Got back from Utah on Friday – a wonderful place with an odd culture around alcohol (odd to me of course and perspective is everything – I understand and appreciate that if I were in Utah I would be the odd one and respect that). I write from my own perspective and experience and, therefore, Utah is respectfully odd about it’s views on alcohol.
I stayed at the University of Salt Lake City and respected it’s dry policy. I actually found it interesting that the University was dry and actually thought it made a lot of sense. When I went to school, many of us invested our evenings at the bottom of a glass. The summer student population seems to be settling into a different pace here – everything from nightly strolls, bike rides and coal BBQs. It seemed to have a great sense of community and appeared to work.
The decision to go for a beer became a 6-mile walk (I took a cab home both times). It is a lovely place and the weather was fabulous. I walked past a theatre which was releasing a frantic crowd from the first night (of 3) of the Miss Utah qualifiers. Larger than life outfits and fans with huge support buttons of the women they supported poured onto the streets. It’s a lasting memory and such things are some of the rare benefits of travelling for business – it’s a moment I will not forget for a long time.
I made my way to Squatter’s Brew Pubin the heart of Salt Lake (thanks again to Graeme and his beer network). I clamoured onto a bar stool and was presented a beer menu and knew I was off to a good start.
Squatter’s is naturally cozy and charming. The staff were friendly and the beer was plentiful. The warm interior welcomed visitor’s with it’s glow of exposed brick and natural wood beams:
I was excited to see that they had a sampling/ tasting menu and was quick to order a round. The pub chooses 6 for you to try. I was initially disappointed by this apparent totalitarian selection process and then understood the advantage to their choosing – each sample is lined up on a place-mat which labels each taste and describes the tasting notes.
I found the placemat system remarkably gratifying – I would sample a beer and attempt to detect my own tasting notes. I would then refer to the menu to see if I could match my thoughts to their description and then used the placemat to determine how accurate I was. I’ll admit to being stumped at least once!
I tried one of their nitro condition brews and sampled my way through the line until I hit the Provo Girl. This lady is a Pilsner – something fairly rare in North America (it’s Czech in origination and not entirely common if you are counting by the total number of options presented to us in North America). A Pilsner is also my favourite type of beer in the world. They tend to be crisp, dry and are quite often bitter with Hops. Provo Girl is the best Pilsner I have ever had from the United States – it was simply wonderful. I was surprised to learn that the beers on tap were all limited to 4.0% alcohol by order of the state of Utah (who also just legalized home brewing of beer in March of 2009). I am a raving fan.
I had a quick nibble as well – hummus complimented with other tastes of the Mediterranean (fresh feta, olives and fantastic slow-roasted tomatoes):
Squatter’s is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary and if you find yourself at the airport, in town or in Park City, check out one of their three locations.
A few more shots to give you the feel of the bar rail: