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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Utah Beer Year in Review

A lot of good and a little bad came to the Utah beer community in '07. Here's a brief review of high and low lights.

The year started appropriately enough our usual winter weather phenomena The Inversion. And Desert Edge Brewer ---- wasted no time in concocting a tasty companion to the murky winter air. Named coincidentally Inversion. It's a nice lite, moderately smokey Rauchbier with a nice bed of malt hops and a whole lotta smoke.

Another style out of the norm that made it's way into local brew pubs was the Flanders Brown Ale style that has it's origins from the Flemish region of Belgium. Jenny Talley from Squatters put together this authentic sour Belgian farmhouse ale with tart cherry accents. Cherry Luv is a seasonal and has no set production schedule.

In February Fifty-four Barley Wines and ninety judges from all over North America converged at the Toronado in San Fransisco to enjoy and select the continents best. Uinta's XI Anniversary Barley Wine tied for third in the annual high octane competition.

Author and beer geek Del Vance published Beer in the Beehive: a History of Brewing in Utah. The book documents Utah's earliest beer producers from past to the present and the cultures that influenced them.

Squatters officially became the largest brewpub in the state expanding to take over the entire three storey historical building it occupies.

We learned in 2007 that the word Merlot is so offensive that it had to be stricken from the licence plate of Glenn Eurick's Merlot colored 1996 Mercedes Benz. After having the plate for ten years he was forced to give it up because it offended the delicate sensibilities of an anonymous caller.

We also learned that were on can tear down, another can rebuild. For the first time since the start of Prohibition, a Utahn will be producing home grown hooch from the states first legal distillery. David Perkins has some pretty great plans for the P.C. distillery, like a top to bottom renovation of the proposed property and a tasting room for patrons to sample the various spirits produced.

Following a nation-wide trend Utah beer makers started producing certified organic beers. Squatters was the first to offer it's Organic Amber Ale at they're brew pub. Uinta's Wildfire Pale Ale was fist to be offered in stores and bars.

Statistics released by the Brewers Association, shown that even though Utahns drink less beer than the rest of the nation our breweries do very well in sales. Two of Utah's breweries ranked 47th & 49th out of just under 1400 craft breweries. Nearly 80% of all craft beer sales in the U.S. came from these 50 companies.

The Mountain Brewers Festival yielded many medals for Utah Breweries in June. Judges from all over the country, participated in blind tastings, awarding 18 medals to the most misunderstood beer producing state in the nation.

Some fresh blood (good & Bad) was injected into Uta's D.A.B.C. after three decades of stagnation.

In July we found that Utah loves Lions more that any other state. Lev Lion a Czech beer that has been in in Utah since the 1995 and is distributed in 12 states, Lev has, for some inexplicable reason, made its biggest splash in the Salt Lake City market. It sells better here than anywhere in the country since it was introduced. The state consumed 10,000 cases in '06.

Famed Beer Author and enthusiast Michael Jackson passed away at his home in London, England. He was arguably the foremost authority on beer and whiskey in the world.

The best reappearing & disappearing act of the year goes to the Utah Brewers Festival. After years of being on hiatus it's return was heralded as trip back to the good ol' days. But Mother Nature was nursing a hangover and it had to be cancelled due to weather. Bitch.

Zima, Smirnoff Ice, Mike's Hard Lemonade and the like were deemed to be too damn enticing for consumers by a member of the states booze patrol. The low alcohol beverages(4.0%abv) were to be moved to the state run liquor stores from grocery outlets so they would be harder to get and taxed at a much, much higher rate. After voting down the move. The Dabc council lost it's spine and decided it's a matter for the state legislature.

Utah scored big at the Great American Beer Festival. Three breweries won eight medals. As well as The Large Brew Pub & Brewer of the Year, going to RedRock and its Brewer Kevin Templin. Other beers awarded were Hopper's Lil' Pip's Mild(gold), Squatters' IPA(gold) & Their Organic Amber(silver).

The last quarter of '07 saw a influx of new imports to the state. Most from Belgium!

Finally, South Salt Lake City blames it's crime rate on the number of bars in their town. So no new licenses are to be issued and bar owners cannot sell their business with liquor licenses included.

All in all it was a good year. People are slowly getting it. Utah got some game!


Chased said...

Do you know where I could find Beer in the Beehive? I have searched online and cannot find it anywhere. And, is it any good?

Mikey said...

It's a really great read. There are a lot of things in the book that will make your jaw drop.
If you live in Utah, you can still find it at most Brew Pubs and locally owned book stores. If not send me your contact info and I'll pass it on to Del. I'm sure he'll take care of you.

Anonymous said...

You scared me a little with that last one, Mike. ;)

But I found what you were referencing in an older post; you meant SOUTH Salt Lake, right?

And since at least half of the bars in that town are dead meat when the smoking ban goes in to effect, I guess - for better or worse - that new law won't make a hell of a lot of difference.

Mikey said...

D'oh! Thanks for catching that huge f'up Ed. I can't imagine bar patrons turning into shut-ins & abandoning their watering holes when the smoking ban goes into effect.