Two beer fests in one weekend, both showcasing Utah’s robust brewing scene

In downtown Salt Lake City and up at Deer Valley, Utah brewers show off their craft.

(Eric Schramm | Deer Valley Resort) The Silver Lake Lawn area at Deer Valley Resort, pictured here, will be the site of the first Deer Valley Mountain Beer Festival, set for Sept. 17 and 18, 2022.

Earlier this summer, the brewers at Utah’s oldest and newest microbreweries started texting each other, dreaming up a new beer.

Nils Imboden of Wasatch Brewery and Jaron Anderson of Helper Beer (which is scheduled to open later this year) only needed to ping a few notes back and forth before deciding on what they wanted to brew.

“We’re like, ‘Let’s make a cold IPA,’” Anderson said. “I liked the idea of using noble hops with newer hops.” They decided on hallertau, Mandarin Bavaria, Australian Nectaron, and Columbus. “The other one was an African hop, so we used hops from like five different continents,” he said.

The result is Cold Rhythm IPA, a German-style beer with an international flavor.

“There are hops from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Germany, France … so a cool around-the-world hop profile,” Imboden said. “It’s very citrus-forward, very tasty. A little bit higher on the bitterness scale, so it is a true IPA. We used German lager yeast in it.”

That beer is almost ready to pour, and will make its debut at the second Collab Fest, a volunteer-run event organized by the Utah Brewers Guild. The first Collab Fest happened in 2019, said Teri Mumm, executive director of UBG, then the schedule was derailed by COVID-19.

Though they tried to pull it together last year, Mumm said, brewers were under too much stress with supply-chain and staffing issues. “It’s just such a super grassroots effort,” she said.

In 2019, she said, brewers self-selected their collaborators. This year, “we asked people if they were interested in just random collaborations, and most of them were. I said, ‘You can come to us with your partner, or we can just pair you with somebody.’”

What was fun about his collaboration with Anderson, Imboden said, was that because Wasatch is so old and so big, he could get his hands on some hard-to-get ingredients and share them for this project. “Jaron was definitely stoked about that, getting to use hops he’s only read about,” Imboden said.

Anderson agreed, noting he was especially excited about how the Nectaron complemented the herbal, citrusy notes of the old world hops. “[Necaton] has peach and tropical fruit. That is one of the coolest hops on the market right now,” he said. “I was like, ‘You have Nectaron? Let’s put it in there!’”

Another fun collaboration, Mumm said, is Kiitos Brewing and Grid City Beer Works’ Deconstructed Barrel Rye Ale, which uses actual ground-up wood from rye whiskey barrels to flavor the beer.

Soon-to-open Apex Brewing and SaltFire Brewing Company, both in South Salt Lake, will debut War Pig Cascadian Dark Ale — which continues SaltFire’s beer series inspired by punk and metal, which included a brew dedicated to Salt Lake City’s Heavy Metal Shop.

Nearly every brewery in Utah is participating, Mumm said, 32 in all, including Moab Brewing, who’s working with Proper, making Mo’Cold IPA; Heber Valley Brewing, who’s paired with Vernal Brewing Company, making a HWY 40 Smoked Dunkel; and Zion Brewery, who’s brewing a peach sour ale with Silver Reef.

The Utah Brewers Guild’s Collab Fest happens Saturday, Sept. 17, from 2 to 7 p.m. in McCarthey Plaza, 154 S. Regent St., Salt Lake City (behind the Eccles Theater). Many beers are small batch brews, and will only be available that day, though Cold Rhythm will be on tap at Wasatch for a few weeks after the festival. Tickets are $35 to $60, available at utahbrewersguild.org.

Meanwhile, in Deer Valley…

On the same weekend, the Deer Valley Mountain Beer Festival launches for the first time. It’s happening Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18, at the Deer Valley Resort in Park City.

Josh Hockman, the resort’s beverage director, Josh Hockman, said his initial plan was to curate a wine festival, but rather than compete with the Park City Food & Wine Classic, thought maybe the city could use an unusual new beer festival.

“The more we did our research, we noticed that some of the bigger [beer] festivals happened in Salt Lake, but there wasn’t a Park City one,” Hockman said. “That’s when we also made the pivot of doing a festival that plays into the local aspect, which we like at Deer Valley, opening it up and starting it with all the Utah breweries, to show off our love for what they do.”

The inaugural festival features more than a dozen Utah breweries.

One of the participants is Offset Bier, which Hockman said is “a really new, small craft brewery here in town. I think they are rivaling some of the best beer in the state.”

Another, Hockman said, “is Park City Brewery, our friends right here in the community.” Another is Shades, “which, back in the day, was called Shades of Pale. That started in Park City, and then shipped down to Salt Lake.”

In addition to the Park City breweries, Proper, Kiitos, Sliver Reef, Moab, Squatters and Wasatch, and SaltFlats are also participating, he said.

Some beer will be on draft, but Hockman said they deliberately asked smaller breweries to pour from cans. “We wanted people to actually see it, to showcase the art on the can or bottle,” he said. “But hopefully when they’re out buying beer for themselves at home, thye remember and go, ‘Oh! I remember that one from Talisman Brewing.’ It helps support our local breweries.”

Getting to the festival will require a chairlift, as the event is held at Deer Valley’s Silver Lake area. The beer and music garden is located on the infield of Silver Lake, at the base of the chairlift. Four bands — Memphis Cool, The Pranksters, Cam Gallagher and the Tasty Soul, and Mobius Wave — are scheduled to perform in the beer garden, Hockman said.

The event is designed to be family-friendly, and fun for people who don’t drink or who are designated drivers. Once people arrive, Hockman said, they have access to the entire mountain, so they’re not just limited to beer tasting, but can hike and knock around the entire resort grounds. There’s a kids’ area with bounce houses and face painting. Food, provided by Deer Valley’s food service, includes elevated grilled hot dogs, burgers, turkey chili and barbecue plates.

“It’s one of the reasons we named it ‘Mountain Festival,’” Hockman said. “It’s not just a beer festival. We want to grow it into a full experience for a full family — not just drinkers, but nondrinkers, kids, grandparents, everything.”

The Deer Valley Mountain Beer Festival is Saturday, Sept. 17 and Sunday, Sept. 18, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Lodge, 7600 Royal St., Park City. Tickets — available at DeerValley.com — are $40 per day or $68 for a two-day pass, and includes access to the resort, plus three taster tokens per day.