- Mike Riedel
It seems I just can't help myself when it comes to new breweries. I'm absolutely giddy about them; they're like these little communal dens of happiness that nourish the spirit and body. I'm happy to report there are now 35 breweries and brewpubs across the state, with another four or five scheduled to open this year. One of those up-and-comers, and likely the next place to open, is South Salt Lake's Level Crossing Brewing Co. (2496 S. West Temple).
This new concept of hyper-localized brewing is most heavily concentrated in a mile-long section of West Temple in South Salt Lake that currently touts breweries Shades of Pale and SaltFire, along with Sugar House and Dented Brick distilleries. With easy accessibility and good neighbors like these, success is almost assured.
Level Crossing is the concept of majority owner Mark Medura, who cut his teeth in the alcohol industry by latching on to a fledgling High West Distillery in 2009. "I think I was employee No. 4 when I signed on back then," Medura reminisces. "It was great to be a part of such a transformative operation—a place that changed the world's perception of blended American whiskeys, and American rye in particular."
Medura decided to leave High West in December 2015 when it was acquired by Constellation Brands. He partnered with several former HW colleagues to build upon their years of alcohol industry knowledge and apply it to craft beer.
"We all loved craft beer and wanted to try and make our vision a success," Medura says, "but we were distillers and needed someone in place with more beer savvy." As it turns out, the "savvy" he was looking for didn't come from inside the brewing industry. "I kind of wanted a semi-professional home brewer," Medura says. "I didn't want a 20-year veteran that was too set in their ways; I wanted fresh eyes, and I found that in my first [and] only candidate."
Through a serendipitous conversation with a colleague, Medura was introduced to Chris Detrick, a photojournalist with The Salt Lake Tribune and a talented 17-year veteran home brewer. "Chris is the only one I ever talked to," Madura says. "After checking out his home brew rig and trying the quality of his beers, my impressions were off the charts."
Detrick's résumé isn't confined to his garage and homebrew competitions. He has collaborated with many of Utah's big beer players, including Uinta and Epic breweries. But when Medura came calling with his life-altering plan, the photojournalist had some big decisions to make. "The newspaper industry is all I've ever known," Detrick says. "I've been all over the world covering news for the Trib, but this has been a dream of mine for decades."
After soul-searching with his wife Ashley, the Detricks decided Level Crossing would become their new adventure. "It was a leap of faith," Detrick adds, "but a solid concept and innovative plan made that jump pretty easy."
Although Level Crossing is still in its nascent stage, Detrick has already fired up the 15-barrel brew system and, as of press time, has an amber ale and a Kentucky common beer fermenting away in the tanks. Their high-point cans will debut with a rye IPA, a double IPA, blonde ale and an undecided lager beer. Once completed, look for a brewery with a large pub area, up to eight taps and high-point beers that will be packaged in 16-ounce cans.
Medura and Detrick intend to have beer ready to go by the end of March. Hopefully for us, the beer gods will be kind in their efforts. As always, cheers!