When Greg Schirf moved from Wisconsin to Utah in the 1980s, drinking and brewing beer were forbidden acts. In 1986, Greg went against all odds (and the law) and started Wasatch Brewery, the first brewery in Utah. However, Greg didn’t stop with just a brewery. In 1988, Greg proposed a bill to the Utah state legislature to make brewpubs legal across the state and then immediately opened Utah’s first brewpub at the top of Park City’s Historic Main Street.
Since then, the company has partnered with Squatters Pub Brewery to create the Utah Brewer’s cooperative. Together, they operate five brewpubs and a wine and alehouse. The Utah Brewer’s Cooperative dominates the Utah beer market, and you will find Wasatch or Squatters everywhere you can find beer in Utah.
When discussing brewing in Utah, it is important to take note of the state’s bizarre and antiquated drinking laws. For one, it’s illegal to double-fist in Utah, which means that you must finish your drink before ordering another one. Kegs are illegal in Utah; only bars are allowed to have them under special license. The state runs every single liquor store with one exception: a small gift store in the High West Distillery in Park City.
Bars are strange, too. When you go to a bar in Utah, they have electronic flow regulators on the bottles. Bartenders must ring up a shot in the computer and then the flow regulator will distribute the amount of alcohol they rang up. The purpose of this is to keep the amount of alcohol in the drink below the 2 oz. limit the state has set. If your bartender is willing to bend the law the law they might sell you an extra floater on the side intended to go in the drink.
To get a taste of Wasatch’s offerings, I tried the Polygamy Nitro Porter (6 percent ABV). I first must say that I love the name. Wasatch has poked fun at the Mormon lifestyle ever since they created the first brewery in the state. Name aside, however, I can’t say the beer is up to par. The beer has too much nitro and consistently foams far over the top (yes, I know the hard pour technique). However, the flavor of the beer is good. It has rich chocolate and malt flavors. Creaminess from the nitro complements the smoothness of the flavor as soon as the foam dies down, but you might be waiting a while.
Even though this beer wasn’t my favorite, I still love Wasatch. I have been to the brewery many times while in Utah, and the other beers they have with Nitro are great on tap. I’m sure in time they will get the nitro-carbonation problem figured out in time. Go to Wasatch if you’re ever in Salt Lake or Park City, try one of their beers on tap, and you won’t be disappointed.