Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Visit to Oak Creek in Sedona, Arizona

"Experience teaches slowly and at the cost of mistakes." ~James A. Froude

June 19: I am getting a little burned out on the intense pace of my trip at this point. Drive, brew, blog, repeat. And I miss my husband like crazy. Only a few more days until he joins me.

It is all up hill heading north out of Phoenix on Hwy 17. I underestimated the amount of time it would take to get from Surprise to Prescott. Since the drive included very steep inclines up Mingus Mountain, and the ambient temperature was about 108, I had to turn off the air conditioner, roll down the windows, and turn the heat on high. Needless to say, I quickly became a cranky face.

There were so many mountain rises between me and my destination, that I had to crank up the heat lots of times and the going was slow. Grrrr! My Cingular cell phone lost service and still hasn't regained it as I write this post from Durango, Colorado.

I stopped at a McDonald's at the Hwy 69 turn-off to Prescott for something cold, and called Prescott Brewing Company's owner John Nielson on the pay phone to tell him that I wouldn't make it, and that I had to press on toward Sedona. Pay phones are a pain in the butt because they hang you up after two minutes. And it's so freakin' hot here! Grrrr.

Arrived at Oak Creek Brewing Co. in Sedona, and Brewmaster Jim Strelau was waiting for me. The photo above is of Jim showing off the company's 1929 Model A "C" Cab delivery sedan. It's fitted with beer taps on the sides. Jim gave me the tour of his hard-working brewery. He and two brewers put out over 4,000 barrels a year at Oak Creek's two labor-intensive locations. Don't try that at home, folks! Jim works way more hours than is healthy, and although working since dawn, he rallied for my visit.
Jim set me up with a sampler of all his beers, then went home to fetch his fetching girlfriend Casey.

We went to Oak Creek's brewpub (separate ownership) for dinner. The photo at right is of the pretty (and functional) seven barrel JV Northwest glycol-jacketed serving tanks behind the bar. Note the custom copper jackets and top-shelf liquor racks. Snazzy!

Jim helped me back Big Buddy up Oak Creek's sloped parking lot for the night. It was hot and my head was downhill, but I was pretty tired. The next morning I was up at 6:45 am and on the road at 7:15 am. The photo below is the view back toward the mountains surrounding Sedona as I hit Hwy 17 heading north again.

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