Located at 1520 W Mineral Rd, Tempe, AZ 85283
Open Mon-Thurs 3p-8p; Fri 3p-10p; Sat 12p-8p; Su 11a-2p
Hey, everybody! Today we’re visiting the southern region of Tempe, which is petty far removed from the part of town full of ASU college kids and Bro Bars. In fact, we’re in an area that looks more like an industrial park on our way to a place called Huss Brewing. The Arizona summer heat can seem pretty oppressive at times but today wasn’t too bad. I embraced the desert sun by shedding my suit jacket and wearing a blue dress shirt with a bright pink necktie. The outfit managed to represent my good mood this day.
I sat at the bar at Huss and the friendly, young bartendress greeted me with a smile. She told me that Huss had twenty beers on tap and eight of them are beers they brew themselves. The rest are craft offerings from out-of-state places like Sierra Nevada and Green Flash, if you’re into that kind of stuff. The Huss flight consists of only five beers but they’ll serve you all eight if you’re willing to pay extra. Of course, I opted to try them all.
I was feeling pretty good and enjoying the atmosphere when I heard a slam at the front door. I looked behind me and saw a middle-aged, stone-faced man standing at the entrance of the brewery. He had a full mustache and mildly long, mullet-y hair. He was wearing a stained, corduroy suit jacket, flannel shirt and a bolo tie with a turquoise stone in it. He had eyes like a puppy dog getting his snout rubbed in his own pee stain. The guy was clearly in pain. He walked up slowly to the bar and I could swear the lights in the place got dimmer when he walked in. He sat right next to me and stared at me, silently, with an intense, brooding look. I noticed he had a scar running down his left cheek. I stared back at him expecting him to say something.
He kept staring at me for, like, 30 seconds without saying a word. It was awkward.
“Hi,” I said, desperately needing to break the silence. “You from around here?”
“I’m not from around anywhere,” he said. “I’m a true Tempe PD homicide detective. My life is on the road, shuffling from one crime scene to the next, peering into the darkness of man’s soul. Guys like me spend their days trying to climb out of the depths of people’s despair. But sometimes I can’t tell if I’m climbing or digging.”
“Wow, sounds like my first two marriages, pal! Hey-ooooo!”
Detective Mustache stared at me again, quietly and broodingly. He was not amused. Like, probably ever.
“Anyway, it sounds like you need a drink,” I told him. “I just ordered a flight. Wanna share?”
“Sure, why the hell not?”
Huss’ flight was served on a cool, circular tray that spun around for easy access to all the drinks and the beer names were written on the tray in chalk. Detective Mustache spun the tray a few times and started at it quietly and broodingly, seemingly mesmerized by the sight of its turns.
“Are you gonna actually drink any of this or do you just want to watch the thing spin?”
“This tray reminds me of riding a carousel with my son when he was a toddler. My ex-wife got full custody of him after the divorce and he’s still living with her. He’s 26 now. He only ever calls me to ask for money to start a new online business every six months or so. He’s my biggest disappointment.”
“Dude, you’re a real bummer, you know that? Nevermind, I’m almost positive that you do know.”
There was nothing like a few refreshing beers to lighten the mood so I started with the Scottsdale Blonde, a German-style Kolsch made with German hops. It was very light, crisp and refreshing with a slightly sweet finish. It’s a great beer to beat the summer heat with and you can even purchase it in cans. I asked Detective Mustache what he thought of it.
“The beer is good,” he said. “But it reminds me of this German serial killer I tracked for a full year. He would leave severed doll heads at the crime scenes. I ended up collecting dozens of them. They’re all in a box in my trunk right now. You want any?”
“What? Why the hell would I want murder doll heads? Furthermore, why would you carry around a box of them in your trunk? Wait, don’t tell me…you live in your car don’t you?”
“It’s only temporary. I’m getting a lawyer to help me fight my last three evictions.”
Man, this guy was depressing. I could tell lightening the mood was going to be an uphill battle. We moved on to the next two beers, Magic in the Ivy Pale Ale and That’ll Do IPA. Magic in the Ivy is also available in cans. It had a strong grapefruit taste and a lingering hoppy finish. That’ll Do was lighter on the hop kick than Magic and was a lot less bitter on the finish. I preferred That’ll Do personally but Detective Mustache seemed to be more into Magic in the Ivy.
“I like my IPAs as bitter as possible,” he said. “I need my palate to think I just sucked on a popsicle made of sandpaper. Anything I drink has to feel like a lawnmower assaulting my taste buds on the way down. Sometimes it’s the only reminder I have that I’m still alive.”
“Is there anything you can’t make sound miserable? Look, the next beer is called Lemon Lush. It’s a pale wheat ale made with toasted coconut and lemon peel. Doesn’t that sound good?”
“My brother was killed by a coconut. It fell from a tree and hit him in the head while we were on a family vacation in Hawaii. Cracked his skull wide open and he bled out in my arms before anyone could do anything. I haven’t been to a beach since.”
“Jesus. Okay, this next beer is a dry-hopped wheat made with Liberty hops. It’s called Sunday Funday. There’s nothing sad about a beer named Sunday Funday!”
“My brother was killed by that coconut on a Sunday.”
This guy clearly killed the mood everywhere he went. By the time we reached the last three beers it must’ve been close to last call because the sun had set, Huss had emptied out except for me and Detective Mustache and I felt like cheering this dude up was a lost cause.
But I wasn’t going to let him ruin my good time. Huss was a cool brewery with good beers and I was determined to finish this flight on a good note, despite the miserable asshole sitting next to me. He noticed the next two beers were darker than the ones we drank before.
“There’s nothing more honest than a beer flight,” Detective Mustache said. “They’re usually served with the beers going from lightest to darkest but, depending on who’s drinking, that can mean you’re having beers that range from bad to good or vice versa. Everyone’s tastes are different and, just like life, appreciating craft beer is a constant struggle between the light and the dark. We choose the end of the spectrum we want based on our arbitrary predispositions, as paradoxical as that phrase sounds. A beer flight perfectly captures the fluid morality of humanity.”
“Yeah, whatever, I was a philosophy minor too, asshole. Here drink this next beer. It’s called the HUSStler. It’s a milk stout and it’s pretty new here. They use actual milk in it. It’s not heavy but it’s also not too light either. The best way I can describe it is ‘fluffy.’ Like a marshmallow. I’m sure marshmallows remind you of your mother’s ghost or some shit.”
“Wow, that’s good. I’m not really into milk stouts but this is one of the better ones I’ve had.”
“I’m not gonna wait for you to get all dark on me. Here, drink this other thing called 21 Hour Sizzurp. It’s a Huss collaboration with Fate Brewing Company in Scottsdale, which is a place I just wrote about two months ago. It’s a bourbon-aged imperial chocolate stout. It’s 11% ABV and tastes like it. It’s heavy with a slight bitterness and I pick up hints of grape apart from the chocolate. It’s like an explosion of flavors in your mouth all at once.”
I was trying to finish the flight as fast as I could before Mustache Cop tried to bring me down again. The last beer was my absolute favorite of everything Huss had to offer. It was their Koffee Kolsch. If I was blindfolded and held this beer up to my nose I would swear I was holding a cold cup of coffee. It was light and smooth and had a mildly vanilla flavor to it. I handed it over to the truest detective I knew and asked what he thought of it.
“My entire life is coffee, booze and cigarettes,” he said, surprising absolutely no one. “I love this beer. It’s the missing piece of the puzzle that lets me combine every single thing that saves me from complete and utter despair in my life.”
Detective Mustache reached into his pocket and pulled out a packet of cigarettes. He actually put one in his mouth and lit it.
“What the hell?!? You can’t smoke in here!”
“Since when?” he asked.
“Um, since 2007.There was an indoor smoking ban in the whole state except for businesses on Indian Reservations like casinos. They’re sovereign. How do you not know this, you goddamn weirdo?”
The detective stared at me again, quietly and broodingly. His eyes still looked like a puppy dog getting his snout rubbed in his own pee stain. He tossed the cigarette into the Koffee Kolsch cup. There was still a tiny sip of beer left and the cig sizzled when it hit the liquid.
“Whatever,” Mustache Cop said resentfully, like I was the one who single-handedly enacted the smoking ban. “I gotta take a piss anyway.”
The Detective walked away from the bar, leaving me all by myself. The brewery was empty, the lights were so dimmed they were almost off and the everything was silent. He walked into the bathroom and turned on the faucets in the sink. He bent over and splashed some water on his face while the lights in there flickered. Detective Mustache lifted his head back up and looked directly into the mirror.
He gasped and stumbled backwards, almost falling over. The face in the mirror wasn’t him. His mustache and the scar on his left cheek were gone. He saw me. He saw only my clean-shaven, unblemished, beautiful face. His mullet-y haircut disappeared too. All he saw was my expertly-trimmed-but-still-thick, shiny, gorgeous head of hair that was perfectly combed and soft enough for the ladies to run their hands through. The Detective looked down and didn’t see his flannel shirt, suit jacket or bolo tie. All he saw was my blue dress shirt and bright pink necktie.
I looked back up at the mirror and saw the water I splashed on my face dripping down onto my shirt. My eyes were like a puppy dog’s that was getting his snout rubbed in his own pee stain. I dried my face and walked out of the bathroom in slow motion ready to face the dark, desolate tap room at Huss Brewing Company.
The tap room was anything but dark. The lights were all on and the place was pretty packed with several customers chatting each other up and having fun.
I walked back to the bar and the same lovely bartendress from when I came in was still there, smiling.
“Need another drink?” she asked. “Sorry, it’s been really busy the entire time you’ve been here. I hope you didn’t mind having to wait so long for your beers.”
“No, I’m okay,” I told her, unsure if that was true. “You don’t need to apologize. I think I’ll just close out my tab.”
“Will do! Did you enjoy the flight?”
“I did. Huss is a great brewery and your beers are awesome. I will definitely be back.”
“I’m glad. Maybe next time you’re here you can chat with some of our other customers. We get some pretty cool regulars in here. This isn’t like a typical Tempe Bro Bar.”
I paid for my drinks, thanked the bartendress and walked out to the parking lot. The taxi cab I had ordered was waiting for me. I got into the backseat. The cab driver turned to look at me. He had a full mustache and mildly long, mullet-y hair. He was wearing a stained, corduroy suit jacket, flannel shirt and a bolo tie with a turquoise stone in it. I noticed he had a scar running down his left cheek.
“So where do you need to go?” the driver asked.
I stared at him, silently, with an intense, brooding look.
I kept staring at him for, like, 30 seconds without saying a word. It was awkward.