The Utah craft beer scene is thriving and breweries in Salt Lake City are popping up to fill the demand. There are now so many Salt Lake breweries that deciding where to go is a hard choice. This guide will give you the full tour of the best SLC craft brews and help you find your perfect pint.
How Did Salt Lake City End Up With So Much Beer?
Salt Lake City’s robust beer scene might seem counter-intuitive, given that it houses the headquarters for teetotaling LDS Church members. However, Salt Lake has a long history of brewing that dates back to the 1800’s. The city experienced rapid economic growth in the mid 1850’s, fueled by precious metal mining and the construction of the transcontinental railroad. All of those hard working mining and railroad dudes were mighty thirsty after a long day of work, and breweries stepped in to help them hydrate.
Many breweries came and went between the 1850’s until Prohibition, and some rebooted again after the passage of the 24th Amendment. They hung on until the 1960’s when large, (and dare I say boring) colored water producers like Coors and Budweiser began to gobble up all of the market share.
But the spirit of the 1890’s lives on in two modern day Salt Lake City breweries. The Fisher Brewing Company was originally founded in 1884 by a German immigrant. They ran their operation until 1960, closing when they couldn’t fight the big guys any longer. In 2017, Fisher’s great-great grandson, Tom Fisher Riemondy, decided to turn the lights back on and they have been serving tasty beers every since (more of them below).
The Salt Lake Brewing Company was founded in 1891 and during its heyday, was a brewing monopoly in the United States. They closed in 1918, unable to survive Prohibition. But the spirit of the Salt Lake Brewing Company was reborn with the founding of Squatters Brew Pub in 1989. Squatters broke the long drought in local beer production with a downtown location that helped to revitalize the local restaurant scene. Squatters chose to remodel a historic building, leaving no ambiguity by putting a large “Salt Lake Brewing Company” sign on the front.
The Growth of Breweries in Salt Lake City
US beer lovers are all about the craft beer and sales are up relative to mass market beers. No where is this upward trend more noticeable than in Salt Lake. Thirty years ago there were three brew pubs in Salt Lake City and now there are 21 brew pubs and micro breweries. The growth is coming from a confluence of evolving demographics, refined consumer demand and city zoning.
Salt Lake’s demographics are becoming less Anglo/Mormon and more multi-ethnic, pantheistic and hipster. And the same sort hipster gentrification that brought you food trucks, avocado toast and man buns has been playing out in Salt Lake. It has been declared #2 on the (somewhat dubious) national hipster index, which uses factors such as the rate of tattoo parlors, vegan eateries and microbreweries to determine it’s rankings.
The budding craft beer movement was also aided by some smart city planning and a little legislative nudge. South Salt Lake made a very deliberate decision to redesign its zoning for creative industries (which includes breweries). They reworked zoning restrictions by axing a per-capita limit on breweries and changed restrictions that made it impractical to brew there. Now, the affordable light industrial warehouse space in South Salt Lake, is an appealing place for a small brewer to get started.
Following that, the state legislature busted a surprise move and passed an increase of draft beer alcohol content from 3.2% to 5%. This has allowed the brewers to expand into boozier brews, such as Belgian-style beers and IPAs.
Does that sound too wonky for you? Here’s the takeaway:
- There are more breweries.
- Who are making more interesting and tasty beers.
- Go sample some of it.
The Difference Between Salt Lake City Brew Pubs vs Bars vs Breweries
This is confusing, so hang with me.
This guide to Salt Lake City breweries is split between “brew pubs” and “breweries” with the primary distinctions being; food and kids. Brew pubs are considered restaurants that also happen to have a brewery. They have a kitchen, full menu and kids can eat there.
Some brew pubs have a full liquor licence (for hard alcohol) in addition to the tap beer and food. In that case, they are considered a bar and children can’t go there.
What I’m calling “breweries” are generally considered a tap room or tasting room. While they are required to have some snacks, they don’t have to serve a full menu. That said, most have a small kitchen, food trucks, or ordering from nearby restaurants.
All of the tap beer is currently served at 5% alcohol by volume. Most of the breweries sell canned and bottled beer “out the door” which have varying (and higher) degrees of alcohol content.
“He is a wise man who invented beer”
My Top Recommendations
The following are a few of my top recommendations, but be sure to scroll all the day down for the full list of breweries. It includes the types of beer that they specialize in, their vibe and food situation. There is also a SLC brewery map at the bottom.
The Best Food Menu: Wasatch Pub. I live the freshness and diversity of the food menu and it’s a great place to go for a larger group with lots of different food needs. They also have a very diverse beer menu and since they’ve been brewing since the late 80’s, they have their flavors down pat.
Friendly Neighborhood Bar: A. Fisher. I like the family history of A. Fisher and it’s a friendly place. Simply simply sidle up to the bar and have a nice chat with the bartender.
Best Burger: Proper. The Proper burgers are fresh and messy, the perfect companion for a lighter beer and a Saturday night out.
Great Outdoor Deck: Templin Family. The inside of the tasting room is quite roomy and light. But on a nice day, their quiet backyard is just the thing.
Salt Lake City Brew Pubs
Desert Edge Brewery
Everyone just calls it “The Pub”, which was it’s original name when it opened in 1972. Back then, they served the aforementioned crappy Coors to college students. They have come a long way since then, evolving into a full service restaurant and brewery. They call themselves a “regulars” establishment.
The Pub is one of my favorite brew pubs in Salt Lake City and I’ve had a deep fondness for it ever since my husband and I had our first date there, 29 years ago. They offer a popular pilsner and the usual selection of stouts and ales. They also have a regular rotation of cast-conditioned ales and seasonal offerings.
The menu hasn’t changed much in 20 years and my go-to items are the gut busting nachos, half sandwich with salad or the daily pasta salad special. In addition to their main location in Trolley Square, they also have outposts with different menus (but the same beers) at: Red Butte Cafe (Foothill Blvd), Stella Grill (4500 S) and Martine Cafe (downtown).
- Open: Mon-Thurs 11a-midnight, Fri 11a-1a, Sat 11:30a-1a, Sunday 12p-10p.
- Parking: Lots of parking available, especially in the south lot.
- Address: 273 Trolley Square
Wasatch is one of the best breweries in Salt Lake City and they have been in operation since 1989. Their staple beers include the Polygamy Porter and Apricot Hefeweizen, but I prefer their Evolution Amber Ale. They have brew pubs in Sugarhouse and Park City. Their Sugarhouse location is spacious and friendly. All the food there is good but I recommend the tater tots, Wasatch burger and blackened chicken salad.
- Open: Mon-Thurs 11a-midnight, Fria 11a-1a, Sat 10a-1a, Sunday 10a-midnight. Sunday brunch is offered 10a-3p on the weekend.
- Parking: They offer validated parking for the pay lot adjacent to the building, or you can try to score a spot behind the Whole Foods. This neighborhood is congested and parking can be tricky.
- Address: 2110 Highland Dr
Squatters also opened in 1989 and they have had plenty of time to perfect their beer. They have three stories of on-site brewing in their downtown location, which is easy walking from the theaters and Utah Jazz arena. Their most popular beers are the Full Suspension Pale Ale, American Wheat and Captain Bastard’s Oatmeal Stout. You can use any of those beers to wash down their popular menu dishes including: tacos, Thai yellow curry or burgers.
- Open: Mon-Tu 11a-midnight, Fri 11a-1a, Sat 10a-1a, Sun 10a-midnight. Weekend brunch until 3pm.
- Parking: If you go off-peak, you can find street parking or you can use the pay lot next door.
- Address: 147 Broadway
Red Rock Brewing
Red Rock prides itself on offering creative brews which they create by mixing techniques such as darker beers that are hoppy or ales that are lagered. Customer favorites are the Hefeweizen, Amber Ale and Stout, but check the blackboard because they always have interesting seasonal offerings. For food, check out the fish & chips, steak salad, shrimp salad, chicken parmesan or (my favorite) the four cheese pizza.
- Open: Mon-Thurs 11a-11p, Friday 11a-midnight, Sat 10:30a-midnight, Sun 10:30a-11p.
- Parking: Street parking is available but will be tight on weekends or during game nights.
- Address: 254 S 200 W. They also have a location at Fashion Place mall.
Bohemian is one of the few breweries located in the southern part of Salt Lake County. It’s a good apres ski spot becaust it’s down the hill from the entrance to Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. The family who opened the brewery has brought a Czech sensibility to their brewery. They have traditional pilsners, Viennese Amber Lager and a Cherny Bock Schwarzbier. The restaurant is done up like a Swiss ski lodge and they serve European comfort food like pierogues & brats and goulash along with American fare like a salmon salad and pizza.
- Open: Mon-Fri 11a-midnight, Sat 10a-midnight, Sunday 10a-10p. Brunch is served on weekends 10a-3p.
- Parking: They have quite a bit of parking in their free adjacent lot.
- Address: 94 Fort Union Blvd
Hoppers Brew Pub
Hoppers is also located in southern Salt Lake. Their popular beers include the Hellesfest Bier and the Pilsener. They are known for their fish and chips and they also do home-made soups and burgers.
- Open: Mon-Thurs 11a-10p, Fri 11a-11p, Sat 9a-11p, Sun 9a-9p
- Parking: Plenty of free parking.
- Address: 890 Fort Union Blvd
The Bohemian and Hopper locations on Fort Union boulevard makes them convenient spots for an apres ski beer. If you are in SLC to ski, check out this guide to the ski resorts and these tips for scoring discount lift tickets.
Uinta is also located outside of the downtown cluster out in West Valley. They bring in some local after-work crowd from the neighborhood and also beer tourists.
Drinking at Uinta is a steal at $4/pint and I had their trademark Cutthroat lager. But they have 16 regularly available beers and several seasonable beers on tap. In addition to the Cutthroat, their Grapfruit Hop Nosh is also popular. However, I believe strongly that fruity beers are for sissies- go for bitter beer or go home. Uinta also has a full kitchen primarily focused on serving burgers and salads.
- Open: Mon-Thurs 11a-8p, Fri/Sat 11a-9p, closed Sun.
- Parking: Plenty of on site parking.
- Address: 1722 South Fremont Drive
Hopkins is another new brew pub. They are located in Sugarhouse, right next to Wasatch and across the street from the Fiddler’s Elbow and Craft Proper, so you can park once and do a pub crawl.
This friendly 8-tap establishment offers primarily unfiltered ales. They also have a popular coffee stout and a filtered pilsner. Their kitchen has pub staples like burgers, tacos and tatchos and they also offer a weekend brunch.
- Open: Mon-Tues 12p-10p, Wed-Thu 12p-11p, Fri-Sat 11a-12a, Sun 11a-10p
- Parking: Is difficult in Sugarhouse. Look for a spot in the neighborhood north of 21st south.
- Address: 1048 E 2100 S
Salt Lake City Breweries
Level Crossing Brewing Company
Level Crossing is one of the newest additions to the collection of SLC breweries. They have styled themselves as a friendly South Salt Lake neighborhood bar, complete with weekly music and outdoor games.
Their beers tend toward lighter ales and IPA but they do carry a stout and some reds. They are in an experimental mode and are always switching up their hops, so the beer is different every week.
They offer a modest but delicious menu of sandwiches, with the favorites being the club and the reuben.
- Open: Everyday but Monday 11a-10p
- Parking: Plenty of onsite and neighborhood parking.
- Address: 2496 S W Temple
Beehive Distillery isn’t a brewery, but it’s worth including here because they are part of the South Salt Lake creative cluster and are very invested in helping the businesses in the area become successful. And they are making some seriously yummy beverages in their distillery.
They specialize in regular gin, cask aged gin and organic vodka. They sell bottles and pre-mixed cocktail out the door. They also have a light, airy bar with art on the walls and regular live music.
I’d recommend ordering up a straight up gin & tonic or one of their specialty gin cocktails. But they also have local brews on tap.
- Open: Mon-Sat 4pm to close.
- Parking: Good street parking available in the area.
- Address: 2245 S W Temple South (across from Level Crossing)
“Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!”
—-Martin Luther (who made his own home brews)
Kiitos has a sustainability ethic, bottling only into aluminum cans and with a brewing system that uses less water and grain. They are tucked into an industrial neighborhood on the southwest edge of Salt Lake’s downtown and are located near A. Fisher Brewing and Proper (noted below) so you can easily bar hop to all three.
From the outside, their taproom looks like your Uncle Vinny’s print shop. The inside isn’t fancy either, but they have a fun set-up with big screen TVs and pinball. It definitely has a local’s feel and is a good place for an after work drink or to watch a Sunday game. I had the pale ale but they also have amber ales, several IPAs and stout along with a refrigerated cooler for takeaway six packs. Food is limited to snacks and catered frozen burritos.
- Open: Mon-Thur 11a-10pm, Fri/Sat 11a-midnight, Sun 11a-8p.
- Parking: They have a small lot on site.
- Address: 608 W 700 S
A. Fisher Brewing
With their reboot, A. Fisher has become an employee owned community-focused brewery where they serve a short but interesting list of ales and lagers. I had the Hospitality Ale but the Shades of Pale is also popular.
The owner/brewers are on-site and are happy to chat about the brewery’s history and show you their collection of antique Fisher Brewing beer bottles. They don’t have a kitchen but they do schedule a daily food truck that rotates through world cuisines like falafals, tacos, raclette and Chinese. They offer growlers to go.
- Open: Mon-Wed 11a-11p, Thurs 11a-11:59p, Fri/Sat 11a-1a, Sun 11a-10p.
- Parking: Street parking is available but may be tight during work hours. Drive around, you’ll find something.
- Address: 320 W 800 S
Templin Family Brewing
Templin is conveniently located one block south of Fisher, in the Granary Gulch district. They are a family operation determined to keep up the German brewing tradition. Kevin Templin was a master brewer at Red Rock for 20 years so he knows a thing or three about how to craft a beer.
Their popular draft beers include the Kellerbier Pils, Wicked Sea Party Hazy IPA and the American style Pale Ale. But their Ferda double IPA (in cans) is also very popular.
They have a full liquor license and also offer craft cocktails like the Templin Old Fashioned.
For food, they have snacks like German-style pretzels, charcuterie and the regularly schedule food trucks.
Their tasting room has a very light, friendly vibe and they have a great back patio during the nice weather.
- Open: Mon-Thurs 12p-11p, Fri-Sat 12p-12a, Sun 12p-10p
- Parking: Parking is pretty good, but check the side streets for a good spot.
- Address: 936 South 300 West
Proper opened in 2016 as a brewery with an adjacent burger joint. Proper’s flagship beer is the Golden Ale, but they also offer 12 other draft and 10 bottled beers including Oaty McOatface, Revenge DIPA and the Belgian style Patersbier. They also offer a full cocktail menu. You can order drippingly delicious burgers, fries and rings from next door and they will deliver it to the bar.
You can make an evening of it by watching a game on their TVs or playing skeeball or pool. Salt Lake’s hipster cred was on full display when I visited because Proper was bursting with bearded plaid-clad quaffers.
- Open: Everyday 11a-2a.
- Parking: Street parking is available but it’s located on a busy street.
- Address: 857 Main St
Proper also runs Avenues Proper, which is a restaurant brew/pub hybrid. They brew some beer there and have a bar on one side and a full service restaurant on the other. They have gut-busting comfort foods like mac & cheese and meatloaf.
- Open: Tues-Thu 11a-10p, Fri 11a-12a, Sat 10a-12a
- Parking: There is street parking, but it’s tight because of the nearby hospital.
- Address: 376 8th Ave
RoHa has taken advantage of those new South Salt Lake ordinances to open up a small brewery and tap room. They are in one of those transitional neighborhoods that used to be full of auto parts stores and prostitutes but now has bakeries, cool clothing boutiques and budding gentrification. No word on where the prostitutes ended up.
RoHa has a small rotating tap. I had the Back Porch Pale Ale, which is in their regular rotation. They also sell cans out the door with two IPAs, a grand saison and a pale ale. This is a very small, intimate joint with a 5 bar stools, The owner/brewer is on site and happy to chat about beer.
- Open: Mon-Sat 11a-8p.
- Parking: Street parking is available and the neighborhood is pretty quiet.
- Address: 30 Kensington Ave S
Shades has been open since 2017 and it in the same neighborhood cluster as Salt Fire and Level Crossing. They are one of the brewers who worked with South Salt Lake to create the beer-friendly atmosphere of the neighborhood. As owner Trent Fargher puts it, they “broke the glass ceiling for beer in South Salt Lake”.
Shades is more about the brewery than the bar and their tasting room sits amongst the brewing vats. They offer a broad selection of porters, a few IPAs, a lager and an experimental rotating tap. They have been experimenting with fruity beers like the Piña Colada and Cherry Pie sour ales, which are available in cans. They also do beer cocktails featuring combinations like tequila and their sour ale.
Before you go into Shades, spend some time lapping the block because there are some seriously cool murals in South Salt Lake.
- Open: Mon 11:30a-4:30p, Tues-Wed 11:30a-10p, Sat 3-10p.
- Parking: Street parking is pretty good in this neighborhood.
- Address: 154 W Utopia Ave
Salt Fire Brewing
Like many of the Salt Lake breweries in this guide, Salt Fire was born out of a home brewing operation. They bring a quirky attitude to their brewery, calling themselves “zymotic transcendentalists” who “blur the lines in the sand”. They are currently brewing two kinds of IPA, a pils, blonde ale, saison and a stout. Their most popular beer right now is the Dirty Chai Stout, which has coffee flavors and chai spices. Not my jam, but flavorful if you like a stout.
They like brewing boozy beers and so 50% of what they sell are higher alcohol brews in cans.
Their tasting room is very open and friendly and has a neighborhood bar vibe.
- Open: Mon-Thu 3-8p, Fri-Sat 11a-11p, Sun 11a-8p.
- Parking: Street parking is pretty good in this neighborhood.
- Address: 2199 S W Temple.
Toasted Barrel Brewery
Toasted Barrel is tucked away under the freeway overpass on 6th north. They are primarily a distributor but they do have a tasting room if you want to try their full selection.
They specialize in Belgian-style sour ales, although they do offer an IPA and a red.
- Open: Thurs-Sat 4-8p.
- Parking: On-site parking.
- Address: 412 W 600 N
Epic started up in 2008 as brewery wholesaler and they make 43 different kinds of beer. They’ve been winning awards for their beer since 2010, most recently for their Bad Baptist which is aged in a combination of rum and whiskey barrels.
You can tour the brewery and purchase beer in their “tap-less tap room”. This confusing label exists because of a weird set of liquor laws preventing them from operating as a bar because they are a larger wholesaler rather than a “micro brewer”. Or some such. Whatever the arcane reason, they get around it by having a small eatery next door where you can purchase snacks, soup and sandwiches along with beer.
- Hours: Mon-Thurs 11a-9p, Fri/Sat 10a-11p, Sun 11a-7p. Email ahead if you want a tour.
- Parking: Like Proper, street parking is available but it’s busy.
- Address: 825 State St
Bewilder is so named because, even though it’s owners had tons of experience helping home brewers get their start, starting up their own tasting room was a bewildering process for them.
But they pushed through and are now up and running. They are in a good location, just a few blocks from Squatters and the Utah Jazz stadium. They are currently offering up some fresh ales with a plan to do barrel aging as soon as they are at full capacity.
They have a small kitchen with a sausage-forward menu and German-style pretzels.
- Open: Everyday 12p-8p
- Parking: They have a lot on-site
- Address: 445 400 W
Salt Flats Brewing
Salt Flats is located near Epic. I have not yet been there, so please comment below with your thoughts if you have had the beer there. They offer a lighter selection of lagers, hefeweizens and ales.
- Open: Mon 11-3, Tues-Sat 11:30-7p
- Address: 2020 Industrial Cir Unit B
2Row doesn’t have a tasting room, but they sell beer out the door at their southern Salt Lake location. They have a large selection of ales, IPAs and DIPAs. I have not had 2Row’s beer, but a reader commenting below has and recommends their hoppy IPAs.
- Open: Mon-Wed 11-6, Thu-Sat 11-7p
- Parking: Right in front of the storefront.
- Address: 6856 S 300 W
“Beer, if drunk in moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.”
Salt Lake Bars that Love Craft Beer
If you aren’t drunk enough yet, you can also check out some of the many SLC bars that are carrying on a love affair with craft beer. All of these bars serve food and have a generous selection of tap and/or bottled beers from Salt Lake Breweries.
- Porcupine Pub and Grille. (on Fort Union Blvd and near the University)
- East Liberty Tap House (Sugerhouse)
- Craft Proper (Sugerhouse)
- Fiddler’s Elbow (Sugarhouse)
- Beer Bar (Downtown)
- Beer Hive (Downtown)
- Lake Effect (Downtown)
Map of Breweries: Salt Lake City
This map of breweries in SLC includes brew pubs, breweries and bars that feature local craft brews.
If you are planning to visit multiple breweries in one day, look into the Brewery Tour Mobile Pass. They have 1,2 and 90 day options (for $15, $20 and $30 respectively). It entitles you to $5 off at each of the 12 participating breweries. It’s a good deal…if you are really thirsty.
Other Things to do in Salt Lake City
- Work up your thirst by hiking one of these urban trails in SLC.
- Pair your beer with a book from one of Salt Lake’s great bookstores.
- Pair your beer with cheese from one of these fabulous cheese shops.
- Check out Salt Lake’s cool street art.
Phew, that’s a lot of beer and there are even more Salt Lake breweries in the works. If you hear of a new one, let me know by commenting below or getting in touch on Facebook. In the meantime, mind the words of Shakespeare himself “…for a quart of ale is a dish for a king.” Cheers!
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