The Desert Edge Brewery has crafted beer in their Trolley pub since 1995. Chris Haas has been the head brewer since 1999 so it’s tough to separate the brewery from the brewer. He knows his clientele and they know him.
“We have lots of regulars that come here. We have this strong following of almost every beer we do,” he says. “We only do one or two new beers a year. You can only do so many beers at once.”
The four regular beers at Desert Edge are Utah Pale Ale, Pub Pils, Happy Valley Hefeweizen & Latter Day Stout. There are five “roving specials” each of which has a small dedicated following. “If we don’t have a special in a long time I hear about it.”
2012’s novel beers were the 40th-anniversary Wood & Oat and a single hop Citra in Red. Citra in Red was so popular Haas says it will be out again this summer.
Distribution is limited. Most of the beer Desert Edge makes is consumed on site and the remainder flows from taps at the sister restaurants Red Butte Café, Stella Grill and Martine.
Desert Edge brewery generally uses hops and grains from Washington state, Canada and Europe.
When it comes to local, Haas produces the ultimate local golden ale. “I don’t know of anyone else in the country doing it. Everything comes from within a 150-mile radius of the brewery. And the grain comes from just over the border in Idaho.”
In September, the day after Haas returns with a cargo van packed floor-to-ceiling with wild hops harvested from Summit County, he contacts the most enthusiastic regulars to help pick the hops at the brewery. “I send out an email: We are drinking all day long while we are picking, so come for an hour, come for eight hours. I’ll be here all day.”
The result is a wet-hop light golden ale called Radius. “They [volunteers] feel a part of the beer but also a part of the brewery and I like that. “Volunteers get special bomber bottles of Radius. “I say this with love, it’s such a pain in the ass to brew. I work 12-13 hours a day. Three really hard days in a row.”
Just in time for the spring Haas is bringing out a wildly popular Powder Keg Porter aged on bourbon wood which will only be available for about a week. Get it before the regulars!