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The Beer Issue 

Beer as Art

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Night at the Brewseum

Enter Strap Tank's delicately curated brewery.
By Mike Riedel

  • Courtesy photo

Back in 2016, Rick Salisbury turned Utah County on its head when he opened Strap Tank, the first brewery that Happy Valley had seen since the late 19th century. The Springville brewery featured a motorcycle theme that draws heavily from Salibury's passion for bikes and Americana. Today, Salisbury again is turning the establishment upside down with a second Utah County location, right in the heart of Lehi's technology corridor.

This second iteration is very much reminiscent of Salisbury's original brewery—but with its own twist. "It's hard to describe that Strap Tank vibe," head brewer Shawn Smith says, "but when you see it, you know what it is." He's right. The Lehi brewery has an industrial art deco exterior that transitions into a quasi-1940s carnival themed interior, complete with authentic relics from America's past. "It keeps similar themes as the Springville brewery," Smith adds, "but it definitely has its own unique identity." The museum-quality décor (along with the beer) competes for main attraction status. The details are extraordinary: the servers' station is an actual old circus ticket booth, and old Ferris wheel chairs and cars from long-dead carnival rides also call the place home. However, this is just one small chunk of the new space's identity as the existing architecture also adds to the charm. As I walked around the brewery's exterior, I noticed the building has many faces: from the west, it looks like a large 1900s urban factory; and from the east, it looks like a cross between a 1930s movie theater and a full-service garage.

But this isn't all about looks. "I love what Rick and his people have created here, but I'm more focused on the brewery and making sure that we have the best process possible," Smith says, and I quickly begin to get it. As we stand in the three-story glass terrarium that is Smith's new brewhouse, the possibilities of what's to come makes both our mouths water.

"We're going to get our core brands done first," Smith points out. The lineup includes their Flathead American lager, Highside American wheat beer, Sportster Session IPA, Bonkers English Brown ale and the Sgt. Holtz Irish stout. Beer nerds who like their suds a little less ordinary, will also be covered. "On opening day, we'll also have a Smoked German Helles, a Brut IPA, Watermelon Gose and Gulia, a brown sour ale with plum and raspberry," Smith teases.

The artist's eye gets a bit of a twinkle as he segues from what has already been brewed to what he hopes will roll out in the future. "I'd love to do a Nitro Bitter, a Hazy IPA, of course, and get a few German lagers going for the Oktobest season." Furthering the cohoperation vibe, Smith says Strap Tank will also offer two guest taps from other Utah brewers on the regular. "We want to support some of the other local breweries, so we'll have Uinta's Baba and Fisher beer as well," he says.

Strap Tank's new Lehi brewhouse includes a 15-barrel brew system, two 30-barrel and four 15-barrel fermenters—just the amount of capacity to keep a thirsty beer enthusiast happy. The space also boasts a special tasting room for those on brewery tours, and also for special events. Is this place unique for Utah? "I think it's unique for the United States," Smith responds. "You'd be hard-pressed to find another brewery that comes close to this."

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