Utah Beer News is nearing its three-year anniversary. It officially launched during American Craft Beer Week 2018 (though I’d published a few posts prior to that).
We’ve even dabbled a little on YouTube, which I’m hoping to do more of in the future.
Our 33rd monthly e-newsletter hit inboxes earlier in February. In it, I gave subscribers a first-look at what you’re about to read.
Since May 2018, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with brewers, breweries, and everyday imbibers who make up a vibrant Utah craft beer community.
All that said, the past year threw us all for a loop.
For many, the last several months have been filled with heartache, anguish, and despair. The physical, emotional, and financial strain of COVID-19 has been immense, to say the least.
And, let’s face it, the path forward remains uncertain.
Even before 2020 threw a once-in-a-century gut punch, Utah breweries (as well as bars and restaurants) were already battle-tested. In the best of times, these beloved small businesses fight against unnecessary, antiquated, and often head-scratching forces.
In not-so-good times (now, for instance), the uphill climb for these same businesses seems, from an outsider’s perspective, insurmountable.
Fortunately, Utah’s breweries aren’t giving up. And the craft beer community is doing its best to support them.
Utah Beer News: Survey Results
Thanks to you, whom I’ve met at various beer-related events and local breweries, I’m getting a better sense of what matters to you, the Utah craft beer drinker.
We received more than 300 responses — a third more than last year and five times as many as in 2019 — and a lot of excellent feedback. It’s clear Utah Beer News is hitting the mark in many areas. At the same time, I recognize there’s always room for improvement.
I’d like to share some of the key points from the survey. If you missed out, or you’d simply like to share additional comments, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
The survey ran Jan. 7-15, 2021, and we collected 307 responses via email and social media. Though it’s somewhat unscientific, I believe the survey provides a nice snapshot of what’s important to Utah’s craft beer community.
We didn’t gather much demographic data, but we did include an optional age question. So, the ages of respondents: 34.5% (35-44); 28% (45-54); 25.6% (25-34). That skews a little older than in 2020.
- In terms of UtahBeerNews.com site-visit frequency, about 20% said they visit once a week, while 22% visit at least once a month. 39% visit the site less than once a month.
- Once again, as was the case in our last survey, about half of respondents (53%) were unaware a Utah Beer News Podcast existed. It does! Please listen. You can find it on your podcast platform of choice.
- 61% said Facebook was their favorite social site for beer-related content, followed by Instagram at 30%. Those two sites were flip-flopped in 2020.
Beer News: Where & What
Publications in which respondents receive their local beer information (participants could select all that apply):
- 56% — Utah Beer News
- 50% — Utah Craft Beer Community Facebook Group
- 49% — Individual breweries’ social media
- 42% — Utah Beer Blog
- 41% — City Weekly
- 38% — Utah Craft Beer Society Facebook Group
- 28% — SLUG magazine
- 13% — The Salt Lake Tribune
- 13% — CraftyBeerGirls.com
- 10% — Gastronomic SLC
- 9% — Radio
- 6% — Utah Booze News podcast
- 6% — Utah Stories magazine
- 2% — Television
More than 59% of respondents ranked “Social Media Updates” as the No. 1 way to receive beer-related information online, which is up nearly 20% over last year. “Written Article” was the next most-preferred way, followed by email, audio, and video.
Topics you’d like to read about on Utah Beer News, ranked in order:
- Breaking news (i.e. new beer releases, brewery openings) — 39% ranked this as their top choice, down from 50% last year
- Brewery profiles (i.e. brewer, beers, atmosphere, etc.)
- Beer reviews (i.e. tasting notes)
- Events (i.e. previews, recaps)
- Education (i.e. local classes, pairing with food, how-to, etc.)
- Local politics (i.e. liquor laws)
The Impact of COVID-19
Obviously, the big story in 2020 — and it remains top of mind — was COVID-19. COVID-19 impacted respondents’ beer-drinking routines.
- 43% said their routine is much different now
- 41.7% noticed their routines had changed slightly
- 15.4% saw no difference in their beer-drinking routine
Of those who said their beer-drinking routine had changed, we asked what the biggest difference was. The top responses:
- 68.5% said they drink more at home and less at bars and breweries
- 12% said they drink less beer overall
- 7% said they purchase more beer from grocery/convenience stores
Favorite Beer Styles & Local Breweries
Favorite Beer Style (top 10, percentages rounded):
- 20% — IPA
- 18% — Hazy IPA
- 10% — Stout
- 9% — Pale Ale
- 8% — Pilsner
- 8% — Amber Ale
- 7% — Sour
- 4% — Belgian (Dubbel, Tripel, etc.)
- 4% — Hefeweizen
- 3% — Saison
Favorite Local Brewery (27 different breweries were mentioned, down from 28 last year and up from 19 in 2019. Total mentions in parentheses):
- Templin Family (48)
- Fisher (30)
- Kiitos (17)
- Shades (14)
- 2 Row, Bewilder (12)
Talkin’ About Trends
Two optional questions involved beer trends. One asked what beer-related trend respondents were most excited about. Another wondered which trend they wished would go away. Here’s how that shook out. Each question received about 200 responses.
Beer Trend I’m Excited About
- 10% of all respondents listed Hazy or Juicy IPA as a trend they are excited about
- About the same percentage mentioned sours or spontaneously fermented beers
- A handful said they’re excited that the number of local breweries continues to increase
- Barrel-aged beers and a return to traditional styles are welcomed trends
- And one respondent: Staying alive during COVID. Very important trend.
Beer Trend I Wish Would Go Away
- At least 25 respondents mentioned slushie/sweet/milkshake, with a large number of those specifically calling out lactose in beer as a trend they’d like to see go away
- About the same number would like to see local breweries cut back on Sours and/or Hazy IPAs
- 10% of respondents aren’t keen on IPAs in general
- Other trends respondents wish would go away: Standing in line for new releases, DABC involvement, and hard seltzers
Advice for Breweries
With so much uncertainty and challenges facing the hospitality industry in general and bars, breweries, and restaurants, specifically, I wanted to give respondents an opportunity to share a piece of advice or encouragement for local breweries.
Again, more than 200 people responded to this optional question. The major themes that emerged include:
- Continue to innovate and push boundaries
- That said, hype sells but don’t forget about the consumers who rely on the tried-and-true flagship beers
- Solicit customer feedback and apply it where appropriate. And don’t underestimate the importance of quality customer service on-site.
- Maintain up-to-date website and social media information with current beer lists, hours of operation, etc.
- Expand distribution to more rural parts of the state
But for the most part, respondents advised breweries to keep doing what they’re doing.
The survey allowed respondents to share any additional thoughts or opinions they have about Utah Beer News or the Utah craft beer scene in general. Here are a few I found to be valuable or otherwise insightful:
- I want to know more about politics and would be interested in learning why more breweries don’t release more “special” beers á la Monkish, Other Half, etc. — Tim: I’d like to delve more into alcohol laws. I’ve lived here most of my life and I’m still confused by certain regulations. As for more special beers, I’ve found many local breweries are regularly pushing the envelope with interesting and one-off releases.
- I’m 33 and I don’t have any of the social media platforms listed, so I get all my beer news by visiting breweries and various Discord groups. You might try reaching out in ways outside of Facebook and Twitter. — Tim: That’s an excellent point. I’ll explore additional channels on which to share Utah Beer News.
- Love beer and would love some more reviews or news about new brews. — Tim: Great feedback. New Beer Friday (see below) is my go-to for details on beer releases, but I’ve started incorporating two “notable” beers into my monthly e-newsletter. They’re not always brand-new releases, however.
- When I first moved to the state, I considered it a beer wasteland after living in Oregon and D.C. Because I traveled so much I refused to have a Utah beer in my fridge, only beers from out of state. But so much has changed that I’m happy to highlight Utah beers. — Tim: That’s great to hear. Yes, the Utah craft beer landscape is impressive right now.
- Utah beer needs to be recognized everywhere, not just in Salt Lake County. — Tim: So true. I’ve profiled each of the breweries in Ogden, but I haven’t made my way to the southern half of the state. Those breweries (and others outside of the Salt Lake Valley) are on my list to visit.
It’s incredible to see so many folks visiting the site regularly. Thank you. For me, it’s invaluable to get clarity on what topics interest you most. I’ll definitely keep that in mind as we plan future coverage.
While I can’t write about every new beer release (Mikey on the Utah Beer Blog, in my opinion, remains the definitive resource on that front), I’ll do my best to incorporate new beer releases into the coverage.
That said, if breweries want to give me a heads-up on new beers, or share any news releases or other information, feel free to email me directly.
Above all, our mission remains the same:
Utah Beer News strives to share stories important to the Utah craft beer community.
Thank you for welcoming us into your community.
Incidentally, congratulations to Ryan McMillan, Jennifer Simpson, Sydney Hart, and Lauren Brown. They completed the survey and had their names chosen to receive Utah Beer News prize packs.
The prize packs included a gift card to Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub, a gift card to each winner’s favorite brewery, a piece of brewery merchandise, and a Guide to Craft Beer book from the Brewers Association.
Are You Subscribed?
I like to give away stuff to Utah Beer News e-newsletter subscribers. It’s also the spot where I share news and notes you won’t find on my other social sites.
If you’re not yet subscribed, it’s easy to do so.
I currently send out one email each month and promise not to use your email for anything other than communicating the latest Utah Beer News.
Thank you again for your support! 🍻