The Utah Beer Festival returns for a ninth year and will feature 50 or so breweries pouring 200+ beers (and ciders). The two-day event will include a variety of food options, music by local bands, a merchandise mall, an outdoors expo, and more.
But beer, obviously, is the star of the show, set for Aug. 18-19 at the Utah State FairPark.
“I’ve added about seven additional breweries,” says Samantha Smith, marketing and events coordinator for Salt Lake City Weekly, which organizes the festival. “We also have a couple beers that are launching at the beer festival.”
One of those beers, Smith notes, is Western Standard. Bourbon barrels from Utah’s High West Distillery figure to play a prominent role. Produced by Constellation Brands, the beer is a “barrel-finished lager,” according to Just-Drinks. Constellation Brands, whose portfolio includes Corona and Ballast Point, acquired High West Distillery in 2016.
As Utah continues to experience a craft beer explosion, some of the state’s newer breweries will make their Utah Beer Festival debuts in 2018.
Among the breweries pouring at the festival for the first time: SaltFire Brewing Co., RoHa Brewing Project, and Toasted Barrel Brewery. Shades Brewing Co. is returning after some time away with a two-booth presence, Smith says. White Claw, an Illinois-based “hard seltzer” producer, is also slated to pour in the Cider House (Grand Building).
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, a darling among craft-beer drinkers, is scheduled to pour in advance of its entrance into the Utah market. We can expect to see 60 Minute IPA, SeaQuench Ale, Flesh & Blood IPA and 90 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head wrote in a news release.
Getting Your Beer at the Utah Beer Festival
As per Utah law, only 4% alcohol-by-volume beers will be poured on draft. Higher alcohol beers will be available in bottles and cans. Festival-goers can get sample (4 oz.) or full (12 oz.) pours of 4% beers, though higher alcohol beers are available only in the 4-ounce sample size.
Beer prices vary, depending on the beer’s normal selling price, Smith says. Generally, the 4%, 4-ounce pours will cost one token ($1). Higher alcohol beers will set you back more.
Pro Tip: Get your RFID wristband before Aug. 18.
The Utah Beer Festival will again utilize a “cashless” system for beer purchases. Brewers will scan a wristband that’s connected to the beer drinker’s pre-funded account.
Smith strongly encourages swapping tickets for wristbands and setting up your account ahead of time.
“The No. 1 thing is getting wristbands in advance,” she says. “If you have your wristband, you can go straight to the fast lane entrance at the festival. When you get that wristband, if you create a cashless account and link it to your wristband, you don’t have to wait in a token line. You can go straight to the beer tents.”
If you enter through the “fast lane” with your wristband, Uinta Brewing Co. and Bohemian Brewery will be first to greet you. Bohemian is giving away trucker hats to the first 500 attendees at its tent.
Wristbands will work to pay for beer and food. Other forms of payment are accepted at food stations as well. Merchandise vendors aren’t on the wristband payment system.
Several opportunities remain for ticket holders to exchange Utah Beer Festival tickets for wristbands. Details for “ticket swap parties” and other exchange points can be found here.
Are You a VIP?
The VIP Experience Lounge offers special food and beer pairings. Presented by Devour Utah, the lounge pairs a restaurant with a local brewery or cidery to create the perfect food and beverage pairings.
Two pairing sessions are scheduled each day. Each session will feature three restaurants and three breweries/cideries. Here’s where you can see which restaurants’ dishes will be featured.
More Than Beer Here
While beer is the event’s raison d’être, it’s only a slice of what’s offered at the Utah Beer Festival.
“We’re always looking for new things to add to the festival,” Smith says. “Since we switched to the Utah State FairPark we have so much room to play with. We’re trying to fill it as best as possible.”
One such addition this year is Gear & Beer. It’s a spot for outdoor recreation companies to showcase their products or services. The majority are local, and organizers saw a natural fit between beer drinkers and outdoor enthusiasts.
“Being in Utah and having close access to the outdoors and recreational sports, it seemed like a natural pair,” Smith says.
A FairPark Home
In the past, the festival’s called Washington Square, Library Square, and Gallivan Center home. Now in its third year at the Utah State FairPark, organizers like having the ability to stretch out.
“We’ve jumped around but every year the festival kept growing and growing,” Smith says. “The FairPark has been upgrading its facilities a lot. It allows us to continue to expand and not worry if we’re going to have room for people.”
More shade tents, added “power breezer” air conditioning units, and increased space between beer tents to help limit line congestion are all new this year as well. Full map.
“In the past, beer lines were always an issue,” Smith says. “But I’ve spread them out this year so I’m not worried about lines. I think it’s going to be a really smooth process.”
For a Cause
In recent years, the Utah Beer Festival’s partnered with the Humane Society of Utah to promote animal adoption. This year, Salt Lake City Weekly is seeking to increase awareness for its own non-profit, Press Backers.
“It’s a fund for local journalism,” Smith says. “We try to inspire journalism students to apply for internship opportunities and financial scholarships.”
Local media non-profits will be on-hand to answer questions and provide information. Proceeds from the festival will go toward educating the public about freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
“I think it’s important to start having those conversations about why free media is so important,” Smith says. “We have to protect that every day. And that’s the industry we’re in so it made sense to put effort into getting that message out there.”
Utah Beer Festival: If You Go
The 9th Annual Utah Beer Festival draws breweries from all over the country and thousands of beer drinkers. It’s an opportunity to taste the finest in local craft beer as well as explore brews from breweries outside the Beehive State.
- WHERE: Utah State FairPark, 155 N. 1000 W. Salt Lake City, UT 84116
- DATES: Aug. 18-19, 2018
- TIME: 2-8 p.m. each day (VIP and Early Beer Drinker ticket holders allowed in at 1 p.m.)
- TICKETS: General Admission $10 ($15/weekend); Early Beer Drinker $15 ($20/weekend); VIP $45 (Sunday Only available); Designated Driver $5 ($7/weekend)
- FAQs: Can be found here
- DON’T FORGET: Save time day-of by swapping your ticket for a wristband before you arrive at the festival
- DID YOU KNOW?: About 750 volunteer “shifts” are required for the festival. Though volunteers typically sign up for two shifts, Smith says between 400-500 volunteers are counted on to make the festival run smoothly.
- BONUS: Every pre-sale ticket is also a UTA day pass. A Trax stop is located near the FairPark.
Full List of Breweries*
- ACE Cider
- Angry Orchard Hard Cider
- Ballast Point Brewing Co.
- Bohemian Brewery
- Boneyard’s Bloody Blend
- Bonneville Brewery
- Boulevard Brewing Company
- Deschutes Brewery
- Desert Edge Brewery
- Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
- Epic Brewing
- A. Fisher Brewing Co.
- Grand Teton Brewing Company
- Great Basin Brewing
- Hoppers Grill and Brewing
- Kiitos Brewing
- Lagunitas Brewing Company
- Mike’s Hard Lemonade
- Melvin Brewing
- Moab Brewery
- Mountain West Hard Cider
- North American Breweries
- Odell Brewing Co.
- Park City Brewing
- Proper Brewing Co.
- Red Rock Brewery
- Ritual Brewing Co.
- RoHa Brewing Project
- Roosters Brewing
- SaltFire Brewing Co.
- Salt Flats Brewing
- Samuel Adams
- Shades Brewing Co.
- Shiner Beer
- Ska Brewing
- Sockeye Brewing
- Squatters Craft Beers
- St. Killian
- Stone Brewing
- Strap Tank Brewing Co.
- Talisman Brewing Co.
- Toasted Barrel Brewing
- Uinta Brewing Co.
- Upslope Brewing Company
- Wasatch Brewing
- Western Standard
- White Claw
- Zion Brewery
*Subject to change