First Sip: From Fun Shop to Farmhouse Brewery, Here's What to Try at Roses by the Stairs

When a new spot opens in town, we're eager to check it out, let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead, a peek inside restaurants that have just opened — an occasion to sample a few items and satisfy curiosities (both yours and ours).

With concrete floors, high exposed ceilings, a glass garage door, and large steel fermentation vessels, Roses by the Stairs is a far cry from its predecessor. Easley's Fun Shop inhabited the building for over 70 years before closing in 2018. Now, the new brewery on Fifth Avenue and McDowell Roads has moved in.

The aging, bright yellow paint has been traded for a modern orange exterior complete with large windows and a dog-friendly patio. Roses by the Stairs opened its doors on May 14.

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Steel beer vats and wooden tables make up the Roses by the Stairs interior.
Natasha Yee
While the patio out front isn't open yet, given the Phoenix heat, inside, a mishmash of Ikea-style chairs surround wooden tables opposite more orange. This time, it's the bar, which has seven beers on tap.

"Beer is for all," the sign in the middle reads. Yes. This is what we came for.

After ordering a flight of all seven five-ounce pours for $3 a pop, we settled into a table. It was noticeably warm inside the brewery, so the cold beers offered respite from the heat.

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A flight of draught beers at Roses by the Stairs awaits sipping.
Natasha Yee
The Jojo was first on the docket. A crisp and wheaty farmhouse ale with undertones of lemon, it was a good start to the evening. Next was the Oaky Josie, a Saison. This one is true to its oaky name with hints of hazelnut, vanilla, and orange zest.

Both brews are a nod to owners Jordan Ham and Allison Russell's seven-month-old baby girl, Josie. As Ham told the story of his family-owned business, she cooed and fussed in the background. Ham recalled his grandfather's print shop, where he spent time growing up. When Josie was on the way, he became nostalgic for that childhood, he says.

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A garage door leads to the patio at Roses by the Stairs.
Natasha Yee
"I could start my brewery, a family-run business taking over a family-run business building and keeping the values in it," Ham says. "And I pictured little Josie in there, growing up in the brewery."

The beers at Rose's by the Stairs are seasonal, like the Sherri Dear, a fruited sour made with prickly pear fruits. This beer, a favorite of the night, offered a perfect marriage between prickly pear lemonade and beer, with a bright pink hue and refreshing taste.

After a round of sipping suds made us hungry, we sought out food options. The brewery doesn't serve food, but customers can bring their own or have Little O's from next door delivered to the table. We scanned a QR code and ordered a flatbread and a salad.

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Roses by the Stairs has a corner with some board games.
Natasha Yee
Breaking a small sweat by this point, we still had four IPAs to go. This is Growing Up, a hazy IPA, was citrusy with lots of hops. It tasted like enjoying a cold one on the balcony of your first big kid apartment, with the sobering reminder that rent is due the next day. Hello World, the first beer brewed at the new facility, is a double IPA with a grapefruit aroma and a dry finish.

Robert Rosemann, who came by way of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co., Tombstone Brewing Co., and Cerebral Brewing in Denver, is Roses by the Stairs' head brewer, Ham says. He plans to keep seven to 12 seasonal beers on tap, using local ingredients to craft each batch.

"We're brewing twice a week, so we'll probably have a new IPA about every other week," he says.

The Linda Mar, a west coast IPA, was hoppy and bitter with notes of tangerine. Ham and Russell named it after a local surf spot from their San Francisco days. Finally, we tried the We are BG, a hazy IPA with creamy citrus and vanilla flavors. This brew clocked in with the highest alcohol content on the menu at 8.6 percent. The beer is named after Brittney Griner, the Phoenix Mercury star who has been detained in Russia since February.

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The sun sets on the mural wall at Roses by the Stairs.
Natasha Yee
After looking around hungrily for our food, we ventured next door to Little O's to retrieve it. On our way back, we mentioned the temperature to the bartender. As the air conditioning whirred on, we took a few bites and washed it all down with more beer.

It still has a few kinks to work out, but Roses by the Stairs is a solid addition to the Roosevelt and Encanto neighborhoods. And when it cools down, we might even bring our dog to hang out on the patio.

Roses by the Stairs
509 West McDowell Road
Monday through Thursday, 3 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.