Beer brewers in Utah take their business quite seriously, perhaps due to the restrictive alcohol laws throughout the state. Despite the difficulties faced in opening a brew pub, several have met the challenge and serve great beers to thirsty travelers who stop in.


Squatters Craft Beers

Squatters Craft BeersFlickr/Don LaVange (CCbySA2.0; colour edited)

Opened in 1989 in Salt Lake City, the brewery had built up quite a following already by the time the Olympics hit the state and their barstools overflowed with thirsty fans. They have continued to grow and with new business they also accepted the new responsibilities of being a being a good steward to the planet. Squatters' practices are heavy on reducing and recycling non-renewables and the work as a coop with Wasatch to share brew facilities. They’ve won numerous awards for their environmental activities and have gone so far as to hire a director of environmental and social responsibility.

If the booming business didn’t convince you to try their brews, the incredible list of award-winning beers should. The selection changes, but there is usually one of the winners available in any of their three facilities. One of the best is Respect Your Mother, made with organic barley and brewed “the way Mother (Nature) always intended.


Wasatch Brewery

Wasatch BreweryFlickr/Don LaVange (CCbySA2.0; colour edited)

In the early 80s Greg Schirf moved from the unofficial beer capital of Milwaukee to a city that was almost dry, its alcohol laws were so strict. Being unwilling to give up his beloved beverage, Greg did what any self-respecting beer-drinking would do – he opened his own brewery. He was the first craft brewer in the state and was instrumental in changing the laws to allow brewpubs in the cities.

Wasatch Brewery continues to push the envelope when it comes to labeling their product. Polygamy Porter is a good brew, but also a favorite because of the name the calls to mind the outlawed practice of having multiple wives. Even the tagline – Why have just one? – is guaranteed to fluster someone. Evolution Amber Ale is also somewhat controversial in this State that was founded on religion and the images used on some of the labels are of lightly clad women that are a jab at the church that demands their ladies cover up.

The flagship brewpub in Park City is hopping during ski season and busy during the rest of the year. Realizing that a good quality menu is a key to success in a small town, Wasatch has a large menu that features favorites with a twist such as jalapeno Mac & Cheese and a buffalo burger with Cajun remoulade.


Epic Brewing

Epic brewing utahFlickr/Don LaVange (CCbySA2.0)

Their niche of high-alcohol content beers means you’ll never get served a draft Epic with dinner, but they do have a tap room that serves the small-batch artisanal beer and it’s available in bottles.

Fun fact: every batch is numbered and you can read the details of your brews particular making.

Adventurous Epic Brewing fans may want to jump right in to the ‘exponential series’ of experimental flavours and super-strong brews. They even have a gluten-free offering made with a mix of millet, rice, sweet potatoes (really?) and molasses.


Uinta Brewing Company

Uinta Brewing CompanyFlickr/Don LaVange (CCbySA2.0)

Started in a converted garage in 1993, the company started bottling their product in 1996 and expanded to a larger facility. One of the pioneers of craft brewing in Utah, Uinta (named after the mountain range) focused on creating a brew culture in Salt Lake and providing a quality product to their customers.

Uinta Brewing Company has continued to produce its flagship beer, Cutthroat Pale Ale, and recently added a new style dubbed the “Crooked Line” that has larger, higher alcohol content beers. These, the Organic Line and their Regular Line can be purchased at the Little Big Beer Store and their Brewhouse Pub in downtown Salt Lake City.

A fascinating tidbit about the company is that they are entirely wind-powered and have been so for almost 14 years. The brewery recently installed solar panels on the roof and is committed to being an eco-friendly business.


Red Rock Brewing

Red Rock BrewingFlickr/r. nial bradshaw (CCby2.0)

With a goal of creating high-quality, innovative beers, Red Rock Brewing has garnered a national reputation for their product and a local following. In just 20 years they’ve expanded to three locations and have six labels for sale in state liquor stores.

Red Rock has three main lines; Classics (draft products), Fine Line (with a bolder flavour and higher alcohol content) and Artiste Palette (where the brewers get to try out their creativity and mix unexpected ingredients).

Utah law prohibits restaurants from serving any draft beer with an alcohol content over 4%, and it requires amazing skill to create a quality brew that doesn’t hide imperfections behind alcohol. Try the Oatmeal Stout and you’ll be amazed that this full-bodied beer is actually low in alcohol and legal to drink with your dinner.


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