The Beer Issue | Cover Story | Salt Lake City Weekly

August 24, 2016 News » Cover Story

The Beer Issue 

The 7th Annual Utah Beer Festival Is Here!

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A label says a thousand words.
By Westin Porter

Good beers get you buzzed. Great beers are marvels in art and rhetorical savvy in every aspect from inception to consumption. For this week's Beer Issue, City Weekly pays tribute to six locally brewed masterpieces, crafted with the drinker in mind in every step of the process—from brewing to bottling.

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Outer Darkness, Squatters Brewery
Analysis: What does the complex brewing process of a 10.5 percent-by-volume imperial stout made and sold under the most scrutinous and confusing liquor laws in the country look like? I give you, Squatters' Outer Darkness. The beer boasts a complex combination of molasses, oak and licorice root, and, like the taste, the label leaves room for the drinker's imagination to wander.

The Bottom Line: Earning its name from the Mormon theology of hell, this beer is not for the amber ale faithful. The pair of flaming eyes framed in gold on a classic stout bottle is enough to make ol' Joe Smith himself both nervous and thirsty.

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Cutthroat Pale Ale, Uinta Brewing Co.
Analysis: Gaining inspiration from Utah's state fish, the Bonneville Cutthroat Trout, Uinta Brewing Co. nailed the perfect label to characterize the unique yet simple taste of this piney IPA. The soft lines of Utah's fish chomping on a dry-fly, fore grounded by bold colors and fonts set the drinkers up for a flavor experience they'll keep coming back for.

The Bottom Line: Much like the beer it represents, this label captures everything all the best parts of a beer drinker's Utah: tradition, adventure and the divinity of high-altitude taste.

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The Devastator Double Bock, Wasatch Brewery
Analysis: The one-of-a-kind flavor profile of this rich, creamy and layered lager grabs drinkers by the hair of their noses and makes them throw back or throw down their bottles. And what better way to illustrate that kind of taste bud wallop than with the collage-like image of an apocalyptic Bighorn sheep bursting out of flames between Utah's state capitol and landmark LDS Temple?

The Bottom Line: If a beer label's job is to illustrate the taste of the beer it's labeling, then the artists at Wasatch had their work cut out for them in characterizing the smooth, strange flavor of Devastator Double Bock.

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Spiral Jetty, Epic Brewing Company
Analysis: This label perfectly captures the complex flavor of Epic's Spiral Jetty IPA. While the Jetty symbolizes tranquility and repose, the blood red refinery sunset over the harsh, salted earth captures the harmonious yet incongruous flavor profile that is five different hops over soft malt flavors.

The Bottom Line: Epic Brewing's clean and uniform branding of its beers lends a sense of belonging to its loyal drinkers—like Wes Anderson fans, who line up just to see the colors and subtle image arrangement.

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Johnny's American IPA, Moab Brewery
Analysis: Like Temple Square, the Mountain Skyline and Delicate Arch, Johnny's American IPA from Moab Brewery has become an iconic Utah symbol. Its simple red, white and blue ring logo foregrounding the old-timey movie title font is a classic and timeless image. It doesn't take much for this pale ale to win over beer lovers of every stripe.

The Bottom Line: Johnny's American IPA is simple and gritty; characteristics proudly touted by the townspeople of Moab from which this brew hails.

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Lake Effect, Proper Brewing Co.
Analysis: A statement in minimalism, Proper Brewing's Lake Effect Gose Ale tributes Randall Pink Floyd, "the legendary rogue flamingo that resided at the Great Salt Lake," per Proper's website. A soft, simple and almost overwhelming blue swallows up all but the profile of Randall, standing tall in his unlikely home.

The Bottom Line: What better way to pay tribute to the improbable story of a pink flamingo that made his home in the inhospitable waters of a salt desert, than with a gose ale flavored with coriander and salt? 

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