On Location: Park City Brewery in Park City, Utah
I have a confession: While I enjoy skiing, my favorite part of the experience is après ski. Who doesn’t love kicking back with a tasty beer to celebrate a day in the powder, after all? Although most après ski experiences happen slopeside, I’ve ditched that tradition this Sunday afternoon. Instead, I’m driving to Park City Brewery (2720 Rasmussen Road) about 20 minutes from Park City’s main drag.
I’m not sure what to expect when I arrive, though, as the brewery sits off the highway and save for a few mountains, seems a little lonely in its space. (As an aside, the brewery is located on the Bob’s Basin Trail System so in warm-weather months, it’s not as isolated, being visited frequently by recreational enthusiasts.) But its inviting mustard and reddish brown-colored front, stone walls accenting spaces between windows, sets me at ease.
The smell of popcorn wafts through the air—snacks are the only food option here, but you can fill up on popcorn for free—as I step into the tasting room, its vibe like that of an upscale college bar. Lights and numerous team banners hang from the ceilings, a lone Cincinnati Bengals banner on a wall over a foosball table. Chalkboards designate the current beers on tap and specials, which includes $3 pints on Townie Tuesdays, as well as upcoming events.
The theme in the brewery skews heavily toward wood, starting with the wooden barrels from Park City’s High West Distillery placed strategically around the room. Meanwhile, wooden picnic tables take up residency on the cement slab floor. In the summer, the brewery opens its patio where dogs can visit (by state law, dogs can’t be closer than 10 feet from the actual tavern).
Yet it’s the wooden rail with its aluminum siding front that I love best. There’s room for a dozen-plus in this rectangular-shaped bar where a panel of windows allows direct view of the 15-barrel brew house. Today, there’s an active canning session going on so there’s good action to watch.
Park City’s mantra is drinkability, a mission created by its five managing partners who debuted their beer in 2015. They all have southern roots, mainly Kentucky, and I’m informed they still honor their heritage, as bourbon is a favorite among them.
Utah’s liquor laws, of course, make it easy to be drinkable. Without proper licensing, any beer served in a bar or brewery can’t exceed 4% ABV. Truth be told, that’s actually not a bad thing, as I’ve got six taps to sample from, not to mention the high altitude with which to contend. Yet when I start sipping Park City’s creations, I learn that while its beers are lacking in ABV, they’re certainly not lacking in flavor.
The beer names reflect the area’s outdoor heritage. For instance, there’s the Breaking Trail Pale Ale, Boogie Water Brown Ale, Last Pitch IPA and Hooker Blonde Ale, all four of which you can buy in stores as a four-pack named Trail Mix. There’s also the Pow Day Rye Ale, which was created for the Waldorf Astoria which came looking for a local company to create a liquid libation. (Note that one of the hotel’s other partners is Lamborghini.) Today, this brew is only on draft at the hotel and brewery.
All of these beers are part of Park City’s Session series, but for those craving higher ABV, the Peak Series should be of interest. That series includes an American pale ale, imperial pilsner and India pale ale, and can be purchased at liquor stores. Also of interest? Park City donates spent grain to farmers as other breweries do, but it’s found a unique application for its spent yeast: fertilizer for the area’s golf course greens.
So did I miss the slopes for après ski? While I may not be lapping up the views from Park City Brewery, I’m certainly lapping up supremely satisfying suds, and in my book, that’s a worthy trade.