South Salt Lake • In train talk, a "level crossing” is where a rail line intersects with a road — rather than crossing over it by bridge or under it via a tunnel.
In Utah, though, Level Crossing soon could mean a place where beer, art and music meet.
Level Crossing Brewing Co., which opens Saturday, will be the third beer production facility in South Salt Lake, already home to SaltFire Brewing Co. and Shades Brewing (formerly Shades of Pale).
Owner Mark Medura, a former vice president for Park City’s High West Distillery, said it was a personal dream to launch his own business and be part of the state’s booming beer-making industry. “It’s the last job I hope to have.”
Level Crossing Brewery will be the second brewery to open this week in Utah. UTOG Brewing Co., 2331 Grant Ave. in Ogden, opened Thursday. That puts the state’s brewery total at 31, according to the Utah Brewers Guild, with more breweries expected.
Medura and a crew of devoted friends spent the past year gutting and remodeling a 1980s warehouse at 2496 S. West Temple — directly underneath the South Salt Lake water tower visible from Interstate 15 — for the brewery.
The finished project includes a taproom with exposed brick, a long wooden bar with metal accents and ceiling-height windows that will give customers a view into the 15-barrel brew house.
“I wanted to bring the brewery into the taproom as much as I could,” Medura explained.
The north wall of the taproom features a giant red, orange and yellow mural by Utah artist Jann Haworth that pays homage to blues music and to Memphis’ legendary Sun Records. Connected to the art piece is a 1946 Chevrolet pickup truck, purchased from Milton Farm in Sterling, Utah. The flatbed of the truck will serve as a stage for live music.
For the initial opening, head brewer Chris Detrick will have four beers on tap: an amber ale, an American wheat, an oat pale ale and the “You-tah Uncommon." The latter is a local take on Kentucky common, a once-popular pre-Prohibition beer that is slightly sweet with roasted malt and corn malt flavors.
Detrick, who has more brews in the works, said the canning line should be up and running soon. Customers will be able to buy beer and other merchandise at the brewery’s on-site retail outlet. Brewery tours also are planned.
A wood-fired oven for pizza and sandwiches also is on its way.
Detrick, former photojournalist for The Salt Lake Tribune, is well-known in Utah’s home-brewing circles, having won numerous state and national awards. His Double Rye IPA, which won a first in the Beehive Brew-Off, was one of the first collaboration beers produced with Uinta Brewing Co. under its Cahoots label. Detrick also worked with Epic Brewing Co. on a Jack Mormon Coffee Stout.
During a recent open house, South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood said Level Crossing fits the city’s vision of a “creative zone” — a destination spot for residents as well as those living outside the city. Whether they’re painting murals or brewing beer, she said, “we really wanted to foster artists who create in their own unique way.”
To help push the redevelopment, the South Salt Lake City Council repealed a series of old, restrictive liquor laws in 2017 in hopes of attracting more breweries, distilleries and wineries.
The most significant change was eliminating the quota for breweries within city limits. Previously, South Salt Lake allowed only one for every 10,000 residents. The city also removed its five-barrel production minimum, which prevented smaller brewers from starting up.
Medura said all those factors made the city an attractive location for Level Crossing. As for the brewery’s name, he was drawn to it because he had a level crossing in his backyard while growing up. It became a meeting spot for he and his friends.
This brewery, he hopes, will become a similar place, where beer lovers can gather with friends and feel welcome.