Out With The Old
The time has come for Utah’s century old—and often the center of jokes—alcohol content law to leave us forever. The new Alcohol By Volume (ABV) Bill passed after a 27:1 vote earlier this year during the 2019 sessions, helping Utah to, As Governor Herbert told the Salt Lake Tribune, “keep up with market demands because so few states still sell three-point-two percent beer.”
After keeping to that lower ABV percentage for so long, local Utah breweries will have to adjust their menus and tweak their recipes if they want to start brewing under the higher brewing laws this year. But for two veteran breweries and one that’s fresh-on-the-scene, they welcome these changes and are excited for what’s to come next.
Reformulating The Old
Jon Lee, brewmaster and Co-COO at Squatters and Wasatch Brewery says that they are really excited about the changes coming to Utah’s brewing laws. “It’s a whirlwind trying to coordinate the current packaging and beers so that we can have all the new five percent ABV packaging here in time as well as run out of stock on the existing four percent by [November].” Mr. Lee says “all of our packaging needs to be updated to the new specs. We will also need to re-formulate all of our four percent ABV beers to get us to the five percent ABV mark.”
But don’t let Mr. Lee’s laundry list of to-do’s fool you, both Squatters and Wasatch are looking forward to expanding their variety of beers and the new experience that they can provide to the people of Utah.
Even the new kids in town, Level Crossing Brewing Company, are looking forward to change, “we are excited about the beer ABV change mainly due to [the fact that] it allows us to expand our draft beer portfolio and provides our consumer with additional beer styles at our tap room.”
Mark Medura, founder and CEO at Level Crossing says that though this new law doesn’t mean all beers will brew at the higher ABV percentage, it does allow them to create newer recipes with greater flavor profiles. “Some beers may increase in ABV percentage due to the historical nature of where it should be brewed, other beers will remain at the original ABV percentage which is where we feel the recipe best fits the flavor profile we are after.”
Creating Something New
Level Crossing opened their doors on March 30, 2019 and Mr. Medura says that though the new law hasn’t affected them too much, it has already changed how they think about their menu. “We had one product that was in the [research and development] stage when the law changed.” Mr. Medura says “this allowed us to easily make the change before we scaled up the production on the particular product.”
Veteran breweries Squatters and Wasatch say they are looking forward to taking their already beloved products to the next level. Mr. Lee says that the already four percent ABV beer styles they currently make, like Chasing Tail at Squatters or Apricot Hefeweizen at Wasatch, are historically designed to be around the four-point-eight to five-point-two percent ABV mark. Making it so that on November 1, 2019 all of their beers, regardless of where they are sold, will be true to style and brewing history.
“Our already fantastic Pale Ales will be phenomenal at five percent ABV,” exclaims Mr. Lee “and our Pilsner… You’ll lose your mind how good it is!”
Both Mr. Medura and Mr. Lee believe that not only are local beer-lovers going to enjoy their updated menus, new craft brews, and a growing selection, it may also change how visitors feel about us as a state.
“More people are moving in from out of state and higher quality restaurants and bars are opening up, providing an excellent set of options for the consumer.” Mr. Medura adds that this law started as a means to provide the consumer with as many options as possible, letting them choose what they want, not what the state wants them to have. “As Utah’s economy continues to grow, and better, higher paying employment opportunities continue to be available, the bar and restaurant scene will continue to follow the growth trends.”
With such a tremendous step forward for Utah, Mr. Lee says the negative connotations that Utah draft beers have gotten over the many, many years will be a thing of the past. “I hope that all our beer loving peeps will be stoked on what’s to come. This should also help with some of the tourists and visitors’ impressions of the state and not provide a reason for them to be bummed when they get back home. ‘I had a great time skiing but the beer…’”
The brewing laws go into effect November 1, 2019, giving Utah’s local favorite breweries time to adjust their recipes and giving Utah residents time to get excited about the changes.