Utah Beer News celebrated its one-year anniversary in May 2019. Throughout the year, a handful of breweries opened. Countless new beers quenched our thirst and fulfilled our “rotation nation” itches. And many returning favorites reminded us that it doesn’t need to be new for it to be tasty. Plus, who could forget the 5% hoopla that enveloped the state?
Yes, quite a year. It was hard to top 2018, but I think the Utah beer scene did pretty well for itself.
I called 2018 the Year of the Brewery in Utah. And 2019, I believe, will go down as the Year of Beer in the Beehive State.
Scroll to see the site’s most-read articles and the most-downloaded podcast episodes in 2019.
As I say in each podcast episode intro, Utah Beer News strives to tell stories of brewers, breweries, and everyday imbibers. As we put a bow on 2019, I want to thank you for joining me on this journey. You’ve played a major role in making the project a lot of fun so far.
Utah Beer News: A Historic Year
We hit the ground running in 2019 with a look at how the historic government shutdown affected Utah brewers.
We learned more about several breweries through in-depth profiles. Salt Flats Brewing, Hoppers Grill & Brewing Co., and Proper Brewing Co. all shared their stories with our readers and podcast listeners.
And we introduced you to three breweries — Level Crossing Brewing Co., UTOG Brewing Co., and Bewilder Brewing — before they even poured their first pints. Plus, we welcomed Utah’s only Utah-only beer bar and a South Valley version of an Ogden beer mecca.
While we discontinued our weekly Beer Tastings column, we couldn’t help but share tasting notes on a few beers we loved. Hoppers’ La Nymphe, Proper’s Monolith, and 2 Row Brewing’s Divine Lunacy, among others, fit the bill.
It seemed every weekend in 2019 we were treated to a handful of beer-related events. We chronicled the 10th Annual Utah Beer Festival and the inaugural Utah Brewers Guild Fest. We previewed the 10th Annual Tour de Brewtah and the 5th Annual Lagerpalooza.
On particularly busy weekends, we compiled roundups for you to pick and choose where to spend your hard-earned beer dollars.
The Year’s Big Story
But all that really served as a preamble for the year’s big beer story: 5% beer.
A law passed in March went into effect on Nov. 1. For the first time in 86 years, Utahns were now able to purchase beer up to 5% alcohol by volume from their local grocery and convenience stores and on draft at bars and restaurants.
Yes, it proved to be an exceptional year for Utah beer.
Through it all, Utah Beer News published 61 articles and 16 podcast episodes in our first full year. We continued to build communities on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And we delivered a monthly dispatch to more than 500 email subscribers.
The best part, however, isn’t the numbers. It’s meeting so many cool beer people at breweries, bars, and events.
With that, I’m looking forward to continued growth and thank you again for your kindness and support.
A Look Back at 2019
In my previous job, I spent several years managing a blog. At the end of each year, I compiled a list of the most-read posts. It’s fun for me to look back and to recognize what resonated with readers.
Plus, if you missed a popular post the first time around, now’s your chance to get all caught up. I’ll also share links to our most-downloaded podcast episodes.
Most-Read Utah Beer News Articles in 2019
- Slackwater Sets Sights on Sandy (Oct. 24) — The south end of the Salt Lake Valley gets its very own beer-centric bar.
- A Utah Six Pack: Local Brewers Win at GABF (Oct. 5) — Utah breweries win the most medals in a single GABF since Beehive State brewers brought home eight in 2012.
- Say Goodbye to 3.2% Beer Law in Utah (March 15) — In an issue that surprisingly divided Utah’s brewing community, the state moved to ditch its decades-old alcohol limits on beer sold in grocery and convenience stores (and on draft).
- Park City Brewery Closes Taproom, Plans to Brew at Shades; New Co-Op in the Works (May 10) — Calling it a “temporary closure,” Park City shuttered its taproom and moved in to brew with Shades Brewing in South Salt Lake.
- Salt Flats Brewing: Utah Brewery Puts Foot on the Gas (Jan. 21) — With plans to become a regional brewery, Salt Flats ramped up production and opened one of the state’s coolest taprooms.
- A View of the Brew at UTOG Brewing Co. (March 18) — Ogden welcomes its newest brewery, one in which the brewing process is on display for guests.
- A New Era for Utah Beer: 5% Brews to Hit Grocery Store Shelves, Tap Handles (Oct. 31) — The most-anticipated day in a long time for Utah beer drinkers arrives on Nov. 1.
- Craft by Proper: Utah’s Only Utah-Only Beer Bar (April 15) — The first-of-its-kind in Utah, Proper Brewing opens a bar featuring only local beers on tap and in cans and bottles.
- All Aboard! Level Crossing Brewing Rolls Into South Salt Lake (Feb. 4) — Located next to the city’s iconic water tower, Level Crossing rolls into town and immediately begins making noise. Head Brewer Chris Detrick wins a Great American Beer Festival medal six months after he brewed his first beer professionally.
And our most-read article (with a little help from Reddit) was…
- Get Your (Drinking) Game on with Ales & Allies (April 1) — Who doesn’t love playing board games and drinking beer? Jarrett Miller teams up with local breweries and bars to make that happen. Our article about Miller’s company — Ales & Allies — gained traction on a board games subreddit, helping to make it the year’s most-viewed.
Most-Downloaded Podcast Episodes in 2019
- Lagerpalooza, Salt City Brew Supply, Bewilder Brewing (May 2) — We visit with Ross Metzger and Cody McKendrick to talk about a range of topics ahead of the 5th Annual Lagerpalooza event.
- Proper Brewing Co. (May 20) — In our second episode with Proper Brewing, we visit with Marketing Director Eleanor Lewis to talk about the company’s ever-expanding footprint.
- Level Crossing Brewing Co. (Feb. 4) — We visit with three folks who took a true leap of faith to build a brewery from scratch.
- Craft by Proper (April 15) — We take you behind the scenes into Utah’s only Utah-only beer bar.
And our most-downloaded podcast episode was…
- UTOG Brewing Co. (March 18) — Co-owner and Brewer Carson Foss put his heart and soul — and two years of his life — into building a truly unique brewery.
Notable Events 2019
Throughout the year, I jotted down several events I considered to be notable in the world of Utah beer. Here are a few highlights:
- Jan. 4: SaltFire Brewing Co. kicks off its limited-release barrel-aged and conditioned program with a Baltic Porter aged in rye barrels. Only five barrels are produced.
- Jan. 25: Silver Reef Brewing Co. becomes St. George’s first modern-day craft brewery
- Feb. 1: Uinta Brewing issues a voluntary recall for nearly a dozen of its brands. Testing detected a foreign yeast within certain brands that could “cause a package integrity issue over time and under certain storage conditions.”
- Feb. 4: Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, introduces a bill (SB132) that would increase the alcohol-content limits for beer sold in grocery and convenience stores. If passed, the legal limit would inch up to 4.8% ABW (6% ABV) beginning July 1, 2019.
- March 6: A Utah House Committee gutted a bill that would allow higher-alcohol beer in grocery and convenience stores
- March 8: Brewers from throughout the state travel to Roosters B Street Brewery for the Second Annual Pink Boots Brew Day. The brewers brewed “On Wednesdays We Wear Pink Boots.”
- March 14: The Utah State Legislature passes a substitute bill that would allow for grocery and convenience stores to sell beer that contains up to 5% ABV. The original bill, which the Utah Brewers Guild opposed, called for limits to be raised to 6% ABV (4.8% ABW). The Utah Brewers Guild didn’t take a position on the substitute bill “because some brewers are for it and some brewers do not support it.” The new limits are set to go into effect on Nov. 1, 2019.
- March 28: UTOG Brewing Co. in Ogden opens to the public
- March 30: Level Crossing Brewing Co. in South Salt Lake opens to the public
- April 5: Mountain West Hard Cider debuts its bar license and becomes Mountain West Cider House and Bar
- April 19: Craft by Proper, Utah’s only Utah-only beer bar opens to the public in Sugar House
- May 4: The 10th Annual Tour de Brewtah blasts off. Riders choose one of 10 space-themed routes and meet back at The Gateway for a beer festival
- May 5: The 5th Annual Lagerpalooza homebrew competition and beer festival takes place at Bohemian Brewery
- May 8: Boston Beer Company and Dogfish Head agree to merge in what is a $300 million deal
- May 11: The inaugural Made in Utah Brewers Fest takes place at The Gateway
- May 13-19: Utah celebrates American Craft Beer Week
- May 17: Utah Beer News celebrates its one-year anniversary
- May 18: SLUG Magazine’s Brewstillery event takes place at Trolley Square. Nearly every Utah brewery and distillery were pouring. Bohemian Brewery won the award for Best New Brew for its Sir Veza Mexican-style lager.
- May 24-31: Utah Beer News travels to Germany to visit breweries in Bamberg and Munich
- June 10: Proper Brewing Co. begins canning its product — starting with Lei Effect and Revenge
- June 19: Toasted Barrel develops Andy Ale — a black rye Saison — to help celebrate the 60th birthday of Andy the Andean Condor at Utah’s Tracy Aviary
- June 27-30: Utah Beer News travels to Rhode Island for the 41st Annual Homebrew Con. Brandon Holladay and co-brewer David Marsh take home a silver medal in the Pale British Ale category for their British Golden Ale.
- June 29: Twenty-eight local breweries pair up to brew 14 collaboration beers as part of the inaugural Utah Brewers Guild Fest — a locals-only collaboration festival. It’s held on McCarthey Plaza in downtown Salt Lake City.
- July 1: Founders Brewing Co. (Michigan) and Belching Beaver Brewery (California) start distributing to Utah
- July 24: The sixth annual Pie & Beer Day event takes place at Beer Bar. It featured more than 7,000 slices of pie and beer from 26 breweries.
- Aug. 3: Toasted Barrel Brewery is named “Best New Brewery” at Salt Lake’s 3rd Annual Food Truck and Brewery Battle. Bohemian Brewery picked up “People’s Choice” honors.
- Aug. 5: Springville’s Strap Tank Brewing opens a second location, this one in Lehi
- Aug. 5: Roadhouse Brewing (Wyoming) announces it will begin distributing to Utah
- Aug. 6: Alaskan Brewing (Alaska) announces it will begin distributing to Utah
- Aug. 17-18: The 10th Annual Utah Beer Festival is held at the Utah State Fairpark. It welcomed record crowds and featured about 60 breweries pouring 200+ beers over the course of two days.
- Aug. 21: Ogden River Brewing Co. breaks ground on its brewery, which will be located at 385 Park Blvd. It’s scheduled to open in early 2020
- Aug. 24: Heber Valley Brewing Co. holds its grand-opening celebration
- Sept. 8: Squatters Craft Beers, which owns the distinction of becoming Salt Lake’s first brewpub, celebrates its 30th anniversary with a beer fest
- Sept. 8: Winners are announced in the 11th Annual Beehive Brewoff. Landon Jeffery, who is poised to be the brewer at soon-to-open Ogden River Brewing, earned the title of Utah’s Best Brewer.
- Sept. 28: Kiitos Brewing celebrates its second anniversary with a party at its taproom
- Oct. 5: Five Utah breweries win six medals at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival. It’s the most medals won by Utah breweries in a single GABF since Beehive State brewers brought home eight in 2012. Uinta Brewing also earned the title of “Best Booth” for the third time.
- Oct. 12: The inaugural Zion Canyon Beer Fest is held at Zion Brewery
- Oct. 26: T.F. Brewing celebrates its one-year anniversary
- Oct. 26: SaltFire Brewing releases its first canned beer — Punk as F*ck, a Triple IPA brewed in collaboration with Raunch Records
- Nov. 1: Utah grocery and convenience stores are allowed to sell beer containing up to 5% ABV. The limit on draft products in bars and restaurants also increases.
- Nov. 1: Policy Kings Brewery in Cedar City celebrates its one-year anniversary
- Nov. 1: Shades Brewing begins canning its beers. It also debuts its F.I.T. (Focus – Inspired – Triumphant) line of beers. Each is 97 calories and 5.6 carbs (4% ABV). The lineup includes Focus Blonde Ale, Inspired Brut IPA, and Triumphant Light Lager.
- Nov. 4: Slackwater Sandy opens. It’s the company’s second location. The original Slackwater (in Ogden) opened its doors in 2011. The Sandy location features 28 tap handles and plans to stock 225+ cans and bottles of craft beer.
- Nov. 4: Modern Times Beer begins distributing in Utah
- November/December: Several breweries release their first barrel-aged brews. Proper Brewing (Barrel-Aged Monolith Imperial Stout), Salt Flats Brewing (Barrel-Aged Kilted Harley Scottish Ale), Roosters Brewing (Barrel-Aged Nordic Porter), Level Crossing Brewing (Barrel-Aged You-Tah Uncommon), Talisman Brewing (Barrel-Aged Gingerbread Stout).
- Dec. 1: The Brewers Association organizes the inaugural Small Brewery Sunday. It’s designed to encourage beer drinkers to support craft brewers.
- Dec. 13: Bewilder Brewing opens. The downtown Salt Lake brewery is owned by Cody McKendrick and Ross Metzger — owners of Salt City Brew Supply and Ogden City Brew Supply.
- Dec. 14: Grid City Beer Works gets its brewhouse delivered. The South Salt Lake brewery plans to open in early 2020.
- Dec. 14: Hopkins Brewing Co., which opened on Dec. 31, 2018, throws a party to celebrate its one-year anniversary. A series of small-batch beers are released to commemorate the occasion.
- Dec. 31: Beer Zombies invades Salt Lake City. It’s scheduled to officially open sometime in January 2020.
2019 New Breweries
The following breweries opened their doors in 2019. For a full list of Utah breweries and beer-centric watering holes, please visit our Craft Beer Resources page.
- Silver Reef Brewing (St. George)
- UTOG Brewing Co. (Ogden)
- Level Crossing Brewing (South Salt Lake)
- Heber Valley Brewing (Heber)
- Bewilder Brewing (Salt Lake)
Strap Tank Brewing also opened a second location in Lehi. And Zion Brewery conducted soft openings at its Station II spot in St. George.
Let Your Voice Be Heard
Over the last week or so, I’ve spent time mapping out a content calendar for 2020. I’m hoping it will help increase the “news” aspect of Utah Beer News, while also highlighting interesting personalities in the Utah beer world.
As always, I’m open to any and all suggestions for website articles or podcast episodes.
For the second year, I’m planning to send out a short survey to email subscribers in January. If you’re not on the list, sign up here.
In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with story ideas, interview subjects, or beer-related items you’re curious about.
Thank you for being part of the Utah Beer News community. Cheers to 2020! 🍻