When the folks at Huss Brewing Co. roll out a new brew, they make small batches and then test the beer in their tasting rooms. “If something has legs, we can expand it to the next level,” says Jeff Huss, who co-owns the brewery with his wife, Leah. Following that model, the duo, along with head brewer Matt Johnson, recently added two new craft beers to their growing roster: Papago Blueberry Wheat and Rio Salado Mexican Lager (both $9 per six-pack), the Tempe-based brewing company’s first Mexican lager. Made with blueberry purée, the former continues the Papago tradition of smooth fruit beers started by Papago Orange Blossom and Papago Cherry Blossom. As for the Rio Salado, expect a crisp and clean lager, Huss says. Both brews are light and low on the alcohol spectrum. “I’m proud of these beers, and I think they can very easily become fan favorites.”
Huss Brewing Co.
Multiple locations, hussbrewing.com
Artisanal Shortbreads and Baked Treats
LaRee Johnson has been cooking since she was “able to stir a bowl” and has been catering under the Elysian Fields name for more than 26 years, but it was only in mid-February that she took over an existing bakery in Mesa and opened her first retail shop, selling pastries, cupcakes and cakes, tarts, bonbons, cookies and shortbread in several sizes (button, $2; large, $4; and teacakes, $6). The handcrafted shortbread is the star here, made with soft wheat flour, European butter and cane sugar along with house-made flavor extracts. Johnson offers eight floral-inspired varieties along with enticing seasonal offerings such as black currant, pineapple, hot buttered rum and eggnog. The shortbread flavors are so unusual that customers often look to Johnson for guidance. “We recommend people start with the orchid, because vanilla comes from orchids,” she says. As a follow-up, she suggests rose, which has a lemony brightness with vanilla undertones. Johnson offers gluten-free, vegan and keto varieties, because she wants everyone to have a “lovely experience.”
Elysian Fields Artisan Bakery & Dainties
6727 E. McDowell Rd., Mesa
Vegan Teriyaki Sauce
While enrolled in Arizona State University’s entrepreneurship program in 2013, Bryan Azeka developed Azeka’s Sauce Maui Original ($12), a teriyaki-style sauce based on a recipe used in his family’s snack shop on Maui. Azeka has since added six more all-vegan varieties to his saucy lineup: Spicy Maui Original, Gluten-Free Maui Original, Hawaiian Sweet Chili, Da Red Lava Sriracha, Da Green Lava Sriracha and Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce ($5). “The sauces are very versatile. You can use them as marinades, cooking sauces or dipping sauces,” Azeka says. “I use the original or spicy when I want to make an Asian-style salad.” The Maui snack shop, which closed in 2006, was famous for its beef ribs marinated in the teriyaki-style sauce, so Azeka has included the recipe on his website. “Every farmers market I go to, someone will walk by and ask if I’m the Azeka’s from Maui,” he says. “That’s always a cool experience.” Find Azeka’s sauces at Gilbert Farmers Market and Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market.