Post image for SanTan Brewing to tap seasonal Mr. Pineapple today at Chandler brewpub

And you may notice Mr. Pineapple himself has a new look for 2015. Gone is the belly-flop into a pool of beer. Now he’s giving drinkers a smile and a thumbs-up.

SanTan first introduced its pineapple-tinged wheat beer at its annual luau in 2010. It quickly became the brewery’s bestselling seasonal.

SanTan began canning the beer, which won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival, in 2013.

This year, the Chandler brewery has teamed up with Chiquita to use Rainforest Alliance Certified Pineapple Juice for a more sustainable and socially conscious beer.

Mr. Pineapple is available on draft only at SanTan’s downtown Chandler brewpub. It will be available in other bars and in cans at retail locations in February.

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Post image for Update on Arizona Wilderness Brewing’s expansion, a sneak peek at new menu & more

No one can accuse Arizona Wilderness of resting on its laurels, even when those include being named the best new brewery in the world.

Last week I caught up with co-founder Jonathan Buford, who filled me in on the many, many things going on at the Gilbert brewery.

There almost too much to try to organize, so I’ll just throw it out somewhat randomly:

• Expansion construction in the former bagel shop that shared the building with Wilderness is well under way. Buford is hesitant to predict when it will be ready, but the first week of April is a good estimate.

• The new space mostly will be used for a larger 15-barrel brewing system, a grain room, and a wood barrel room. The existing 7-barrel brewing system has been sold to Dubina Brewing in Phoenix.

• The new space will include what Buford calls a tap room – an L-shaped bar and just a couple tables – with glass walls that allow people to watch the brewers in action. It will only seat about 35 people.

• No food will be served in the tap room, but people will be welcome to carry over food from the brewpub’s dining room.

• The tap room will include a growler refill station, and Wilderness currently is re-evaluating its growler restrictions in light of its soon-to-increase production capacity. No promises, though.

AZWildernessPatrick• On a related note, Wilderness has no plans to begin distribution anytime soon. The increased production is meant to fill its own taps, not send beers to other bars, according to Buford.

• Another related note: A new 30-barrel fermenter will be dedicated to Refuge IPA, meaning the brewery’s mega-bestseller will always be on tap (an idea Buford had resisted for the past year).

• The patio will be extended along the south side of the building to accommodate another 45 people. A substantial entrance made of mesquite (fitting the Wilderness theme) will be built on the west end of the patio (facing Arizona Avenue).

• The brewery has procured a bunch of weathered wood from an old Arizona tower. It will be used on the walls behind both the existing bar and the tap room bar.

• The brewery’s barrel-aging program will be expanded. A dozen-plus wood barrels already are there, and Buford says more are on the way.

• Wilderness has hired a new chef – or, rather, promoted one from within. Former sous chef Bridget Korkowski is the new person in charge.

• Korkowski’s first task was to upgrade the menu, which she’s done. It won’t launch until Monday, Feb. 23 – at the end of Arizona Beer Week – but you can get a sneak peek here.

• On a related note: “To all the vegans out there, we’ve heard you,” Buford says. “We’ve heard you. We’ve heard you.”

AZWildernessAle• Why are they waiting until Feb. 23? Mostly to train kitchen staff on the new menu. But also because they’re in the process of planning a kitchen expansion (when the current brewing system, located next to the kitchen, is sold).

• American Presidential Stout, which made RateBeer.com’s list of best beers in 2014, will be released this year at the Arizona Strong Beer Festival on Saturday, Feb. 14. It will be released at the fest from now on, Buford says.

• Wilderness only will host two events during Beer Week. The first will be a fabulous beer dinner featuring its own food and beers on Tuesday, Feb. 17. The next day will be a Barrel Fest featuring all of its barrel-aged beers.

• After traipsing all over the globe in 2014, the Wilderness guys are planning to increase their travels even more this year. In just the next few months, they’ll be brewing overseas in Australia and making a return trip to Denmark.

• In addition, they’ll be collaborating with several U.S. craft breweries, as well as brewing a beer with Logan Plant (son of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant).

There are several other really cool things in the works, but this is all Buford will let write me share for now. Stay tuned…

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Post image for Stufrageous Stuffed Burgers plans to open this weekend near Fiesta Mall in Mesa

The 2,000-square-foot fast-casual restaurant is opening on the northeast corner of Alma School and Southern, next to the new Boulders on Southern.

Stufrageous will have 10 specialty burgers – 6-ounce patties stuffed with a variety of fillings – as well as a non-stuffed burger and a veggie burger.

Among the more unusual offerings are a Macaroni & Cheese Burger, a Jalapeño Popper Burger, and a Hawaiian Burger (stuffed with pineapple, ham, and mozzarella).

The stuffed burgers range from $6.95-$7.45.

StufrageousOutsideCustomers also will be available to create their own, starting at and adding stuffings for 39-69 cents apiece.

Besides fries and sweet potato fries, sides will include tempura green beans and fried mac-and-cheese bites.

For dessert, there are five kinds of 5.5-inch cookies ($3.95), cooked to order in deep-dish pans and topped with frozen yogurt.

Beverages will be limited to shakes and fountain drinks, at least in the beginning. Owner Justin Savaya is considering a liquor license in the future.

It’s the first restaurant for Savaya, who owns a pair of Valley liquor stores. He has enlisted his sister Jenna, a Scottsdale Culinary Institute grad, to head the kitchen.

Savaya hopes to open Stufrageous this Friday or Saturday. Hours will be 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.

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Post image for Little Miss BBQ, Detroit Coney Grill among Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in U.S. for 2015

The second annual ranking represents restaurants that, according to the user-review website, “were the most popular and well reviewed over the course of 2014.”

Little Miss BBQ (pictured), which opened near Sky Harbor Airport (University and 43rd Street) last February, is ranked No. 10, having earned an average of 5 stars for 273 reviews.

Detroit Coney Grill is No. 30 with an average of 4.5 stars for 244 reviews. It opened near Broadway and Hardy in Tempe in August 2013.

Two other Phoenix restaurants also made the list: Santos Lucha Libre Taco Shop at No. 39 and Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana (which is opening a Gilbert location in March) at No. 96.

Copper Top BBQ in Big Pine, Calif., claimed the No. 1 spot, followed by a pair of Las Vegas eateries, Art of Flavors and Soho Japanese Restaurant. See the full list.

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Post image for Monday specials & deals from MXSW sponsors

Today’s specials and deals from MXSW sponsors:

  • The Brass Tap: Military and first responders get 25% off entire bill. Team trivia at 7 p.m. with a chance to win a $10-$30 gift cards.
  • Duke’s Tavern: $2.50 Coronas, $3 Dos XX pints, $3 Jose Cuervo, $3 margaritas
  • Floridino’s Pizza & Pasta: Get a large two-topping pizza, large tossed salad, and order of breadsticks with cheese for $17.50 from 4-8 p.m.; seniors get buy-one-get-one-free discount all night.
  • House of Brews: All-day happy hour with $2 off all appetizers and $1 off all draft beer, cocktails, and wine
  • Hungry Monk: $9.99 all-you-can-eat boneless wings; $2.50 Blue Moons.
  • Jimmy & Joe’s Pizzeria: Buy dozen wings, get second dozen for $2; 16-inch pizzas for $14.95 (up to 3 free toppings); buy any pizza, get second pizza of equal or less value for $5 ($12 for Big Jimmy).
  • La Ristra New Mexican Kitchen: $5 house margaritas; free kids meal with purchase of adult entree.
  • Nicantoni’s Pizza: $1 off manicotti, meatballs (with spaghetti or in sub), Malibu, and Merlot.
  • Zappone’s Italian Bistro: Buy one entree, get 50% off second entree from 4-9 p.m. Dine in only.

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Post image for Two Brothers Tap House & Brewery opens today in downtown Scottsdale

Back in October, I broke the news that Jim and Jason Ebel, founders of Chicago’s Two Brothers Brewing, were going to open a spinoff brewery in downtown Scottsdale.

At 3 p.m. today, Two Brothers Tap House & Brewery opens its doors to the public.

The brewery and restaurant take over the 8,165-square-foot former home of Saddle Ranch Chop House on the southeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Drinkwater Boulevard.

Previous: Two Brothers’ Jason Ebel talks about AZ beer scene & their new Scottsdale brewpub

The tap list will include Two Brothers’ eight year-round beers, eight seasonals, three artisan ales and new line of barrel-aged sours, all brewed in Illinois.

The brewery’s flagship beer is its easy-drinking Domaine DuPage French country ale, although its Sidekick extra pale ale is expected to surpass it in sales this year.

A new 10-barrel brewing system in Scottsdale will be used to brew specialty beers solely for the Arizona market.

The brewpub will serve what the Ebels call “upscale pub fare” for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.

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Post image for Friday specials & deals from MXSW sponsors

Today’s specials and deals from MXSW sponsors:

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Post image for Weekend specials at Murphy’s Law: Bacon mac & cheese, deep-fried pickle chips

Available today through Sunday at Murphy’s Law, the Irish pub in downtown Chandler:

  • Bacon mac & cheese: Tender penne and chunks of premium smoked bacon tossed with a triple cheese blend. ($10) Add our delicious garlic bread for $3.
  • Deep-fried pickle chips: Coated with house-made beer batter and deep-fried. Served with chipotle-ranch dipping sauce. ($8)

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Post image for Carlo & Emilie’s Gourmet Deli brings a delicious slice of southern Italy to Chandler

Carlo Ventura and Emile Frances might seem unlikely business partners.

He’s a 60-something Italian who’s spent the last 25 years managing at Valley resorts. She’s a 20-something Frenchwoman trained as an optician.

Together, though, they’ve opened Carlo and Emilie’s Gourmet Deli on the southwest corner of Alma School and Germann in south Chandler.

The small Italian deli takes over the strip-mall space that until last summer housed Chandler BBQ Company (next to Rosati’s Pizza).

It may be a little hard to locate at first, but it’s well worth the effort for its tantalizing menu ranging from beef bracioli to artichoke parmigiana to fire-roasted butternut squash tiramisu.

CarloEmiliesSandwichAlthough both Ventura and Frances come from cooking-centric families, it’s the Puglia native (think the high heel of the Italian “boot”)  who’s the driving force in the scratch kitchen.

The deli case is loaded with imported meats and cheeses, but Ventura bakes his own bread, makes his own pork sausage links and meatballs, cures his own pastrami, and pulls his own mozzarella.

Soon, he says, he’ll start making the deli’s ravioli and gnocchi.

Inspired by DeFalco’s Italian Deli in Scottsdale, Ventura and Francis already have set up shelves they plan to stock with imported groceries.

And a liquor license also is in the works.

CarloEmilieInteriorThe pair met at Chandler’s Ocotillo Golf Resort, where Ventura had been working the past 15 years. (Before that, he spent a decade at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park.)

After her parents divorced, Frances had moved to the States with her mother. Ventura introduced Frances’ mother to the man who’s now her stepfather (and third partner in the deli).

“It was Carlo’s dream to open his own place so we decided to do that all together,” she says.

Carlo and Emilie’s is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m.Monday through Saturday. Catering also is available.

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Post image for Thursday specials & deals from MXSW sponsors

Today’s specials and deals from MXSW sponsors:

  • The Brass Tap: Service industry gets 25% of draft beer and house wine from 9 p.m.-close.
  • Hungry Monk: 99-cent chicken tenders.
  • Duke’s Tavern: $3 craft beer pints.
  • La Ristra New Mexican Kitchen: Ladies receive happy hour pricing on drinks from 6-9 p.m. in bar.
  • Murphy’s Law: $3 Bud Light drafts, $3 well drinks, $3 mimosas, and $2-$5 select apps during NFL game; ladies receive $3 Pinnacle cocktails and $4 Pinnacle martinis from 8 p.m.-close.
  • Nicantoni’s Pizza: All-day happy hour with $2-$3 beers, $5 wines, and $1 off spirits; $4.50 appetizers; $6 wings.
  • Romeo’s Euro Cafe: Five-course “Taste of Romeo’s Euro Cafe” dinner at 6:30 p.m.

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