Who’s still recovering from a festive American Craft Beer Week 2019? 🙋🏻♂️
Or how about this: Did you know we just wrapped up American Craft Beer Week?
It seemed to be a mixed bag in terms of the prominence placed on the annual event.
Several breweries in Utah joined the rest of the nation May 13-19 in celebrating small and independent craft brewers during the 14th Annual American Craft Beer Week.
Utah’s breweries generally publicized their various specials or events on their social media. But I found taproom promotion to be limited. Even more, certain breweries I visited didn’t realize we were in the middle of American Craft Beer Week.
A handful of outlets (including Utah Beer News) published event calendars. Yet, a comprehensive official American Craft Beer Week 2019 rundown proved elusive. (To be fair, Utah Beer Blog compiled robust and helpful daily event lists. The Utah Brewers Guild added a limited roundup).
And it was cool to hear Utah brewers chat daily with Bad Brad Wheeler on KUAA 99.9 FM. I’d love to see the recordings posted somewhere.
Still, anecdotally, at least, it seemed like the greater beer-drinking community took a pass on specific American Craft Beer Week happenings.
It makes me wonder: Is American Craft Beer Week losing relevance as the number of craft breweries increases? Are beer enthusiasts now used to drinking special releases or taking part in unique events year-round?
Maybe it’s just too much? With more breweries and easier accessibility to quality beer, a week dedicated to promoting craft beer might not be necessary.
I wonder if local beer festivals will experience a similar apathy? (If attendance numbers at recent fests are any indication, we’re not there yet).
Already this year, we’ve had significant beer festivals in Salt Lake City three weekends in a row.
- Tour de Brewtah for the first time attached a beer festival to its bike-meets-beer event. Lagerpalooza was this weekend as well.
- Made in Utah conducted a “Brewers Fest” the following week.
- And just last Saturday, SLUG Mag held its twice-annual Brewstillery event.
At least two others — the first Utah Brewers Guild Festival (June 29) and the long-running City Weekly Utah Beer Festival (Aug. 17-18) — are set for later this summer. That doesn’t count “Utah-adjacent” festivals that take place in Wendover, Nev., Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Evanston, Wyo., among other places.
Are we reaching a point where there are too many events? Heresy, I know.
For me, at least, the vast majority of beers poured at most festivals are readily available at taprooms — or even at bars and grocery and liquor stores — across the valley.
Sure, it’s convenient for Utah’s 30+ breweries to gather in one location from time to time. But a half-dozen festivals — or more — within a few months? Is that necessary?
I suppose if you don’t live in the Salt Lake metropolitan area, you might appreciate making a weekend pilgrimage to conveniently sample beers from Utah’s booming craft beer epicenter.
As for breweries: It’s got to require significant resources to participate in the growing number of events. Will we see more breweries start to skip more festivals?
What do you think? This is a topic I’d like to delve into deeper. I’d love to get your take on it.
American Craft Beer Week 2019
For now, let’s simply enjoy the fact that we’re living in a Golden Age for Utah craft beer.
In an effort to get a feel for it all, I personally visited 15+ breweries and other watering holes during American Craft Beer Week. I sampled beers from another 10 or so at Brewstillery.
I can’t say I had a bad beer. Sure, some were tastier than others. But right now Utah’s roughly three dozen breweries are delivering craft beer drinkers high-quality products.
Here’s a rundown of where I went and what I tasted.
- Kiitos Brewing: Tasted an American Craft Beer Week Special — a golden ale fermented au naturale with Kveik yeast in an open whiskey barrel. It pours a pale yellow and delivers interesting tropical fruit aromas. Slightly sour. I picked up juicy pineapple. Delightfully clean and refreshing.
- TF Brewing: Tasted two Berliner Weisse beers that were mighty tasty. The Açaí Berliner Weisse is medium-tart and offers pronounced blueberry aroma/flavor (or maybe that’s characteristic of the Açaí berry). The Berliner Weisse dry-hopped with passion fruit came across as more puckering (perhaps it built upon the previous tasting). Easy-drinking and refreshing for a warm spring day in Salt Lake.
- Craft by Proper: Started with a five-ounce pour of 2-Row Brewing’s new 11.2% All About Apricot. It’s the brewery’s Dangereaux Belgian Ale aged in Chardonnay barrels with Brettanomyces and apricots. Picked up some oak in the aroma. Stone-fruity flavor with a slight tartness and just enough sweetness. Not much alcohol heat and easy drinking. Nice sipper. I couldn’t escape without trying the Flairadactyl at Craft by Proper. Lake Effect Gose (readers know this is one of my all-time favorite Utah beers) with a Sour Ranger float. The Lake Effect saltiness is cut nicely with the sour. In fact, if Lake Effect is too salty for you (never!) then this might be your solution. Hipster half-and-half, maybe. Pours pretty.
- Shades Brewing: Tropical Thunder, aka Kveik 3. I know I’ve had this before but I didn’t remember it being a peach-colored milkshake. Shades Founder Trent Fargher stopped by and said the first time around they used white guava but it wasn’t available this time so they brewed with pink guava. Hence the color differential. Tasty flavors of guava and mango. Pleasantly tart. Thick mouthfeel. Of note, Park City Brewery’s Porch Pounder and Last Pitch appeared to now be on tap at the Shades taproom.
- Uinta Brewing: No American Craft Beer Week specials today but they planned to release a series of limited-edition crowlers later in the week. Sipped on a Sum’r, which is always tasty. Uinta also has some On Wednesdays We Wear Pink Boots on tap, if you’re still looking to try this year’s Pink Boots Society special brew.
- Level Crossing Brewing: Enjoyed a $2.50 Amber Ale (daily special). Don’t sleep on the sandwiches. I thoroughly enjoyed the (hot) Italian Hoagie. 👌
- RoHa Brewing Project: Berry Deep Firkin. A strawberry-infused Three Deep APA. Nice strawberry aroma/flavor. A little on the sweet side. RoHa taps a firkin — a cask that holds about 86 pints, according to the internet — each Wednesday.
- West Side Tavern: Enjoyed a Squatters Craft Beers Raspberry Cocoa Stout on nitro. Creamy with some dark chocolate bitterness. Only a hint of raspberry for me. Not a $2.50 pour on this one (opted for a full pint).
- Epic Brewing Company: Their Instagram enticed me. Went ISO Elder Brett #7 2014. But they were only selling full 22-ounce bottles. A 9.1% bomber wasn’t in the cards on this night, American Craft Beer Week or not. Settled for Capt’n Crompton’s Pale Ale.
- UTOG Brewing Co.: We chatted with co-owner and head brewer Carson Foss before the brewery officially opened. But this was our first time enjoying a pint in the gorgeous space. I did a couple 10-ounce pours — Citra Pale Ale and Scottish Ale. Both easy drinking. The smokiness of the Scottish Ale hit just the right notes for me, though I can see how it might be a bit much for some. The patio is graded and UTOG is working to get it open for beer-drinking enjoyment in the coming weeks. It gives sippers a nice view from beyond the outfield of the Ogden Raptors Stadium.
- Roosters Brewing Co.: Just had to check out the latest Randall concoction from Roosters. Today’s “Gila-Rita” at B Street featured the brewery’s Kölsch infused with mango, Serrano peppers, lime and tequila barrel chips (through a contraption called a Randall). Slightly spicy and totally thirst quenching.
- Slackwater Pub & Pizzeria: Quick stop into an Ogden beer-lovers haven while waiting for Talisman to open. Enjoyed a Fruit Slave, a fruity-without-fruit double IPA from Illuminated Brew Works in Chicago. Tasty.
- Talisman Brewing: My first time at Talisman and I couldn’t be more pleased. Chatted with co-owner Joann and did a flight of draft offerings. All good, but the star for me was Talisman’s seasonal orange-cranberry sour. 👌
- Hopkins Brewing Co.: You need to visit Hopkins on a Friday for fish n’ chips and a beer. The Guava Goddess is delightful. Mikey from Utah Beer Blog did a full review this week for Salt Lake City Weekly. Check it out. Also had a great chat — and a tour of the sweet Sugar House underbelly — with Hopkins co-owner and head brewer Chad Hopkins. We’re working to get him on the site and podcast soon. Stay tuned.
- Wasatch Brewery: A few doors up 2100 South landed me at Wasatch Brewpub. The Ella is a SMASH — single malt, single hop — beer featuring malt from Solstice Malt and 100% Ella hops.
- Fisher Brewing: The Bonnie Pale Ale offered a hearty dose of piney flavors and substantial bitterness (for me). Calypso and Citra hops work well together.
All good things must come to an end (on Sunday, I took a much-needed beer sabbatical). I finished up with the SLUG Mag’s Brewstillery at Trolley Square.
I sampled beers from local breweries I didn’t have a chance to visit during the week (a good reason for a beer festival, as touched on earlier). Admission was $20 ($25 day-of) and beers cost $2-4 for four-ounce pours. A few highlights:
- Zion Brewing: Strawberry Rhubarb Gose. Delightful. This is one I had hoped to taste at Craft by Proper but they hadn’t yet tapped the keg prior to my visit.
- Toasted Barrel: Red Flanders Barrel Aged Sour. Superb.
- Zòlupez: IPA with Agave nectar and key limes. Snagged a sample before Javier inevitably sold out. Tasty IPA.
- Proper Brewing Co.: Lake Effect Gose. A must-drink for me any time it’s available.
- Red Rock Brewing: Elephino Double IPA. Still one of the best Double IPAs in the state (and elsewhere), in my opinion.
- Hoppers Grill & Brewing Co.: Smoked Porter. Smoky, malty-sweet and super drinkable.
- SaltFire Brewing Co.: Dirty Chai Stout. Fun fact: SaltFire and Utah Beer News share anniversary weeks.
- Salt Flats Brewing: Backseat Blonde. Light, easy-drinking.
- Bohemian Brewery: Helles Bock. Remind me to tell you a funny-ish story about my visit to the Bohemian tent. It involves Salt Lake’s mayor, Bohemian’s Sir Veza (which earned the Brewstillery award for Best New Brew), and the concepts of politeness and entitlement.
- Moab Brewing: Pale Ale. Finished the week with a pale ale from a brewery outside the Salt Lake Valley.
Cheers to American Craft Beer Week 2019!