Grid City Beer Works isn’t afraid of a little adversity. The long and winding road leading to Utah’s newest brewery originated in 2014. Years of planning, preparing, and tasting followed. Construction began in earnest in mid-2019 to transform a one-time-bank-turned-tile-store into a state-of-the-art brewery.
And by early 2020, beer-filled tanks stood at the ready as the 6,650-square-foot brewery received its finishing touches.
A private tap takeover introduced Salt Lake beer drinkers to Grid City in late February. The festive kickoff-party-slash-concert at The Commonwealth Room signaled the start of something special. Next up: a years-in-the-making grand opening celebration.
Then, an unplanned and uncontrollable detour.
In mid-March, state and local officials closed bars, breweries, and restaurants to dine-in service in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19. At that time, Grid City made the difficult decision to postpone its grand opening rather than cobble together a to-go strategy on the fly.
As the shutdown continued into late April, Grid City pivoted once more and began offering beer and food to go. Its “not-so-ideal-but-better-than-nothing” grand opening took place on April 23.
Grid City Beer Works: In Their Own Words
BONUS: Subscribe to the Utah Beer News Podcast and listen to our interview with Drew Reynolds, CEO, Justin Belliveau, president, Jeremy Gross, brewer, and Ian Clare, chef. We visited with the Grid City crew on Feb. 24, 2020, a few weeks before the brewery’s planned grand opening. Listen to hear how the three principles met, what it took to get Grid City off the ground, detailed descriptions of the brewery’s initial beer offerings, the idea behind the vegan-friendly menu, their thoughts on the Utah craft beer scene, and more!
Three Personalities Start a Brewery…
In May 2019, Grid City Beer Works consisted of nothing more than four walls and a vision. A year later, that vision came to life (though patrons aren’t able to experience it fully quite yet).
For Justin Belliveau, Grid City’s president, here’s what he envisioned: “Create a comfortable environment for people to enjoy a beer and see and smell the process,” he says. “See and hear what’s happening in the brewery, smell what’s happening in the kitchen. And top it off with a rooftop deck.”
But before we continue, let’s rewind a half-dozen years. That’s when the first thoughts of what would become Grid City Beer Works began to percolate.
Drew Reynolds, a longtime entrepreneur, had recently met Jeremy Gross via a mutual friend. Gross, a homebrewer and beer industry professional, invited Reynolds to sample one of his beers.
“I had his beer and I knew right then and there I was going to start a brewery with this guy,” Reynolds, Grid City’s CEO, remembers.
Meantime, Belliveau, the former Chief Administrative Officer for the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City, got a new neighbor who talked a little loud, stayed up late, and always seemed to be drinking beer in the backyard.
“I thought my life as I knew it was over when Drew moved in next to me,” Belliveau says, with a laugh. “Then he invited me over to have a beer and I went into his beer cellar. It was unbelievable. It opened my eyes to how amazing beer could be.”
The two started talking about opening a brewery. Reynolds set up a meeting in his kitchen for Belliveau to meet Gross and to try his beers. The thing is, Belliveau and Gross weren’t strangers. They had worked together in Park City years earlier.
“That was pretty amazing,” Belliveau says. “It was meant to be for us to come together as a team.”
In the Brewhouse
Not long after the kitchen-table meeting adjourned, Gross went to work developing Grid City’s initial beer recipes. Reynolds, Belliveau, and others drank countless kegs of rough drafts.
“They’re not the cheapest (or easiest) to make,” Gross says. “High-quality ingredients, labor-intensive processes, the complexity of serving them three different ways.”
But the results speak for themselves. Grid City isn’t one to rush, especially when it comes to beer.
Traditional and time-intensive techniques — double decoction, cask conditioning, etc. — are intertwined with innovative approaches to getting the beer into a glass.
“Everyone has such a brilliant idea of how to deliver their beer and what it will be,” says Reynolds, a self-professed visual thinker. “I said, keep it simple — make simple beers, but make them well. And then Jeremy got ahold of them and made them more sophisticated, but made them really well so we could pour them three different ways.”
For its core ales, that means CO2, nitro, and cask. Grid City’s pilsners can be served three ways as well — milk (“a foam shot”), crisp (“tighter foam, less CO2”), and smooth (“more CO2 and less head”) pours — depending on your mood.
A one-time homebrewer, Gross got his start in the beer business at Midvale’s Bohemian Brewery. He spent time at Uinta Brewing and, immediately prior to taking the reins at Grid City, worked at High West Distillery in Park City.
Grid City Beer Works: The Beers
Grid City’s initial lineup featured five beers — three ales and two lagers (pilsners), which, as mentioned above, can be delivered on draft in a variety of ways. Growlers and crowlers can be filled and an on-site beer store offers Grid City beer to-go in 16-ounce cans.
- Hybrid Pale Ale: A beer brewed using 100% ultra-potent Cryo Hops®. It’s an intense, aromatic ale with notes of pineapple and mango. However, “for a super hop-forward beer, it still has great balance,” Gross says.
- British-style Brown Ale: The beer features 100% British malts, as well as a British yeast and Fuggle hops. Gross brewed this recipe for Reynolds’ cousin’s wedding and the guests kicked multiple kegs. Notes of chocolate and toffee shine through.
- Cream Ale: This is a British hybrid, Gross says. It utilizes British malts and yeast and features a hefty dose of orange blossom honey. Gross recommends trying this one on nitro.
- House Pilsner: Pilsners are a passion for Gross and this traditional Czech-style pilsner is a labor of love. It’s brewed using a double decoction technique, meaning it takes about twice as long as a regular brew. The beer is allowed to naturally carbonate. “It’s a labor-intensive beer, but it’s delicious,” Gross says.
- Hoppy Pilsner: This one’s single decocted, but it’s no less tasty. A “gigantic amount” of Lemon Drop hops are added at the end of the whirlpool to complement the 100% pilsner malt.
A Brewery for Everyone (21+)
Walking into Grid City, your eyes are immediately drawn to the brewhouse. Situated behind the bar, the technologically advanced 10-barrel system is a sight to behold. Horizontal lagering tanks are a pilsner-lover’s dream.
On the right is a full kitchen where chef Ian Clare works to offer an ever-evolving menu. Reynolds’ business travel took him frequently to Florida. It’s there that he fell in love with a gastropub where Clare worked.
“When they brought up (Grid City) to me, it’s something I couldn’t pass up,” Clare says. “It’s my wheelhouse. Approachable food but a really evolving menu. It’s not just the regular pub fare; we’re going to try to make almost every single item a vegan option.”
Upstairs is a 1,700-square-foot rooftop deck, which will have a full bar and views of the Wasatch Mountains.
Grid City’s proximity to mass transit and a pair of freeways — as well as access to a large parking lot — are convenient bonuses.
But craft beer is Grid City’s raison d’être.
“We needed a place to show this guy off,” Reynolds says, explaining why so much effort’s been put into creating a space for his head brewer to shine. “He’s so talented; I can’t speak enough to that. We needed a place that was worthy of his talents and worthy of his beer.”
He adds: “I’ll never forget drinking that first beer I had of his. I’ll never forget it.”
Grid City’s hoping that you won’t, either.
About Grid City Beer Works
Grid City Beer Works adheres to the mantra: taste, balance, finish. Named after Salt Lake’s famed “grid” street system, Grid City aims to create a sense of community within its brewery.
“For us, success is creating a community gathering place where people can really appreciate the art form of beer and the passion that Jeremy puts into it,” Belliveau says.
The taproom includes a spacious first floor with seating for about 150 at tables, and another 17 or so at the bar. A rooftop patio, which Grid City expects will be dog-friendly, can accommodate another 110.
Grid City’s unique beer-served-three-ways delivery system sets it apart from other breweries in the state, and perhaps the country. Drinkers will have the option of enjoying any of Grid City’s core ales on CO2, nitro, or via cask. For lagers, you’re able to request a crisp, smooth, or milk pour, depending on how much CO2 and foam you prefer.
The 21+ brewery, which received a bar license in April, plans to offer a food menu that’s not your typical pub fare.
“You’re going to be able to try something new on almost every visit,” says Clare, the chef. “That’s what I like doing and what I’ve seen people like in the past — have those staples for the kind of food you expect to find in a pub, but also bring new light to it. Over time, craft it and finesse it.”
Grid City Beer Works
- Opened: April 23, 2020
- Address: 333 W. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84115
- Telephone: (801) 906-8390
- Hours of Operation: M-Th 12-9:30 p.m.; F-Sa 12-10 p.m.; Su 12-6 p.m.
- Notable: Grid City’s core beers are available on draft three ways — CO2, nitro, and cask. The number three holds significance — three founders, beer served three ways, the “333” in the address. As of May 2020, Grid City’s not open for sit-in service, but it’s offering beer and food to go.
- Website: https://gridcitybeerworks.com/
- Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter