Arizona’s newest brewery, Huss Brewing Company, will open it doors at noon Friday in south Tempe. It’ll be a soft opening – owner Jeff Huss won’t start brewing until next week – but there will be 16 “guest” craft beers on tap so you can check it out.
Huss Brewing takes over the one-time home of long-closed Rio Salado Brewing in the industrial district just west of Priest Drive halfway between Guadalupe and Elliot in south Tempe.
The brewery is a large-scale operation. Its 30-barrel brewing system will allow it to not only make its own beers, but also take over the contract brewing for Papago Brewing, whose Orange Blossom Ale, Hopago IPA, and Elsie’s and Coconut Joe’s stouts have been made at various breweries around the state.
The brewery has a taproom – open seven days a week – with a six-seat, concrete-top bar and a mishmash of tables and chairs scoured from Craigslist. There’s no kitchen, but Huss plans to invite food trucks to set up on-site.
The taproom has 20 tap handles – 16 for craft beers, two for wine, one for cider, and one for root beer, all served in Mason jars. Huss will start brewing Papago’s beers, which will be available in the taproom, next week, then his own beers. First up? An altbier, a Kolsch, and, of course, an IPA by early October.
“We have some very good beers here in Arizona, and I think there’s room for more,” says Huss, an Illinois native who moved to the East Valley in 2005 and got a job at BJ’s Brewhouse in Chandler, where he was head brewer until leaving in February. His wife, Leah Ryan Huss, is one of the owners of Papago.
Some leftover kegs and faded signage on the back door aren’t the only remnants of Rio Salado. In a nod to his predecessor, Huss has purchased a bunch of tiki torches, which Rio Salado would light to indicate it was open.