- Mike Riedel
When Jeff Polychronis and Peter Cole founded Squatters Pub Brewery in 1989, Utah's craft beer scene was all-but-nonexistent. Yeah, you had the Schirf Brewing Co. (Wasatch) operating in Park City, but the most densely-populated grid in the state had literally no options. Cole and Polychronis had no idea that they would be the first to ignite a flame that would continue to engulf the state over the next three decades.
It wasn't easy back in the late '80s to convince the state, Salt Lake City and financial institutions that this relatively new brewpub concept would fly in a state where alcohol was frowned upon. The duo would have to settle on the outskirts of downtown Salt Lake City; back then, that was considered to be anything west of West Temple. "The sidewalks were crumbling and the street lighting was poor, and there was practically nothing out there,'' Polychronis says, "but we felt growth was moving that way, and luckily our hunch was right."
Cole (pictured, left) and Polychronis (pictured, right) would eventually establish the Salt Lake Brewing Co. in the old Garden Hotel Building, cementing its place not only in Utah's beer history, but also America's brewing history, becoming one of only 250 operating breweries in the U.S. "It wasn't an easy thing to convince our bank, or our friends for that matter, that this brewpub thing that we experienced in the Northwest would fly here," Polychronis says. Their perseverance eventually paid off, and the two pals managed to create an enduring craft beer legacy that includes dozens of national and international awards—and, of course, the iconic St. Provo Girl Pilsner. "We're proud that we managed to develop a family of great people over the years, and I'm really proud of the role that Peter and I were able to play in the development of west downtown," Polychronis adds.
To help celebrate this monumental 30th anniversary achievement, Squatters hosts a huge birthday bash on Sunday, Sept. 8. And as a special bonus, a Rum Barrel-Aged Doppelbock clocking in at 12.3% ABV will be released. It will be presented in a special 750 milliliter bottle to mark the occasion. The artwork on the bottle is an original piece by nationally-syndicated and locally-revered political cartoonist Pat Bagley. VIP ticket holders receive a bottle of this limited run brew featuring "Lady Li-Beer-Ty" at the party.
- Mike Riedel
There are more special beers as well. All ticket holders have the unique opportunity to sample limited-edition collaboration beers from Squatters and 11 participating breweries. Local beer and cider makers such as Fisher Brewing, Bohemian Brewery, Hopkins Brewing Co., Red Rock Brewing, Hoppers Brew Pub, Level Crossing Brewing Co., Mountain West Cider, Proper Brewing Co., RoHa Brewing Project, Uinta Brewing, T.F. Brewing and Roosters Brewing Co. are scheduled to provide some of their own beers for the party. A Smoked Helles with fresh peaches is available from Uinta head brewer Patrick Bourque and Squatters' Ryan Stambaugh, alongside a Cucumber Kettle Sour from Roosters head brewer Jacquie King and Squatters' quality director Dave McKean. More collaborative beers will be announced as the party gets closer.
Here's to 30 more years (and beyond) of Squatters beer. And as always, cheers!