Salt Lake City Travel Guide
Salt Lake City Travel Guide
Except for a few dry counties in the South perhaps no other place in the country has such a strong reputation for teetotaling than Salt Lake City. The city is home to the Church of Latter Day Saints commonly known as the Mormon Church, which has a well-known prohibition on alcohol and caffeine. Consequently, the fact that there are some fantastic local breweries and coffee roasters may come as a surprise. We recently visited the Salt Lake City and really enjoyed what we found.
This local roaster has grown into a small chain with a couple of locations. We were thrilled to find beans from rare origins like Laos and Haiti and perfectly roasted beans from Nicaragua. They even sell delicious, bottled single-origin cold brew. The overall selection and quality at La Barba made it our favorite.
Just south of downtown, Blue Copper roasts and brews some great coffee including a great selection of high-quality single-origins.
Bigger than the others, Publik still delivers great coffee, though with a bit less selection than our other picks. They only have one blend on espresso that they use for all espresso drinks.
Turns out there’s good beer in Salt Lake City. However, the regulations are different from almost anywhere else. First, no beer over 4% can be kegged. That means anything you have on draft anywhere will be 4% or lower in ABV. That’s fine, as there are many great beers in this lighter range and many craft brews dial up the alcohol to levels a bit high for some. Then there are places that make a trade-off to serve higher alcohol beers on Sundays (or something like that). This trade-off requires them to be licensed as a restaurant rather than a bar, which means they have to serve food along with booze for each order. However it goes down, Salt Lake City has good beer. It just may require understanding and navigating a few confounding regulations.
Normally we focus on single brewers, but the mish-mash of awkward regulations can make that complicated. Some tap rooms (like Fisher) only serve 4% brews while at others (like Epic) you have to buy soup to taste a beer. Thankfully, Beer Bar simplifies all of this by bringing the best of both worlds. It carries a large selection of 4% drafts from Utah and elsewhere and also has an extensive bottle list filled with rare brews from the US and around the world. Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City.
This hidden gem is a small operation based in Midvale about 30 minutes south of Salt Lake City. 2 Row makes hands-down the best beer we tried during our time in town. If you can’t make it down there, you can grab 2 Row’s limited release (our favorites) and other beers at Beer Bar in downtown.
These folks revived a dead brand instead of creating their own. Founded back in 1884, but revived in recent year, Fisher gets additional kudos for being employee-owned. Their lively taproom, just south of downtown Salt Lake City, has a wide selection of 4% brews, all of which are pretty good.
Perhaps the most confusing way to get beer in Salt Lake City is to visit Epic Brewing. They brew good beer, however their “taproom” experience is a bit lacking. Part bottle shop where you can buy their beers for a higher price than you can out of state and part tasting room where you can get small pours of their 4+% ABV bottles (available with a food purchase only). They have a $6 soup, which is essentially the cover charge for tasting their beers on site. Pours tend to be only a few ounces, but super cheap at about $1 each. May be best to check these guys out at their Denver tap room location where regulations allow for all their brews to be served on draft with no food attached.