When I heard that Forage co-founder and up-and-coming celebrity chef Viet Pham was consulting with beloved Modern Family dad Ty Burrell and his Bar-X partners to create a new watering hole, my initial reaction was “Uh-oh.” That’s because I couldn’t quite fathom how the precise and precious cuisine that Pham is known for would fit into a casual beer emporium.
Well, I should have known better than to second guess the brainpower behind Bar-X, because it’s the partners of that splendid saloon—Ty Burrell, Duncan Burrell, Rich Noel and Jeff Barnard—who recently opened Beer Bar (161 E. 200 South, 801-355-3618), with some culinary help from Pham.
Beer Bar is directly adjacent to Bar-X, and patrons can stroll from Beer Bar to Bar-X and vice-versa via a connecting doorway. My guess is that oldsters like myself will ultimately veer toward Bar-X, while the younger crowd will prefer the more raucous and racy Beer Bar. Don’t get me wrong: I love them both. But I think the communal picnic table seating and cafeteria-style food setup of Beer Bar will appeal a little more to the college-age set.
This place is aptly named. It’s a serious beer bar with, by my rough estimate, slightly fewer than 200 brews on tap, in bottles and in the form of beer cocktails such as the Belgian 75: gin, lemon juice, sugar, Belgian beer and a lemon twist. And beer aficionados will appreciate the effort that Beer Bar makes to serve various beer styles at the correct temperatures. Lagers, for example, are kept at 38 to 45 degrees, while strong ales are served at 45 to 50 degrees. Hand-pumped brews from the beer engine come in at a session-friendly 54 to 57 degrees. Impressive.
Lest you think that this is a stuffy beer-geek scene, however, think again. The vibe is casual, friendly and somewhat self-serve. There isn’t any table service, which means the bar can get pretty clogged on busy nights. For food, you wait in line and order at a counter, and your meal is delivered to your table.
About that food, I was told by Ty and Duncan Burrell that Viet Pham’s involvement was more about execution, kitchen planning, training and such than actual cuisine creation. Ty says that it was always he and his partners’ idea to sell sausages, which makes up the bulk of Beer Bar grub. It’s a smart concept. After all, who doesn’t love a brat and a brew? And now, you don’t have to wait around for Oktoberfest to indulge.
On any given day, Beer Bar offers some dozen different sausages to select from, all made by Salt Lake City’s most bodacious butcher: Frody Volgger of Caputo’s Market. Options range from elk bratwurst, kielbasa, Louisiana-style hot sausage and spicy Italian sausage to a vegetarian wiener, Sicilian turkey sausage, buffalo, lamb and chicken sausages. It’s a weenie lover’s dream.
It works like this: Step up to the counter, select a sausage (which comes on an Eva’s Bakery roll), pick from toppings like sauerkraut, peppers, caramelized onions and chimichurri, then order optional sides like killer Belgian-style frites, salads or strudel for dessert. Also in line with Belgium, Beer Bar offers a panorama of dipping sauces like sambal aioli, curry ketchup, tzatziki and, of course, Utah fry sauce.
The ginormous beer selection should keep most folks happy. However, if you’re not into hops and barley, rest assured that Beer Bar also serves excellent wines like Pratsch Gruner Veltliner, Louis Jadot Chardonnay, A to Z Pinot Gris Acrobat Pinot Noir and more, along with aperitifs and digestifs.
Hey Ty, any chance I could just live here?
161 E. 200 South
Fri., Nov. 21, 6 p.m. / $99