Local Review: Helio Basin Brewery

So, when Brandon and I were getting ready to launch InkleDeux, we knew with absolute certainty that we were going to need help and support from other local entrepreneurs, and we also knew that we would want to talk about some of the other local businesses growing in the Valley. To that end, we decided to start some entrepreneur meet ups, very informal events built around the idea of bouncing ideas off each other and building the community. After asking around a bit about a place to meet up, Brandon heard about Helio Basin at the corner of 40th St and Thomas, and we decided to give it a shot. Here’s what I found when we went.

First Impression:

So, when heading over for the first time, it was an easy spot to miss, especially if you’re coming after dark, since the front signage on the building doesn’t light up. As long as you do find it, though, there is a ton of parking available, which is a huge plus. Also, I’m always a sucker for a chalk sandwich board. Walking in, I was really impressed by the huge space, and the bar being front and center on entry makes sure you know what they’re all about.

Building:

The interior is a clean, large space with plenty of seats to go around. While I’ve only been a few times, I’ve always been able to grab either a table or a seat at the bar right away. There are a couple of TVs, but it’s definitely not trying to compete with sports bars. In the lower area, you can kill some time and vent your competitive nature with foosball or ping pong in between drinks. As an added bonus, they have the vats in plain view, and on one visit we actually got to see some work going on in there. I love being able to view a little bit of the behind the scenes stuff. It wasn’t exactly a quite spot, with music that pulled at my high school nostalgia playing at a volume that you definitely need to talk over. If you’re looking for a place to take the kids, it’s not necessarily ideal, but I’ve consistently seen families there, and the foos and pong are a step better than a lot of places offer.

Food, Drinks, and Service:

The food is definitely a cut above standard brewery fare. The prices are reasonable, with entrees being in the $12-$15 range for the most part. The menu isn’t huge, but it is definitely varied. For example, the crispy Brussel sprouts off the appetizer menu was definitely a pleasant surprise. The service is pretty strong. They seem to enjoy the work, being willing to chat about the beers and bites without feeling rushed while doing their work. They are knowledgeable about the beer, but if you’re not sure what you want, some of them were a little hesitant to offer a recommendation.

Now, for the main event: the beer. They have quite a few brews, and I haven’t had all of them, but over my three visits, I have had the Blackberry Blonde, Arcadia Amber, American IPA, Summa Crusha Session IPA, and the Robust Porter. While I thought they were all good, the Summa Crusha and Arcadia Amber are the ones that really stood out to me.

Summa Crusha is, to be fair, probably not the beer you’re looking for if you want a typical, bitter, hop forward, IPA. If that’s what you’re after, the American IPA is an excellent choice. If, however, you want something more balanced and incredibly refreshing, the Summa Crusha is what you didn’t know you needed. It was an exceptionally easy drinking beer. The fruit notes in the aroma make a subtle entrance into the taste without crossing the line into making it a fruit beer. I would absolutely have this beer over and over again.

The Arcadia Amber is, in some ways, more in line with the expectations of an IPA. It’s actually got a stronger bitter flavor than the Crusha, but still has the malt balance to keep it from being overpowering. The Amber doesn’t have the same complexity of flavor that the Crusha has, but it is a rock solid, tasty beer that does what the description promises.

Verdict:

It’s probably pretty obvious at this point, but yes, I absolutely recommend checking out Helio Basin if you’re in the neighborhood. It’s a great place to grab a drink and a bite with convenient parking, lots of seating, and a relaxed vibe. Since it’s conveniently in my neck of the woods, once the temps drop back into a range suitable for human life, I’ll be making regular walking trips for either menu items or to grab a growler.

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