the ridge and your forehead will tingle from the jalapeño poppers, and lastly, you will feel amazingly satisfied at the end of the day.
If you can’t beat the dry heat of Southern Arizona, you might as well join it AND drink it!