Brewing Up the Best
There are many well-known reasons to visit Utah, including world-class ski resorts, historic sites across the state and those five national parks. Not so well known, but just as alluring, is Utah’s growing beer scene. I grew up in Utah, but I had lived in Bend, Oregon for five years, where beer is a major part local culture and, in turn, a big tourism draw. While it’s not as high profile as Bend, I found out Utah’s craft beer scene is thriving — even winning awards. I had to find out more Here are six of my favorite breweries in Northern Utah and why, in my opinion, they stand out.
Bohemian Brewery (Murray, south of Salt Lake)
Step inside and you are instantly transported to a Bavarian Lodge, where you can enjoy great beer and a variety of classic German dishes. The environment is cozy, and though I visited in the summer, I imagine it would be all the more welcoming with some snow falling outside the windows. The Pierogies (potato dumplings) and Bratwurst paired with the Viennese Amber Lager were the perfect pairing. The food was rich in flavor, while this particular beer gave just enough flavor to clear my palate between bites without overwhelming it. I would also recommend giving the potato pancakes and their house sauerkraut a try — especially if you are up for something authentic and different. Bohemian Brewery has one location in Murray.
Roosters Brewing Company (Ogden, Layton, north of Salt Lake)
Roosters took up residence in a historic building on 25th Street in 1995 and has been an Ogden staple ever since. With the opening of the new B Street Brewery on the west side of the tracks (including a dedicated facility and canning line), it is safe to say Roosters is a well-established favorite. I make a point to come here and enjoy the outdoor seating during the warmer months. At the Ogden location, there are a few tables located right next to the sidewalk out front, allowing you to observe the charm of 25th street while you eat. In my experience, you can never go wrong with ordering the classic Bee’s Knees Honey Wheat brew. When you want something light and refreshing, that is the beer that will hit the spot. Whatever your beverage of choice may be, it is the beer battered fish and chips, and the signature Naughty Fries, that will have you coming back to this brewery again and again. Roosters has locations in Ogden and Layton.
Utah Brewers Cooperative (Salt Lake, Park City)
This cooperative includes two breweries, Squatters Craft Beers and Wasatch Brewery. A few years back, the Utah Brewers Cooperative was named Mid-Size Brewery of the Year by the Brewers Association. Both have been around since the craft beer renaissance began in the 1980s, and both breweries contribute to the richness of Utah’s evolving beer scene. The Wasatch Polygamy Porter is a beer that I indulge in at least once, each time I am in Utah. Its autumnal, velvety and reminds me that I’m home. If you happen to be craving something on the opposite end of the spectrum, the Squatters IPA is crisp and bright — perfect for hot summer days.
When it comes to choosing a beer at either of these breweries, it really depends on which of your taste buds you are looking to appease, as both have a wide selection to choose from. Each of their beers is a stand out selection in their respective categories. When it comes to food, I’ve never been disappointed at either of breweries, so I tend to enjoy switching my order up. However, I would recommend giving the Bavarian Pretzel or house burger a go at Wasatch. At Squatters, try their killer street tacos. These are a great go-to for anyone, as they have beef, fish, and veggies options. Both breweries have a location in Park City and Salt Lake City, and Squatters has a location at Salt Lake City International Airport.
Strap Tank Brewery (Springville, south of Provo)
Strap Tank is owned by the same man who started Legends Motorcycle Emporium (Read: Riding Through History), which is located just across the street — hence the vintage motorcycle theme shared by both. The architecture at Strap Tank is, itself, something to admire, with intricate brickwork and really cool faux-industrial details inside like wooden ceilings with areas made to look as if a motorcycle has crashed through the roof. The creativity at Strap Tank brought me in, and the beer and food met will bring me back in the future. On my first visit here, I ordered a few samples and quickly decided that the Sgt. Holtz Dry Stout was my favorite. Sometimes a stout can be a bit overwhelming, but this beer has a light body with all of the deep roasted flavor profiles that you want in a stout. The beer battered onion rings were crisp, golden and delicious, making an excellent choice to enjoy alongside any beer you prefer. Strap Tank Brewery has an easy-to-access location in Springville, on the south end of the Wasatch Front in Utah County.
Uinta Brewing Company (Salt Lake)
Located in Salt Lake City, Uinta Brewing really pays homage to Utah’s environment. The space is designed with the local culture and outdoor recreation lovers in mind. You will find plenty of outdoor seating during the warmer months, and a large, open indoor dining area where you can hang out with friends after a day on the slopes. Uinta’s beer has a strong and well-established reputation in the microbrew industry, and has officially made it on the list as one of the Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies in the country. When I visit, I enjoy trying their seasonal brews that they have on tap, like the Grapefruit Hop Nosh, which, as you might suspect, is bright and refreshing with its citrus notes. Sample them, there are too many good ones not to give them each a shot. For the best experience, pair that beer with something savory. Personally, I always appreciate a well-made, plant-based option at a brewery. Luckily, Uinta’s menu changes seasonally with fresh ingredients on rotation, meaning their plant-based offerings are spot on. The veggie pesto sando was crunchy and sweet, which paired nicely with my equally refreshing beer.
Proper Brewing Company (Salt Lake)
Proper Brewing has a few locations where they serve their beer. You can grab a drink sans the grub at their bar and beer store in downtown Salt Lake City. If you are hungry, then they also have two restaurants that serve their beer — Avenues Proper and Proper Burger Co. Their signature Proper Beer was an instant favorite for me. It is a classic golden ale. It is understandable that they refer to it as their signature, as it is well balanced, and easy-to-drink — no palate particularities to appease here. I stopped by both of the restaurants, and found that they are very different from one another and each well worth a visit. Avenues Proper has a bistro flare with a lot of local ingredients incorporated into the dishes. I tried the confit duck pot pie for example, which was quite rich and very tasty. They also do brunch, where you can enjoy entrees like frites with beer aioli, roasted tomato tartine, or a farmers market hash. On your way out, grab some Proper beer to enjoy later that afternoon. If you are looking for more of a laid-back place to hang out with friends, I recommend Proper Burger Co. This spot is much more casual, and conveniently located right next to Proper’s bar. Here, you can enjoy gourmet burgers and fries — they even have vegan and vegetarian-friendly options. You can even take your burger next door to the bar area, which features classic arcade games and foosball tables.
The Best of the Rest (Salt Lake)
It is hard to pare down Northern Utah’s best breweries to just a few, especially with great new operations opening up regularly. If you want to check out multiple breweries, Salt Lake City is a great place to do that, with several to choose from in close proximity to one another. Along with some of those listed above, I recommend checking out:
- Red Rock Brewing Company
- A. Fisher Brewing Company (Read: Rediscovering a Piece of Utah’s History at A. Fisher Brewing Company)
- Desert Edge Brewery
- RoHa Brewing Project
- T.F. Brewing
- Kitos Brewing
- Epic Brewing Company
The Best of the Rest (Tooele, Ogden)
When you feel like a drive with quintessential Basin and Range views, Bonneville Brewing in Tooele is a nice scenic spot with delicious beers.
Ogden has a few additional breweries as well, including Talisman Brewing Company and, the soon to come, Ogden River Brewing, which is rumored to be taking up residence in the historic Becker Brewing plant site, merging the area’s rich brewing tradition with the contemporary landscape.