This week, The Beer Bitches checked out Phoenix’s newest brewery, Helio Basin Brewing Company. Spoiler: we loved every damn thing. Located at 40th Street and Thomas, Helio Basin is a welcome addition to the Arcadia area. We should warn you, if you were expecting standard gastropub style food, you will be disappointed. Or thrilled. We were thrilled. But more on that later.
When we arrived, we got a flight of all 6 core beers because bitches are thorough. We were then greeted by Dustin, Helio Basin’s co-owner & brewer. Dustin and his business partner Mike had an idea to open a brewery years ago when the two were in college. Since then, Dustin has spent a decade brewing professionally (including time at our own Four Peaks, and most recently as brewmaster at Southern Tier, one of the largest breweries in the country). Meanwhile, Mike became an officer in the Marines. 10 years later, their dream is finally a reality and we couldn’t be happier they chose to open in Phoenix!
We started with the House Beer, which was a crisp, toasty, and refreshing option for beer bitches and domestic beer drinkers alike.
Next, we tried the Blackberry Wheat. The fruity sweetness was present on the nose, followed by a subtle tart flavor that was balanced with just enough crisp wheat. With noticeable carbonation, we see ourselves enjoying the Blackberry Wheat on a unicorn pool float for the rest of summer.
Next up was the Pale Ale. With 50 IBU, this beer was a great balance of malt and hops without being too bitter.
The Hoppy Amber came after and it is not your typical Amber style beer. Helio Basin’s Amber has flavors of grapefruit, caramel malt, and hops, making it distinctly lighter and more refreshing than traditional ambers.
The American IPA, which smells like pine trees in the best possible way, was one of our favorite beers at Helio Basin. This well-balanced IPA is dry hopped with Cara malts and comes in at 70 IBU.
Last but not least, the Robust Porter. This beer was velvety and had hints of bitter coffee and roasted malts. With a dry finish and 40 IBU, this porter is drinkable any time (or temperature) of the year.
Dustin explained that these six beers will always be available at the brewery, and to also expect some upcoming rotational beers with interesting stories. Hint: a crisp citrus beer featuring local AZ grapefruit is coming soon! (The Bitches are also crossing their fingers for collaboration beers in the future. We’re looking at you, Southern Tier!)
While enjoying our beers, we looked over the Arizona-inspired food menu (which you can find here). Their unique southwestern style starters and tortilla plates are no basic bitches’ bar food. We know what you’re thinking, “Phoenix doesn’t need any more taco joints,” you say. But trust us, these are not your run of the mill street tacos. These handcrafted tacos are piled high on house made spent grain tortillas and you need them.
We decided to start with the highly recommended Native Oodham white tepary bean puree starter, which came with whipped milk curd, fine herbs, roasted pepita, pickled vegetables, and frybread. Then we cried a little because it was possibly the best thing we’ve ever eaten.
Then we noticed the green olive and grape guacamole served with house made spent grain chips and ordered that too. We regret nothing.
We also obviously had to research the tortilla plates (you’re welcome), so we ordered the house chorizo and the mesquite honey chicken. The house made chorizo was perfectly paired with roasted tomato, queso fresco, and a sunny side up egg. We also enjoyed the honey mesquite chicken, topped with apricot pepper compote and spicy goat cheese. Bonus points to the spent grain tortillas that are somehow able to hold all these delicious ingredients (including egg yolk) without splitting open, which is our top taco pet peeve.
We got to chat with Helio Basin’s Chef, Tammy, about the inspiration and ingredients behind her menu. Tammy, previously a chef at The Henry, has spent 15 years in Arizona and wanted her menu to be a showcase of local cuisine. Remember those Oodham white tempary beans we cried over? Chef Tammy informed us that those magical beans have been grown locally by the same family for 1000 years. She also told us that the secret to making everything taste so good is using old ideas. Tammy and her crew use a mortar and pestle to hand grind all the herbs and spices used in their kitchen. They also make individual and unique pickling brines for each fermented ingredient. She revealed to us that they get all their beef from a local Arizona farm who feed the cattle Helio Basin’s spent grain in the weeks before slaughter. Not only do we love upcycling, but this diet has a calming effect on the cows, which gives the meat a distinct flavor without a gamey taste. With two special rotating menu items on Fridays and Saturdays, we will always have a reason to hang out and eat. And drink. And then eat and drink some more.
Can’t wait to try it out? Bring the whole family. Tammy has also included several kids’ options on the menu so Helio Basin can be enjoyed by everyone!
And of course, there’s dessert! We got a taste of Pinole corn powder and bubble gum ice cream courtesy of Chef Tammy. Imagine Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape from the 90’s in ice cream form and you wouldn’t think, but it perfectly pairs with the subtle roasted and spiced flavors from the Pinole corn. You’re on your own when you try to explain to people later that week that you’re craving bubble gum corn or something, though.
Before leaving, brewmaster Dustin gave us a quick tour of the fermentation cellar. Brewery staff (and bitches) only!
Helio Basin houses 6 fermentation tanks as well as a reverse osmosis tank that can mimic any water in the world. Dustin specifically chooses the particle level of the water to taste pure and delicious, which simultaneously allows as much water as possible to be conserved during the brewing process.
Dustin also told us he plans to keep Helio Basin’s brewing on a small scale. To ensure quality, Helio Basin beers will currently only be available at the brewery. If you prefer the comfort of your own home, Helio Basin offers growlers and has a crowler (can + growler) machine in the works!
Helio Basin, we love everything about you. Was that too soon? Did it make you uncomfortable? Sorry. But it’s true. Call us every five minutes we want to be best friends.
Next time you’re in the Arcadia area, do yourself a favor and stop in for great local beer and food you won’t find anywhere else.
The Beer Bitches