Desert Edge sits on the precipice of fine beer and awesome food.
by Colby Frazier
High alcohol or (high gravity) beers have become a hit in Utahs 3.2 marketplace. But most of the Utah brewers who have developed within the confines of low-alcohol believe that producing fine beers using superior ingredients remains the essence of a great craft beer. Utah brewers have a a huge number of awards to prove this point. Most agree that high alcohol can be used to hide flaws or overpower beers with subtle nuance. Desert Edge Head Brewer Chirs Haas has flourished in the lower-alcohol high-craft market and he believes a little education can go a long way towards helping consumers appreciate fine beer.
To that end, Haas has put on a popular beer and alcohol class for the last eight years. The class, dubbed Beer School and held monthly, lasts around four hours and costs $32. The curriculum covers the beer-making process and includes beer and food pairings. The class has grown in popularity, and is now booked months in advance. Haas has thrived by crafting a consistently excellent, and diverse, array of ales and lagers that, as he says, are easy to drink “session beers.” The pub, which is located in Trolley Square, typically has four mainstay brews on tap, and another four specials that are in a constant state of flux. “In general, I think everybody has their little niche,” he said. “I think our niche is that we do a lot of different specials.”
To date, Haas and the Desert Edge ownership has resisted the urge to break into the vibrant bottling market. This is not to say, brews from Desert Edge won’t one day line store shelves. But Hass says that if and when they do start packaging their beer they would like to go green.“We’re in the process right now of getting ready to get into the canning,” he said. “The philosophy of myself, as well as the owners, is you don’t make a product that you can’t go out there and get recycled. It doesn’t make any sense.” For Desert Edge fans Haas says the do not plan to deviate far from what he’s doing right now: the same stock of great tasting beers with around 4 percent alcohol would remain; there just might be a larger variety of other beers, like an IPA. Haas’ preference for lower-point beer reflects his own drinking tastes.
“I don’t get all jazzed about making a triple IPA or an oak-aged this [or that],” he said. “Some people get really big into those huge gravity beers. I like some of them, I drink them, but that’s not where my passion lies. I like to make drinkable beers, really drinkable beers.” Haas’ penchant for drinkable beers, from his crystal-clear Pub Pils to the inky-black Latter Day Stout, have solidified Desert Edge’s place in Utah’s beer framework.