June 13, 2014

Meet the AZ Brewers, A-Z: Huss Brewing

Up next in our A-Z series is another newcomer to the Arizona beer scene, Huss Brewing. Nestled in the old Rio Salado Brewing location on the Tempe / Guadalupe border, Huss’ tasting room has a clean, homey feel wrapped in a warm, inviting setting. In fact, Jeff did a lot of the renovation work himself and was only electrocuted once. But the key to this brewery is the surprisingly large production space — more on that later. Let’s meet the man behind the brew kettle.

Affectionally known as Ginger for his red-hued ‘do, Jeff Huss began to homebrew during his college days as a Purdue Boilermaker (coincidence?). He went on to hone his beer know-how at the Siebel Institute ofTechnology in Chicago and Doemens Academy in Munich. After filling his head with the technical intricacies of brewing, Huss moved to our great state and started putting all that wisdom to work at BJ’s Brewhouse in Chandler. Jeff held the position of head brewer for seven years, working with and learning from one of AZ’s best brewers, Derek “Doc” Osborne. Huss sums up the life of a brewer in one too-true line: “You spend 10 minutes in the morning making a mess and the rest of the day cleaning it.” I think most brewers will wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment.

As for Huss Brewing, Jeff isn’t the only cog in the machine that keeps things chugging along. His wife, Leah, is not only the brains behind the business end of things but, according to Jeff, is the real beer geek of the family. She’s part-owner of Papago Brewing and has been an integral part of their success for years. And speaking of Papago, did you know that Huss brews Papago’s Orange Blossom, Coconut Joe and Hopago in addition to all of Huss’ house brands? Guess that’s why they use a 30-barrel system, which, for those not in-the-know, is quite huge for a start-up brewery.

But a 30-barrel system apparently isn’t enough. Remember that large production space I mentioned? There’s room to grow. A lot of room. Here's a rundown of major Huss happenings.
  • Huss recently announced a distributing partnership with major craft player Crescent Crown, which means you’ll see more Huss beers and events around town.
  • They plan to put in a canning line this summer. Beers likely to be canned include the aforementioned Papago beers, as well as Huss IPA, Scottsdale Blonde and Magic In The Ivy.
  • The production capacity will double in a few months to accommodate the canning line and overall demand.
  • Huss recently obtained the suite next door, which will house a huge 50,000-lb. silo. For reference, this is the same-size silo Four Peaks and San Tan use.
  • More barrel-aged offerings, which will include both Huss and Papago beers. Huss Snowbird Imperial Oatmeal Stout and IPA are two that are receiving the barrel treatment.
Phew, talk about a full plate your first year being in business. And this is only the beginning for Jeff and Leah. If they’re this busy now, there’s no telling what lies ahead. Perhaps a beer infused with ginger…