Utah Brewers Cooperative Salt Lake City Brewmaster Dan Burick walks us through five beers from an unlikely partnership.
At the turn of the millennium, the owners of Utah’s Wasatch Beers and Squatters Pub Brewery found themselves in a financial predicament: Despite a growing market for craft beer, the two competing companies weren’t performing as well as they’d expected. The solution? Join forces. In an extreme case of collaboration, the two companies set up shop under one roof in 2000, brewing both brands as the Utah Brewers Cooperative.
“You would think [merging] two small breweries doing the same volume, both owned by younger guys and being in the Rocky Mountains wouldn’t be a big deal, but it took a couple of years to get through the cultural differences,” remembers Dan Burick, who’s been with Squatters for 21 years. “Ever since, it’s been wonderful. The beer continues to improve and the whole vibe gets better and better.”
For those who had yet to taste their way through the company’s portfolio over the years, which now pushes 25 beers, last year’s Great American Beer Festival was a stunning introduction. The Co-op took home two gold medals, one bronze and the highly coveted Mid-size Brewery of the Year award.
“It’s neat to be a brewery in a small market that won such a big award. It helps put Utah on the map as a place that’s making some really nice beer,” says Burick. “It’s the icing on the cake.”
Wasatch Polygamy Porter
“We launched it around the 2002 Winter Olympics and it made such a splash. TV crews from around the world were crawling around the brewery covering Polygamy Porter. It’s got some great labeling: ‘Take some home to the wives,’ or ‘Why have just one?’ To this day, you can’t go through the airport without seeing the T-shirts.”
“This was styled after Hoegaarden. It’s a 4%-ABV beer that’s very light and easy to drink during the summertime. There’s orange peel, coriander and grains of paradise, and it won gold at [last year’s] GABF.”
Wasatch Summerbrau Lager
“Summerbrau is our German-style export lager that also won gold at GABF. I remember being in Germany, having those export lagers that are so malty, but my last trip over there I didn’t see as many. It’s just a great beer style.”
Squatters Hell’s Keep
“We all love Duvel, and think it’s a well-done Belgian style and wanted to give it a shot. Hell’s Keep is our Belgian-style golden strong ale, and it won silver at GABF. Soon we’re putting it into 750 milliliter bottles.”
Squatters Provo Girl Pilsner
“It used to be called St. Provo Girl but we got into hot water with St. Pauli Girl. We got pushed around and had to do a label change, so now it’s Provo Girl. We were having fun because of Provo, Utah, which has a high percentage of LDS communities, although we hardly sell a drop there.”
UTAH BREWERS COOPERATIVE
Where: 1763 South 300 West; utahbeers.com
New for 2011: Targeted 10 percent growth and an increased use of the new bottling line.