Photo by Angelina Aragon

Handcrafted Charcuterie

Written by Gwen Ashley Walters Category: Local Products Issue: January 2016
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The Proper Beast makes sausages using only Arizona meats.

Brian Hines was only too happy to give up his career as a financial analyst. Working remotely from Phoenix for an East Coast firm, Hines got caught up in a series of layoffs. Instead of jumping laterally to another bean-counting company, he decided to cut bait and run with his true passion – food.

But in what capacity? He crunched the numbers and found an underserved market: handcrafted charcuterie. No one, he found, was making sausages using only Arizona-raised meats. Hines and his graphic designer/photographer partner, Thom Barbour, subsequently launched The Proper Beast in May of 2014, selling exclusively through farmers’ markets (check their website) and at AZ Food Crafters, a shared commercial kitchen in Chandler.

Local chefs – including Cullen Campbell (Crudo, Okra) – have discovered what farmers’ market patrons already knew: The sausages are fantastic. “On a Bender” brats are a sublime, juicy combo of Meat Shop pork, coriander seeds, peppercorns, orange zest and local Four Peaks Kilt Lifter ale. They use Arizona wine in their Italian sausages. The hot dogs are nothing like Oscar Mayer – no “mechanically separated” parts, no fillers, no nitrates – just meaty cuts of pork and Double Check Ranch grass-fed beef. Ultimately, the duo wants to open a dedicated storefront. In the meantime, we’ll settle for a weekly, hyper-local sausage fix at farmers’ markets ($7.50 to $10.75 per sausage pack).

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