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Pour yourself a drink and tune in to "Beehive Spirits" — a history of alcohol in Utah

Published October 30, 2012 1:18 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It's premiering the day before Halloween, but KUED's "Beehive Spirits" has nothing to do with ghosts.

It's about beer and liquor in Utah, past and present.

You've got to love it when narrator Doug Fabrizio tells us, "Utah may have been a desert, but it certainly wasn't dry."

Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten's documentary (Tuesday, 8:30 p.m., Ch. 7) adopts the perfect tone - sort of light and fun, while at the same time sharing plenty of information.

While it addresses Utah peculiarities, it's not in the least bit divisive.

"We didn't want to get embroiled in the battle over individual laws or with changing public sentiment," said Measom. "We wanted to tell a timeless story about character and craft that is at the heart of Utah's history."

Chances are that most viewers will be surprised to learn about Utah's alcohol past.

Did you know that ZCMI sold liquor? That the Hotel Utah sold liquor? That the Salt Lake Brewing Co. at one time occupied 1½ city blocks? That 2/3 of the Utah territory's revenues came from liquor sales?

That Mark Twain went out drinking with Porter Rockwell?

It's fascinating.

Somewhat less folksy - but not altogether so - are the present-day stories of Utah brewers and vintners. Because, of course, being a brewer or vintner in Utah presents its own set of challenges.

At 26 minutes, "Beehive Spirits" is a perfect length. It's fun.

And stick around for the credits to see KUTV reporter Rod Decker sing. Really.