Most people not from Utah would never associate the state with top-notch beer or a thriving brewpub scene. Bombarded by urban legends of lock-down liquor laws, hardly any visitors would imagine that Utah's breweries have, in fact, produced thousands upon thousands of barrels of beer and won uncounted national awards in the process.
While it is true that Utah's drinking population has suffered for decades under restrictive laws, the state's brewers have bravely continued their art in the face of a conservative government. Many of Utah's breweries have actually been in operation for multiple decades, creating both “Utah-strength” and full-powered beers. And while Utah law restricts the alcohol content of draught beers to that of 3.2% weight, brewpubs cleverly manage to serve the real deal in a bottle.
The good news is, some of the worst laws were actually abolished (or dramatically loosened up) as of 2009. Gone are the days of the “Private Club” and the 1-ounce pour. Today you never have to purchase a “membership” to enter a bar; simply show your I.D. And while the liquor pour is now capped at 1.5 ounces, it's at least a step in the right direction!
Operating in a city with a thriving restaurant scene, Salt Lake's brewpubs must survive tough competition to keep their doors open. As a result, you'll notice that each has a handsome, modern interior to go with a creative and varied food selection. Many offer a menu of new American cuisine, while others emphasize that from specific regions or nations. And some blend them all.
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