So, in my quest for delicious beer, I jumped at the opportunity to both visit my friend Ben AND take advantage of a beer scene completely unknown to me. I'd been to Denver once when I was very small, and then once to the Washington/Oregon area for a few days when I was about 12. So in reality, I'd never seen The West. Utah sounded good to me. Before leaving for the Relatively Unknown, I found 5 microbreweries that seemed plausible (interest, and distance from Ben's house): Wasatch, Squatters, Roosters, Red Rock, and Uinta. Uinta had to be kicked. They only served lunch and only to those 21 and over (being that Ben is not yet 21). I decided I wouldn't want to patron a place like that anyway, so no love lost. On to the other four breweries then.
1) Wasatch (Park City):
Located in lovely Park City, which still seems to be caught up in their own 2002 Winter Olympics fervor (don't you think it's time to give it a rest, fellas?), we had no difficulty locating the Pub which brewed on premises [incidentally, this was the ONLY place we had to pay for parking]. Calamari appetizer and a selection of 4 beers to sample. The waiter didn't seem to think I could choose my own beer, so I was served Raspberry Wheat, Hefe-Weizen, Evolution Amber Ale, and the 1st Amendment Lager (pictured below).
Not exactly the most original line up, but after 4 seven oz samplers, I wasn't quite in the mood for anything else. Disappointing. Nothing stood out, nothing seemed bursting with flavor. I couldn't even finish one of them. Luckily things would only get better.
2) Squatters (Park City): The evening did not bode well as our waitress seemed a little clueless about beer styles. Here again the restaurant provided a sampler for you (WHY CAN NO ONE CHOOSE THEIR OWN BEER IN THIS GODFORSAKEN STATE?). It was served on a cute little miniature ski and came with a card with details about each beer (pictured below).
I never did find out what the seasonal was, but it had a light hop note and was generally pleasant. The Full Suspension Pale Ale was by far my favorite as it punched me in the mouth quite nicely. Captain Bastard's Oatmeal Stout also gets a shout-out since I'm generally not a fan of the style (barring New Holland's Poet, yum!). I also found the Pilsner surprisingly enjoyable. I tend to be snobby about Pils, but I could definitely see myself consuming a six pack on a hot Utah afternoon (woohoo for a mere 9% humidity!) with no complaint whatsoever.
3) Roosters (Layton): After a smelly but pleasant afternoon on the beaches of the Great Salt Lake, we made our way back into Layton to try Roosters. Spectacular calamari appetizer, so delicious in fact, that I forced it into my sampler photo (pictured below).
Polygamy Pale Ale (apparently the first "polygamy" style introduced in the SLC area), Diamondback Ale, and Junction City Chocolate Stout were MY own choices (finally). Had to try the Stout (found it sour and lacking in chocolate), but the two Ales were infinitely better. Again, not really thrilling, but hardly the worst of the group.
4) Red Rock (Salt Lake City): It's always a pleasant surprise when your last night in town is the best. Red Rock did not disappoint. Located in downtown SLC we had no difficulty finding free parking and just a short walk later, were seated right next to a menu of their beers.
The first six on the board were provided in the sampler, but I HAD to try the India Dark Ale before I left. Samples were a bit pricey at $1.25 each, but well worth the "splurge."
All very unique although my love goes to the India Dark Ale. Again, the Pilsner surprised me with a pleasant, refreshing taste. A great ending to a spectacular week!
In my esteemed opinion, Red Rock had the most delicious beer, followed by Squatters, then Roosters, then Wasatch (although in many ways Wasatch and Squatters seemed suspiciously similar- same brewmaster or something? although Squatters did seem superior to me). They all seemed to get a kick out of having Polygamy *insert style here* so that they could use the catch phrase "Why Have Just One?" Humorous, indeed, the first time you hear it. After a week it just gets lame.
Last but hardly least, an enormous thank you to my lovely host. He was my uncomplaining designated driver for a week and I am very grateful to him. I promise to return the favor some day. After, of course, 3 May 2009.