From now until we publish the 2016 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times is naming 100 Tastemakers — members of our local culinary community who help shape the way we eat, drink, and think about food in Phoenix. Some you'll know, and for others, it'll be a first introduction, but each person on our list deserves a nod for helping make our city so delicious. Oh, and while you're here, be sure to check out our list of 100 Creatives.
30. Krystal Bittner of Arizona Society of Homebrewers
By day, Krystal Bittner is a senior CADD designer at a civil-engineering firm, but in her spare time she's president of one of the biggest homebrewing clubs in the country, the Arizona Society of Homebrewers. Bittner moved to Arizona from Brooklyn, New York, in late 2007. She started homebrewing in 2009, and shortly after joined the Arizona Society of Homebrewers, one of several local homebrew clubs. Currently, she's serving her third term on the board as the club's president.
"With their help and encouragement I have honed many of my recipes, become a nationally ranked beer judge, and continued to learn and experiment with brewing," Bittner says. "My passion for thorough design defines my daily life, whether it is putting together construction drawings or a well-crafted beer."
Today she dishes on her beer-related pet peeve and why Phoenix needs less frosted mugs.
My go-to place for vegetarian food non-vegetarians love in Phoenix is Woodlands South Indian Kitchen. Order a few dishes to share. You can’t go wrong with the Chenna Batura or Gobi Manchurian.
The best-kept secret in Phoenix is Arizona Society of Homebrewers (ASH). With monthly educational meetings, rotating happy hours, and brewing demonstrations around the Valley, it is hard to call a club with more than 350 members a secret, although we did win the New Times Best of 2011 Underground Beer Society. Some of our members have even gone pro and started local breweries, such as Andrew Bauman with The PERCH Pub & Brewery and Chuck Wennerlund with Oro Brewing Company (opening soon). No matter what skill level you are at, or if you just want to socialize and sample what your fellow brewers are coming up with, ASH can help.
My beer-related pet peeve is bartenders assuming that I don’t know anything about beer or that I only drink the “girly stuff.” While women only make up 25 percent of craft beer drinkers, trust me that I know my brews. In fact, women across the Valley are shaping the local craft beer scenes as owners, brewers, brand reps, and distributors, like Leah Huss with Huss Brewing, Julie Meeker with Mother Bunch Brewing, Melissa Osborne at Four Peaks, Alicia Flockhart with Scottsdale Beer Company, and Amie Savona with World Class Beverages.
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Phoenix could use more Warm Cask Ales and less frosted mugs. Unlike kegged beer, cask-conditioned ales are alive and continue to mature and ferment in the serving vessel. Cask ales are best enjoyed fresh and at warmer temperatures, around 50-55 degrees, as opposed to 40 degrees for kegged beer. Drinking beer at near-freezing temperatures numbs your tongue and hinders your ability to taste. This is also why if you want to taste your beer, you should not drink it out of frosted mugs. If you’d like a nice pint of cask ale, head to SunUp Brewing; they usually have several on tap.
I predict the next big time in beer will be ignoring trends. That is what craft brewers have always done. The industry was reinvigorated decades ago by ignoring light lagers and brewing flavorful pale ales and stouts. In the same spirit, brewers today, especially homebrewers, are constantly experimenting by reviving long-forgotten styles, adding unexpected fruits and spices, or using unconventional barrels. The most daring brewers disregard all the crazy additions altogether by brewing classic beer styles with nothing to hide behind. New flavor combinations are created daily. Some will be amazing, others will be creative failures, but I want to try them all!
The 2016 Tastemakers so far:
100. Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe
99. Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
98. Debby Wolvos of DW Photography
97. Anibal and Salem Beyene of Café Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant
96. Bo Mostow of Uptown Farmers Market
95. Julian Wright of Pedal Haus Brewery
94. Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta
93. Eric Glomski of Page Spring Cellars
92. Richard Bock of Giuseppe's on 28th
91. Walter Sterling of Ocotillo
90. Daniel Sevilla of Angry Crab Shack
89. Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe
88. LaDawn Driscoll of Liberty Market
87. Jason Calhoon of The Shop Beer Co. and Side Kick Cold Brew
86. Tim and Kim Cobb of United Lunchadores Street Gourmet
85. Micah Olson of Bar Crudo and Okra Cookhouse and Cocktails
84. Paola Embry of Christopher's + Crush and The Wrigley Mansion
83. Jared Porter of The Clever Koi
82. Diane Corieri of Evening Entertainment Group
81. Erich Schultz of Steadfast Farm
80. Jeff and Leah Huss of Huss Brewing Company
79. Aaron Pool of Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup
78. Diana Santospago of The Maine Lobster Lady food truck
77. Gio Osso of Virtu Honest Craft and Nico Heirloom Kitchen
76. Lauren Bailey of Upward Projects
75. Rodney Hu of Arizona Distilling Company and Yucca Tap Room
74. Jacob Cutino of Homeboy's Hot Sauce
73. Country and Sergio Velador of Super Chunk Sweets and Treats
72. Dean Thomas of Cornish Pasty Co.
71. Jennifer Caraway of The Joy Bus
70. Scott Holmes of Little Miss BBQ
69. Jared Allen of Proof Artisan Breads
68. Steve McFate of McFate Brewing Company
67. Mel Mecinas of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
66. Jessa and Dan Koppenhofer of Gilbert Farmers Market
65. Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas WineWorks
64. Ryan Probst of Odelay Bagel Co.
63. Diana Brandt of AZFoodie
62. Benjamin Butler of Hayden Flour Mills
61. Jim and Maureen Elitzak of Zak's Chocolate
60. Michael Babcock of Welcome Diner and Welcome Chicken + Donuts
59. Nick Ambeliotis of Mediterra Bakehouse
58. Peter Kasperski of Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz World Wine Bar
57. Kimber Stonehouse of LGO Hospitality
56. David Tyda of EATERAZ and Arizona Taco Festival
55. Pavle Milic of FnB
54. Pat Christofolo of Santa Barbara Catering Company and The Farm at South Mountain
53. Brandon Casey of The Ostrich
52. Jonathan Buford of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
51. Sasha Raj of 24 Carrots
50. Rob Fullmer of Arizona Craft Brewers Guild
49. Bill and Lillian Buitenhuys of AZ Bitters Lab
48. Ramona Button of Ramona Farms
47. Justin Piazza of La Piazza Al Forno and La Piazza PHX
46. Andrew Gooi of Food Talkies
45. Jason Raducha of Noble Bread and Noble Eatery
44. Ty Largo of Awe Collective
43. Christopher Gross of Christopher's and Crush Lounge
42. Heidi Lee of Into The Soup
41. ET Rivera of Tres Leches Cafe
40. Monika Woolsey of Hip Veggies
39. Bobby Kramer of The Brickyard
38. Jenna Reeves of Press Coffee Roasters
37. Sarah Chisholm of Phoenix Public Market Cafe
36. Bill Kennedy of Futuro
35. Jan Bracamonte of J. Lauren PR & Marketing
34. Erin Romanoff of the uprooted kitchen
33. Baker Mandy Bublitz
32. Tony Chanthavong of Snoh Ice Shavery
31. Donald Hawk of Welcome Chicken + Donuts