Joseph Smith claims to receive a revelation from God—the Word of Wisdom—saying Mormons should abstain from wine, strong drink, tobacco, hot drinks and certain food items. An exception was allowed for pure wine to be used as a sacrament.
Brigham Young and the pioneers arrive in Salt Lake City, declaring “This is the place.”
Two breweries—Beach & Blair and City Brewing—open in Utah.
British adventurer Captain Richard F. Burton stops in Utah and is introduced to Brigham Young and Mormon-produced Valley Tan whiskey.
Mark Twain visits Utah and gets acquainted with Valley Tan, later saying it was “a kind of whiskey or first cousin to it; it is of Mormon invention and manufactured only in Utah. Tradition says it is made of imported fire and brimstone.”
German immigrant Henry Wagener establishes California Brewery, the first commercial brewery in Utah’s history, across the street from where Brigham Young said, “This is the place.”
The arrival of the transcontinental railroad and the mining boom brings an influx of non-Mormon settlers—many of them Irish, German and English—and, consequently, small regional breweries.
A Mormon named Richard Bishop Margetts establishes the Utah Brewery, which would operate for 50 years and be one of only four Utah breweries to survive until Prohibition.
A Mr. Donnel opens the first brewery in Central City (now Alta).
Donnel opens a second Alta brewery. Philander Butler obtains license to manufacture and sell beer at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon.
M.E. Campbell becomes sole proprietor of City Brewery in Corinne, adding a saloon.
The territorial legislature grants Brigham Young the exclusive right to manufacture and distribute whiskey and other spirituous liquors in Utah. Young claimed never to have tasted whiskey, and his son-in-law William Hooper said, “Brigham Young hates intemperance and its evils, and who, if he could have, would never have made a drop or permitted a drop to enter Utah. He wishes that all the whiskey that the Gentiles brought had been so filled with poison as to have killed all who drank it.”
Young himself said, “If I had the power, I would blow out the brains of every thief in the territory, and I despise the whiskey maker more than I do the thieves.” Despite this claim, Young generated a huge amount of revenue for his new territory by taxing and controlling the very liquor he manufactured, yet despised.
May 4, 1873
First documented church service at Alta is held in Harlow & King’s Saloon.
City Brewery in Corrine is temporarily shut down for violating the law prohibiting the bottling of beer on the same premises as it was brewed. Corinne, a town of 1,500 residents and some 20 saloons, was viewed by Mormons as the “City of the Un-Godly.” Brigham Young begins to freeze out the “Gentiles.”
The Salt Lake Tribune reports “Uebel & Co. are erecting a building for a brewery just north of the Provo Bridge. They expect to be able to furnish handmade lager beer within three weeks.”
Jacob Moritz, another German immigrant, sells his interest in the Montana Brewery and assumes control of a small brewery about two miles from California Brewery. Moritz’s Salt Lake City Brewery became one of the largest in the western United States.
French scientist Louis Pasteur publishes “Etudes sur le Biere,” an examination of the fermentation process and the damage to beer brought on by bacteria. Pasteurization, as well as ice-making machines, refrigerated rail cars and better bottling equipment enable Salt Lake City brewers to serve a much larger area.
Feb. 19, 1877
The Deseret News reports, “The Provo Brewery burnt up last night, supposedly the work of an incendiary.”
August 1, 1878
A fire destroys most of Alta, including the breweries and saloons. The California Brewery reopens in a tunnel on the south side of the canyon, where it had been storing a large quantity of beer.
Nine of Alta’s saloons have been rebuilt, including the William Nischwitz and Charles Sickler’s California Brewery, which had no connection to Wagener’s joint of the same name—although it became Wagener’s sole outlet.
Henery Worley opens the Cache Valley Brewing Company in Logan.
Salt Lake City’s population reaches roughly 21,000.
Fisher Brewing Company opens in Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City's population more than doubles. Bottling law is amended to allow breweries to pipe beer into adjacent bottling houses.
Crown-top bottling method is patented. “Crown” is the proper name for bottle cap.
Schellhas Brewing Company—later Becker Brewing Company—opens in Ogden.
The Manti Messenger writes, “The Manti Brewery is a sign that should adorn a large building near this city. That building should contain the machinery for making beer to be rolled in and out by the thousands of dollars. It would bring more people, more money and more trade to this city. … We hope to soon see some enterprising men at work on this project.”
As Utah’s constitution is drafted, teetotalers want to declare Utah a dry state. Then-LDS Church president Joseph F. Smith opposes this because it would give the impression that Utah is a theocracy.
Utah, with the exception of Salt Lake City, Farmington, Ogden, Sandy, Midvale, Price and various mining towns, goes dry.
August 1, 1917
The Twelfth Session of the Utah Legislature makes Utah an entirely dry state.
Prohibition is ratified by Congress; all four of Utah’s active breweries close. Salt Lake City Brewing and Becker Brewing change their names and begin brewing nonalcoholic “Near Beer.”
Salt Lake City's population approaches 120,000.
Adherence to the Word of Wisdom becomes a requirement to enter Mormon temples.
Nov. 7, 1933
In a special off-year election, by a 2-to-1 majority, the people of Utah vote to allow the sale of 3.2 percent ABW beer. Richard W. Young Jr., author of Utah’s prohibition amendment, retrospectively declares it “a mistake.”
Dec. 5, 1933
Prompted by Prohibition’s vast unpopularity as well rampant organized crime—namely bootlegging—and the loss of potential tax revenue from alcohol, the 21st Amendment is passed, repealing Prohibition. Utah is the last state to ratify the amendment.
Jan. 1, 1934
With Prohibition repealed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, this was the first day Utahns could legally imbibe—but only with 3.2 percent beer.
Becker Brewing Co. and Fisher Brewing Co. produce a combined 182,533 barrels of beer.
Ogden’s Becker Brewing Co. goes out of business.
Fisher Brewing Co. closes its doors, commencing of a 19-year period in which no beer is bottled in Utah.
Utah raises per-barrel beer tax from $4.12 to $11.
Oct. 15, 1986
Greg Schirf opens Schirf Brewing—now Wasatch—in Park City, the first such establishment in Utah since 1967.
Brewpubs are legalized in Utah.
Greg Schirf opens Utah’s first brewpub on historic Main Street in Park City.
Sept. 5, 1989
Peter Cole and Jeff Polychronis open Salt Lake Brewing Company, DBA Squatters, in downtown Salt Lake City.
Eddie McStiff’s brewpub opens in Moab.
Feb. 8, 1994
Del Vance and Will Hamill open Uinta Brewing Company in Salt Lake City.
Red Rock Brewing Co. established in downtown Salt Lake City.
April 11, 1995
Roosters 25th Street Brewing Co. opens in Ogden.
Desert Edge Brewery at The Pub in Trolley Square begins brewing beer.
May 17, 1996
Moab Brewery opens.
Dec. 16, 1996
Hoppers Grill & Brewing Company opens in Midvale.
May 14, 2000
Utah Brewers Cooperative, an alliance between Wasatch and Squatters, is formed.
July 24, 2001
On Pioneer Day, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules Utah’s ban on alcohol advertisements “irrational,” saying it might be causing irreparable harm to local liquor, brewing and publishing companies.
Feb. 17, 2002
Tracks Brewing Company opens in Tooele.
April 25, 2002
Bohemian Brewery debuts in Midvale.
Per-barrel state beer tax raised to $12.80.
A study by The Beer Institute and The National Beer Wholesalers Association ranks Utah 23rd among states with 13 breweries per capita—or one brewery for every 163,834 residents. Local breweries also generated $36.4 million in state and local tax revenue (plus $36.1 million federal) with an additional $24.2 million in state and local sales and excise taxes (plus $16.7 million federal).
Utah legislators increase brewery-license fees from $350 to $3,500 for initial one-time license and annual renewal charges from $1000 to $2,500.
Utah law changes, allowing brewers to sell heavy (strong) beer directly to the public.
Shades of Pale opens in Park City.
Epic Brewing Company opens in Salt Lake City.
Sept. 11, 2010
City Weekly’s Utah Beer Festival ends four-year beer festival drought in the valley.
July 1, 2011
Senate Bill 314 goes into effect, changing all mentions of “liquor” to “alcohol products,” closing a loophole that allowed beer to be sold at a discount. The bill also prevents unlimited beer from being sold at one flat rate, forcing the Utah Beer Festival to go to a token program.
Local craft brewers band together as the Utah Brewers Guild.
Special thanks to Del Vance, whose book Beer in the Beehive: A History of Brewing in Utah (Dream Garden Press) provided the bulk of this information.
Maybe someday the saying will be, “Eat, drink and be merry—you’re in Utah.”