2 Row Brewing brings a ‘brewery experience’ —and regulation-size cornhole courts — to Midvale

For the first time, Brian and DeDe Coleman have a taproom where customers can have a beer.

For a long time, Brian and DeDe Coleman were making beer but didn’t have a place for people to drink it.

Skiers would come down from the resorts to the Colemans’ manufacturing space in Midvale, ready for an après ski experience from 2 Row Brewing, but the couple would have to turn them away.

Fans of 2 Row Brewing could, of course, get the Colemans’ beer to go, buy it in state-owned liquor stores, and order it in some restaurants and bars. But the experience of having a pint in an actual 2 Row Brewing taproom just didn’t exist. The Colemans operated that way for about eight years.

“We knew we needed a place for people to come,” said Brian Coleman, president of 2 Row.

As of early November, the Colemans finally have their “place,” at 73 W. 7200 South in Midvale, in a former ax-throwing range that they almost completely gutted and built out. And compared to their old manufacturing space, their new 21+ brewery is gigantic, about 15,800 square feet.

Inside is room for a full-size bar, all of their manufacturing equipment (in full view of the customers), a kitchen, beer storage, a stage, pool tables and four regulation-size cornhole courts on a lawn of synthetic grass.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) 2 Row Brewing in Midvale, on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.

“Cornhole’s getting really popular,” Coleman said, adding that they believe their indoor courts are “unlike anything in Utah.”

When no cornhole is going on, people will even take their food and dine picnic style on the grass, said DeDe Coleman.

There’s even space to spare. “We’ve got room for expansion,” Brian Coleman said.

‘I really wanted to make good beer’

Coleman got started brewing beer as a home brewer, but quickly realized he wanted to stick with it.

“I made beer and I thought it was so cool that you can make beer at home. And I was thrilled with it,” he said. “But at the same time, it really didn’t taste that great. So I realized, though, that I might enjoy it as a hobby and started digging into the books.”

“... I was excited that I made beer, but I really wanted to make good beer,” Coleman continued.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) 2 Row Brewing in Midvale, on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.

He honed his craft by taking classes out of state, collaborating with other brewers, and reading a lot. Coleman also entered his home-brewed beer in competitions and completed the Beer Judge Certification Program, a hard-won accomplishment that allowed him to judge other home-brew competitions. “I found that really was a great way to learn,” he said.

As Coleman was realizing his beer could compete with other local beers, he tentatively started checking out brewery equipment.

He found someone selling the system he wanted in Georgia and knew he had to swoop on it, so the Colemans traveled to a small college town outside of Savannah and met the owner. The three-barrel brewhouse with six barrel tanks was operational and still had beer in it, and the Colemans took the workings apart with borrowed tools over about five days.

Once they had the 5 tons of stainless steel packed up, they headed west, driving through a tornado in Tennessee and nearly tipping the truck in a ditch in Alabama.

Back in Utah, it was time to get to work.

Love for Midvale

The new location of 2 Row Brewing is right around the corner from the old manufacturing facility, and that’s on purpose.

“We love this spot. We wanted to stay in Midvale if we could,” Brian Coleman said. “Midvale City has always been really good to us. ... Everybody was in support of us staying here.”

The Colemans live in Draper, where it’s a lengthy train ride each way to visit a downtown brewery, or an expensive Uber ride, Brian Coleman said. So he “always felt like I wanted to service the south side of town,” but still be close enough that people from Salt Lake City could visit, especially by way of TRAX.

“[We] wanted to stay where we were comfortable and wanted to stay where our current customers were,” Coleman said. “We wanted to provide a brewery experience to people in this neighborhood, in this south end of the [Salt Lake] Valley, that didn’t force them to go all the way downtown to get that kind of experience.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) 2 Row Brewing in Midvale, on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.

“We had a lot of customers come in and say this part of the valley is so underserved, and we agreed,” DeDe Coleman said.

“There’s also a lot of competition for bars in Salt Lake City,” Brian Coleman said, “and we just felt that if we did something unique like this in this part of town, we thought we could attract a lot of young people to come here instead of going downtown.”

In setting up their taproom, the Colemans aim to be “a mix of everything,” Coleman said, but “first and foremost, we want it to be a brewery experience.”

A big part of that was to put the brewery equipment out in the open, visible from much of the bar and seating area.

“You walk through the door and you see all the equipment over on the brewery side, and it’s impressive,” Coleman said. “It kind of sets us apart from your stereotypical bar.”

‘Good people drink good beer’

On the back wall of 2 Row Brewing is a mural that reads “Good people drink good beer,” painted by the Colemans’ daughter, Lindsey Coleman.

And good beer is what keeps 2 Row humming.

Longtime brewmaster Kevin Crompton — who has worked with Epic, Uinta and Bohemian Brewery — makes most of the beer, and Brian Coleman is the brains behind all of the recipes.

“The beer that we’re producing has always, in the past, has been big, strong, massively flavorful beers,” Coleman said. “We have a few easy drinkers, but we really focused on India pale ales.”

DeDe Coleman said 2 Row was the first brewery in Utah to make a hazy New England-style IPA, which uses fruitier hops instead of the more floral and earthy hops. They were first “only by a few weeks,” Brian Coleman said.

In addition to making IPAs, “we love making all the other styles, and craft lagers right now are really popular,” he said.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) 2 Row Brewing in Midvale, on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.

Coleman added that they plan to start making more craft lagers and easy-drinking styles, like amber ales, to add to the heavy-hitters they have on their roster, like the Dark Alley Imperial Stout (12.9% ABV), which they say 2 Row is well known for.

When I visited the brewery, I had a flight of four beers that included the Separation IPA, Extra Premium Lager, Inevitable Amber Ale and Black Currant Sour, paired with a basket of cheesy loaded tots. The Separation IPA had lots of tropical flavors, and the Black Currant Sour was so fruity and puckery (in a good way) that it almost tasted like a dry cider.

The Colemans said they plan to keep adding to the 2 Row brewery experience and upgrading the space, especially the kitchen. They said they would like to get a board game night started, and cornhole is already a hit. 2 Row is teaming up with Beehive Sport & Social Club to hold a cornhole league, which kicked off in January.

“That’s why cornhole is one-handed,” DeDe Coleman said, “so you can hold your beer in the other hand.”