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The Complete Beer-Lover’s Guide to Breweries in Salt Lake City

Published: 03/16/2018

Carol Guttery, Wayfaring Views -- The Utah craft beer scene is thriving and breweries in Salt Lake City are popping up to fill the demand. There are now so many Salt Lake breweries that deciding where to go is a hard choice. This guide will give you the full tour of SLC craft brews and help you find your perfect pint.

THE GROWTH OF BREWERIES IN SALT LAKE CITY

US beer lovers are all about the craft beer. Sales of traditional mass market beers are flat but craft beer sales are up 6.2% (according to the Brewer’s Association). No where is this upward trend more noticeable than in Salt Lake. Twenty years ago there were three brew pubs in Salt Lake City and now there are fifteen brew pubs and micro breweries. The growth is coming from a confluence of evolving demographics, city zoning and refined consumer demand.

1. Salt Lake County demographics are becoming less Mormon.

According to the LDS Church’s own statistics, the state is about 60% Mormon while Salt Lake County is only 50% Mormon. The closer you move into Salt Lake’s metro core, you’ll see less Mormonism and more diversity in the population. Salt Lake is also a university town which makes the demographics in the city core somewhat more multi-ethnic and less white than the rest of the state.

2. South Salt Lake City has recently loosened restrictions on brewery manufacturing.

Last fall, the city council reworked zoning restrictions by axing a per-capita limit on breweries and changing zoning restrictions which had made it impractical to brew there. This is significant because there is a lot of affordable light industrial warehouse space South Salt Lake, making it an appealing place for a small brewer to get started.

3. Hipsterism has taken hold in SLC.

The same sort hipster gentrification that brought you food trucks, avocado toast and man buns has been playing out in Salt Lake. It has been declared #2 on the (somewhat dubious) national hipster index. The index uses factors such as the rate of tattoo parlors, vegan eateries…and…microbreweries to determine it’s rankings. However unscientific the study, there is no denying that SLC is hip.

4. The US mass market breweries have always produced crappy beer.

Coors Light has never been a good beer and now that discerning beer drinkers have more choice, the are choosing beer with flavor. Go figure.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SALT LAKE CITY BREW PUBS VS BREWERIES

This guide to Salt Lake City breweries is split between “brew pubs” and “breweries” with the primary distinctions being; food and kids. Brew pubs are considered restaurants that also happen to have a brewery. They have a kitchen, full menu and kids can eat there. Breweries are considered a bar or tap room, and while they are required to have some snacks but don’t have to serve a full menu. That said, most have associated themselves with food trucks, catering groups or nearby restaurants in order to offer more sustenance. But the kids need to stay home.

SALT LAKE CITY BREW PUBS

DESERT EDGE BREWERY

Everyone just calls it “The Pub” which was it’s original name when it opened in 1972. Back then, they served the aforementioned crappy Coors to college students. They have come a long way since then, evolving into a full service restaurant and brewery. They call themselves a “regulars” establishment. The Pub is one of my favorite brew pubs in Salt Lake CIty and I’ve had a deep fondness for it ever since my husband and I had our first date there, 27 years ago. Well, that and the nachos. As for beer, they offer a popular pilsner and the usual selection of stouts and ales. They also have a regular rotation of cast-conditioned ales and seasonal offerings.

The menu hasn’t changed much in 20 years and my go-to items are thse gut busting nachos, half sandwich with salad or the daily pasta salad special. In addition to their main location in Trolley Square, they also have outposts with different menus (but the same beers) at: Red Butte Cafe (Foothill Blvd), Stella Grill (4500 S) and Martine Cafe (downtown).

WASATCH BREWING

Wasatch is the grand daddy of breweries in Salt Lake City and they have been in operation since 1989. Their staple beers include the Polygamy Porter and Apricot Hefeweizen but I prefer their Evolution Amber Ale. They have brew pubs in Sugarhouse and Park City. Their Sugarhouse location is spacious and friendly. All the food there is pretty good but I recommend the tater tots, buffalo chili and the burgers.

SQUATTERS PUB

Squatters also opened in 1989 and they have had plenty of time to perfect their beer. They have three stories of on-site brewing in their downtown location which is easy walking from downtown theaters and the Utah Jazz arena. Their most popular beers are the Full Suspension Pale Ale, American Wheat and Captain Bastard’s Oatmeal Stout. You can use any of those beers to wash down their popular menu dishes including: tacos, Thai yellow curry or burgers.

RED ROCK BREWING

Red Rock prides itself on offering creative brews which they create by mixing techniques such as offering darker beers that are hoppy or ales that are lagered. Customer favorites are the Hefeweizen, Amber Ale and Stout, but check the blackboard because they always have interesting seasonal offerings. For food, check out the fish & chips, steak salad, shrimp salad, chicken parmesan or (my favorite) the four cheese pizza.

BOHEMIAN BREWING

Bohemian is one of the few breweries located in the southern part of Salt Lake County. The family who opened the brewery has brought a Czech sensibility to their brewery. They have traditional pilsners, Viennese Amber Lager and a Cherny Bock Schwarzbier. The restaurant is done up like a Swiss ski lodge and they serve European comfort food like pierogues & brats and goulash along with American fare like a salmon salad and pizza.

Bohemian’s location on Fort Union boulevard makes it a convenient spot for an apres ski beer. If you are in SLC to ski, check out this guide to the ski resorts and these tips for scoring discount lift tickets.

UINTA BREWING

Uinta is also located outside of the downtown cluster out in West Valley. They are a hybrid brewery and brew pub. They bring in some local after-work crowd from the neighborhood and also beer tourists looking for a brewery tour. However, at the time of this writing, the tours were closed for brewery renovations so check their website for the latest.

Drinking at Uinta is a steal at $4/pint and I had their trademark Cutthroat lager. But they have 16 regularly available beers and several seasonable beers on tap. In addition to the Cutthroat, their Grapfruit Hop Nosh is also popular. However, I believe strongly that fruity beers are for sissies- go for bitter beer or go home. Uinta also has a full kitchen primarily focused on serving burgers and salads. 

SALT LAKE CITY BREWERIES

KIITOS BREWING

Kiitos is one of the newest microbreweries in Salt Lake City. They have a sustainability ethic, bottling only into aluminum cans and with a brewing system that uses less water and grain. They are tucked into an industrial neighborhood on the southwest edge of Salt Lake’s downtown and are located near A Fisher Brewing and Proper (noted below) so you can easily bar hop to all three.

From the outside, their taproom looks like your Uncle Vinny’s print shop. The inside isn’t fancy either, but they have a fun set-up with big screen TVs and pinball. It definitely has a local’s feel and is a good place for an after work drink or to watch a Sunday game. I had the pale ale but they also have amber ales, several IPAs and stout along with a refrigerated cooler for takeaway six packs. Food is limited to snacks and catered frozen burritos.

A. FISHER BREWING

A. Fisher is a year-old reboot of Salt Lake’s original brewery. They used to brew 75,000 barrels a year between 1884 and 1967. It’s now an employee owned community-focused brewery where they serve a short but interesting list of ales and lagers. I had the Hospitality Ale but the Shades of Pale is also popular.

The owner/brewers are on-site and are happy to chat about the brewery’s history and show you their collection of antique Fisher Brewing beer bottles. They don’t have a kitchen but they do schedule a daily food truck that rotates through world cuisines like falafals, tacos, raclette and Chinese. They offer growlers to go.

PROPER BREWING

Proper opened in 2016 as a brewery with an adjacent burger joint. Proper’s flagship beer is the Golden Ale, but they also offer 12 other draft and 10 bottled beers including Oaty McOatface, Revenge DIPA and the Belgian style Patersbier. They also offer a full cocktail menu. You can order drippingly delicious burgers, fries and rings from next door and they will deliver it to the bar.

You can make an evening of it by watching a game on their TVs or playing skeeball or pool. Salt Lake’s hipster cred was on full display when I visited because Proper was bursting with bearded plaid-clad quaffers. Proper offers takeaway growlers and you can also visit their location in the Avenues.

ROHA

RoHa has taken advantage of those new South Salt Lake ordinances to open up a small brewery and tap room. They are in one of those transitional neighborhoods that used to be all auto parts stores and prostitutes but now has bakeries, cool clothing boutiques and budding gentrification. No word on where the prostitutes ended up.

RoHa has been around for a year and they have a small rotating tap. I had the Back Porch Pale Ale, which is in their regular rotation. They also sell cans out the door with two IPAs, a grand saison and a pale ale. This is a very small, intimate joint with a 5 bar stools, The owner/brewer is on site and happy to chat about beer.

EPIC BREWING

Epic started up in 2008 as brewery wholesaler and they make 43 different kinds of beer. They’ve been winning awards for their beer since 2010, most recently for their Bad Baptist which is aged in a combination of rum and whiskey barrels.

You can tour the brewery and purchase beer in their “tap-less tap room”. This confusing label exists because of a weird set of liquor laws preventing them from operating as a bar because they are a larger wholesaler rather than a “micro brewer”. Or some such. Whatever the arcane reason, they get around it by having a small eatery next door where you can purchase snacks, soup and sandwiches along with beer.

 

Phew, that’s a lot of beer and there are even more Salt Lake breweries in the works. If you hear of a new one, let me know by commenting below or getting in touch on Facebook. In the meantime, mind the words of Shakespeare himself “…for a quart of ale is a dish for a king.” Cheers!

 

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