When locals think about Utah County, beer isn't the first thing that comes to mind. Hell, it isn't the second, third or 20th, for that matter. However, there is one island of sanity out there that's striving to put the "happy" back in Happy Valley for Utah's beer faithful. The story of Strap Tank Brewing Co. began just a few years ago, but to know how this lone wolf came into being, you need a little history lesson.
Now, before you start tuning out, I'd like to inform you that this is a very brief lesson. It starts way back in 1875, when a guy named John Dallin saw the need to fill the bellies of thirsty miners. Dallin's operation burned bright for nine years, until it could no longer compete with the much larger breweries established in Salt Lake City and elsewhere. Once Dallin's closed, there wouldn't be a new brewery in UC until 2016, when local boy and home builder Rick Salisbury decided that it was time to bring craft brews back to Springville—the city he loves and was raised in.
In case you're keeping score, we're talking about a 132-year brewery drought, and that very long timespan was not lost on Salisbury. If he was going to do what few had attempted, he needed to not only win over the minds of Springville locals, but also a facility that would exemplify his hometown's reputation as being Utah's Art City. To draw inspiration, Salisbury looked to his passion in the world of classic motorcycles. The brewery's name would come from the rarest of Harley Davidson motorcycles, the Strap Tank—he owns of one of three known to exist. The brewpub building itself would be a scaled down replica of Harley Davidson's original 1870s factory.
Having a brewhouse is one thing, but a knowledgeable brewer is another. After searching the nation for the right person, Strap Tank found their guy: Mike Demowski, a native of Austin, Texas. He was raised with respect for the craft, and had no issue relocating to a region not known for its beer. "This area that I've moved to is one of the most stunning that I could have imagined," he says. "It's easy to draw inspiration from communities like this that have so much to offer."
Sure, vistas and geography are one thing, but when you get down to brass tacks, you're still operating a brewery in one of the most conservative, anti-adult-beverage markets in the nation. Still, Demowski doesn't see it that way. "My philosophy is 'taste before intoxicant,'" he says. "Some in the community may not be on board with what we're doing, but most of my interactions with the people that have been stopping by have given positive feedback."
Strap Tank is currently serving a variety of beers on their 10 draft handles, including Flat Head American Lager, Sportster IPA and the Sgt. Holtz Dry stout. If low-point beers aren't your thing, they're also formulating a line of high-point beers that you'll be able to enjoy from the comfort of your cave. Bring your growlers and stick around for the bacon-wrapped cheese bread. Those alone are almost worth the trip. Almost. Cheers!