Layton, Utah— home of the Layton Hills Mall; Home of every chain store one could imagine and a huge amount of traffic and congestion. Due to a complete lack in central planning, Layton is a suburban sprawling mess. But Layton has at least one hidden gem. It’s home to a locally owned MacCools, with a new beer garden addition which overlooks a nice field. MacCools’ new beer garden features 117 beers from every corner of the globe on tap and in bottles.
Last night, a military sword was donned by the manager to slice through a ribbon marking the entry to the summer beer garden. The Korean war sword was used as a gesture to the armed forces personal in attendance from nearby Hill Air Force Base.
We sampled some of MacCools signature dishes such as their bbq lamb ribs and beer-battered onion rings. Both were outstanding. The beers on their menu were not categorized in the typical manner –by country of origin– but instead by type. From light IPAs and pilsners to ales and sours, to heavier wheat beers and hefeweizens to dark ales and high-point beers. The menu makes a lot of sense and I found a few beers I have been wanting to try for quite a while.
I finally tried the new American Spencer Trappist beer, it’s the first Trappist Monastery beer to be made in the U.S. I enjoyed the monstrous foamy rich beer head. But I found its overall appearance and body inferior to their cousin Chimay Trappist and Rochefort Trappistes 8 & 10 found in Europe and occasionally in Utah liquor stores. But these Trappist beers I’ve always felt are some of the best made on the planet, it’s a tough reputation to live up to.
Most people around us were drinking the fine selection of high-point Utah beers such as Squatters Hell’s Keep, Epic and Tilted Smile beers which pared nicely with the ribs.
I spoke to thick-red-bearded Michael Anderson, who certainly fits the part of an Irish pub manager, which just so happens to be his job at MacCools. He described for us why a Salt Lake resident would be interested in driving to Layton to visit the MacCools there rather than the closer location in Foothill.
Every month the Layton location of MacCools puts on “beer dinners”. They pair a five-course dinner with a different variety of beer with every course. The most special beers are served from ferkins, and cask engines. Anderson, explains that using a cask engine, “You get a fresh, creamy head.” He says this is because the damaging gasses are not being pushed through the beer like conventional systems.
He said that brew gas can ruin the sugars and the malts in beer. “It really changes the effect of the beer. “Using a cask engine, which is available at all three MacCools locations, you taste what a natural hand-drawn beer.” Cask engines are pumps used to draw the beer out of kegs, as a substitute for pressurized CO2 gas. He made me a convert, I will drink from a cask engine whenever possible. There are just nine in Utah, MacCools has three of them.
We will return to Layton’s MaCools for a beer dinner. If five beers with five courses isn’t enough, the Roosters has also expanded into Layton in the past two years. So now even suburban Layton is a place to find great beer. Who knew?