In Utah, the beer might not be big, but make no mistake—there’s a lot of it.
by Jill Adler
With nearly twice as many breweries per capita as New York, Utah has put itself on the map for quirky, quenching craft brews. There’s even a book to celebrate beer’s rise above the Zion curtain: “Beer in the Beehive” by Del Vance, co-founder of Uinta Brewing Co. (West Valley, www.uintabrewing.com), the largest independent brewery in the state. Visitors and Salt Lake International layover victims can either hang out at the airport, visit the Mormon Temple or catch a five-minute cab ride to Uinta Brewing for a free tour and a massive sandwich paired with Uinta’s 2009 GABF silver medal-winning Cutthroat Pale Ale or seasonal Hive Honey-stung Ale. When you’ve got more time, take a drive up to Wasatch Brew Pub (Park City, www.wasatchbeers.com), Utah’s first, legal brewpub, opened by Schirf Brewing Co. in 1989. With beers like the chocolaty, malty Polygamy Porter (the tagline: “Why have just one?”) and crisp 1st Amendment Lager, Schirf pokes fun at Utah politics with award-winning recipes. Although they share the same brewing and bottling facilities with Schirf, Squatters Pub & Brewery (aka Salt Lake Brewing Co., Salt Lake City and Park City, www.squatters.com) fills its eatery and bar with college students, business professionals and conference attendees rather than ski bums. Still, the highlight of your night comes from the brew sampler of classics like Provo Girl Pilsner dished out on a sawed-off ski. Just around the corner and steps from The Energy Solutions Arena, Red Rock Brewing Co. (Salt Lake City and Park City, www.redrockbrewing.com) serves up a sophisticated menu in a boisterous, industrial-style space where regulars clamor for one of nine brews including Organic Zwickel Bier, a bronze medalist at the 2009 GABF. Snowbasin and Powder Mountain skiers do après at Roosters Brewing Co. (Ogden and Layton, www.roostersbrewingco.com) for the Junction City Chocolate Stout and inspired pizzas, pastas and sandwiches. The Bohemian Brewery & Grill (Midvale, www.bohemianbrewery.com), founded by a couple from the Czech Republic, helps foodies pair their beer via the menu’s suggestion symbols; order a pint of Cherny Bock to go with the Blackberry Brandy Chicken, and make sure you stroll through the upstairs vintage scooter collection before you leave.
The bar scene in Utah (and yes, there is one) offers enough to do for every type of night-dwelling style. Martini-sippers strut in The Red Door (Salt Lake City, www.behindthereddoor.com) where stylish clientele seductively tip colorful drinks and listen to live jazz and DJs. At The Bayou (Salt Lake City, www.utahbayou.com), about 250 beers wash down gumbo, catfish and jambalaya. On live jazz weekends, it’s standing room only. The tiny front belies the roomy yet simple Poplar Street Pub (Salt Lake City, www.poplarstreetpub.com), but locals flock to this new hangout for tap beer, lounging, live music and sports TV. The Beerhive (Salt Lake City, 801.364.4268) has one of the best selections of craft beer in the state and the bar’s unique frosted rail means that the last sip will taste just as good as the first. Dinner comes from next door’s Vienne Bistro so you can stay put either upstairs in the traditional saloon hall or downstairs amid the pool tables and foosball cave. Outside of Utah’s sports arenas and outdoor amphitheaters, The Depot (Salt Lake City, www.depotslc.com) is pretty much Utah’s sole venue for national touring bands like The Black Crowes, Gov’t Mule, Michael Franti and Spearhead. Local players rock out at the Urban Lounge (Salt Lake City, 801.746.0557). The club hosts Time To Talk ’Tween Tunes, a weekly acoustic night on Sundays and excellent opportunity to catch up with friends.
Compared to larger cities, Salt Lake’s food scene is mostly overpriced and often unimpressive. There are, however, a few gems. Lugano’s (Millcreek, www.luganorestaurant.com) lively, bistro-style atmosphere and open-air kitchen make for one of Salt Lake’s best Italian restaurants. Its rival, Grappa (Park City, www.grapparestaurant.com), is 30 miles away, gorgeously designed and one of the hottest restaurants in the state, attracting the beautiful people especially during the Sundance Film Festival in January. The eclectic Metropolitan (Salt Lake City, www.themetropolitan.com) runs a close second in chichi factor with pristine white-linen settings and impeccable service, but if you drop in on Mondays, you can get three courses for $30 plus free corkage. On the other end of your bank account, feed your soul at Chanon Thai (Salt Lake City, 801.532.1177). The modest authentic Thai eatery has no pretense, and mismatched tableware and menus with nutritional details and homeopathic trivia only make the hot food hotter. Be prepared to wait in line for a table at the divey Red Iguana (North Salt Lake, www.rediguana.com). The guys from Los Lobos eat there. Need we say more?
As a state steeped in turn-of-the-century history, Utah’s hotels are both rustic and elegant. The Peery Hotel (Salt Lake City, www.peeryhotel.com) is full of Old World elegance with canopied beds and antique furniture; it holds a spot on the coveted National Register of Historic Places. The biggest and cushiest hotel in Salt Lake is brought to you by the owner of Snowbasin Resort and Sinclair Oil. Earl Holding’s Grand America Hotel (Salt Lake City, www.grandamerica.com) gets the only five-diamond AAA rating in Salt Lake City, but competes with Stein Eriksen Lodge (Deer Valley, www.steinlodge.com) for A-list clientele. The Five-Star, Five Diamond premier European-style resort’s biggest draw is the ski-in/ski-out access to posh Deer Valley Resort. Washington School Inn Bed and Breakfast (Park City, www.washingtonschoolinn.com) makes the National Historic Register and the Utah Register of Historic Places. Some say the inn, an old schoolhouse from 1889, is haunted.
Utah may be land-locked, but it’s home to one of the highest percentages of SCUBA divers per capita in the nation. The Bonneville Seabase (Grantsville, www.seabase.net) has three main dive areas with White Rocks Bay roofed so divers can use it year-round. The Homestead Crater (Midway, www.homesteadresort.com) also offers year-round diving under a 55-foot-high dome filled with 96-degree hot-spring water. Be seen at the Sundance Film Festival (Park City, www.sundance.org) or play paparazzi as the ski resort turns into Hollywood in the mountains. Visit the Temple Square and the Utah Genealogy Museum (Salt Lake City, www.visit
templesquare.com). Forty-five minute free tours of the Square begin every five to 10 minutes at the 100-foot flagpole in the center of the block. Get up close with an intercontinental ballistic missile, thermonuclear bomb and yesterday’s war planes at Hill Air Force Base Aerospace Museum (Roy, www.hill.af.mil/library/museum). It’s free. You don’t have to sit in your living room to have a beer and some chow while you watch a movie. Brewvies (Salt Lake City, www.brewvies.com), Utah’s only movie beerhouse (or is that beer moviehouse?) has free late-night screenings of classic movies plus appetizer specials every Monday night. •
GET OUT: Take full advantage of the SLC snow by zooming down a mountain, or just gazing at one while you melt in a steam bath.
Ski: Celebrating its 71st season, Alta has modernized with fast lifts and more comfortable lodges, but the resort (in Snowbird) feels like a place people come to actually ski rather than to model the latest mink-trimmed Bogner. Lift tickets remain inexpensive, and beginners ski free most afternoons. Alta averages 500 inches each year of dry powder manufactured nowhere else in the world but the Wasatch (last year, it totaled 700 inches.). In-bounds experiences include everything from blue groomers to a run called Eddie’s High Nowhere that requires entering an “experts only” gate and traversing an outcropping while clutching a rope before hiking to the top of a steep crevice. Alas, snowboarders will have to take their skiing friends’ word for it. Alta remains ski-only—snowboarders couldn’t handle the chutes.
Tube: Swap family bowling night for a few after-dinner runs down Gorgoza Park’s seven brightly lit snowtubing lanes. An arm of the Park City Mountain Resort, the park maintains several levels of tubing lanes, accessed by three lifts. The tubing’s top-notch at a fair price: Kids under 7 tube for just $3, while older kids and adults ride the powder for $8.
Chill: Sometimes city dwellers forget about amenities offered by the ski resorts that bejewel the mountain peaks. The Snowbird resort, in particular, features the Cliff Lodge spa that provides reprieve from the daily grind with killer mountain views. If you have the cash for a massage, energy treatment, facial or herbal wrap, then by all means, indulge yourself. But for those who just want to avail themselves of the outdoor rooftop pool and hot tub or a eucalyptus steam bath followed by some relaxation in the solarium, just scrounge up $20 and you’re in for a tranquil day.
[Photo: Greg Peterson]