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Brewer debuts first organic beer
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After years of teasing Utahns with such titillating beer labels as Chasing Tail and Captain Bastard, Squatters is going natural.

Now on tap is Squatters Organic Amber Ale, the state's first and only certified organic beer.

The ale is brewed from organic pale and caramel malted barley and aromatic hops. The taste, says brewmaster Jenny Talley, is a caramel-like maltiness with a hint of sweetness.

Organic certification requires high levels of cleanliness and sanitation that already were in place, said Talley. But it also requires strict segregation of ingredients "from grain to glass."

The barley is grown from organic seeds, using natural methods of pest control such as lady bugs and composting rather than chemical fertilizers. At the brewery, organic ingredients are stored separately and tanks must be scrupulously cleaned.

The step to organic was logical, given the earth-friendly philosophy of Salt Lake Brewing Co., which operates three restaurants in Utah: Squatters Pub Brewery at 147 W. Broadway St., Squatters Airport Pub at Salt Lake City International Airport and Squatters Roadhouse Grill in Park City.

At the restaurants, bread is cooked with spent grain from the brewing process. All paper products have recycled content, light bulbs are energy efficient, napkins are cloth and a portion of the power is wind generated. The pubs also serve locally grown and organic food.

Talley's own personality leans toward what she calls "inner hippie." The company's flagship beer, Full Suspension Pale Ale, is her recipe and makes up half of all sales. The name also was hers - she had just gotten her first mountain bike.

She also put together the recipe for Chasing Tail Golden Ale. Its name comes from a habit of her Golden Lab that chased its own tail. Talley says founding partners Jeff Polychronis and Peter Cole had reservations about the name - until she reminded them about the full-busted Provo Girl label image. She, too, created the slogan for Chasing Tail: "Please don't make me beg. It's not just for men anymore."

This summer, Talley's organic beer will be available in bottles and draft, in time for barbecues. The ale, she says, will pair well with grilled meats, fillets and burgers.

Talley, the daughter of a sportswriter, moved from Southern California to Utah in 1988 to attend the University of Utah. It was here that she was introduced to home brewing. By 1991 she had settled on becoming a brewer's apprentice at Squatters. But it took three months to convince the owners to hire her. Typically, an apprentice does the heavy lifting and Talley is a slight woman.

"I proved them wrong," she says."Brewing is in my bones and in my spirit."

A look at her footwear proves the point. Talley walks in worn, oversized, yellow rubber boots as if they are sneakers. A Squatters hat adorns her head and her T-shirt announces the name of her new, organic ale.

She also collects winners' medals. Among them is Squatters India Pale Ale, which won a gold medal at the 2006 World Beer Cup, and Provo Girl Pilsner, which took the gold at the 2004 Great American Beer Festival.

Squatters received organic certification from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food in August. Like other brews, it was test marketed at its restaurants.

Organic certification of food and drink is up 40 percent over the past two years, even though the transition from conventional processes to organic standards can be costly, said Seth Winterton, deputy director of the department's Division of Marketing and Development. Eighty-five companies have received certification, but so far, Squatters is the only applicant for organic beer.

Joe Lambert, operating partner of Salt Lake Brewing Co., says the firm's brewing production was up 18 percent for 2006 from the previous year and he expects this year's growth to be from 5 percent to 10 percent higher. Those numbers mirror growth in the craft-brew market nationwide.

"People want quality, premium products," he added, "so they're willing to pay more."

Events with brewmaster Jenny Talley

May 24

* What: Salt Lake Chamber Business After Hours

* Where: Squatters Pub Brewery; 147 W. Broadway St., Salt Lake City

* When: 5 p.m.

* Cost: Members $12. Nonmembers $25.

* Register: saltlakechamber.org

June 21

* What: Beer & Cheese Tasting Class

* Where: Caputos Market; 308 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City

* When: 7:15 p.m.

* Cost: $20 per person

* Reservations: 801-519-5754

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