Utah’s oldest brewery, Wasatch Brewery, has been churning out refreshing beverages for thirsty Utahans for over three and a half decades. Wasatch has been bucking trends in the industry since day one when it became Utah’s first modern brewery in 1986.
Meet the Top of Main Series, a collection of brews that commemorate Wasatch's perch atop Park City’s historic Main Street, celebrating the memories and future of Utah’s local flavors. First up for Spring/Summer 2022 is the Top of Main Raspberry Ale, a refreshing antidote to summer heat and the ideal après choice for hiking, biking, and all things outdoors. The series will highlight local and regional flavors that embody the taste of the good mountain life here in Utah. With the spring 2022 release of the Raspberry Ale, beer enthusiasts can now enjoy a smooth, crisp and gently sweet ale that perfectly captures the tangy zest of a fresh-picked raspberry.
I recently spoke with Wasatch’s Head Brewer, Nils Imboden, about his latest creation. Nils eagerly plans to introduce two beers annually within the Top of Main Series and found inspiration for the Raspberry Ale from memories of picking wild raspberries in the heights of the neighboring Uinta Mountain Range. Nils hoped to craft an easy-drinking ale with excellent balance and a hint of malty sweetness. As a Park City native with a passion for skiing and biking, Nils well knows the need for a refreshing beverage after a whirl on our mountain playground.
The warm reception of the new Raspberry Ale meant that the Park City location was entirely out of the new brew when I went to visit Nils. He assured me they’d have a fresh batch of the beer back on tap in no time and counseled me to grab a case at any local Smith’s or Kroger grocery store or any Wasatch location down in Salt Lake City, which I promptly did. I have zero to no heat tolerance and found that a swig of Raspberry ale paired beautifully with my sweaty bike clothes and a sunset.
Meanwhile, Nils spends the majority of his days at Wasatch’s Park City Main Street location which he calls the “Innovation Brewery.” With just a handful of 500-gallon barrels lurking underneath the restaurant—compared to the 2,000-gallon barrels in the Salt Lake facility—Nils is able to treat his Park City space a bit like a research lab. Here he tests new ideas, experiments and eventually hands a number of his recipes off to the much bigger facility in Salt Lake to brew for the masses. Nils conducted test batches of the Raspberry Ale last year in Park City and this location is a must-visit if you’re keen to try anything new or unusual that Nils is working on.
Nils recommends pairing his new Top of Main Raspberry Ale with a hike or a bike ride. He advises finishing up an activity amid Park City’s endless recreational opportunities and grabbing tacos on the outdoor patio at the Main Street brewpub. Its central location is ideal for those enjoying the scenery and steeps at either Deer Valley Resort or Park City Mountain. The Raspberry Ale will provide instant refreshment to anyone craving the flavors of summer and having quaffed a couple more after a hot ride down Flying Dog, I can enthusiastically say this is the perfect way to reward yourself after a big (or small) day in the mountains.
You’ll find Wasatch’s Raspberry Ale in many local Kroger (Smith’s) grocery stores. You can also visit Wasatch Brewpub in Park City or one of the locations in Salt Lake City to sample the ale on tap. There are also crowlers and growlers available to go. For those looking to explore the widest selection of Wasatch beers, be sure to visit the West Side Tavern Salt Lake location. You can also catch the flavors of Wasatch and Squatters in the new Salt Lake City International Airport, where four restaurants in total will eventually service thirsty or peckish travelers.
Operating the first microbrewery in Utah was a daunting prospect when the state’s teetotaling reputation pervaded every aspect of the food and beverage industry. Laws needed changing, the DABC needed educating, councilmen needed convincing and it was a mountain of effort to change the legislation and gain permission to begin legally brewing. Luckily, founder Greg Schirf, a homebrewer who arrived in Utah after a stint in Milwaukee, tackled this thankless job and founded Wasatch Brewing.
Two years later in 1988, Schirf proposed another bill to the Utah Legislature legalizing brewpubs and Utah’s first brewpub opened at the top of Park City’s historic Main Street. Listen to Schirf review the history of Wasatch/Squatters on the Last Chair podcast here. Nowadays, Wasatch Brewery has a bevy of classic and beloved beers and a number of locations around Utah. If you want to see what Head Brewer Nils is working on, be sure to visit the Park City location. Cheers!
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