The Utah Beer Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Join thousands of your peers in raising a (five-ounce sample) glass to “Utah’s largest beer event.” It’s set for Aug. 17-18 at the Utah State Fairpark in Salt Lake City.
This year’s festival will feature 60 or so breweries — including eight first-timers — pouring 200+ beers (and ciders and hard seltzers). The two-day event will include a variety of eclectic food options, music by local bands, a merchandise mall, an outdoors expo, and more.
Utah Beer News: For Your Ears
Bonus: Subscribe to the Utah Beer News Podcast and listen to our interview with City Weekly’s Samantha Smith and Pete Saltas, as well as Red Rock Brewery’s Shantel Stoff. In the episode, they talk about the festival’s inauspicious beginnings — and how it’s evolved over the years. The guests also discuss specific beer trends they’re excited about and Smith offers tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your Utah Beer Festival experience.
60 Breweries, 200+ Beers
But beer, obviously, is the star of the show.
“It’s the largest beer event in Utah,” says Samantha Smith, marketing and events director for Salt Lake City Weekly, which organizes the festival. “It’s split with about 30 local breweries and the others are regional and national.”
As Utah continues to experience a craft beer explosion, some of the state’s newer breweries will make their Utah Beer Festival debuts in 2019. The newbies stretch from Ogden to St. George.
Among the Beehive State breweries pouring at the festival for the first time: Hopkins Brewing Co., Level Crossing Brewing, Silver Reef Brewing, and UTOG Brewing. Bewilder Brewing, which is slated to open in the coming weeks, will have a presence but won’t be pouring.
Out-of-staters bringing beer to the Utah Beer Festival for the first time include Belching Beaver Brewery, Elevation Beer Co., and Illuminated Brew Works.
At the Tents
Each brewery generally offers four beers, whether on draft or packaged in bottles or cans. Though some, like Salt Lake’s Red Rock Brewery, opt to pour even more.
“It’s our hometown fest and we go so far to get two booths because we like to feature our 4% beers as well as our high-point beers,” says Shantel Stoff, Red Rock’s sales and distribution director. “For us, this is where we pour most of our efforts for summertime beer festivals.”
The Utah Beer Festival drew about 10,000 attendees last year, and organizers say they’re ahead of that pace for this year’s event. Saturday is generally the busier of the two days.
“We feel like it’s really important,” says Stoff, who will be pouring a beer — Biere de Mars — that’s not widely available, as well as fan-favorite Elephino Double IPA, among others. “It’s the first big beer festival in Utah and we love supporting it.”
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 (5 oz.) or full (12 oz.) pours of 4% beers, though higher alcohol beers are available only in the 5-ounce sample size.
Beer prices vary, depending on the beer’s normal selling price, Smith says. Generally, the 4%, 5-ounce pours will cost one token ($1). Higher alcohol beers will set you back more.
Pro Tip: Get your RFID wristband before Aug. 17.
The Utah Beer Festival, as it has since 2016, will utilize a “cashless” system for beer purchases. Brewers will scan a wristband that’s connected to the beer drinker’s pre-funded account.
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.
Ticket holders are encouraged to exchange Utah Beer Festival tickets for RFID wristbands ahead of the festival.
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.
VIP tickets include one cider cocktail featuring Mountain West Hard Cider and Five Wives Vodka, six food-and-drink pairings each day, and a complimentary tote bag with the official festival pint glass.
The VIP area also features giveaways, chair massages, a photo booth, and a silent auction to benefit the Utah Brewers Guild. Plus, VIP tickets allow for early entry (1 p.m.) into the general beer festival.
“You get more than double the value with that ticket,” Smith says.
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.
- Listen to live, local music
- Enjoy 15+ food options
- Browse a merchandise mall, which will include about 50 vendors touting everything from tech gadgets to CBD products to outdoor gear
Even more, two after-parties are scheduled to help celebrate the festival’s 10th anniversary. Your festival ticket and $10 add-on tickets get you into concerts featuring Royal Bliss (Aug. 17) and/or Jagertown (Aug. 18). Capacity for each show, organized by The Royal, is about 1,000 people.
“It’s our 10th anniversary so we wanted to celebrate,” says Pete Saltas, director of operations at City Weekly. “When sampling is done at 8 p.m. everyone can kind of shift over (to Promontory Hall). That’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while. We probably couldn’t do it at any other location but since the fairgrounds has such a big footprint, we took that building and turned it into a concert hall.”
At Home at the Fairpark
In the past, the festival’s called Washington Square, Library Square, and Gallivan Center home. Now in its fourth year at the Utah State Fairpark, organizers like having the ability to stretch out.
“The grounds are expansive,” Saltas says. “They’ve been great hosts for us (since 2016). It’s allowed us to do a little more for our attendees that we couldn’t do” in areas with limited space.
Listen to more about the Utah Beer Festival’s early years.
Each year the Festival seems to add something new. This year, it’s Silicon Slopes hosting a Silicon Suds area. It will feature tech companies showcasing virtual reality, offering speed networking opportunities, and more.
More shade tents, added “power breezer” air conditioning units, and increased space between beer tents to help limit line congestion were implemented last year and are expected to return.
The 15 or so food trucks will also be better integrated into the festival this time around. Instead of relegating them to one end of the grounds, they’ll be peppered throughout the entire event.
“We’ll have five brewery (tents) and then a couple of food trucks,” Smith says. “It spreads it out and helps attendees and the volunteers. They don’t have to go all the way to the other side (of the fairgrounds) to get some food.”
Supporting Local Journalism
Drinking and journalism, some might say, go hand-in-hand (as a former journalist, I’ll confirm that statement).
For the second year, Salt Lake City Weekly is seeking to increase awareness for the non-profit, Press Backers.
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.
“Everything we do, that’s our focus,” Smith says. “Supporting local news organizations and making sure they stick around.”
Utah Beer Festival: If You Go
The 10th 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. It’s a 21+ event.
- WHERE: Utah State FairPark, 155 N. 1000 W. Salt Lake City, UT 84116
- DATES: Aug. 17-18, 2019
- 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 $75 ($125/weekend); Designated Driver $5 ($7/weekend); VIP Designated Driver $35 ($60/weekend); After Party $10 add-on (must purchase Utah Beer Festival ticket as well). Purchase tickets online or at the City Weekly offices; prices don’t include online fees.
- FAQs: Can be found here. Top 10 things to know.
- DON’T FORGET: Save time day-of by swapping your ticket for a wristband before you arrive at the festival. And register your RFID cashless wristband account online in advance so you can get to the beer tents as quickly as possible.
- DID YOU KNOW?: The inaugural Utah Beer Festival took place in 2010 at Washington Square and pre-sold about 275 tickets. Organizers estimate more than 2,500 showed up for that first all-you-can-drink event (a format no longer allowed in Utah).
- BONUS: Every pre-sale ticket is also a UTA day pass. A Trax stop is located near the Fairpark. A free bike valet service is also available.
Then and Now
This Utah Beer Festival graphic shows how the festival’s evolved since its first year in 2010.
Full List of Breweries*
- ACE Cider
- Anchor Brewery
- Angry Orchard Hard Cider
- Ballast Point Brewing Co.
- Belching Beaver Brewing
- Bewilder Brewing
- Bohemian Brewery
- Bonneville Brewery
- Boulevard Brewing Company
- Cigar City
- Constellation Brands (Corona, Modelo, Pacifico, Western Standard)
- Deschutes Brewery
- Desert Edge Brewery
- Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
- Elevation Brewing
- Epic Brewing
- Firestone Walker
- A. Fisher Brewing Co.
- Great Basin Brewing
- Hopkins Brewing Co.
- Illuminated Brew Works
- Kiitos Brewing
- Lagunitas Brewing Company
- Level Crossing Brewing
- Mike’s Hard Lemonade
- Moab Brewery
- Mountain West Hard Cider
- Odell Brewing Co.
- Oskar Blues
- 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.
- Silver Reef Brewing
- Ska Brewing
- Squatters Craft Beers
- Stone Brewing
- Strap Tank Brewing Co.
- Talisman Brewing Co.
- Toasted Barrel Brewing
- Uinta Brewing Co.
- Upslope Brewing Company
- UTOG Brewing
- Wasatch Brewery
- White Claw
- Zion Brewery
*Subject to change (official list)