Mormons, mountain views and… master brewers?
That’s right, Salt Lake City calls itself home to some of the best breweries in the country. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Salt Lake City has a strong focus on community, with locals putting time, work and money back into their respective neighbourhoods.
Ready to find out all about the best Salt Lake City breweries? Join us as we dive in!
A History of Brewing in Salt Lake City
Though little memory of this remains, Salt Lake City was once the biggest beer producer in the East of the United States. Production thrived as demand from California’s overworked miners was vast. At the time there were two main brewers operating out of Utah: the Salt Lake Brewing Company and Becker Brewing.
Both of these companies had their own strokes of genius. Becker Brewing was run by a German family that focused on traditional recipes and impeccable quality. Not only did they run a major brewing operation that survived the Prohibition, but they also operated their own malting facility. This major technological process was difficult to establish even in the east, never mind in the deserts of Utah.
Salt Lake Brewing Company operated on a different set of principles: scale and efficiency. Today, Utah produces about 30 000 barrels of beer per annum. Over A century ago, Salt Lake Brewing Company was single-handedly brewing 100 000 Barrels per year, in a city that had only been established by Mormon pioneers 50 years prior.
The prohibition nearly killed brewing in Salt Lake, but Becker Brewing held out, only to be closed by the government as they were suspected of having links to the criminal underworld that was flourishing during the great depression.
The establishment of National Highways led to American beer being consolidated under a few big brands, and once producers like Coors and Busch realised they could undercut the local competition, beer in Utah seemed to have lost its pulse.
The Beer Revival
After 20 years of no beer industry to speak of, Greg Schirf opened the first microbrewery, Schirf’s Brewing Company in 1986. Local students were introduced by Wasatch (the beer being brewed by Schirf) and started to realise that they could not only create the market for local beer but create the product as well. One of these students, Del Vance, opened his own brewery, Unita, after he graduated in 1993.
Around the same time, two young real estate developers wanted to bring beer manufacturing to one of the most dangerous parts of the city: Downtown Utah. Peter Cole and Jennifer Talley founded Squatters, a new brewpub in what had been Salt Lake’s ‘Red Light District’. Little did they know they were contributing to a wave of urban renewal that would see the Downtown area transform radically over just a few years.
There are now eleven different microbrewers operating in salt lake, each contributing enormously to their respective communities and having formed a community of brewers amongst themselves.
How Many Breweries Are In Salt Lake City?
There are currently 32 Breweries and Counting in Salt Lake City!
What Is The Largest Brewery In Salt Lake City?
It’s a tie between Uinta and Epic Brewing Company. Epic Produces around 130 unique beers while Uinta’s facilities are large enough to be producing 11 Olympic-size swimming pools of beer at one time.
What Are The Major Beer Festivals Or Events In Salt Lake City?
With such a thriving beer culture, it should come as no surprise that Salt Lake City is home to some of the country’s most exciting beer festivals. Here’s a selection of our top picks.
This combo beer and spirit festival is one of the most exciting events on any beer-drinking Utahn’s calendar. With a stage for local bands and plenty of exciting food options, Brewstillery even offers a games area for an axe-throwing competition.
Undoubtedly one of the year’s most exciting events, it’s also for a good cause! You can choose to donate to planned parenthood by paying just a little extra for your ticket!
Annual Utah Beer Festival
It might still be a while before beer season hits us, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t already be excited for the annual Utah Beer Festival. Hosting over 200 beers from at home, around the country and abroad, the Annual Utah Beer Festival is one of the biggest events of its kind in the country.
Drawing enthusiasts and brewers from as far away as Japan and Germany, it can only be described as unmissable.
If you have a hankering for German cuisine and good old Bavarian-style Lager, you have to check out the Snowbird Oktoberfest. Coming at the end of August, it’s the perfect way to say goodbye to summer and welcome in the changing of the seasons. There’s a beer for every type of person, from adventure ales to brilliant local lagers.
3 Best Salt Lake City Breweries to Visit This Year
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Founded in 1993, this legendary brewing house has become one of the biggest craft breweries in the country. With a focus on quality and sustainability, Uinta was making moves to become a sustainable business long before it was trendy, adopting both wind and solar power before the arrival of the 2010s.
They’ve kept 10 beers in production at all times, some of these are seasonal lagers and ales, and some are new experiments into the realm of fruit beer. But you can always count on them to deliver a world-class IPA and a winning Weiss.
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This brewpub has been around for so long it’s become an institution. Located in the now historic area of Salt Lake’s downtown, this beautiful pink brewpub is the perfect place to have a good meal and a brilliant local beer, especially after an evening at Salt Lake’s nearby theatre.
Squatters, along with Uinta, have become pillars in the local brewing scene, and many younger brewers have learnt the tricks of the trade from these two establishments.
A. Fisher Brewing Company
This radical brewery is challenging not just outdated modes of beer production, but also the traditional capitalist business structure. Not only is the brewery extremely community-oriented, providing training and bursary schemes for local public schools, but it’s employee-owned.
Come experience this radical new atmosphere, as well as great food and, of course, world-class beer.
Salt Lake City Breweries Bring The Brews
Salt Lake City is without a doubt one of the most exciting cities to visit for any beer lover. We hope you stop by and allow yourself to fall in love with this unexpected Western gem.