Photo by Jackie Tran

Chiltepin Red Ale at Button Brew House is one of the finest spicy beers this side of the border

By Jake O'Rourke
July 8, 2019

Community-minded Button Brew House is gaining speed with no plans to slow down.

Erika and Todd Button began their brewery pursuit in December 2013. Although they reside on Tucson's east side, the burgeoning growth in the Marana area lead them to open Button Brew House in September 2017.

“The growth in the area and improvements in infrastructure are making Marana a nicer place to live, work and play," Todd said. "With us opening up, and Catalina Brewing Company down the street, it gives craft beer drinkers in the area a nice, wide variety of styles. Within each cluster of craft breweries in metropolitan areas, you’re going to find that everyone is doing things differently.”

Not deterred by the block in the road

Even with the (seemingly endless) Ina exit construction off I-10 as a hindrance, the brewery quickly gained popularity.

“We thought we wouldn’t be canning until our second year but we started last summer because the demand was getting so high,” Erika said.

Facade and patio at Button Brew House (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Location, location, location

The Buttons never had doubts about starting their brewery near major highway construction. Instead, they view their location as an asset to their business.

They can easily hop on the freeway to distribute throughout Tucson. Eventually, they'll distribute to other cities in Arizona as the brewery continues to gain popularity in the craft beer scene.

“With Todd being from Washington and me from the Bay Area, there was no way we were going to be able to build a successful brewery in a city like Seattle or San Francisco," Erika said. "Tucson is independent, quirky, fun and supportive. We felt like this city was the perfect place to settle down and build a brewery. Since we’ve opened, our goal has been to make true-to-style and consistent beer.”

Room for growth

With just over a million people in the Tucson metro area and only 21 breweries, the Buttons see plenty of room for growth in the beer arena.

Not only do they feel as though the number of breweries in Tucson will increase, but also think that the physical size of the breweries will increase, allowing for higher production rates and more self-sufficiency within each brewery.

Button Brew House distributes to roughly 50 bars and restaurants from Tucson to Phoenix and can also be found in all Total Wine locations in both cities.

“At this point, our goal is to put more beers into cans," Todd stated. "We eventually want to get into other states, but for now our goal is to get into every corner of Arizona.”

Todd Button at Button Brew House (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Todd Button at Button Brew House (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Part of the process

The brewery flows naturally from the front lounge and entry space into the L-shaped, glaze-topped, dark-wood bar. Overhead, a painted hop vine playfully reaches along the roof toward the taps as if to usher you into the warmly lit space. You'll find bar seating and tables topped with black, brown and red wooden planks.

With a large viewing window into the brewing area, you feel as though you are a part of the process. Seeing the tanks where the beer is made and tasting it cold and crisp from the tap is an experience you can’t get from buying beer in a store.

Brewing tanks at Button Brew House (Credit: Jackie Tran)
From the traditional to experimental

The beers at Button Brew House vary from traditional styles to collaborative and experimental infusions.

Over the next couple of months, the Buttons will start releasing a new beer every week or two. These requested and collaborative beers will be sold alongside the seven flagship beers they brew year-round.

“We’ve been getting lots of requests, some collaborations, some experimental stuff and classic and historical styles we want to play around with,” Todd said.

Beer flight at Button Brew House (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Beer flight at Button Brew House (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Their classic American lager

Volstead Pilsner is a pre-prohibition classic American lager recipe. It is made with American products and alludes to the traditional style that was created when German immigrants moved to America.

It is crisp, refreshing and easy drinking. With a clear golden brown SRM (standard reference measurement), every bubble can be seen as they effervesce to the top of the glass.

This delicious pilsner has an ABV (alcohol by volume) measurement of 5.4 percent and rates as a 32 on the IBU (international bitterness units) scale.

In comes the West Coast-style IPA

Button IPA is an extremely hoppy West Coast-style IPA. Brewed with five different American hops, Button IPA explodes with grapefruit flavors and strong citrus and pine notes. The balance between the earthy and floral esters leads to an overall allure of a crafty West Coast-style IPA that is true to the recipe and packed full of varied flavors.

Button IPA has an ABV of 7.1 percent and is a 76 on the IBU scale.

The spicy Sonoran brew

Chiltepín Red, the real star of the show, is a Sonoran-style spicy red ale. This brew is infused with Chiltepín peppers, which creates a crisp, flavorful beer that finishes with a subtle back-of-the-tongue warmth.

The Chiltepín pepper is indigenous to the Sonoran Desert. According to Todd, it's “the grandmother of all chili peppers.” Its rich and versatile flavor can be used in pizzas, pastas and, of course, beer.

Chiltepín Red measures with an ABV of 6.2 percent and is a 16 on the IBU scale.

Cans of Chiltepin Red Ale at Button Brew House (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Community minded

The Buttons want their brewery to be a significant part of the craft beer industry. They're already taken steps to be as involved as possible with Tucson’s community and beer scene.

The brewery offers team trivia nights, growler discounts, and half-off pint nights for a selected beer. In addition, there's live music, food trucks, biking events, and beer runs.

The Cheers for Charity event, held every Thursday, donates one dollar from each beer sold to a different local non-profit each month.

The Buttons have created a brewery that is full of life with beer that represents the desert we inhabit.

Location and summer hours

Button Brew House, located at 6800 N. Camino Martin, Ste. 160, is open from 3 - 6 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 3 - 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 2 - 10 p.m. Fridays, noon - 10 p.m. Saturdays, and noon - 8 p.m. Sundays throughout the summer months.

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Jake O’Rourke is a Tucson native, writer, editor, and musician. He enjoys tasting his way through Tucson’s copious food and...

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