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Utah Craft Brewing

Here's the thing about the craft brewing scene in Utah: it's thriving.
We don't have the most microbreweries per capita. That distinction belongs to Vermont. In terms of total beer consumption, Utah drinks the least in the nation (go North Dakota). Despite drinking the least, Utah has seen a 5.28 percent increase since 2011, growth second only to, uh, North Dakota. While Utahns don't drink much, we do drink well: Utah-based breweries annually take home coveted medals from the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and other high-profile national and international competitions.

Mastering the Craft

Craft breweries of all sizes can be found throughout the state of Utah, including in Moab near Arches and Canyonlands national parks, in Springdale at the mouth of Zion National Park, in Price, throughout the Wasatch Front, in Park City and as far north as Logan. Moab Brewery, a perpetual favorite for bikers, hikers, river rats and regular folk, has beers and ales brewed on premise.

Past winners: 

  • Hopper's (Midvale): The first brew pub offered in south SLC. So far, they've won 34 medals at the North American Brewers Association and GABF.
  • Wasatch Brew Pub (Park City and SLC): Products can also be found at their Utah Brewers Co-op facility in Salt Lake City.
  • Uinta Brewing (SLC): One of the nation's top 50 craft brewers by volume, their products can be found at their facility several blocks to the west of Utah Brewers Co-op.
  • Squatter's (SLC): One of Salt Lake's first brewpubs, in business for more than 25 years and has an extensive list of award-winning beer. Squatter's "People, Planet, Profit" mantra means a dedication to great service and sustainable, local products, where possible. Products can also be found at their Utah Brewers Co-op facility in Salt Lake City.
  • Red Rock Brewing Company (SLC): Zagat rated and known for its "new American cuisine."
  • Epic Brewing Company (SLC): Has a fast-growing lineup and their Annex gastropub in nearby Sugar House features the brewery's 36 high-point bottled beers and eclectic dishes in a bohemian atmosphere.

A Hop Above the Rest

  • Red Rock's Paardebloem: One of the recent winners at GABF, Paardebloem, means "dandelion" in Flemish. The beer takes its name from the bittering dandelion greens that do some of the work of hops. The beer was inspired by 2008's hop shortage, a phenomenon that asked brewers to experiment with other ingredients and still please their consumers' demanding palates.
  • Epic Brewing, Epically Growing: Epic Brewing Company has been steadily climbing Ratebeer.com's top 100 breweries in the world list.
  • Uinta Brewing Co: Also featured on Ratebeer.com's top 100 breweries, Uinta continues to build an impressive list of accolades from their inception in 2010.
  • Global Bottlings: There's a well-reported sentiment that the infamous low-point limit on draught beer actually has a significant benefit for brewers in that it challenges them to brew better, being unable to cover up potential defects in beer with a higher alcohol content. Brewers then take that skill and apply it across their product line. While Utah's bars only carry draughts at 4.0 percent ABV, local bars and restaurants stock bottlings of all ABV from across the world.

Liquor Before Beer

  • Night Out: Mixologists have put together some pretty incredible craft cocktail menus for your night on the town, whether dining in at Wild Grape, Copper Onion, Frida Bistro, Finca, Em's or Rye Diner and Drinks, or grabbing a beverage at Bar-X after the ballet.
  • High West Distillery (Park City): High West has set the bar for not only whiskey blending, new whiskeys and vodka in Utah, but has earned national distinction for their spirits.
  • Beehive Distillery (Ogden): Their grain-to-glass approach to craft distillation has its team sourcing quality raw materials, distilling their own spirits and patiently aging its earliest products in small batches.
  • Sugar House Distillery: Practices a similar craft distillation process as Beehive and holds the distinction of offering Utah's first locally distilled rum.

Uniquely Utah

When these experiences are paired with a blossoming farm-to-table scene, you can find flavors unique to Utah virtually anywhere in the state. All of these restaurants have carefully crafted cocktail menus, wine pairings or exclusive wines, and incredible cuisine.

And no, there are no discounted drinks during happy hour, but Utah is still happier and more optimistic than most states. Last year's poll from Gallup Well-being showed Utah topping the nation for future livability based on 13 forward-looking metrics measuring standards of living, health, workforce and economic confidence.

Maybe we've earned that beer. But with fresh powder dropping in the mountains and a plethora of resorts close by, to really work up that thirst, we've got some playing to do first.

See our roundup of local distilleries and experience our growing variety of unique spirits.

Read how Utah's liquor laws support its vibrant craft brew scene.

Fervor on Foot: Tracking Salt Lake's Food and Spirits

by Stephanie Doktor

There is a movement here in Utah, and it is not religious. It is rooted in the worldly senses — taste, touch, sight, smell. Salt Lake has a lively culture committed to distinguished food and spirits. And contrary to popular belief about our city, you can access much of this culture by foot. This is a walkable town.

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