CASA GRANDE -- To Scott Plachecki, beer isn’t simply a beverage. It’s a treat meant to excite the tastebuds. And it’s best when enjoyed properly.

Plachecki has been studying beer since he was a teenager, learning the nuances of flavor, temperature, serving styles and ingredients that create the best brew drinking experience.

A certified Advanced Cicerone, Plachecki is now the bar manager and beer expert at the Liquor Factory, and he said he’s excited to share his knowledge with others so that they too can enjoy the experience of the perfect beer.

He’s one of only two Advanced Cicerones in Arizona and one of 144 worldwide.

“A cicerone is the beer equivalent of a sommelier in the wine world,” he said. “It means I’m dedicated to giving customers the best beer experience with the freshest, best tasting beer.”

Becoming a cicerone takes years of studying. The certification requires an appreciation for beer as well as a knowledge of the brewing process, styles, proper serving, flavor, evaluation and pairing with food.

“Certain beers should be served in specific glasses and some beers should be served colder than others for the best flavor,” Plachecki said.

Plachecki’s knowledge of beer is one of the new elements at the Liquor Factory on Florence Boulevard.

The Liquor Factory was opened in 2013 by Casa Grande resident Neal Patel, whose family has long run a deli in New Jersey.

He set about to remodel much of the store, creating a bar and deli and striving to make the Liquor Factory the place to go for a great-tasting, quality sandwich in Casa Grande.

“We use only Boar’s Head quality meats,” Patel said. “I’ve wanted to add a brewmaster or beer expert to the staff for a long time. It just took finding the right person. We have the largest selection of craft beers in Casa Grande, and Scott brings his knowledge and experience to help customers get the best experience from their beer.”

Among Plachecki’s duties will be creating specific pairings of sandwiches and beer. The right pairing, he said, brings out the flavors and aromas of both the food and beverage, creating a heightened tasting experience.

But pairing the right sandwich with the right beer requires knowledge and respect for the food and the drink.

“There really are no bad beer and sandwich pairings, but when the flavors are paired perfectly, all the flavors are enhanced,” Plachecki said.

Among his favorite combinations at the Liquor Factory is the Florence Boulevard Sandwich — made with spicy Boar’s Head Salsalito turkey, bacon, pepper jack cheese, roasted red peppers and peppercorn mayo — with a Tower Station IPA made by Flagstaff-based Mother Road Brewery.

Coppery-orange in color, the Tower Station IPA has aromas of tangerine and pineapple that complement and enhance the spicy flavors in the turkey, Plachecki said.

“The meat is sliced fresh every day, so it’s a perfect combination,” he said.

Another of his favorite pairings, he said, is the Liquor Factory sandwich The Ruins — made with pastrami, corned beef and Swiss cheese on rye — with a Barrio Rojo from Tucson-based Barrio Brewing Company.

“The Rojo has a caramel flavor that goes perfectly with savory pastrami and corned beef,” he said.

Plachecki’s appreciation of the art of beer began at a young age. At 16, his parents allowed him to begin brewing beer at home in his garage.

The more he worked at perfecting his beer-making skills, the more he wanted to learn.

“Making beer is a lot like baking. There’s a science and an art to it,” he said.

For a while, Plachecki worked for a company selling ingredients to other home-brewers, learning much about the building blocks for making a good beer. Later, he began working in the craft beer industry, starting out as a draught line cleaner, then becoming head brewer at Flix Brewhouse in Chandler and later, Tombstone Brewing in Phoenix.

At the Liquor Factory, he plans special tasting events and other activities aimed at teaching area residents about craft beers. Every Sunday, from 4 p.m. until the store’s closing, he’s available at the Liquor Factory to chat with customers and help them find the perfect craft beer.

The Liquor Factory is at 930 E. Florence Blvd. Sandwich delivery is available, and soon, beer delivery will be offered, Patel said.


Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at