For many, craft beer is personal. It’s not a one-style-satisfies-all proposition. For Dusty and Joann Williams, the husband-and-wife co-owners of Talisman Brewing Company, they understand that and are careful not to paint their patrons with a broad brush.
“I think what we do best at Talisman is feeling out our customers,” says Dusty, Talisman’s head brewer. “I don’t want them to come in, and maybe all they’ve ever had in their life is Budweiser, and we send them away with an IPA and they never come back.”
That makes for a less-than-satisfying experience, he continues, and it goes against what Talisman is trying to accomplish.
Joann, who runs Talisman’s day-to-day business operations, agrees. It’s one reason the brewery opened with six distinct beers on tap in 2016.
“We really wanted to have something for every palate because there isn’t a specific style, per se, that people in Ogden are really into,” she says.
From there, they can initiate conversations. They can discuss with customers what they like about specific styles and what they don’t like about others. Armed with additional information, Talisman can then suggest other beers that might appeal to specific drinkers — that the drinkers themselves might not have considered.
“We’re trying to create equal opportunity drinkers at Talisman,” Joann says.
Utah Beer News: For Your Ears
Bonus: Subscribe to the Utah Beer News Podcast and listen to our interview with Joann and Dusty Williams, co-owners of Talisman Brewing in Ogden. They talk about how they got started in the brewing business, the beer culture in Ogden, what to expect when you visit the taproom, and more.
No (Industry) Experience Required
The Williamses came to Utah nearly 20 years ago and fell in love with the family-oriented, community-driven area of Ogden. The four seasons the Beehive State experiences didn’t hurt, either.
Dusty, an avid homebrewer, served in the Air Force. Military assignments took the two to California and Alaska before they landed in Utah in 2001. When Dusty transitioned into the Air National Guard, it freed up more time for him to brew beer.
“I loved brewing,” he says. “I mean, obviously I love drinking the beer as well but I found myself wanting to (create) all these different styles.”
Pretty soon, as many homebrewers do, the Williamses tossed around the idea of opening a brewery. Then they began seriously considering it, right as craft beer and craft breweries began surging in the region.
Neither had beer industry experience, however. And neither had been self-employed. In addition to his military service, Dusty worked in IT. Joann built a career in finance, sales and marketing, and human resources.
Add those skillsets to a lengthy homebrewing résumé — and a passion for beer — and you have a strong foundation on which to build a brewery.
That said, the Williamses recognized a little luck couldn’t hurt.
Talisman Brewing: Lucky Charm
A talisman is a charm that one carries; it’s thought to avert evil and bring good luck.
“We figured if we were crazy enough to open a brewery in Utah with no prior professional industry experience, we’ll probably need a little full-time luck,” Joann says.
Of course, it takes more than luck for first-time business owners to realize their dreams. It takes much more — “blood, sweat, and tears” — when that dream is opening a brewery in Utah.
“We came into this with the shirts on our backs and the house on the line,” Dusty says. “We don’t have big investors, we don’t have deep pockets. But we take pride in that, to be honest with you. It makes you more in tune with the community and with your customers. Blood, sweat, and tears are what we brought into this.”
Three years later, Talisman Brewing is thriving in a booming craft beer market.
The greatest challenge, Dusty remembers, didn’t concern beer at all. It centered on where to start. What licenses are required? Where do you get those licenses? When do you start buying equipment? Do you get a building first?
“It’s all kind of sequential and to some extent you have to do this before you do that,” he says. “We’re not two people who jump into something blindly, so yeah, one of the hardest things was the research.”
And then came securing a location. At the time, Northern Utah didn’t deal in production breweries. Municipalities weren’t sure how to work with a brewery that didn’t also have a restaurant attached to it. Zoning laws made it difficult for Talisman to find a suitable building.
For a time, it seemed as if Talisman would be limited to searching in industrial areas reserved for large-scale manufacturing operations.
“We (didn’t) need a 50,000-square-foot building for a seven-barrel brewhouse,” Joann says. “Ogden was really good to work with. They were creative in helping us find a space.”
Fortunately, it all worked out. Talisman’s brewhouse, taproom, and package agency are situated just off 12th Street. And, for the most part, “it’s exactly what we had envisioned,” Joann says.
As mentioned earlier, Talisman Brewing wants to ensure you enjoy your beer — whatever style you prefer.
“We really want to be able to provide what our customers are asking for,” Joann says. “We don’t want to hop on whatever the next trend is and hope it catches on in our area because we’ve found it’s kind of unique up here.”
Case in point: One of Talisman’s most-popular offerings is its Bel’s Fury Red Ale. It’s one that Joann begged Dusty to brew commercially not knowing how popular it would be.
It caters to beer drinkers who might not like wheat, dark, or hoppy beers. It’s a good middle ground beer, Joann says. So much so that it became Talisman’s best-seller — that is, until Hazards Triple IPA hit bottles full-time.
Outside of the package agency, Uplifted Scottish Ale is a popular choice among consumers. It’s an award-winning beer that earned bronze at the 2019 International Beer Awards.
Killer Grove Honey Wheat with Blood Orange and Comin’ In Hop Wheat IPA also are brisk movers for Talisman.
An Enjoyable Experience
In addition to the flagships, Talisman branches out with its seasonal offerings, a Talisman Presents label, a sour series, and a limited release series. It recently released its first Mexican Lager and announced in July that it’s working on a barrel-aged gingerbread stout that should be available in late November.
Whether you’re drinking in the taproom or in your own home, Talisman strives to deliver you the right beer for you. And if you’re new to craft beer, Dusty and Joann want to ensure a positive experience.
“For somebody to come in and have a bad experience with craft doesn’t help the industry,” Dusty says. “We like to get to know the people, find out what they like, and then recommend something we know.
“Hopefully, that will work for them so they can leave with a good experience and say, ‘hey, craft beer wasn’t bad. Let’s go to the next brewery.’ You know, that’s the goal; that’s what every brewery should be doing.”
About Talisman Brewing Company
Talisman Brewing in Ogden opened in 2016, becoming the northern Utah city’s second brewery. Husband-and-wife Dusty and Joann Williams own the brewery. Dusty brews and handles the website, while Joann oversees the business side of things.
Talisman, which is named after a charm believed to bring good luck, operates a seven-barrel brewhouse. The brewery offers a rotating selection on draft at its taproom. Visitors are able to purchase 22-ounce bottles of Talisman beer at the on-site package agency or at bars, restaurants, and liquor stores throughout Utah.
“It’s so rewarding to see two people who don’t know each other sit down, have a beer together, and then make a friendship out of it,” Dusty says. “(We’re) kind of part of that connection. It’s extremely rewarding.”
- Opened: 2016
- Address: 1258 Gibson Ave., Ogden, UT 84404
- Notable: When founded in 2016, it became Ogden’s first production brewery that didn’t also include an attached restaurant. Since then, Talisman’s led the way as other breweries have opened up shop — or expanded — in the Northern Utah city.
- Awards: Talisman’s already brought home several medals, including gold in last year’s Best of Craft Beer Awards for its Uplifted Scottish Ale. That beer also won bronze at the 2019 International Beer Awards. Iron Age Oatmeal Stout earned gold in the Best of Craft Beer Awards in 2017 and silver in 2018. The Comin in Hop Wheat IPA took home silver in the 2019 International Beer Awards, making Talisman one of the first Utah breweries to medal in the Session IPA category in any competition.
- Website: https://www.talismanbrewingco.com/
- Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter