While the Arizona craft beer scene has taken its time to develop compared to some of the other brewing spots in the U.S., the ambitious owners of Helio Basin, a Phoenix-based brewpub, are doing their part to help grow the brewpub culture while also having a profound impact on Phoenix’s cultural vibe.
Crafting a New Vision of Success
People move to Phoenix every day for a variety of reasons. Typically, it’s to follow a dream, enjoy better weather, or pursue a career opportunity. For Dustin Hazer, Helio Basin’s co-owner and Brewmaster, it was all three when he picked up from New York state and relocated to Arizona to go into business with his long-time friend, Mike Conley, a Pennsylvania native.
The two men had taken up homebrewing in college and kicked around the idea of someday becoming professional brewers, but after graduation, Mike left for a stint as an officer in the Marines and Dustin began a career in pharmaceutical science. But for Dustin, the dream’s pull was too strong to ignore, and he left the research world to attend the Siebel Institute’s World of Brewing Academy. From there, he began working in various small breweries to develop the skills and knowledge he’d need to open his own place someday.
Location, location, location!
So why Arizona? Both men had spent time in the Valley and grew enamored with the state. Dustin got a taste of Arizona living when he worked in a Tempe brewpub for three years before eventually returning to New York to take a position as a brewmaster. Mike, meanwhile, had family in Arizona, and when he got out of the Marines, he enrolled in the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State to learn the business side of craft brewing.
Plus, being adventurers at heart, they loved Arizona’s diversity, whether it’s places to go or things to do, and they have spent countless hours exploring the state and all it has to offer.
With all of that considered, Arizona was a natural choice for them. And what better place for a couple of transplants to set up shop than in Phoenix, the ultimate transient town?
If you’re living here, you should embrace being here.
Creating a Destination Spot
Just being a successful business isn’t enough for Dustin. He and Mike were determined not to possess a transient mindset — they take being transplants seriously; this is their new home, and their attitude is to be thankful for what’s here instead of trying to bring in outside influences. That’s why they source locally to support in-state farms and markets and feature indigenous fare when seasonally available.
They are also adamant about featuring resident artists and musicians at their location and creating events that serve as a platform to give exposure to local business and introduce people to new experiences. In conjunction with other businesses, they’ve begun hosting an event called Localized, a sort of mini-festival that features four breweries, four chefs, and four food purveyors that allows people to sample high-end dishes at a low price. It’s imperative to them to build awareness of what’s out there and create a culture that people want to embrace as their own, to invest in emotionally as members of a larger community. Dustin’s enthusiasm is contagious.
“It’s great seeing that moment where people realize ‘Wait! I can get all this stuff here’ by going to a local butcher or shop rather than XYC supermarket chain,” he said.
Becoming a Catalyst for Change
Helio Basin is entirely onboard with the city’s drive to make central Phoenix a desired place to live and experience life. With the brewpub entrenched in the neighborhood, its owners see it as part of the greater whole, a significant culture that gives people a reason to want to live in Phoenix or travel to it from the surrounding cities.
When asked about what contributes to their success, Dustin responded that Phoenix wants to draw people in, which unites perfectly with Dustin and Mike’s vision for their adopted home.
There’s no place they’d rather be.
3935 E Thomas Rd