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17 December 2006

Beehive Brew

Polyporter Let's leave wine for a bit and talk about the rich history of Utah beer..(blank stares all around)

Actually, there is more to Utah's liquored past than abstinence.  Local brewer/pub-owner, Del Vance has penned a 300-page book entitled Beer in the Beehive (Utah is known as the beehive state).  From Vance's recent interview with the local alt-weekly, we learn that..

  • Between the post-prohibition era and 1968, local brewers were producing upwards of 100,000 barrels of beer per year
  • One avant garde brewer obtained a licenese to produce beet-based beer
  • ZCMI, the LDS Church-owned general store sold beer, wine and liquor out of its Salt Lake City location in the late 1800s
  • Brigham Young passed a law in the Utah territory (known as Deseret at the time) prohibiting the production of whiskey - except by him.  Young's spirit was known as "Valley Tan."  Apparently, even by frontier standards, it was heavy-duty stuff
  • A few of the legendarily-named beers produced by modern Utah brewers are: St. Provo Girl (Squatters Brewery), First Amendment Lager and Polygamy Porter (Wasatch Brewery)

Beer in the Beehive is published by Dream Garden Press.


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I live in UT, and so I buy this swill.

I don't think anyone in their right mind would come here to drink beer- the smart folks who go to Park City for Sundance bring their own.

However, if you're stuck in UT someplace, I would reccomend the St. Provo Girl, the Squatters "Full Suspension", and the Polygamy Porter; which has more of a sour bite than I care for but, it's OK.

Never buy anything that carries a foreign label in this state - it's all (100%) 3.2 - think of it, a 3.2 oil-can; Fosters should be ashamed of whoring themselves out like that.


as another Utah resident and borderline lush, I'll have to disagree with that last comment. Other than not being able to order liquor online and have it shipped to me and relying on only state-run liquor/wine stores, accessing the stuff when I want isn't an issue.

The 3.2 beer myth needs to die. The difference is nominal, do the math and make the conversions between volume measurement versus weight measurement.

Most local brewmasters have to get creative with their recipes to keep it in that legal range, which has made for some excellent beer, and those that are traditionally high volume recipes they offer in bottled/packaged form. anyway for me, the beer drinking is an all-day pleasurable activity and I'd prefer to enjoy myself with something that'll let me be coherent and actually taste the damn beer than get wasted after my fourth.

As with any microbrewery I've had the fortune to discover, there are highs and lows on the menu. But most in the state have been on par with places I've been to in Colorado, Cali, the midwest, etc.

Park City, I can't really account for. With Squatters Roadhouse, there are two actual brewpubs with house elixirs. But then again, if you actually voluntarily place yourself in the Sundance fray, good luck getting good anything—food, service, or beer.


I have to agree with Vanessa (we're not picking on you b-dog, promise!). 3.2% Bud Light might be 'swill' - but then full strength Bud Light is just swill with a bit more kick. Low alcohol microbrews are every bit quality beer. In fact, some brew masters (and wine makers) maintain that lower alcohol beverages make faults more apparent (whereas high octane brews might mask a fault or two).

As for 'foreign label' beer - the state liquor stores carry full strength beer from all over the planet. The law for 3.2 beer only applies to beer purchased in supermarkets, convenience stores, etc.

Gee. It looks like I'm defending the Utah DABC. I won't defend the beyond-silly wine/beer laws in the state, but like Vanessa, I try to dispel the misconceptions.

Seth Neal

Listen... the real question is when are we going to start seeing some wineries pop up here in SLC!

I'm ready to start one myself...

And... the Wasatch front would be a great place to grow wine grapes! (Seriously, I've looked into it!)


Seth ... saw some pretty healthy looking vines growing in Midway of all places ... on the road up to the Blue Boar Inn and Zermatt. I have no idea who owns it or what they plan to do with the fruit.

Seth Neal

You know... the mormons used to make wine before a few new revelations put a stop to the whole thing. I talked with a few ranchers who said that their grandparents grew grapes and made wine when they were little.

It'd be interesting to find out who owns those vines up there by Heber...

La Caille has their own little vineyard and "winery"... but all for their restraunt...


Wine is so good...


I must have had the wrong Utah Microbrews. My last two trips to Utah (both since 2004) were full of watery insipid brews utterly lacking in hop or malt character, redolent with flaws. The food, oddly, was quite good at each Brewpub we tried.

Agree that Polygamy Porter was one of the best of the lot, but really its nothing compared to the best of Oregon, Colorado, etc.


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Listen... the real question is when are we going to start seeing some wineries pop up here in SLC!

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That's a lot of beer. I wouldn't know what to do if I could back to the past... I'd be so drunk at this moment, well, I guess so.

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