The year’s end is a time to reflect on the past and ponder the future. We advised 2020 to not let the door hit it on the ass on its way out. Well, for many, 2021 served up a double-shot of what its predecessor wrought.
Once again, heartache, anguish, and despair. The physical, emotional, and financial strain of COVID-19 continued.
And, even with a vaccine in arms, the path forward remained — and continues to remain — uncertain.
Fortunately, as we saw in 2020 and again in 2021, Utah’s breweries don’t give up. And neither do beer drinkers.
It’s thanks, in large part, to the supportive craft beer community that Utah’s breweries continue to brew barrels of delicious beer for our enjoyment.
As we wrap up 2021, let’s raise a glass to the folks who support local whenever possible. Let’s toast the imbibers who drink the flagships in addition to the one-offs. And let’s remember we’re all in this together for the love of craft.
Most-Read Utah Beer News Articles From 2021
For the second straight year, the most-read Utah Beer News article actually was written about the 2019 Pie & Beer Day festivities (thank you, SEO). Let’s hope we can celebrate a proper Pie & Beer Day in 2022.
Top 10 Articles
In terms of Utah Beer News articles written in 2021, these were the most popular:
- Pie & Beer Day: Subdued Celebrations — Again (July 23) — The pandemic curtailed the official Pie & Beer Day event once more. But that didn’t stop a handful of breweries from hosting modest celebrations.
- Red Rock Brewery: ‘Small But Big at the Same Time’ (June 29) — A pioneer in Utah beer opens up about its past, present, and future.
- Utah Beer Festival 2021: 50+ Breweries Pouring at The Gateway (Aug. 18) — A look at the granddaddy of Utah beer festivals.
- Policy Kings Brewery Kickstarter: Time is Running out to Donate (April 2) — Though the Cedar City brewery didn’t reach its Kickstarter goal, Policy Kings continues to serve Southern Utah admirably.
- 2021 International Beer Awards: Utah Winners (Aug. 29) — Another strong showing on a big stage for Utah breweries.
- It’s Beer Madness! 8 Utah Brews Battle for Title (March 15) — Which local brew took home the title in our second annual beer bracket challenge?
- Utah Beer Festival 2021: Right Event, Right Time (Aug. 23) — The 11th Utah Beer Festival is exactly what the festival-starved craft beer community needed. Returning after an unplanned and unwelcomed hiatus in 2020, Utah’s largest beer-sampling event delivered as promised.
- T.F. Brewing: A Legacy in the Making (June 10) — Guests can expect the “total package” when they step into Templin Family Brewing.
- Oktoberfest 2021: Utah Breweries Get Festive (Sept. 16) — A handful of breweries donned leiderhosen and raised a stein to celebrate. Prost!
- Prodigy Brewing: Logan Brewpub Targets 2021 Opening (May 6) — Though it doesn’t appear the Cache Valley brewery will open before the end of the year, it did receive its brewing equipment in November.
Most-Downloaded Podcast Episodes From 2021
- Upslope Brewing (April 16) — In a rare non-Utah brewery podcast, we visit with one of the nation’s craft beer visionaries as they expand their footprint in the Beehive State.
- Level Crossing Brewing Co. (May 19) — As the South Salt Lake brewery celebrates its two-year anniversary, hear from the founder and head brewer.
- Proper Brewing Barrel Program (Feb. 4) — Step inside Proper’s burgeoning barrel program.
- Red Rock Brewery (June 22) — Diving into the history and talking about the future of one of Utah’s oldest operating breweries.
- Templin Family Brewing (June 8) — A one-on-one conversation with Kevin Templin, one of Utah’s most-decorated and well-known brewers.
BONUS: Check Out Our Monthly Essays We Sent to Email Subscribers
Notable Events 2021
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: Tiffany Clason is tapped to be the next director of The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
- Jan. 7: Utah Beer News distributes its annual survey to its email subscribers and social media followers. More than 300 beer enthusiasts respond to help shape coverage for the year ahead.
- Jan. 8: Slackwater Pub & Pizzeria in Sandy earns the city’s Best Business award for 2020.
- Jan. 20: Mountain West Hard Cider plans to release a small-batch cider each month in 2021. Berry Balm, a Little Orchard Series cider with elderberry and lemon balm, hits the market.
- Jan. 23: Ibantik Craft Beverages invites Utah Beer News Founder Tim Haran to participate in a Cider Saturday live tasting on Instagram.
- Feb. 2: The original IPA from Uinta Brewing — Trader IPA — gets a new look.
- Feb. 15: Roosters Brewing turns its popular “For the Love of Beer” event virtual. It partners with five other Utah breweries to create “take-home” tasting kits. It included six canned beers, food to pair with them, and a pairing guide.
- Feb. 16: Desert Edge Pub & Brewery in Trolley Square opens its Beer Store to sell canned beer to go.
- Feb. 25: Fisher Brewing Company celebrates its four-year anniversary.
- March 11: Utah Beer News debuts its Virtual Taproom concept. RoHa Brewing Project co-founders Rob Phillips and Chris Haas are guests on the inaugural episode. The video series will live on YouTube.
- March 15: The Second Annual Utah Beer News Beer Bracket Battle tips off. Tim Haran, Dave Baker, and Ben Raskin select and taste eight beers from eight different local breweries to go head-to-head in a March Madness-style tournament. Each taster chooses a different champion this time around. Desert Edge Brewery’s 2020 IPA (Tim), UTOG’s The OG Juice (Dave), and Grid City Beer Works’ Brown Ale (Ben) earn the 2021 title. The Granary Kellerbier from T.F. Brewing won the inaugural battle in 2020.
- March 16: Salt Lake County marks one year since non-essential businesses were ordered to shut down temporarily to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
- March 19: Slackwater Sandy Service Manager Joey Cardaccio visits with Utah Beer News for the first installment of the regular 3 Beers with Joey segment.
- March 20: Bonneville Brewing celebrates its eight-year anniversary with a pair of beer releases — 8th AnniversaRye and Big Red Triumph.
- March 28: UTOG Brewing celebrates its two-year anniversary.
- March 30: Level Crossing Brewing celebrates its two-year anniversary.
- March 30: The Brewers Association releases its list of the Top 50 Craft Brewers for 2020. D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. once again occupied the top spot. CANarchy (which includes Squatters Craft Beers and Wasatch Brewery) jumped two spots from 2019 to No. 6. The breweries are ranked by sales volume.
- April 2: Ogden River Brewing, which opened in October 2020, releases its first high-point canned beer. Injector Hazy ABV is a 7.8% ABV limited-release beer (only 1,000 cans).
- April 6: Talisman Brewing Company celebrates its five-year anniversary.
- April 23: Grid City Beer Works celebrates its one-year anniversary of opening its doors to the public.
- April 26: Mountain West Hard Cider launches an equity crowdfunding program to allow the public to invest in the Salt Lake-based cidery.
- April 29: RoHa Brewing Project enters the hard seltzer game with a pair of releases. The Gemini Hard Seltzers are available in White Grapefruit and Black Cherry flavors.
- May 1: You can now drink Bewilder Brewing’s high-point offerings on-site. New licensing allows Bewilder to sell not only its high-point beer (above 5% ABV), but also wine, cider, and spirits.
- May 5: Slackwater Pub & Pizzeria in Ogden announces it is moving to a new location by the end of the year.
- May 11: Brienne Allan, production manager for Notch Brewing in Massachusetts, shared hundreds of experiences in her Instagram Stories from industry employees of “workplace discrimination and allegations of sexual harassment and assault” at craft breweries.
- May 12: The Bayou reopens to dine-in customers after more than a year with the lights off. Notably, proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required to dine in the bar.
- May 15: Salt City Brew Supply, a homebrew shop in Midvale, celebrates its 10-year anniversary.
- May 17: Utah Beer News celebrates its three-year anniversary.
- May 22: RoHa Brewing Project celebrates its four-year anniversary (which was in April) with a party at its newly expanded taproom.
- June 2: Templin Family Brewing wins a host of medals at the 2021 Australian International Beer Awards. Its Kellerbier took home Gold, while Schwarzbier and Ethereal Weissbier won Silver. The Helles, Delmar Imperial Stout, Albion Tripel, and Lingonberry Berliner Weisse each received Bronze.
- June 8: Utah’s newest liquor store in Taylorsville is also the first in the state to include beer coolers.
- June 19: Utah Beer News Founder Tim Haran earns a silver medal for his Munich Memories ’19 Helles at the 2021 National Homebrew Competition.
- June 19: The inaugural Ogden Can Fest celebrates Ogden’s beverage and food scene.
- June 25: Wasatch Brewery teams up with Three Weavers Brewing for a collaboration IPA. It marks the first time the L.A.-based Three Weavers brand is readily available in Utah.
- July 30: The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control reported that the state’s alcohol sales topped $517 million in the last fiscal year (ended June 30). The 3.4% — or $17 million — increase broke the record set the previous year.
- July 31: Policy Kings Brewery hosts the 3rd Annual Southern Utah Beerfest.
- Aug. 21-22: The 11th Utah Beer Festival is held at The Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City. The two-day event is proclaimed to be the state’s largest beer sampling event. More than 50 breweries poured upwards of 250 beers.
- Aug. 27: Sixteen Utah breweries nab 42 medals at the International Beer Awards, which were held as part of the Mountain Brewers’ Festival in Idaho Falls. Templin Family Brewing earns eight medals, including two gold. Shades Brewing and Uinta Brewing each won three gold medals.
- Aug. 27: Another summer of Hops Hunters Hikes ends with the annual hops harvest. The wild hops will be used to brew the popular Clothing Hoptional beer, which benefits Summit Land Conservancy.
- Sept. 10: Level Crossing Brewing Co. partners with Crosby Hops and Sweet Relief Musicians Fund to brew Rock On Crafted Lager. Proceeds benefit musicians and crews impacted by COVID-19. Even more, $1 from each pint sold benefits the Salt Lake Academy of Music.
- Sept. 10: Offset Bier Company opens in Park City. The brewery is co-owned by Patrick Bourque, who’s brewed at a variety of spots in Utah, including SaltFire Brewing, Uinta Brewing, and Ogden River Brewing.
- Oct. 4: Utah Beer News welcomes its 1,000th subscriber to its monthly e-newsletter list. The email, which includes an extensive rundown of news and notes from around Utah’s craft beer scene, is sent out the first Thursday of each month.
- Oct. 20: Wasatch Brewery releases its version of Brave Noise, a collaboration beer designed to advocate for safe spaces and inclusive environments for women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+. The 4.5% pale ale is available exclusively at the Wasatch Brewpub in Park City and the West Side Tavern in Salt Lake.
- Oct. 21: The Utah Ale Trail celebrates local breweries by hosting the annual Fall Crawl. All told, 22 breweries from around the state participate in the brewery-hopping event.
- Oct. 22: Wasatch Brewery, Utah’s first post-prohibition brewery to open, celebrates its 35th anniversary.
- Oct. 26: T.F. Brewing celebrates its three-year anniversary.
- Oct. 28: Ogden River Brewing celebrates its one-year anniversary.
- Nov. 2: Shades Brewing expands its distribution to California.
- Nov. 6: Policy Kings Brewery in Cedar City celebrates its three-year anniversary.
- Nov. 9: The all-new Park City Brewing (not to be confused with Park City Brewery) announces it is open with “new ownership, new beer, and a new look.”
- Nov. 18: Utah Beer News founder Tim Haran joins RoHa co-founder Rob Phillips on the Brewery Travels podcast.
- Nov. 19: The Shades Downtown taproom opens at 366 South State Street. The new space (21+) is located above the Himalayan Kitchen.
- Nov. 21: Winners are announced in the third-annual Utah Brew Fest homebrew competition. Homebrewers gathered at Bewilder Brewing for the awards ceremony. Mike Johnson earned Best of the Fest honors, while Jeffrey D’Arcy (with co-brewers Geoff Dziuda and Phil Bollam) earned Best of Show.
- Nov. 24: Hoppers Grill & Brewpub closed its doors. The Midvale brewpub, which opened in 1996, is seeking another location after the landowner sold the property.
- Dec. 7: Scion Cider Bar opens in Salt Lake City.
- Dec. 8: Squatters Craft Beers and Wasatch Brewery are named the Official Beer of Ski Utah.
- Dec. 10: Bewilder Brewing starts its small-batch program with the release of a Maple Lactose Oatmeal Stout.
- Dec. 10: Red Rock Brewery unveils its annual 12 Days of Christmas event in which the brewery reaches into its cellar and offers craft beer enthusiasts the chance to purchase some of its sought-after beers.
2021 New Breweries
The following breweries (or beer-adjacent establishments) opened their doors in 2021. For a full list of Utah breweries and beer-centric watering holes, please visit our Craft Beer Resources page.
2021 Noteworthy Beers
The following are a few beers I found noteworthy in 2021 (ordered alphabetically by brewery).
Full disclosure: I didn’t drink nearly as much beer this year, and I rarely found myself at a Day 1 release event. Therefore, I missed out on a lot of the limited-release beers. Yet, I still found some great ones! My New Year’s resolution is to be more consistent about checking in beers on Untappd.
What local beers did you drink this year that you particularly enjoyed? Let me know!
- Dank Nugs Triple IPA (2 Row Brewing)
- Deseret IPA (Bewilder Brewing)
- In the Barrel and Bock (Bewilder Brewing)
- Transparency Pale Ale (Fisher Brewing)
- Pineapple Passion Fruit Whole Flower Dry-Hopped Nitro Pale Ale (Grid City Beer Works)
- Kölsch (Offset Bier)
- Love Black IPA / Hate Hazy IPA (Policy Kings Brewery)
- Trop Rock Juice Box (Proper Brewing)
- Whispers of the Primordial Sea (Proper Brewing)
- Steady Edge Imperial Red Ale (RoHa Brewing Project)
- 10 Ton Truck IPA (SaltFire Brewing)
- 147 West Broadway Hop IPA (Squatters Craft Beers)
- Northern Lights IPA (TF Brewing)
- Ellipses Barrel-Aged Oatmeal Stout (Uinta Brewing)
- Sonder Double Dry-Hopped Double IPA (Uinta Brewing)
- Wasatch/Three Weavers Collaboration IPA (Wasatch Brewery)
- Brave Noise Pale Ale (Wasatch Brewery)
Utah Beer News published 46 articles and 29 podcast episodes in 2021, our third full year delivering stories of and for brewers, breweries, and everyday imbibers.
Earlier in December, I shared a few thoughts on The Future of Utah Beer News. Thank you to the 100+ who responded. With this data in hand, I’m currently evaluating the brand’s purpose and direction as we enter 2022.
A content calendar and formal business plan are in the works to help ensure Utah Beer News remains a sustainable resource for Utah’s craft beer community.
As always, I’m open to any and all suggestions for website articles or podcast episodes. 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 2022! 🍻