Pat Winslow dreamed of this day. For years, the career railroad conductor and longtime homebrewer imagined opening his own brewery. From the Kickstarter campaign in 2017 to the more recent partnership with Lotus Craft, Ogden River Brewing is now much more than a dream.
It’s Utah’s newest brewery. And it opened in late-October 2020 in Ogden, Utah, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City.
Is this everything Winslow had hoped it would be?
Nope. It’s even better.
“My idea of starting a brewery was to be in a warehouse with some fermenters, a brewhouse, and a taco truck,” Winslow laughs. “This is way beyond my wildest dreams at that time. I feel really fortunate and very humble to be part of this organization.”
Winslow retired from Union Pacific in October 2017 and floated the let’s-open-a-brewery idea to friends, family, and beer lovers via a crowdsourced fundraising campaign.
It raised more than $30,000 and reaffirmed Winslow’s belief that Ogden was ready for a new place where friends could gather over a cold beer.
“It was an overwhelming response and I was deeply humbled by the whole experience,” he says.
Problem was, as Winslow admits, $30K is “about enough to pay the taxes” on a brewery. Fortunately, Winslow connected with developer Bryan Wrigley, who soon put a team together that would bring Ogden River Brewing to life.
Ogden River Brewing: In Their Own Words
BONUS: Subscribe to the Utah Beer News Podcast and listen to our interview with Pat Winslow, Landon Jeffery, and Patrick Bourque — the brewing team at Ogden River Brewing. Hear how a partnership between Winslow and Lotus Company helped to get the brewery built, learn why connecting with the people and history of Ogden proved to be a top priority, what breweries need to focus on in an increasingly competitive environment, and more!Listen Now
‘I Can’t Wait to See What the Future Brings’
Wrigley, the founder and CEO of Lotus Company, a community-driven development firm, formed a friendship with Winslow over their shared vision for Ogden. The friendship grew into a business partnership, and Lotus Craft — the hospitality arm of Lotus Company, which also plans to open Fife Brewing in Salt Lake City in 2021 — began to shape Ogden River Brewing.
“Everyone who knows Pat, loves Pat,” Wrigley says, in a statement. “And it’s not just because of all the free beer. He exudes a genuineness and a passion for what he does that is as unique as it is infectious. Early on, I knew I wanted to grow this dream with him.”
Industry veterans from Squatters Craft Beers and Uinta Brewing came on board to help solidify the brewery’s foundation.
Patrick Bourque, whose experience includes stints as head brewer at SaltFire Brewing and, most recently, Uinta Brewing, signed on as director of brewing operations for Lotus Craft.
Though he’s managed brewing operations at both a start-up and at one of Utah’s oldest craft breweries, Bourque gladly left initial recipe development and production to Winslow and assistant brewer Landon Jeffery.
“Since I came late to the game in terms of this project, I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes by coming in swinging with my own recipes,” he says. “I looked at the recipes, they looked great. My idea was, let’s execute these. Let’s get these to the taps tasting great.”
Already, Ogden River’s surpassed Bourque’s initial expectations.
“I’m blown away every day to walk in here and to see what we’ve accomplished so far,” he says. “I can’t wait to see what the future brings.”
‘We’re Here for the Community’
Utah Beer News visited Ogden River Brewing during its final weeks of construction, and then again a week after opening.
Winslow, who once owned a flower shop, compared Opening Week to Valentine’s Day in the floral business: Hectic, busy, and undoubtedly filled with many incredible aromas.
Even more, the outpouring of support can’t be ignored.
“We’re here for the community,” Winslow says. “That’s what our goal is, to be a neighborhood hangout, a neighborhood brewery. It was overwhelming to see all the people come and support us.”
Read more about craft beer in Ogden
Obviously, COVID-19 precautions provide an extra wrinkle for those seeking to open a brewpub in 2020. But safety is of utmost importance for Ogden River, and they’re taking steps to ensure a safe and pleasant dining and drinking experience.
“The team here at Ogden River Brewing is very conscientious about our community and about safety,” Winslow says. “We do everything we possibly can.”
A few steps the brewery’s taken:
- Reduced the number of tables and increased space between tables
- Employees’ temperatures taken and health questionnaires filled out before each shift
- Employees required to wear masks at all times inside the building
- Customers required to wear masks when not seated at their table
“We think it’s important to look out for people, and people will look out for you,” Winslow says.
Ogden River Brewing: The Beers
Ogden River Brewing opened with four beers of its own, as well as a couple of collaborations. Since then, the brewers busily brewed to fill each of its 10 available tap handles.
The opening-night lineup included a Scottish Ale, an Amber Ale, a Pale Ale, and an American Wheat. Expanded offerings include a Chocolate Coffee Stout, a hoppy Blonde Ale, and a Gose with lavender.
But it’s the two collaboration beers — one brewed with neighbor UTOG Brewing and the other with Salt Lake’s Bewilder Brewing — that Winslow says reinforces why he wanted to become part of Utah’s professional brewing community.
“That’s one really cool thing about the craft beer community,” Winslow says. “Everybody’s more than willing to jump in and give you a hand.”
As it develops, Ogden River plans to capitalize on its access to three brewers, each of whom has his own set of recipes and his own life experiences.
“We’re not coming in with some sort of schtick or goal to be a one-type-of-beer brewery,” Bourque says. “We want to bring excellence in whatever beer we make. I really want to flex our muscles and for every core beer we have I want to throw something unique at the wall and see if it sticks.”
Looking Ahead to a ‘Craft Campus’
Though the footprint includes nearly 6,500-square-feet, Ogden River’s already recognized they’ll need more space sooner or later. Increased cold storage would help, as would a spot for a canning line. A few more fermenters wouldn’t hurt, either.
So Ogden River mapped out a plan for a second building to be connected to the brewery via a breezeway. It will include a state-of-the-art Wild Goose canning line, as well as additional fermenters and bright tanks.
“The plan is to grow,” Bourque says, using the term craft campus. “We’re hoping to see that new building within the next six months.”
The second building will allow for Ogden River to package high-point beer (Utah law requires draft beer to be 5% ABV or lower). Plus, a series of “fast craft” eateries will open as part of the building, as will an Ogden River Beer Store.
About Ogden River Brewing
Ogden River Brewing evolved from a humble dream of a bare-bones taproom into a 250-seat, state-of-the-art gastropub. It features a 10-barrel brewhouse, as well as two patios with views of the Ogden River and the Wasatch Mountains.
Originally the brainchild of Pat Winslow, a former railroad conductor and longtime homebrewer, Ogden River Brewing joined forces with Lotus Company in 2019 to turn the dream into reality.
As of its opening in fall 2020, the brewpub, complete with a full liquor license, is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. on weekdays and 10:30 a.m. on weekends. It features lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch menus. It’s located at 358 Park Blvd.
- Opened: Oct. 28, 2020
- Notable: Ogden River Brewing is the first brewing project for Lotus Craft, an offshoot of Lotus Company. The brewpub features two patios, 10 tap handles, a full food/bar menu, and plenty of space to spread out. Its restaurant license allows for all ages to dine. A second building, adjacent to the brewpub and under construction at the end of 2020, will house a canning line, increased fermenting space, a beer store, and various independent eateries.
- Address: 358 Park Blvd., Ogden, UT 84401
- Telephone: (801) 884-6939
- Website: https://ogdenriverbrewing.com/
- Social Media: Facebook / Instagram