Shades of Pale | Buzz Blog

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Shades of Pale

The Park City brewery expands into South Salt Lake

Posted By on January 6, 2015, 4:10 AM

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South Salt Lake has quickly become a hub of activity, especially for those brewing new drinks. Seriously, with new breweries and distilleries opening up around the state, the area that's seen the most growth has been SoSaLa. (Or, #SODO for those revitalizing the area.) One of the latest addition to that growing community has been Shades of Pale, a Park City-based brewery who opened up a new base of operations near 2100 South and West Temple, featuring a tasting room as part of the new design. Give it a few more months and you'll be able to do an S-Line crawl from Highland all the way west, or a "Scrawl" as I'm going to coin it before it gets stolen. Today we chat with the co-founders of the company about their major growth in such a short time and what they have on the horizon. (All pictures courtesy of Shades of Pale.)

Trent Fargher & Alexandra Ortiz de Fargher
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Gavin: Hey guys, first thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Love outdoors, adventure, good food. I have a degree in accounting and spent many years doing IT consulting prior to this adventure. Move to Utah a number of years ago from Colorado, the snow is better and the airport is closer. But don’t tell anyone.

Gavin: What first got you interested in beers and what drew you towards brewing?

I was hooked on craft beer with first encounter with interesting styles and flavors back in my college days. That was before the craft revolution and yellow fizzy beer was the only choice. You’d go to the beer store and you’d find ten iterations of the same beer by different breweries. Back in the day Michelob was a splurge, and Stroh’s not Bud was one of the leading brands. Today Stroh’s doesn’t exist. You can find out why from an article by Forbes last year called “How to lose 9 billion; The Fallen Stroh Family.” We don’t intend to repeat. The closest thing to craft was Michelob Dark at the time. I could get some imports and remember saving for days to purchase a Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout. I still love that beer.

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Gavin: What was it like for you setting up your own home-brew kit and experimenting with different types?

My first homebrew kit was a Christmas gift from mom and dad. The kit was made up of a burlap sack with plastic liner. The process? Fill the sack with tap water, sprinkle in the yeast, and hang it on the wall for two weeks. The outcome: not so good. Next week I drove two and a half hours to the nearest home brew supply store and bought a more sophisticated setup. That meant I upgraded my burlap sack for a plastic bucket, a glass carboy, and mash extract. I also bought a crowner, but one of my biggest challenges was finding the larger bottles I wanted to use for my homebrew. New empty bottles were too expensive for me and finding bombers pre-craft revolution was tough. I had to go dumpster diving at the recycling center. That ended up being too much work, and not so much fun, so I upgraded to a keg very shortly. I brewed a number of different styles, never one I really fell in love with. It is still the same today I like all kinds of styles and want to try anything that I haven’t had before. I jump between all our beers, currently I have Jack Wagon and Misdirected in my private selection, wink wink.

Gavin: What lessons did you learn early on and what were some of your favorite creations?

If your equipment gets clogged you could end up with beer all over your ceiling. Making beer takes patience and takes time. Don’t leave a full keg in a sub-zero garage, the seams don’t stretch that much. I had an October fest that I brewed on a regular basis, when I moved I lost all my notes and with it the beer has never been quite the same. That was a long time ago and at the time I never thought I would ever be a commercial brewer so I was on to the next beer. I brewed an Old Peculiar knock off one time. It was so boozy that 3 of us drank a pitcher of it and passed out slept right through dinner and into the morning. All my alcy-buddy’s in Colorado loved it, it was so out of whack I couldn’t drink it. I was a recreational home brewer. How much I home-brewed depended on how much choice was on the shelves and how much money I had. What I’ve always been passionate about is enjoying a good glass beer.


Gavin: How did the idea come about to start up your own brewery, and what made you choose Shades of Pale for the name?

On The name, we went looking for data. Our assumption was that a name could make or break you. The year before we started the brewery we went to GABF to do research about the beer world. One of the questions we had, is “Is there a correlation between success and the name of the brewery?" The answer, we came up with, is no. Is a regional name key, such as Sierra Nevada or Boston Beer Company? Not when you look at the success of Stone and Left Hand Brewing. Our conclusion was that in craft what’s most important is the what’s in the package. It’s all about the beer, so we chose a beer-centric name. Shades of Pale is a name that’s reminiscent of what’s in the bottle. We thought at very fitting for what we are trying to create, a beer that puts a smile on your face and keeps you coming back for more.

Gavin: What made you choose Park City as the location, and what was the process like with the DABC to get everything approved?

How did Park City come about? We live in Park City. The thought crossed our mind that it would be great to live and work in the same community since neither of us did. You ask about working with the DABC? Like most governmental agencies, the process is very time-consuming and expensive for a small start up.

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Gavin: How was it first setting up the brewery and getting everything you needed in place?

All research pointed to just how difficult and expensive it is to start a brewery especially if you don’t have a couple of million dollars in the bank. Keeping that in mind we started with a small pilot system in a glorified garage to test the market. We had a chuckle when the fire department came to inspect the space and the 15 guys that came couldn’t fit in the brewery. We were pretty amused as well, when we were asked to put in a grease trap. When we asked why, we were told they wanted us to separate the alcohol from the water before entering the sewer system with any waste. We had to explain to them, that it doesn’t really work that way. The county wanted us to put in a fire suppression system. When we asked why they told us, “Last I heard alcohol is flammable.” We had to explain to them not when in 90- 96% water and that home brewing were legal, thus there would be a lot of people blowing themselves up if this were the case.

Gavin: What was the first year like for you and what difficulties did you overcome in that time?

Our first year we did recipe development and tested the market at several beer festivals. We worked all day at our jobs, then weekends and evenings in the brewery. Our first system was a 15 gallon Sabco and that was too small to handle our first commercial client. We purchased a seven barrel brew system from one of the largest brewery equipment manufacturers in China. That was an adventure. It was what we could afford, but for several months we thought we’d been robbed and had lost everything. We had trouble getting the equipment out of the factory. It turns out there was a lot of red tape because the Chinese government subsidized our equipment. It arrived in parts and pieces. Nothing was labeled and there were no schematics or assembly directions. It took us three months to piece the system together. We’ll be eternally grateful to friend Stan Hooley, a retired oil and gas engineer with a passion for beer, who volunteered his help during those early days. Our new Chinese system had to be re-engineered. Branding, design, websites, PR, marketing were all out of budget. Thinking back on it, it’s amazing we’ve made it this far. After finding it difficult and very expensive to work with a design firm, we bought Alexandra some software and she taught herself design. Every morning she’d get on her exercise bike at home and watch instructional videos. She designed many of our labels, posters, ads, website etc. We have just now been able to find a professional to redesign our labels to be more Shades of Pale specific, watch for them hitting the shelves in the coming months. We are really excited about the new look and think it fits what we are trying to do. Have fun!

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Gavin: What's the process like for you in creating a new beer, from idea to the final product?

Trent came from high tech. He’s very research and data driven. My clouds are a different color and our palettes are completely different. The outcome is usually a melding of the two approaches and a collection of beers that will have a wide appeal. Our first priority was to make beers we’d love to drink ourselves. Next we tweak them based on feedback from customers, judging and us continually drinking them. We make nuance changes and there is an evolution of our products over time. From day one a lot has changed, not one recipe is the same. It usually takes a year or so before I’m completely happy with the formulation and quit analyzing it to figure out how I can improve the product. Trent used to complain quite a bit about having to make low alcohol beers. We didn’t have a bottler when we first started so due to the 4% draft liquor law in Utah, that restricted us to making session beers. The beers were so popular we maxed out the capacity in our small space and were not able to fully develop the line. Now that we have a bigger space we are working on securing our package agency license in January and should start production of the big boy beers shortly.

Gavin: Right now you have four very distinct brews available. For those who haven't tried them out, tell us a little about each one.

We actually have five brews publicly available. Jack Wagon Wheat; our first release, is an American Hefe made with our house strain of yeast. It is an unfiltered wheat beer that uses a combination of red and white wheat. The taste is light and refreshing with a hint of nut and a slight lemon to finish. We call this our gateway beer to craft. Something anyone, who is a light lager drinker, can enjoy and be able to hang with the cool kids. It also just happens to be Alexandra’s favorite. Our next release came out about 4 months after Jack Wagon, Publican Pale Ale. (Publican is a barkeep for those that don’t know). This pale is our most popular beer in terms of sales. It uses West Coast and English hops, it really falls into the Ordinary bitter category although crosses into the American Pale style as well. It has a dry start and finish, is moderately bitter, pale in color with hints of caramel and pineapple. 4-Play Porter was released about four months after Publican. Brown Porters are generally more chocolate in nature, we use a lot of chocolate however we also blended in coffee undertones for those coffee lovers out there. We know how much Utahan’s love coffee, almost as many Starbucks here as Seattle. This beer really falls between a Brown Porter and an Irish Dry Stout. It is a full flavored dark beer, but don’t let the color fool you the body is light and refreshing. It is bittered with classic UK hops that don’t over power but balance the chocolate sweetness and let the coffee undertones shine.

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Trent: Ready To Fly Amber is fast becoming one of our more popular beers both appealing to the consumers that like the Publican and Jack Wagon beers. It was originally developed for the documentary of Park City’s women ski jumpers, “Ready to Fly”. We were introduced to the director of the film Bill Kerig and thought it would be a fun collaboration. The original recipe was only brewed once for the movie and reformulated for what is currently available in the marketplace. We received such positive feedback on the original beer that we re-released this about a year after the initial limited edition was made with some tweaks such that the people that where at the film had something special. This beer uses a lot of caramel malts providing its flavor. We use an American hop that allows for balance. The flavor is of slight raisin and plum, bitterness is moderate to low. It has enough bitterness for those that like hops but not so much that it turns away non-bitter consumers. Our latest release Misdirected IPA, again a session IPA (I’ve seen many say you can’t make a session IPA and discount them and not real IPA’s.) I beg to differ I think you can make and IPA with the flavor of big boy beers that will appeal to those that want to stay up late and still get up early. It contains some of that dankness of the West Coast style but not so much that you don’t want another. I blended a melody of hops together to give you a bit of pine mixed with floral hop undertones, not one hop stands out. You get bitterness but not a ton of citrus that overpowers the malt. I’ve gotten good feedback and if you are looking to try something new you can currently find it on tap at Poplar Street Pub.

Gavin: Beer wise, what new brews do you currently have in the works that you can tell us about?

We have a number of items in the works, we have the ever popular Slippery Slope Espresso Stout coming back for a seasonal winter release. The first version of this beer was created and brought to the first City Weekly Beer Fest. I think we had the only dark beer there it was 95 degrees and people loved it. It was like drinking an iced coffee. We partnered with Cup & Cardigan Coffee Roasters to produce this release. Look for it soon. Boo Radler is coming soon (a play on to Kill a Mocking Bird, I know Boo Radley still think it is funny though). Radler is German for bicyclist and is a mix of lightly hopped beer and grapefruit or lemon-lime juice. We bicycled through Croatia this summer and were introduced to a number of Radler’s while biking through the country. These are very low in Alcohol however very refreshing. You could have a liter and still keep on riding. Perfect for something other than soda or a sports drink or when you are sick of just plain old water. You will find this not as sweet as Mike’s Hard Lemonade or a hard Cider although it has a similar mouth feel. For those wanting to kick it up a notch, I suggest a side car of Sugar House Distillery vodka dumped right in. Keeping it local keeping it SoDo. I’m planning a trio, the first is Misdirected which is currently available in draft, bottles arriving on the shelves soon. The second release will be Misbehaved and the third will be Misunderstood. A nice gift pack for your beer lover, session, single and double, oh what fun it is in a one-horse open slay.

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Gavin: Right now you have a new brewery under construction in South Salt Lake. What made you decide to expand into SLC?

That’s right, although the construction is perpetual, we are up and running in SoDo, south downtown located on the cross streets of Temple and Utopia right next to and behind Pat’s BBQ. No better place than being one block off the junction of the Traxx S line and Central Point station. A quick ride from any Trax station will get you to us. No drinking and driving, perfect. As previously mentioned we did all we could to make as much beer as possible out of our Park City location, we had been looking for the right location for over two years. I resisted moving to Salt Lake wanting to keep working in Park City. It became very apparent that we would soon outgrow any facility that we were able to move into in Park City as there aren’t very many choices in addition the cost of a new space along with moving the entire facility is very expensive. We wanted to do it right. We searched high and low for a building and had signed a number of letters of intent however for one reason or another couldn’t negotiate a deal that would work for us in Park City. We ended up being connected with one of the best realtors in Utah, James Quinn. He turned us on to our current location, it was perfect, big, expandable and had the infrastructure that we needed.

Alexandra: We were able to work with GIV Partners on the deal and come to a quick lease that allowed us to move down and set up shop again. Since that time we have been able to lease an additional property; 3000 sq. ft., that will initially be used as an event center that can hold up to 200 people for private parties. This property is connected to the courtyard where we plan to build the beer garden. Eventually, the event center will turn into the bottle shop and sour beer program. We are working on an additional building that butts to the courtyard to continue our build out and world domination. Over time, our plan is not only to build a business but a community. Bringing together like minded individuals bound by that special bond, beer. There is no greater joy than sitting down, sharing a pint, sharing a laugh, and connecting without the need of Facebook.

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Gavin: What's the current status of the new brewery and when can we expect to see a grand opening?

We are in the process of putting in a new filling line which is taking much more time that originally planned. We purchased a 16 head rotary filler that will allow for 12oz glass, 22oz bomber and 16oz aluminum bottles. This particular machine was purchased straight from Italy in 1995 by Indian Wells Brewing. They ran the crap out of it and upon upgrading to a new machine unknown to us put this outside for 2 years before we picked it up. Everything looked good from the outside as it is skinned in stainless but the guts of the thing where pretty rotted. We’ve torn this down to the bones during the refurbishment and are now waiting for the machine shop to finish the parts to put it all back together. It is a journey no one wants to take. In addition to the filler we are putting in the tasting bar area. Again a work in progress we just finished filling in the pit and tiling to make the space usable and now trying to figure out how to put in the counter top on the bar. I’ve been toying around with a cement top poured in place. YouTube here I come. The glass stripper building we just leased will house the bathrooms since our current space has none and it is less expense to lease another building than to put in ADA bathrooms these days. I know what you are thinking if you don’t have a restroom currently? That’s what five gallon buckets are for, only kidding. That building is in need of renovation as well and we just got that underway. We keep plugging away as the saying goes you can’t eat and elephant in one sitting. Alexandra has given me the deadline to have everything ready for a Valentine’s Day Beer and Chocolate private event AKA grand open event. Oh boy, no rest to Broadway!

Gavin: The area itself has been building up with new brewpubs, distilleries and breweries over the past couple of years. How is it for you to join that new community?

We are not really joining a new community it is the same community we have been a part of since we started. The brewers here in Utah are awesome. It is one reason why we have wanted to stay and not leave the state for greener pastures. It is a tight community and if I ever have a problem or need or they ever need something from me we are a phone call away. James over at Sugar House Distillery is walking distance from the brewery, we all have the same desires to build a thriving locally supported community. He promotes us we promote him everyone wins. How could we not help each other, that is what we are all about building a community? One thing, we have come to realize that most people don't understand, is how hard the work is. It is physically demanding and mentally draining. I’ve worked some of the worst jobs ever, asbestos removal, local mover, auto repair shop, and traveled as a consultant pushing weekly through airports and time zones. Nothing prepared me for this. It is a shit ton of work and easily ranks up there with the dirtiest of jobs. It is also the most rewarding. Creating something out of nothing, it is the best community in the world! Who doesn’t have a smile on their face when they hear “beer?” Bet you're smiling right now!

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Gavin: What's your opinion on the brewing community in Utah as a whole and how its continually grown over the past 5 years?

Utah brewers make some of the best beer in the country. That might not always have been the case but because we are small we all push each other to make better beer, 4% laws actually help make us better. It is not easy to make a great 4% beer. I truly believe over time you will see 4% beer laws in Utah disappear, but I don’t think 4% beers will ever totally vanish, they will evolve. Utah also has a poor reputation outside the state from people looking in. We have to prove people wrong and if the products are mediocre then that perception holds true making it harder for us. If you have ever been to the Great American Beer Festival, you know there are a lot of beers out there that’s not good. Utah brewers have to be better, we are better and we are getting known for our beer.

Gavin: Besides what we've already discussed, what do you have planned for 2015?

A lot has been mentioned above about what we are planning. We have decided that we as a business, owners and sole employees must figure out a work life balance that means, more travel, more fun, more time for friends, more time for family but most importantly more time for each other. Alexandra is my foundation that allows me to build this house.

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