Ice-cold, high-point beer a new niche for Utah brewery stores

What can customers get at the new Red Rock Brewing’s Beer Store that’s not available at a state-run liquor facility?

Cold beer!

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Would you like to have chilled high-point beer sold at Utah State Liquor Stores?

Brewers and their Big Beer stores

Tired of warm beer from the liquor store? Here are six Utah breweries that sell their high-point beer — higher than 4 percent alcohol by volume — fresh from the cold case.

Bohemian Brewery Grill » 94 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale; 801-566-5474. Open Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Epic Brewing Co. » 825 S. State, Salt Lake City; 801-906-0123. Open Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. -7 p.m. Also open on holidays.

Moab Brewery » 686 S. Main, Moab; 435-259-6333. Open Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Red Rock Brewing’s Beer Store » 443 N. 400 West, Salt Lake City; 801-214-3386. Open Thursday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Uinta Brewing Co.’s Little Big Beer Store » 1722 S. Fremont Drive, Salt Lake City; 801-467-0909. Open Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Utah Brewers Cooperative » 1763 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City; 801-466-8855. Open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Sells Squatters and Wasatch beers)

More ways to buy

Brewers producing 4 percent ABV beer — better known as 3.2 — also sell cold beer to-go, with some restrictions such as a growler deposit or purchasing food. Call ahead for details.

Bonneville Brewery » 1641 N. Main St., Tooele; 435-248-0646.

Desert Edge Brewery » 273 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City; 801-521-8917.

Hopper’s Grill Brewing Co. » 890 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale; 801-566-0424.

Roosters Brewing Co. » 253 E. 2500 South, Ogden, 801-627-6171; or 748 Heritage Park Blvd., Layton; 801-774-9330.

Shades of Pale Brewing » 2160 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City; 435-200-3009.

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“The beer literally goes from the cold room in the production facility to the beer store fridge 10 feet away,” said Red Rock Brewing’s marketing director, Michael Druce. “It never even gets close to heat.”

The Red Rock Beer Store opened about two months ago at 443 N. 400 West in Salt Lake City, inside the facility where all of the high-point beers — more than 4 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) — are produced. Red Rock’s lower-alcohol beers, aka 3.2 beer, are made at its downtown brewery, 254 S. 200 West, and sold in Red Rock pubs in Salt Lake City, Murray and Park City.

While cold 3.2 beer is available every day in Utah at grocery and convenience stores, Druce said for beer enthusiasts a cold high-point beer “is a super big deal.” Utah state liquor stores, the only other outlet for high-point beer, do not have refrigeration.

Red Rock is one of six Utah breweries to have a high-point beer store. (See box for a full list of stores.)

Besides being cold, the beer in the case is the freshest beer available, usually just 1 or 2 days old, said Druce.

“It is not fancy, just a small space in the middle of the brewery,” he said about the store. But it allows customers to see the operation, talk with a brewer and sign up for the mailing list that allows them to buy new releases before the general public.

“Until now, we’ve really had no idea who’s been buying our beer,” he said. “Now we can meet our customers personally and give them special treatment.”

More beer stores » Bohemian Brewery also opened a small beer store in July so it could sell its high-point beers directly to customers, said spokesman Will Gillane. The Midvale brewery broke into the high-point beer arena this summer, launching Bohemian Export, a German-style pilsner that registers 6 percent ABV, and Bohemian Alt, a crisp Düsseldorf-style Altbier that has 5.3 percent ABV. Both are sold in Bohemian’s signature 12-ounce cans.

The Utah Brewers Cooperative, which produces Squatters and Wasatch Beer, has operated a store for about 14 years. It sells all the company’s high-point beers as well as its 4 percent ABV beers in bottles and on draft for take-home growlers, said Judy Cullen, director of marketing.

“We probably have about 4,000 customers every month coming in to purchase our delicious brews,” she said.

Uinta Brewing Co. opened its on-site store about four years ago. “The Little Big Beer Store is just that, a very little store, about 6 feet by 12 feet, that sells big beers,” said Uinta spokeswoman Lindsay Berk. “The best part is, it’s all cold.”

All the “big beer” stores have Type 5 Package Agency licenses through the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC). The license, created in 2008 when the Legislature revamped Utah liquor laws, allows breweries to sell high-point beer on their production site. There are some restrictions, including price: It must be the same cost as at state-owned liquor stores.

While the brewery stores can’t offer special deals, they have the edge by guaranteeing freshness and cold storage. In some cases they are even open on Sundays and holidays.

Inconvenient hours were one of the biggest complaints Utah consumers had with the state liquor stores, according to a recent survey conducted by the DABC. So was selling warm beer.

While it’s not disastrous for beer to sit at room temperature, it does make it age faster, according to the experts at Craft Beer USA.

“A general rule of thumb for the brewing industry is that beer stored at 100 degrees Fahrenheit for one week tastes as old as beer stored at 70 degrees for two months, or as old as beer stored at 40 degrees for one year.”

It’s less complicated than that for most customers, said Epic Brewing Company spokesman Matthew Allred.

“Honestly, a big part of having it is that people just want to buy cold beer,” he said. “Nobody wants to go put your beer in the fridge and wait two hours on a Friday night.”

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