RESTAURANTS & BARS WITH GREAT BEER LISTS
Angels Trumpet Ale House
Judging by the crowds of hot hop heads that braved the shadeless back patio during Angels Trumpet’s debut week in August, Downtowners are thirsty for craft beer. And owners Mat and Sharry Englehorn (translation: angel trumpet) deliver with 31 rotating beers on draft, including several Arizona brews. The place pulses with ’80s rock and a cacophany of conversations that pinball around the pea-green-and-brick space. Boutique bar food like flatbread with sausage, caramelized onions and roasted tomatoes rounds out the hip experience. 810 N Second St., Phoenix, 602-252-2630, angelstrumpetalehouse.com
# of beers on tap: 31
# of beers in bottles: 50+
Events: Happy hour and events not finalized as of press time.
Boulders on Broadway
This one-time Old Chicago restaurant, bought by a former employee who also happens to be a rock climbing enthusiast (hence the name), looks to rekindle the fun times of the owner’s bygone ASU days. The eatery hasn’t changed much in appearance in two-plus decades, save the beefed-up beer list, which sticks to U.S. brewers and a few Europeans, plus some hard-to-find Arizona brews. Pizzas remain popular, but there are also burgers, sandwiches, tacos and pasta dishes. 530 W. Broadway Rd., Tempe, 480-921-9431, bouldersonbroadway.com
# of beers on tap: 30
# of beers in bottles: 100+
Events: $1 off draft beers during happy hour (3-7 p.m. M-F, 10 p.m.-close M-Th and all day Sa); tall beers for pint price W; half-off select bottles Th; trivia Tu, Sa and Su.
A second-story open-air bar in CityScape overlooking Downtown Phoenix sets the stage for a happening happy hour and lively nightlife, but don’t miss the slick main room with copper pipes running brews from the barrel room to the taps. The menu is a mélange of cut-above bar food, featuring items like fig and goat cheese pizza, filet bites with horseradish sauce and some of the city’s beeriest mac ‘n’ cheese. 50 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix, 480-719-5005, copperblueslive.com
# of beers on tap: 64
# of beers in bottles: 40
Events: Happy hour 4-7 p.m. M-F, with $3-$4 pints, $5 beer cocktails and $1 beer shots; live music Tu, F-Sa; free comedy show Tu; free swing dance lessons W.
This contemporary restaurant is for people who like a bit of polish with their burgers and beer. The menu caters to the honorably indecisive (enjoy combos of French and sweet potato fries, for example) and patrons who value sustainability. The comprehensive beer list has something for every hop head, from light American wheats to malty British Isles stouts. The Papago Orange Blossom is a worthy sample, with a mildly fruity taste and smooth, buttery finish. 3146 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-522-2288, deluxburger.com
# of beers on tap: 39
# of beers in bottles: 7, plus one non-alcoholic option
Events: Happy hours (daily from 4-6 p.m.; reverse happy hour 10 p.m.-2 a.m.) feature the house brew for $3, plus a smattering of beers, premium well cocktails and all wines by the glass for $4.
Flanny’s Bar & Grill
Several restaurants and bars failed in this strip-mall space before John Flanagan and his son, John Jr., opened their beer-focused venture in 2010. The draft beer arsenal has steadily grown to 22 taps, and the Flanagans plan to add another 10 soon. The bar hosts popular “tap takeovers” on the third Thursday of every month, when a single brewer brings in as many as two dozen different beers. The food menu focuses on basic appetizers, burgers and sandwiches. 1805 E. Elliot Rd., Tempe, 480-659-0870, flannys.com
# of beers on tap: 22
# of beers in bottles: 50 in 12-ounce bottles; 20 others in larger bottles (to-go only)
Events: $1 off pints or craft bottles/cans during happy hour (2-6 p.m. M-F and 10 p.m.-close M-Th); team trivia W; live music Th-Sa.
The Handlebar Pub & Grill
Prepare to be surprised by this rustic, pint-sized pub, one of the oldest restored structures in Apache Junction. Not only do owners Jeff and Alec Golzio serve a number of hard-to-find craft beers, including one of the Valley’s best selections of Belgian beers, but the wood-fired grill and oven on the side patio produce a gourmet-quality menu featuring grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and organic produce. 650 W. Apache Trail, Apache Junction, 480-982-2091
# of beers on tap: 27
# of beers in bottles: 100+
Events: $4 pints during happy hour (noon-5 p.m. Tu-Sa); $3 pints all day Tu; live music W-Sa.
Bavarian beer garden polka music sounds best in a beer garden, coupled with the consumption of strong-beer-filled steins. This traditional German restaurant hits all the bases with a spacious shaded patio and a selection of Deutsch brews, many of which sound like something you could drive or shoot things with, like Spaten Optimator and Warsteiner Dunkel (a malty, molasses-slapped double bock, and a balanced brown ale, respectively). Dirndl-clad servers also deliver well-portioned plates of bratwurst and schnitzel. 5739 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale, 623-939-2480, hausmurphys.com
# of beers on tap: 10 (nine plus one rotating seasonal)
# of beers in bottles: 0
Events: Live tuba and accordion music from Haus Band, 6:30-8:30 p.m. F-Sa.
The Hungry Monk
Welcome to “Neighborhood Bar 2.0.” The Hungry Monk has all the accoutrements of a standard swill inn: large, flat-screen TVs; a misted, pet-friendly smoking patio; classic rock on the speakers; and shanty-style corrugated metal siding around the booths. But the beer menu elevates it beyond average bar status: more than two dozen craft drafts, including Arizona brews from Sleepy Dog, Four Peaks, Lumberyard, and SanTan, bolstered by a “sampler tray” special of any four beers (five ounces each) for $6. The food menu’s standard pub grub, excepting a selection of über-gooey, meat-and-veggie-packed quesadillas. 1760 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, 480-963-8000, hungrymonkaz.com
# of beers on tap: 28
# of beers in bottles: 14
Events: $3 domestic pints on Sa-Su; team trivia 8 p.m. Sa.
The Lost Leaf
A cross-breed of Cheers and quirky neighborhood coffeehouse, Lost Leaf is a hip, bohemian bungalow with local art gracing exposed brick walls and exclusively Arizona brews on tap. An extensive bottled and canned selection runs the gamut from craft ales to specialty organic brews and a handful of gluten-free options. The artist-owned bar strictly offers beer and wine – there’s not even a bowl of peanuts in sight – but their benevolent bartenders are happy to point out nearby, locally owned dining options. 914 N. Fifth St., Phoenix, 602-258-0014, thelostleaf.org
# of beers on tap: 4
# of beers in bottles: 157
Events: Happy hour (5-7 p.m. daily) offers $1 off beers that cost $4 or more. Live music ranging from rock to Latin nightly, jazz every M.
Sun Devil Liquors
Breeze past the rows of spirits in this downtown Mesa liquor store and take the staircase down to the Sun Devil Cellar & Pub, a converted storeroom appointed with a six-seat bar, a dozen high-top tables and several comfortable sofas. Owned by the same couple that runs Tops Liquors in Tempe, Sun Devil will chill and serve any bottle or can of beer it carries. A food menu offers selections from nearby restaurants like Il Vinaio and Blue Adobe Grille. 235 N. Country Club Drive, Mesa, 480-834-5050, topsliquors.com
# of beers on tap: 8
# of beers in bottles: 1,000+
Events: $1 off draft beers and glasses of wine and 50 cents off bottled beers during happy hour (5-7 p.m. M-Sa); $2 off beer and wine flights 3-7 p.m. F.
Taste of Tops
Located just west of ASU, Taste of Tops is the “local” for jocks celebrating shutout games, hipsters in Buddy Holly glasses discussing indie flicks and laid-back professors sipping vino. Don’t let the college-centric location fool you, though. Owner and certified cicerone (beer expert) Greg Eccles programs plenty of upscale craft brews and unusual offerings, like Mean Time Coffee Porter and Speakeasy’s Godfather Barleywine. 403 W. University Drive, Tempe, 480-967-5643, topsliquors.com
# of beers on tap: 24
# of beers in bottles: 1,000+
Events: Monthly beer tastings; $1 off drafts and $2 off American bomber bottles in the cooler during happy hour (3-7 p.m. M-Sa, all day Su).
World of Beer
One will find power in numbers at this Western outpost of the Florida-flagship chain. More than 500 beers are poured between the taps and the coolers, and there’s way more beer than seating; on weekends, it’s sometimes standing-room-only, as the industrial-chic tap room – brick-walled bar backdrop and exposed piping – gets packed with people chatting over the sounds of ’90s alternative rock. The bottled beer menu reads like a cicerone manual, with copious pages devoted to breaking down what distinguishes different styles of beer, and detailed descriptions of each brew. 526 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, 480-638-2337, wobusa.com/tempe
# of beers on tap: 50
# of beers in bottles: 500+
Events: Live music 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Sa.
The Yard House
This national chain of mall-embedded restaurants – purchased in July by Darden, corporate master of Olive Garden and Red Lobster, among other brands – boasts Arizona’s largest selection of draft beers, with 130 taps. Acclaimed California brewery Firestone Walker makes the five house beers, and the rest of the list leans heavily on other American microbreweries. There are also limited-edition picks – five draft, five bottles – that change monthly. A five-page menu covers all the bases. 7014 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale, 480-675-9273; 21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix, 480-563-9273; 9401 W. Westgate Blvd., Glendale, 623-872-3900; yardhouse.com
# of beers on tap: 114
# of beers in bottles: 8
Events: During happy hour (3-6 p.m. M-F, 10 p.m.-close Su-Th), the bar offers $2.25-$4.50 shortys, $3.50 domestic pints, $4.25-$5 craft and import pints, $4.75-$5.50 goblets, and $7-$10 half-yards (afternoon happy hour only).
Yucca Tap Room
When regulars say this popular Tempe dive bar has a split personality, they’re not just referring to the eclectic nighttime entertainment. The weathered jukebox, checkered floor and oak booths are stuck in a perpetual time warp. The beer selection, on the other hand, is strictly 21st century. Yucca goes through 100 cases of hipster fallback PBR each week, but it’s the well-stocked cooler with craft brews from the likes of Deschutes and Utah’s Epic Brewing that attracts true beer aficionados. 29 W. Southern Ave., Tempe, 480-967-4777, yuccatap.com
# of beers on tap: 28
# of beers in bottles: 200+ (including cans)
Events: Score $2-$3 PBR and $2.25 well drinks and domestics from 4-6 p.m. M-F. Open mic M, hip-hop Th, country music Su.
Four Peaks Brewery
1340 E. Eighth St.
15745 N. Hayden Rd.
# of beers on tap:12
# of beers in bottles:2
Vibe: Despite the ASU area location, a varied crowd congregates in this industrial-meets-brick 1892 former creamery, where you can watch the brewers craft your ales.
Food: A worldly spin on pub grub (think Thai hummus, carne adovada and margherita pizza), with beer infusing everything from bread to steak demi glace to dessert.
Beer to Try: 8th Street Ale, a spicy, easy-drinking amber.
Events: Happy hour 2-6 p.m. and 11 p.m.-close daily.
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Four Peaks – Behind the Brews
Ever wonder what goes into your craft beer? Besides malt and hops, it’s a surprising amount of manual labor, science, math and German. We shadowed the brewers at Four Peaks to peek into their Kilt Lifter.
Stashed in Four Peaks’ silo is up to 60,000 lbs. of malt, or barley that’s been soaked to the germination point to prime its enzymes for beer-making and then kiln-dried. To brew Kilt Lifter, the brewer sends 2,300 lbs. of regular malt, plus 200 lbs. of a mix of caramel malt, carapils, roasted malt, and white wheat into the mill, where the grains are cracked into “grist” and sent to the hopper.
The brewer calculates the ratio of grain to water (about 1,700 lbs.) and sends hot water and grain into the lauter tun, or mash tun, where rigs churn the mixture for an hour. The process, called “mashing in,” converts the starches into sugar, turning the mixture into a sweet, tea-colored liquid called wort. During mashing in, the brewer adds salt and minerals that mimic the water of the beer style’s home city – in the case of Kilt Lifter, Edinburgh. The brewer then recirculates the water to separate grain from liquid in a process called vorlaufing, then drains, or “lauters,” the liquid. The remaining grist is rinsed, or “sparged,” to collect leftover sugars.
The wort is pumped to the brew kettle and boiled for 90 minutes. At the start of the boil, the brewer adds bitter hops – the only hops used in Kilt Lifter, though some other beers get additional aromatic hop pellets near the end of the boil. The brewer takes a wort sample, measures its sugar content, and determines its pH.
The boiled wort then goes for a spin in the whirlpool tank, where the monsoon-cloud-looking solids are allowed to settle further and separate. To make some beers, but not Kilt Lifter, the wort gets a final fillip of fresh, aromatic hops in the hop back.
Next, the wort shoots through a heat exchanger, which cools it to a temperature that won’t mortally simmer the yeast. It’s then sent through a pipe, where the brewer adds yeast (extracted from other batches of Four Peaks beer) and oxygen (to make the yeast viable).
The liquid is pumped to a fermentation vessel to sit at 68°F for two weeks. During this magic fortnight, the yeast munches on sugars, creating alcohol and CO2 as waste products. Yes, the stuff that makes you drunk is essentially yeast pee. The brewer takes samples to measure the beer’s sugar content and pH. The CO2 is pumped out to reduce vat pressure. The liquor is cooled to 32°F, which allows the pudding-like yeast to sink to the bottom and get drained off.
A diatomaceous earth filter then has its way with the beer, removing the yeast and other particles to create a clear liquid. It’s then pumped to a “bright beer tank” (“bright” in brewing parlance means clear), where it’s carbonated before being sent to its final destination in bottles, cans, kegs or on-site taps.
Behind-the-scenes video of our photo shoot at Tempe’s Four Peaks Brewery, plus a preview glimpse of several new Valley microbreweries.
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Nimbus American Bistro & Brewery
7001 N. Scottsdale Rd.
# of beers on tap: 16
# of beers in bottles:20
Vibe: The corporate-looking space (a remnant from the previous occupant) gets livened up by enthusiastic servers, monkey mascots emblazoned on everything, and sports-centric TVs.
Food: Sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, pastas and darn near everything beer-battered. There’s Pale Ale in the clam bake, Oatmeal Stout in the barbecued pork, and Dirty Güera Blonde on the zucchini.
Beer to try: Old Monkeyshine Ale, an English pub-style beer with sweet malts and a dark roasted flavor.
Events: Happy hour 3-7 p.m. daily, reverse happy hour 10 p.m.-close F-Sa. Live music every Saturday, featuring various local artists performing acoustic blues, jazz and rockabilly.
O.H.S.O. Eatery + Nanobrewery
4900 E. Indian School Rd.
# of beers on tap: 36 (2 house)
# of beers in bottles: 1
Vibe: A cruiser bike-themed neighborhood joint with attentive hipster servers, dog-friendly patios, an Arizona-strong beer list, and views of Camelback Mountain.
Food: An eclectic international array, with small plates stealing the show. Try O.H.S.O. green chili dip, gnocchi Bolognese, hearty salads, crisp flatbreads or a killer burger.
Beer to try: O.H.S.O. Grovey, a light pale ale with hints of orange and candied ginger.
Events: Happy hour 11 a.m.-6 p.m. M-F with $6 Arizona beer pitchers; beer brunch 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sa-Su; beer dinners every other month.
Old World Brewery
334 N. 25th Ave.
# of beers on tap: 6
# of beers in bottles: 4
Vibe: Set in a who-the-hell-knew-this-was-here revamped warehouse with steel and wooden beams, the brew pub’s cool factor gets a boost from a stage, pool table, classic arcade games, and the resident pit bull.
Food: On weekends, greasy bar food (burritos, tacos, etc.) can be corralled from the “Grub Truck” parked outside the front door.
Beer to try: 4-Leaf Irish Red Ale, a malty, full-bodied traditional-style Irish red with the slightest hint of roasted caramel.
Events: Brewery tours, 1 and 3 p.m. every Sa. On weekends, local acts rock hard with full amplification, from Phoenix metal band Age of Evil to Valley cowpunks Hellfire.
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Inside Old World Brewery, brewmaster Matt Mercer is talking about the vast menagerie of malts and hops he uses in his beers. Listening to him rattle off a long list of ingredients is almost akin to watching that scene with Bubba talking about shrimp in Forrest Gump. “There are golden base malts, two-row barley malts, toasted malts, caramel malts, chocolate malts, black malts…”
Mercer’s always been a proud beer geek. He started going to microbreweries around the state about 15 years ago, eager to try the newest craft batches. He started homebrewing about seven years ago, and joined forces with OWB owner Patrick Fields in 2008, shortly before they procured this building – an old warehouse in a cul-de-sac off 25th Avenue and Van Buren Street that formerly housed the old Capitol Station Post Office. The spartan atmosphere – high-pitched warehouse ceilings, shiny aluminum siding, and towers of steel brewery vats peeking over a gray brick wall – is enlivened by an old red pitbull named Growler who “came with the neighborhood” and a gargoyle slung over a row of sweaty coolers. It’s a neighborhood brewery whose neighbors are a cemetery and a welding business – the kind of place where your elbows will stick to the table, your feet may stick the floor, but the taste of multiple malts and verdant hops will stick to your palate.
Production tops out around 50 barrels a month, but demand’s been picking up. The brewery’s weekly Living Social promotion tours on Saturdays have drawn more than a thousand new people to this off-the-grid gem over the past several months. The brewery quickly sells out of its seasonals and 4-Leaf Irish Red Ale. That one gets caramel malts, Mercer explains, going back to the scientific spectrum of malts and the art of flavor. “It’s just kind of a palette of color and different malt flavors that determines what I use in a batch,” he says. “There’s a wide range of malts, so you get the full range, from really mellow to really intense. It just becomes the palette I use for whatever recipe I’m doing.”
Old World Brewery’s October Seasonal: Prickly Pear Wheat
“It’s a wheat beer, but we use freshly harvested prickly pear fruit, juice it, and we’ll use the pulp leftover from the juicing in the boil to add a little background flavor,” brewmaster Matt Mercer says. “Then we’ll throw the juice in after fermentation so the yeast doesn’t eat the sugar out of the juice, and you get that actual final flavor with juice in it. It’s actually a little more mellow than a lot of fruit beers. A lot of people who don’t like fruit beers like this one, because it actually has more of a melon-y kind of flavor. Last year, it only lasted about three weeks.”
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7107 E. McDowell Rd.
# of beers on tap: 30
# of beers in bottles: 400+
Vibe: Middle-age wonks, college-age enthusiasts, young professionals and career slackers bend elbows together in the Valley’s leading beer-snob proving ground. Enormous grab-and-bag bottle selection.
Food: Bar bites (pretzels, quesadillas, et al), heart-healthy plates (salads, wraps, etc.) and surprisingly good pizza.
Beer to try: Papago El Robusto Porter, a brooding stunner that won a Great American Beer Festival bronze medal.
Events: Daily rotating tap with hard-to-find cask-conditioned offerings; happy hour 2-6 p.m. M-F includes a dollar off all drafts.
Phoenix Ale Brewery
3002 E. Washington St.
# of beers on tap: 7
# of beers in bottles: 4
Vibe: The simple, well-lit taproom offers an eight-seat wooden bar, a half-dozen high-top tables, a TV, a dart board and windows to observe the brewing process.
Beer to try: Watermelon Ale, a light, golden wheat beer with a mellow fruitiness.
Events: No happy hour, but a Beer & Arts Festival with live music, visual artists and dancers takes place the second Friday of every month.
Pinnacle Peak Brewery
10426 E. Jomax Rd.
# of beers on tap: 6
# of beers in bottles: 10+
Vibe: The brewery is part of Pinnacle Peak Patio, a faux Old West town and steakhouse that’s catered to tourists and locals alike since 1957.
Food: The famed “no necktie” restaurant dishes out campfire fare like mesquite-grilled steaks, ribs and chops accompanied by cowboy beans and thick-cut bread.
Beer to try: Pinnacle Peak Pale Ale, a hoppy, medium-bodied beer with a dry finish.
Events: $3 pints during happy hour (4-6 p.m. M-F).
SanTan Brewing Company
8 S. San Marcos Place
# of beers on tap: 8-10 plus seasonals and “guest brews”
# of beers in cans: 4
Vibe: A former 1950s bank stripped to its brick, fostering a noisy and energetic atmosphere – unless you snag a seat on the laid-back sidewalk patio.
Food: Above-average brewpub standards including burgers and pizzas, and Southwestern/Mexican favorites.
Beer to try: Devil’s Ale, a West Coast Pale Ale that took the gold at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival.
Events: $3.75 pints at happy hour (2-6 p.m. M-F and 10 p.m.-midnight M-Th); small-batch cask tappings, 3 p.m. Th.
Sleepy Dog Brewery
1920 E. University Dr.
# of beers on tap: 12
# of beers in bottles: 8
Vibe: This brewery’s college town location boosts its easygoing and welcoming feel. The earnest and slightly industrial atmosphere is perfect for the local habitués.
Food: The menu is limited, so feel free to order in or bring your own nosh. Better yet, enjoy Sleepy Dog’s partnership with the Valley’s food truck community.
Beer to try: Monje Azul, a plucky blue agave blonde with a clean finish.
Events: Yappy Hour daily 4-7 p.m. and 10 p.m.-close; 4-7 p.m. Su.
322 E. Camelback Rd.
# of beers on tap: 7
# of beers in bottles: 0
Vibe: German-born owner Uwe Boer’s jovial presence adds personality to this brick-walled brewery decked only with wooden tables, chairs, and shiny steel fermenting vats.
Food: A full menu of pub grub, including amber-battered calamari, a half-pound Angus Brewhouse Burger, and the requisite beer-battered fish and chips.
Beer to try: Horizon Hefeweizen, a classic German wheat ale made with Weihenstephan yeast and Tettnang hops.
Events: Happy hour 3-6 p.m. daily
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SunUp Brewing, Phoenix
At SunUp Brewing, brewmaster Uwe Boer crafts beer as distinct and delightful as his Westphalian accent and jolly disposition. Born in Dortmund, Germany, Boer honed his skills as a homebrewer before moving to the Valley in 1996 and opening SunUp in 2001. With fewer than 1,500 kegs brewed per year and no bottle or can production (just eight beers on tap), SunUp is one of the smaller craft brew operations in the state. But Boer stays busy, brewing six regular SunUp beers, two rotating SunUp seasonals, and two contract-brew stouts for Papago Brewing. We recently sat with Boer between batches to get a peek into his proverbial pint glass.
What ingredients do you like to use in your beers?
Basically, every beer I make is very close to style. Sometimes I experiment and do different things. I’ll give you an example: the hefeweizen. I made a cherry wheat yesterday. So I actually got cherry juice from an orchard in Wisconsin, had it shipped over here and added the cherry juice to my regular batch of traditional German hefeweizen. And actually, the brewery smells like cherries right now… It’s the first time I’ve done it, and it’s kind of an ongoing joke. I’m not a big fan of fruit beers. I will never do one with fake extracts, artificial flavors, any kind of artificial ingredients and so on.
Do you let people in the actual brewery?
Well, they can’t just walk in the brewery. One thing is, people think brewing is the greatest job in the world, and brewers just stand around like in the Sam Adams commercial, going ‘Oh, beautiful.’ It’s a lot of hard work. Plus, it really is an industrial job. You’re dealing with hot liquids, pumps, hoses, electricity, all those kinds of things, and it’s dangerous. Just like any production job is. So we really don’t let people in the brewery when we’re brewing in there, or when somebody’s working in there, just for liability reasons. We can do tours on prior arrangement, make an appointment for groups, usually, but that’s after work hours, after 5 or whatever or the weekends.
What do you do when you’re not making beer?
I go camping. I go fishing. I hang out with friends and we do little get-togethers. A lot of times, it will kind of revolve around food, like seafood boils… sometimes these activities go all together. We have gone camping to the [Mogollon] Rim, caught our own crawdads out there, and did a crawfish boil.
Why do you love beer?
At first, in my younger days, it used to be about consumption of beer. Now, it’s a lot more about making the beer and watching other people enjoy what I do for a living. There’s no greater reward, really. — Interviewed by Niki D’Andrea
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