Restaurant Reveal: Wasatch Brew Pub continues to carve out a place in Utah’s history | ParkRecord.com

Restaurant Reveal: Wasatch Brew Pub continues to carve out a place in Utah’s history

Wasatch Brew Pub Brewmaster Nils Imboden and General Manager Meredith Risley expect Wasatch beers to reach distribution in 30 states by the end of 2018. Wasatch Brewery became Utah’s first brewpub 30 years ago.

Thirty years ago, Park City resident Greg Schirf proposed a bill to the Utah State Legislature to make brewpubs legal in Utah. Within a year, he opened Wasatch Brew Pub on Main Street.

Over the last thirty years, Wasatch has made a name for its beer, of course, but also with its challenges of state liquor laws, done always with a sense of humor.

Wasatch has also maintained its identity, even after a merger with Squatters beers: keeping the Polygamy Porter, which ribs Utah's history of multiple marriages, to brewing the 1st Amendment Lager, which protested high beer taxes.

"Humor is something we are well known for," said the restaurant's General Manager Meredith Risley. "And it's something we definitely keep in our culture."

The merger was more about getting Wasatch brews into more hands outside of Utah, Risley said, and the Park City site continues to offer its own twist on the brew pub experience. It has an in-house brewmaster/cicerone, a beer expert akin to a wine sommelier, in Nils Imboden.

"Nils helps us with any of the beer pairings for any and all of our menu items," Risley said. "He's always training our servers, and explaining to them all the new beers, what kind of hops he uses, and where the hops comes from. And he's always coming up with very creative ideas and new beers all the time."

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The brewing equipment at the restaurant is not just for show either. About 3,200 barrels were sold in 2017, or just under 100,000 gallons, according to Imboden, with 60 percent consumed on-site. Each Friday, the brewmaster also offers a tour of the brewing facility.

Roughly half the beer Imboden makes is for production, and then he plays with flavor with the other half, usually in smaller, experimental batches. The location has become a research and development test batch facility, he said.

Imboden's inventive flavor combinations include a brown ale with coffee, lactose, vanilla, and oak; a coconut curry hefeweizen; a New England-style India pale ale, and a kellerbier, a young, fresh lager for drinkers of lighter beer.

"Next it's an apricot milkshake IPA, made with lactose, which is a milk sugar, that gives the beer a lot of body, apricot puree, and vanilla extract. It drinks like an orange creamsicle," Imboden said.

These flavors are often exclusively available in the Park City restaurant, although some may travel down to the Sugar House pub or the West Side Tavern production facility in Salt Lake City.

Beginning today, Wasatch can also sell beer to go (in 12-ounce bottles, 64-ounce glass growlers or 32-ounce aluminum growlers) because of a change in state law.

Wasatch, along with its sister restaurant Squatters Roadhouse Grill & Pub, remains involved in the community. For the past few years, they have been known for their Guilt-Free Dessert contest in April. The brewpub's supplier Nicholas and Company, a Salt Lake City-based wholesale food distributor, donates all the brownies' ingredients for the contest.

"We do [the dessert] at all of our locations, and all of the proceeds are going to the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake," Risley said. "There's a bit of a competition between all of the stores of who can sell the most, and the servers have fun with it as well."

The dessert is a black and brown brownie with chipotle chocolate sauce, costing $5, and the contest runs until April 30. Of course, the dessert can be paired with a Wasatch beer.

"Usually richer chocolates complement with darker beers," Imboden said. With the Guilt Free Dessert, he recommends the Polygamy Porter.

Wasatch Brew Pub is located at 250 Main Street, Park City. The restaurant, bar, gift shop and cold beer store is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wasatch serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 435-649-0900 or log on to wasatchbeers.com. The brewery tour is free, but reservations are required.