Proper Brewing Co.: An Empire in the Making

Avenues Proper opened in 2013 to become, at the time, Utah's smallest commercial brewery. Since then, Proper Brewing Co. has expanded to feature five properties throughout the Salt Lake area.
Proper Brewing Co.

Proper Brewing Co. experienced a whirlwind of activity in the six months bridging the end of 2018 and the beginning of this year.

Its thriving footprint nearly doubled in that time, as the Salt Lake craft brewer opened two new properties. Even more, Proper Burger Co. appeared on a national television show and Proper Brewing began packaging its beers in aluminum cans.

Not bad for an enterprise barely six years old.

Proper Brewing Co. Lake Effect - Utah Beer NewsEleanor Lewis, Proper Brewing Co.’s marketing director, isn’t fazed by the frenetic pace common in the hospitality industry.

Originally from Chicago, Lewis arrived in Utah in 2013 and picked up various serving jobs in Salt Lake.

A year later, English degree in hand, she interviewed for a serving position at Avenues Proper, which at the time was the state’s smallest commercial brewery.

“I vaguely knew they were a brewery,” she remembers. “During my interview, I pitched, ‘hey, if you guys need anything, I don’t know … written, I have a degree in English.”

Brought on board, Lewis soon found herself fielding event work and managing the company’s social media as it prepared to open its two Main Street properties — the production brewery and Proper Burger Co. At about that time, she began studying to become a Certified Cicerone, and is one of three current Proper Brewing Co. employees to possess the prestigious certification.

“I wanted to be able to talk to someone like (co-owner and brewer) Rio (Connelly) and not have him have to translate the verbiage of brewing,” Lewis says.

With a passion for marketing — what she calls “the arts and crafts” aspect of the brewing industry — Lewis could ask Connelly beer-related questions, understand the answers, and then turn it around into something relatable to the consumer.

For Your Ears…

Utah Beer News | Handcrafted Craft Beer Content to Sip & SavorBonus: Subscribe to the Utah Beer News Podcast and listen to our full interview with Eleanor Lewis. Proper Brewing Co.’s Marketing Director. Learn how the flagship Proper Beer came to be, gain insight into the Proper philosophy, what it’s like on set of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and more.

Avenues Proper: Filling the Gaps

Proper Brewing Co.’s initial venture, Avenues Proper, opened in 2013. It’s always been a spot to showcase beers from around the state.

Rio Connelly, co-owner with his brother, Liam, and Andrew Tendick, notes that the “restaurant & publick house” in Salt Lake’s Avenues neighborhood became the first brewery in Utah to offer other breweries’ products as guest taps on a regular basis.

At the time, Avenues Proper held the title of Utah’s smallest commercial brewery. But it featured 12 tap handles. Filling all those with Proper beers proved to be impossible.

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention.

“I only (brewed) a few beers so I’m not going to be able to make everything,” Connelly remembers. “How am I going to be able to fill the gaps in my list?”

In its early days, of the dozen handles at Avenues Proper, more than half may have been occupied by other breweries’ beers. That’s shifted now, with only a couple taps pouring non-Proper beers.

Craft by Proper - Utah's Only Utah-Only Beer Bar
Craft by Proper is Utah’s Only Utah-Only Beer Bar. It features 36 tap handles and 80+ high-point cans/bottles.

Craft by Proper: The Latest Venture

Enter Craft by Proper in Sugar House.

Read a full article on Craft by Proper

“When we started looking at opening another bar, what is becoming Craft by Proper, we wanted to take that dream to its logical conclusion,” Connelly says. “We put as many taps as we could fit in the building. And as many bottles and cans as we could fit based on storage space.”

Craft by Proper LogoFilling the space isn’t an issue, thanks to Utah’s thriving craft beer scene. In the last few years, the number of breweries in the state’s doubled. Still more are scheduled to open in 2019 and beyond.

For its part, Proper Brewing’s contributed two new locations — Stratford Proper and Craft by Proper — in the last year.

Are we poised to continue the rapid growth?

“It’s a difficult question to even speculate on because of how rapidly it has changed in just over five years since I’ve been here,” Lewis says. “The rapidity of how many breweries have opened and what all those breweries have done in terms of expanding their product lines. Branding and re-branding. What they do in their own taprooms versus what they distribute to bars and restaurants. … To even project (the future) is difficult.”

Nevertheless, her rooting interest is clear.

“I would love to see more breweries opening outside the (Salt Lake Valley),” she says. “Utah’s a beautiful state. I think it would be well-served having more craft beer options.”

About Proper Brewing Co.

The first piece of the burgeoning Proper Brewing empire opened in 2013. Avenues Proper Restaurant & Publick House, which at the time, held the title of Utah’s smallest commercial brewery. It quickly established itself as a destination for food and beer lovers to congregate.

Proper Brewing Co.From there, Proper Brewing Co. expanded to Salt Lake’s Main Street. It opened a side-by-side — but in different buildings — brewery and burger joint in 2016. Most recently, the company opened Stratford Proper (2018) and Craft by Proper (2019).

Stratford Proper is a family-friendly neighborhood bistro, while Craft by Proper is Utah’s only Utah-only beer bar.

  • Opened: 2013 (Avenues Proper); 2016 (Proper Brewing); 2018 (Stratford Proper); 2019 (Craft by Proper)
  • Address: 857 S. Main St., Salt Lake City, UT 84111
  • Notable: Avenues Proper became the first brewery in Utah to offer other breweries’ products as guest taps on a regular basis, according to co-owner Rio Connelly.  Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives featured Proper Burger Co., located next door to Proper Brewing Co. on Salt Lake’s Main Street, in January 2019.
  • Website: http://www.properbrewingco.com/
  • Social Media: Facebook, Instagram
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