- Derek Carlisle
Not since the 1800s, when Utah was a much wilder place, has the state ever had such a massively successful beer decade as the one we just experienced. We closed out the last 10 years with a whopping 40 breweries in the state. Twenty-eight of those have only been around since 2010. It's one thing to have a lot of breweries in your grid. It's another if those breweries are all carbon copies of each other, pushing the same exact vibe. Individuality is the name of the game, because if you're going to stay relevant in a small beer market like ours, you're going to have to carve your own niche. It doesn't have to be all oyster stouts and geranium IPAs, just some to call your own. So as we enter a new decade, hoping that it's as equally groundbreaking as the last, I'd like to place some of the beer joints that I think are worth keeping on your radar in 2020.
- Mike Riedel
Templin Family (T.F.) Brewing Co.
Attention to detail and a clear focus on tradition is what drives the Templin Family Brewery. The Salt Lake City brewery has become a social hub for the community that craves character in its beer. The 14-month-old brewery has a clear direction on where it wants to be on the Beehive's beer map; focusing on more traditional German-style lagers that tend to be clean and drinkable and reflect the reason why these lagers have been so popular for centuries. If for some reason you've never been to the Templin Family Brewery, plan on being met with beers that have broad appeal. If you're a fan of the old world, they've got that covered; trends and innovations are also on the menu. I'd recommend starting off with the house's rustic Kellbier and then move on to their Wicked Sea Party, a hazy New England-style IPA. The Templins love making craft beer converts and I think you'll love their very approachable beer styles. 936 S. 300 West, 385-270-5972, tfbrewing.com
- Mike Riedel
Strap Tank Brewing Co.
For a local brewery chain with little history, you'd never know it by looking at the ornate historical digs that occupy prime real estate in the cities of Springville and Lehi in Utah County. The brainchild of local business magnate Rick Salisbury, these beer destinations mostly reflect the recent history of America with nods toward early 20th century transportation in Springville to depression era carnivals in Lehi. The brewpubs' architecture emulates classic designs covering the industrial revolution to the more fanciful art deco. Shawn Smith and Julie Shuler are the brewers in charge of pairing beer with the historical atmosphere. They create classic styles like Flathead lager that appeal to the more "time-honored" drinker, and fruited sour ales like Trouble Ale for the more adventurous palate. With twice the brewing power, this Utah County one-two punch are destinations to keep your eye on in 2020. 596 S. 1750 West, Springville, 385-325-0262; 3661 N. Outlet Parkway, Lehi, 385-352-8194, straptankbrewery.com
- Mike Riedel
Salt Flats Brewing Co.
A few years ago, Salt Flats emerged onto Utah's beer scene in quiet fashion, materializing as a small brewpub in Draper known as RPM Brewing (aka The Garage). Since its inception, Salt Flats has been searching for their niche in Utah's growing craft beer industry by offering a massive draft selection of housemade beers at very competitive prices. The second phase of Salt Flats' development is currently underway and will see the majority of its growth in 2020. In early 2019, Salt Flats purchased an existing distillery in Colorado and moved all the equipment and inventory to Salt Lake City—we're talking aged barrels of whiskey, rums, etc. So, why should you keep an eye on these guys in 2020? The minds at Salt Flats are going to be taking all of these elements of their beer program and start aging them in Salt Flats' spirits barrels for an all in-house barrel program. Not to mention that they're also getting into the canned cocktail game. 2020 W. Industrial Circle, 801-828-3469, saltflatsbeer.com
Level Crossing Brewing Co.
Wood-aged beers have been surging in popularity around the craft beer universe during the last 10 to 15 years. Generally, they are used to enhance a beer with the flavors of what liquor previously occupied the barrel. For the most part, this practice utilizes big, boozy beer styles, like barleywines and imperial stouts. The boys and girls at Level Crossing have invested in a new device called a Squarrel. It's basically a cube-shaped container that allows for the quick aging of beer with multiple types of toasted wood. The goal here is to (as often as possible) offer as many beers with wood accents, so that the drinker can get a good idea of how wood-aging can affect the flavor. Sure, it might not be as romantic (or as cumbersome) as the tradition barrel method, but it does offer variety in small batches. There aren't a lot of brewers doing this around the country and this is why Level Crossing is definitely a place to keep your eye on. 2496 S. West Temple, 385-270-5752, levelcrossingbrewing.com
Proper Brewing Co.
If you had any doubt that beer is good business these days, consider Proper Brewing Co., and how they use craft beer as the engine to drive the Proper restaurant group. They started with the Avenues Proper restaurant and Publick House, then expanded to proper Brewing Co., Proper Burger, Stratford Proper and the newest addition, Craft by Proper. The one factor that ties this whole group together is the beer. It sets the atmosphere, lubricates social interactions and it compliments the meals. The beers are also transforming and not just with how they look. You might have noticed that some of Proper's brands have been transitioning from 22-ounce bottle to cans. As 2020 moves on, most of Proper's portfolio will be in 16-ounce cans. Look for new barrel-aged beers while the main brewery's current expansion project nears completion. Proper joins a growing list of local breweries looking to grow with additional tap rooms and restaurants. It shows a strong appetite for what they're accomplishing, and this looks to be their year to shine. 857 S. Main, 801-953-1707, properbrewingco.com
Bohemian Brewery Co.
Making Old World beers in small batches and using time-honored techniques was the brewing philosophy of Bohemian Brewing Co.'s founder, Joe Petras. Joe was a Czech immigrant who cut his teeth in Prague's hallowed beer scene, working at Pilsner Urquell in the late '80s. He was able to successfully transform the Czech way of making beer at his brewery in Midvale, until his death in October 2012. Even after Joe went to the big beer hall in the sky, the dedicated men and women that carried on held onto his traditions, refusing to make a single IPA or imperial stout. Last year, the Porcupine Restaurant purchased the brewery from the Petrus family, committing to stand by the Bohemian brand while supplying their restaurants and consumers. Look for hybrid styles in the coming months that stay true to BoHo's Euro roots, while acknowledging today's younger consumers with beers like their German pale ale—a beer style that technically doesn't exist. It's a beer made like an English pale ale, but only uses German ingredients. Would Joe approve? Dunno, but nobody else is doing it, and that he might approve of. 94 E. Fort Union Blvd., 801-566-5474, bohemianbrewery.com
Bewilder Brewing Co.
Utah's newest brewery comes to us from two home brewers that started a couple of home brew shops. To say that co-owners Cody Mckendrick and Ross Metzger are true beer nerds is a massive understatement. Salt City Brew Supply, along with Ogden Brew Supply are still going strong as the duo continue to conquer a good variety of Utah's beer culture. Before the brewery had even opened its doors, Bewilder had already hosted a sanctioned American Homebrewers Association homebrew competition, a Continuing Education & Community Engagement sensory class at the University of Utah, and a Beer Judge Certificate Program tasting exam. It's this kind of awareness, of where they've been, to where they're headed that will drive this brew pub to great things in 2020. The guys told me recently that, "The idea behind Bewilder was to create a brewery that furthered people's understanding of beer." They're barely into the new year and they already seem to be succeeding. 445 S. 400 West, 385-528-3840, bewilderbrewing.com
Wasatch Beers—Park City
If you're of the mindset that something old can't be innovative, well then you're just stupid. Case in point: Wasatch's original brewery in Park City. This is the grande dame of Utah's craft beer industry. Generally, places like Wasatch that anchor the main drag of a major resort town, tend to play it safe when it comes to the kind of beer that makes its way into the tummies of thirsty tourists. Not this brewery. Under the guidance of head brewer Nils Imboden, Wasatch offers styles of lagers and ales that are as tasty as they are diverse. Imboden's enthusiasm has been catching the eye of thirsty beer nerds who are finding there's a serious need to make the trip to the top of Park City's Main Street to try some of these more than ordinary beers; like a Baltic porter aged in brandy wine barrels or a barleywine aged in Pinot Noir barrels. What does this brewery have to offer in 2020? I can't wait to see! 250 Main, Park City, 435-649-0900, wasatchbeers.com
- Mike Riedel
Heber Valley Brewing Co.
It can be hard for a new brewery to hit the ground running on Day 1. A lot of the breweries that are popping up are mom-and-pop shops that were born in the kitchens and garages. Occasionally, there are times when getting product out, just to get that cash flow coming in, can affect a brewery's reputation. That was not the case with Heber Valley Brewing Co. Wasatch County's first brewery in a gazillion years debuted with solid and clean tasting beer that did justice to the place and quickly put Heber Valley on our radar. The boys and girls up there in the clean air also didn't play it safe by sticking to draft-strength beer. Almost immediately after opening their doors, high-point crowlers started trickling out of the tiny brew pub. If their enthusiasm is any indication, 2020 will treat Heber Valley and the rest of us very well. 501 N. Main, Heber, 435-315-3816, hebervalleybrewing.com
Roosters Brewing Co.
It might surprise you to know that this staple of northern Utah's craft beer scene is one of the oldest operating breweries in the region. Established in 1995, this brewery carved its niche by catering to consumers that seemed overlooked by their Salt Lake area counterparts. Roosters expanded their reach in 2005 when they opened a second location in Layton. Two brewpubs are a solid foundation on which to build a brand. But to package and distribute beer, you need a proper facility, dedicated to reaching all of Utah. With the completion of Roosters' B-Street Brewery (also in Ogden), all the pieces are now in place to start producing large batches along with the small batch beers we've come to expect. Roosters debuted their barrel-aging program in November with their Nordic Porter. Based on that success, more barrel-aged beers from Northern Utah will be making their way to every corner of the state. Definitely keep an eye on these guys. 253 25th St., Ogden., 801-627-6171; 2325 B Ave., Ogden, 801-689-2879; 748 W. Heritage Park Blvd., Layton, 801-774-9330, roostersbrewingco.com
Zion Canyon Brewing Co.
If Roosters is claiming Northern Utah, our pals at Zion Canyon Brewing are quickly laying claim to the southern end of the state. Opening in the summer of 2006 by brothers Dale and Derek Harris, the brewery sought to service the needs of craft beer lovers in Springdale, Utah—the gateway to Zion National Park. The Harrises sold their interest in the brewpub a few years later, but the brand never waned, always finding an audience in Southern Utah. In mid-2019, the owners of Zion Brewing announced that they were expanding the reach of the state's southernmost brewery to the city of St. George, a notoriously difficult place to set up a bar, not to mention a brew pub. They purchased the city's old fire station No. 2 and opened a bar there in November, but the brewhouse is still a work in progress. Between the beers I've had from Zion and this new badass establishment in St. George, this is definitely a place to keep an eye on in 2020. 95 Zion Park Blvd., Springdale. 435-772-0336; 142 N. Main, St. George, 435-673-7644, zionbrewery.com
Cerveza Zólupez Beer Co.
Javier Chavez Jr. loves craft beer. The Ogden resident and attorney also loves the spices and flavors of his ancestral home of Mexico. Combining the two in his kitchen as he experimented with his homebrew took him down a path that would create some of the most innovative craft beers the state has ever seen. Saying that Chavez' brewery is small would be a huge understatement. Many homebrewers have systems that would dwarf his two six-gallon fermenters. Not deterred, he got a manufacturing licence and began producing very limited batches of his Mexican-inspired ales. Last month, Chavez upped his game by contracting with Uinta Brewing to produce his limited batch beers on a larger scale. Beers like Zólupez IPA, Zólupez Golden Ale and Zólupez Amber Ale feature flavors of agave, lime, mango and cinnamon, just to name a few. If there's one brewery to keep an eye on this year, it would be this one. As always, cheers! 205 W. 29th St., Ste. 2, Ogden, 801-917-2319, zolupez.com