It’s 3pm on a Thursday afternoon and Uinta’s Brewhouse Pub is packed. On tap are 15 beers, all crafted to perfection, and another five of their high-point beers are in coolers. The location at 1700 South and Fremont Drive could be considered the boonies, but that doesn’t matter. Enthusiastic beer drinkers drive there to experience the Uinta difference.
Uinta is currently the king of craft beer because Uinta alone produces nearly half of all the beer produced in Utah, brewing nearly 90,000 barrels last year alone at their state-of-the-art facility.
Will Hamill and Del Vance, and later Steve Kuftinec, had a clear vision: they didn’t want to be a brewpub, they wanted to be a full-on brewery, maintaining laser focus on crafting quality beers.
“We knew that if we were a brewpub, the food would take away our focus on the beer,” said Hamill, in an interview from 2012. That focus has paid dividends, and despite the company selling half of its shares to a venture capital group, their focus on quality makes them the most consumed and exported beer in Utah, and they are now over 100 employees strong.
Despite their size, they haven’t lost a step in their spot-on branding and marketing and their dedication to serving Utah’s best bars and pubs consistent, quality beers. And I always hear nice things about their Salt Lake City bar reps.
I happened to walk into Uinta around the holidays in time to witness a bit of their brew culture first-hand. They were having a holiday party a few days before Christmas. Steve invited me in. Everyone was drinking beer (no surprise, right?), but they were drinking craft beers they had collected from all over the country, appreciating the various innovations and quality brews.
“I just love this Belgian farmhouse sour ale,” one person on the sales team said, referring to Thirsty Bear Brewing Company from San Francisco.
Last year I found their beer sold beside Sierra Nevada at a convenience store on the Vegas strip. Uinta is the biggest game in town but they have maintained their culture and dedication to branding themselves with our great outdoors. Clever Instagram posts are full of photos of their beers taken in Utah’s magnificent outdoor settings.
The recent launch of their National Park series of beers featuring iconic images from various western parks included a quote from Teddy Roosevelt that made my day: “There is delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm.” It had 1,087 likes.
FACTS & STATS
Barrels: 87,000 bbls of beer in 2016.
Team: brewing 12 strong. Total: 115
Head Brewer of R&D: Isaac Winter
Biggest break-out: Hop Nosh Tangerine. Consumer demand kept it available year-round. 801 continues to be a frontrunner in Salt Lake City as does Cutthroat.
BIG NEWS: Golden Ale Park Series and Lime Pilsner will hit the Utah market in April.
Uinta just became the ‘Official Craft Beer of Real Salt Lake.’