Arizona Beer Class: Huss Scottsdale Blonde

Jess Harter | Thursday, July 31, 2014

(Every Thursday, MXSW reveals the story behind one of Arizona’s noteworthy craft beers.)

This week’s subject: Huss Scottsdale Blonde

Scottsdale Blonde is a Kölsch (4.75% ABV) introduced by Huss Brewing Company a few weeks after the south Tempe brewery’s opening last August. The German-style beer is Huss’ bestseller, outpacing its two (so far) other year-round beers, Magic in the Ivy pale ale and That’ll Do IPA.

For the uninitiated, what’s a Kölsch?

HussBrewingScottsdaleBlonde“It’s light and crisp, and it’s low in alcohol,” says Huss founder and brewer Jeff Huss. “It’s not overly aggressive on anything. The cool thing about a Kölsch is it’s an ale that’s fermented out like lager, so it makes the flavors a lot more soft.

“I just like the idea of a Kolsch. Overall, it’s a very easy-drinking beer. All the bars that carry (Scottsdale Blonde) seem to do pretty well with it.”

Why did you want to do a Kölsch?

“My wife (Leah Ryan Huss, who’s also part-owner and general manager of Papago Brewing) loves Kölsch,” Huss says. “I don’t think she likes Kölsch as much as Jim Roper (brewer of Four Peaks’ longtime Kölsch, Sunbru), but I don’t think she’s far behind. He’s the Kölsch king. Leah just really, really likes that style, and she thought we could do pretty well with it.”

What’s been the public reaction?

“Very good,” Huss says. “It’s funny. We don’t sell as much of it here (at the brewery’s taproom) as we do other stuff. As you can see from our selection here, it’s more of an IPA crowd. We probably have 10 IPAs on right now. But it’s definitely the best-selling beer we have out in the market.”

Who came up with the name Scottsdale Blonde?

“My old business partner Brian Dewey,” Huss says. “He used to work for Sierra Nevada. He and I were going to start the brewery together, but we decided we’d go separate ways. That was the one thing we kinda kept from him. He had come up with that name, and we loved it.

“It’s not a proximity thing. We could have called it an Arizona Blonde, but no one knows what an Arizona Blonde is. It’s kind of a play on words, but it’s not horrendously offensive.”

What types of food does it pair with?

“Honestly?” Huss asks. “I never understood entirely the food pairing thing. I’ll drink a Sierra Nevada (Pale Ale) with anything, you know what I mean? We actually have a (beer dinner) this Saturday at Gertrude’s. (Pulls out menu) Let’s see what they paired it with. It’s dessert – ‘house-made beer cheese, ruby beet puree, chocolate oil, pretzel streusel.’ So it’s an incredibly versatile beer.”

Has Scottsdale Blonde changed since its debut?

HussBrewingLogo“No, I think we’re happy with it,” Huss says. “I don’t think I’d change a thing on it to be 100 percent honest with you. We changed the hops, just because of availability. I was using American hops and we changed over to German hops on it. Otherwise, it’s the exact same beer from Day One.”

Did you expect it to become your  top seller?

“No,” Huss says. “I expected an IPA to be our bestseller. An IPA or a pale. I’ve learned every place is different. Spokes on Southern sells a ton of Magic in the Ivy. It’s what beer you can get the bartenders behind because they’re your best salesmen, you know?

“I think at restaurants you’re going to sell more light beer than dark beer or hoppy beer. But you go to places like Papago or The Hungry Monk or someplace else like that, a Kölsch doesn’t really have a chance against a double IPA.”

Why do so few breweries make a Kölsch?

“I think it’s kind of a forgotten style of beer,” Huss says. “The truth is it’s in between a lager and an ale. They’re not expensive to make, but as far as tank time is concerned they take a hell of a lot of tank time. You’re talking 21-24 days versus 60 percent of that time (for an ale).”

Where to find Scottsdale Blonde

Scottsdale Blonde is available on draft at Huss Brewing’s taproom in Tempe and about 70 restaurants and bars throughout the Valley and Tucson. Huss plans to begin canning Scottsdale Blonde this fall.

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Post image for If it’s July, it must be time for pumpkin beers, right?

Is it just me, or are pumpkin beers coming out earlier every year? It’s still frickin’ July but that hasn’t stopped Uinta Brewing from releasing its fall seasonal Punk’n Harvest Pumpkin Ale.

It’s one of half-dozen beers the Utah brewery will be featuring during a mini tap takeover at Taste of Tops in Tempe at 6 p.m. today.

Also on tap will be Dubhe imperial black IPA, Hop Nosh IPA, MonkShine Belgian-style blonde ale, and Wyld extra pale ale.

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Post image for Today: House of Brews happy hour to feature 49 AZ beers

From 4-6 p.m. today, House of Brews in Gilbert will host an all-Arizona tap takeover for happy hour. All 49 taps will feature local beers for just $2.50 a pint., with 50 cents from each donated to Gilbert Fire and Rescue’s back-to-school drive.

Among the offerings: The new cucumber ESB from The Perch in Chandler and the Valley debut of Thunderbird Double IPA and Sexy Beast Coffee Stout from Beast Brewing in Bisbee.

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Tonight: IPA Challenge at Spokes on Southern

Jess Harter | Wednesday, July 30, 2014

spokesipa

Post image for Today: $4 Serious Slices at Jimmy & Joe’s in Ahwatukee

Jimmy & Joe’s Pizzeria is doing a “Beat the Heat” special today at its Ahwatukee location. Get one of their signature Serious Slices (normally $5.50) for $4.

The offer is good only at the Jimmy & Joe’s at 48th Street and Elliot in Ahwatukee.

Post image for Today’s National Cheesecake Day cheesecake specials
  • Any slice of cheesecake is half-price at all Cheesecake Factory locations. There are more than three dozen flavors to choose from, including their newest, lemon meringue. The deal is good today and Thursday.
  • Buy a slice of New York-style cheesecake today at any Chompie’s and you’ll get another slice free. The offer is good at the bakery counter (to go) only, and there’s a limit of two slices per person per day. The deal runs today through Tuesday, Aug. 5.
  • Spend $25 at Grimaldi’s and get a free slice of New York, strawberry, or blueberry cheesecake. Today only.
  • At Piefection in Mesa, get $3 off any lemon, cherry, blueberry, strawberry, triple berry, or Red White & Blue cheesecake. Today only.
Post image for It’s Wine Wednesday! Here are today’s East Valley deals

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Post image for It’s Taco Tuesday! Here are today’s East Valley taco deals

It’s Tuesday, which means taco deals…

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Post image for This week’s ‘Taste of Romeo’s’ menu: Chicken Astoria & Stuffed Gyros

Vegeta Skins will be the opening dish at this week’s “Taste of Romeo’s Euro Cafe” dinner at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

The five-course dinners, hosted by chef Romeo Taus and his wife, Janice, highlight a rotating selection from the Gilbert restaurant’s regular menu.

July 31 ‘Taste of Romeo’s’ menu

  • Vegeta Skins: Grilled hearts of palm, artichokes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, Italian dressing, and provolone.
  • Ravioli Salad: Deep-fried cheese-filled ravioli mixed with Romano-parmesan, black olives, bell peppers, tomatoes, Genoa salami, hearts of palm, peas, and red onions, tossed in mustard vinaigrette dressing.
  • Chicken Astoria: Chicken breast with Canadian bacon, baby corn, asparagus, artichokes, pea pods, mushrooms and almonds sauteed in marsala cream sauce with kasseri cheese over linguini.
  • Mediterranean Stuffed Gyros: Gyros stuffed with feta, roasted peppers, capers, and sun-dried tomatoes. With melted kasseri and tomato slices. Served with tomato feta foccacia and yogurt sauce.
  • Intoxicated Love: Dark chocolate, Grand Marnier, milk chocolate, and Kahlua. White and milk chocolate layers kissed by Jack Daniels.

Cost is $25 per person, and you can add five wine tastings for another $10. RSVP: 480-962-4224.

Related: Romeo Taus ‘engineers’ culinary success with Euro Cafe

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Post image for Pizza a Metro taking over Via space in Gilbert

Wood-oven pizza kitchen Via has become the latest restaurant casualty on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Warner in Gilbert.

The building had been home to a short-lived Tutti Santi location before Via took over in January.

But this dark cloud has a silver lining: A new tenant already is moving in, and it’s a good one. Pizza a Metro, a favorite in west Phoenix, expects to open this weekend.

Owner/chef Maurizio Benforte introduced his Italian cuisine to westside diners in 2007, drawing rave reviews despite a run-down Phoenix strip-mall location.

He says his Gilbert restaurant will have mostly the same menu, with a few exceptions, as the original. It also will do only 16-inch pizzas (and not the meter-long pies that gave the restaurant its name).

Benforte, who cleaned up the space last week, says he may be able to open as soon as Thursday.

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