What if I said to you - Microbreweries, Beer pairings, Craft Breweries, Beer Dinners, Handcrafted, “truly not that Near Beer” –“3.2 beer” – would you ever in a million years think I was talking about Utah Beers? Well, if you get out in the evenings for food and/or drinks in Salt Lake or even Ogden or Moab, you’ll know what I’m talking about and that quality Utah Beers truly do exist. The quiet little cottage industry is finally looking to expand and be recognized for the quality product that it is in Utah. But what’s most interesting is that Utah beer – slowly developed and loved by their crafters and drinkers – are making quite a name for themselves.
Most people, or should I say non-beer drinkers, still look at Microbrews as a niche market but with the advent of Microbrewery restaurants in Utah like Desert Edge Brewery, Squatters Pub, Red Rock Brewery, Roosters in Ogden(!) and Moab Brewery that feature Utah beers – that perception is changing. I was just in town looking at homes for sale in utah at the ‘new’ Wine Store on the West side of Salt Lake and started up a conversation with the young guy stocking the shelves to get his take on interesting Utah beers that a non beer drinker would drink. He immediately started pointing out beers that had notes of fruit like Unibrew Ephemere Apple and another that had hints of raspberry. The more he talked about Utah beers, the more surprised I was at how much Utah has to offer in the way of beer. Admittedly, Unibrew is from Quebec but by the time he stopped suggesting; my eyes had landed on the vast assortment of Utah beers to be had and well, I started to buy them! It was interesting to ask him his favorite beer as he quickly pointed out it wasn’t a Utah beer and certainly not a beer that a novice would like – North Coast Old Rasputin Stout. I promptly bought two with the intent of sharing one.
Dark beers always remind me of Anchor Steam Beer from San Francisco that has the breadth of history and is quite a beautiful brewery to tour. When you smell the yeastiness of the beers you could almost imagine sitting down with a loaf of San Francisco Sourdough Bread and a couple of ice cold steams. That beer’s been brewed since 1896 which is young compared to many European beers. When you think about that, it’s part of what makes the whole Hand Crafted movement interesting; it’s an art form that’s being kept alive. And Utah beers rank high on that list. But home brewers and small breweries have been in existence for a very long time and it’s good to know that not only have they not died out but they’ve found new ways to thrive. Seriously, go to the store on Harrison and walk to the bar end of the store and begin your exploration. You’ll be quite surprised at the selection of Utah beers as well as the assortment of sizes – some of them just beg for a meal to accompany them!
It wasn’t until I sat down to write this that I discovered that in addition to the local breweries now being able to produce Utah beers with alcohol content that exceeds 3.2-4.0 by volume they can also sell their Utah beers directly to us – the consumer – from their breweries. I’m sorry. But considering all of the quirky laws here and how hard it used to be to get a drink even In Salt Lake – the concept of the breweries being able to sell Utah beers directly is pretty amazing and something I’m going to check out at the first opportunity. I want to see if there are any catches – like you have to hop on your right foot three times before handing over your cash. Well, you just never know!
Wasatch is putting out some pretty interesting Utah beers – and the one of the bunch that I most recently tried is Wasatch Belgian Style White Ale. After having my share of low alcohol beers – I wanted to see what they could do with more alcohol. And WOW! What a great beer. It’s so full and there are taste sensations hitting different parts of your palate that the slight bitterness that’s typical for this style of beer, ends up being an enhancement to the subtle coriander and orange hints and the overall refreshing quality of this fine Utah beer. Oh no! I just read where this beer pairs well with Mussels – one of my favorite indulgences. Going to have to try that one soon.
Well, that and the fact that there are Summer beers popping up as well. Gordon Biersch in San Francisco – actually Dan Gordon who is the Brew master has been making a traditional German style SommerBrau and it would appear that other beer makers are seeing the value in this style of beer for the hot Summer months. Wasatch Summerbrau Lager is now available and weighs in at 5.6% abv and it is a true lager and proves to be a beautiful, drinkable Utah beer.
Stay tuned. There’s plenty more to come!