The Beer Issue | Cover Story | Salt Lake City Weekly

August 17, 2022 News » Cover Story

The Beer Issue 

Celebrating brewers, breweries and the Utah Beer Festival.

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Ross Metzger and Cody McKendrick of Bewilder Brewing - COURTESY PHOTO
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  • Ross Metzger and Cody McKendrick of Bewilder Brewing

True Brews
A taste of local Utah breweries serving up beer, cider, food and good times.
By Aimee L. Cook

Utah's brewing scene is an abundance of riches, growing every year with new businesses, recipes and reasons to get together over a round of cold beverages and hot bites.

Ahead of this year's Utah Beer Festival, City Weekly caught up with the teams behind six local breweries to chat about their tried-and-true offerings as well as what's new on tap.

Bewilder Brewing: After seeing so many of their customers succeed in the craft beer market, Ross Metzger and Cody McKendrick—of Salt City Brew Supply—decided to jump on the bandwagon and launch Bewilder Brewing in 2019. Three years later, Bewilder boasts 16 brews on tap and several high-point offerings in cans, ready to go.

McKendrick now shares the title of brewmaster with Steven Engle, who worked in an award-winning Idaho brewery before coming to work at Bewilder. The business recently opened for lunch, seven days a week, with a food menu perfect for pairing with their in-house brews. Chef Justin Field's menu includes delicious pastrami and smoked turkey offerings, as well as signature sausages made in-house.

"We try to brew to style, we use regionally specific malt and water profiles for each beer," said Metzger. "We want our beers to be as authentic as possible."
445 S. 400 West, SLC, 385-528-3840,
bewilderbrewing.com

Hopkins Brewing Co. founder Chad Hopkins - COURTESY PHOTO
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  • Hopkins Brewing Co. founder Chad Hopkins

Hopkins Brewing Co.: Founder Chad Hopkins—a restaurateur around Salt Lake for 20 years and homebrewer for more than a decade—successfully won several medals in beer competitions before employing his talent to open his own brewery in 2018, taking over the space that was Epic Annex. Hopkins Brewing is a relatively small brewery with big flavor, having eight taps with rotating recipes. There's always something fresh to try.

Head brewer Matt Yeager creates additional new and exciting beers to share on "Small Batch Friday." And if you're looking for something that's not part of their regular lineup, you can find ciders or hand-crafted cocktails using locally sourced spirits. Hopkins strives to use local ingredients whenever possible, including locally grown and malted grains from Solstice Malt in Salt Lake City.

The food menu at Hopkins Brewing Co. will make you forget all about your diet. Whether it's loaded totchos ($15), fried pickle chips ($8) or a generous burger made from local grass-fed beef on a local pretzel bun ($16), this brewpub has what every palette craves.

"We are one of the smallest breweries, so our beer is always fresh. We are not trying to be like any other restaurant or brewery—we brew what we like to drink," said Hopkins.

"We are community focused and donate to local charities," he said. "To us, craft beer is more than just beer—it's community. We don't distribute, so you have to come to us to get our beer."
1048 E. 2100 South, SLC, 385-528-3275,
hopkinsbrewingcompany.com

Elisabeth Osmeloski and Rio Connelly of Scion Cider Bar - COURTESY PHOTO
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  • Elisabeth Osmeloski and Rio Connelly of Scion Cider Bar

Scion Cider Bar: If you've ever asked, "Where can I get some cider?" you now have a new cider bar to check out. Whether you are new to hard cider or you are simply looking for variety, the Scion Cider Bar has a selection that will make your mouth water with delight.

An idea born out of frustration over the lack of ciders in Utah led to the opening of the Scion Cider Bar by co-owner Elisabeth Osmeloski and her partners. And it's proven to be a hit among local cider enthusiasts. So far, their primary focus has been to import more than 200 ciders from all over the world to offer at the bar in a rotating menu that includes both traditional and modern ciders.

Flights of three tasters and 5-ounce pours are a great way to try something new each time you go. There's also a variety of draft ciders, draft beers, wine and spirits available at the bar.

In addition, Rio Connelly—their cider-maker extraordinaire—is producing small batches of in-house cider a couple hundred gallons at a time. Connelly has come to cider after working many years as a beer brewer and co-founding Proper Brewing.

Scion sources its apples from local family orchards around Utah. They hope to get more of their own product on tap over time. "A fun fact is that we can serve our cider at full strength on tap," said Osmeloski (noting that it's not the case with beer). "Our ciders on tap range from 5% to 9% ABV."

There are currently 22 ciders on tap at Scion. And with the range of ciders offered, you're sure to find a new favorite. Foods to pair with cider selections include cheeses, charcuterie and artisan tinned seafoods.

And every Thursday night, they offer a free education class at 7 p.m. to help cider lovers better understand the world of ciders.
916 W. Jefferson St., SLC,
scionciderbar.com

Ogden River Brewing’s Patrick Winslow - COURTESY PHOTO
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  • Ogden River Brewing’s Patrick Winslow

Ogden River Brewing: Bryan Wrigley and Pat Winslow founded Ogden River Brewing in 2019 after launching a Kickstarter to make the dream of owning a brewery a reality.

Winslow, a retired railroad conductor, began homebrewing more than 20 years ago and fell in love with the craft. As a nod to the area and beer makers that came before, Ogden River created a new recipe as a tribute to Becker's Beer—which was manufactured in Ogden from 1890 to 1964—for their flagship beer: Becker's Best American Pilsner.

With 10 beers on tap, there's a beer that will pair nicely with any food offering. In addition, you can get a nice glass of Daily Rise nitro coffee on tap.

Pub favorites are on the food menu along with elevated dishes such as blackened salmon ($16) and New York crusted steak ($27).

"We try to keep a rotation of different things happening and new things coming on [tap], like our peach cream ale," said Winslow. "Our motto from the beginning has been 'From the neighborhood, for the neighborhood."'

Ogden River will be hosting their annual "Pints for Pups" on Sept. 17, an adoption and fundraising event for the Weber County Animal Services. One dollar per pint of "Golden Mutt" will be donated to the fundraising effort.
358 Park Blvd., Ogden, 801-884-6936,
ogdenriverbrewing.com

Level Crossing Brewing founder - Mark Medura - COURTESY PHOTO
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  • Level Crossing Brewing founder Mark Medura

Level Crossing Brewing Co.: Opened in 2019, the name Level Crossing—and its red feather logo—are symbolic of memories from the childhood of owner Mark Medura.

Medura grew up near a railroad crossing in Pennsylvania, and the red feather represents a family tradition of leaving an empty place at the dinner table for any extras. That mantra has carried over into the brewery: There's always a place for you.

With 10 beers on tap and six to eight high-point beers in cans, the crafty concoctions include the aptly named Suss It Out—a rye IPA—and Dallas Alice, a Belgian style blonde ale from the creative mind of Medura.

In addition, each month The Red Feather Series is a special limited release that patrons can enjoy until that brew runs out.

Wood-fired pizzas ($15), gourmet sandwiches ($12) and pub style snacks ($8-$19) are available to accompany your beverage.

"We like to have fun with our labels and in the names," said Medura. "We really put a lot of creativity and fun into our beers, and we've won a couple dozen medals over the years. We are super proud of that."

Level Crossing will soon expand to a second location in the Post District, near 600 South and 300 West.
2496 S. West Temple, SLC, 385-270-5752,
levelcrossingbrewing.com

Brewing for taste, balance and finish: The crew at Grid City Beer Works - COURTESY PHOTO
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  • Brewing for taste, balance and finish: The crew at Grid City Beer Works

Grid City Beer Works: Opening during a pandemic presented its own set of challenges, but the gang (Justin Belliveau, Drew Reynolds and head brewer Jeremy Gross) at Grid City Beer Works persevered, tweaked their business model and ultimately thrived.

Grid City is a working brewery with three beers on tap that can be served three different ways—with traditional Co2, nitrogenated and cask, all of which makes them taste like totally different beers depending on how they are served.

They've also recently introduced three high-point seltzers, with a fourth on the way. A special nitrogen beer is served monthly with fun names like Tanzania Mbeya Iyenga Coffee Vanilla Nitro Honey Cream Ale, and a seasonal beer is always available as well.

"I'm excited about three things coming for Grid City this year," said co-owner Belliveau. "More interesting high-point seltzer creations from Jeremy, the constant flow of specials from Chandler's kitchen and seeing the Grid City family grow with Jennifer (the GM) and Drew's daughter on the way!"

The food at Grid City is definitely elevated pub fare, created by chef Chandler Bailey. Try the Bangkok Bowl ($15) or the fried green tomatoes ($12) for something different, or stick to the smash burger ($16) which can be made with beef or the house vegan blend.

To cultivate a sense of community, Reynolds has recently launched the Grid City Music Fest. The dog-friendly roof deck is open Monday through Thursday, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., noon to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

"The way we serve our food sets us apart," said Reynolds. "When you come in, you know what you are going to get, as far as beer. And what we are doing with our seltzers—making them almost like a ready-to-drink cocktail in a can—people enjoy them."
333 W. 2100 South, SLC, 801-906-8390,
gridcitybeerworks.com

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Scott Renshaw

Scott Renshaw

Bio:
Scott Renshaw has been a City Weekly staff member since 1999, including assuming the role of primary film critic in 2001 and Arts & Entertainment Editor in 2003. Scott has covered the Sundance Film Festival for 25 years, and provided coverage of local arts including theater, pop-culture conventions, comedy, literature,... more
Mike Riedel

Mike Riedel

Bio:
Local boy and pilot of City Weekly’s best gig, The Beer Nerd column since 2017. Current photojournalist at KSTU TV (Fox 13) and host of the Utah Beer Blog and Beer Nerd Radio on KUAA 99.9 FM radio.
Benjamin Wood

Benjamin Wood

Bio:
Lifelong Utahn Benjamin Wood has worn the mantle of City Weekly's news editor since 2021. He studied journalism at Utah State University and previously wrote for The Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News and Entertainment Weekly

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