Ogden micro-brewery serves up cerveza.
Ogden’s newest, smallest craft brewery is tucked behind a Mexican restaurant next to the public works building. But don’t let its small size keep you from taking Cervezas Zolupez seriously. This small-batch brewery exploded onto the Ogden beer scene with a burst of color and Mexican flavors.
From Practicing Law to Craft Brewing
Javier Chavez Jr. is the owner and head brewer of Cervezas Zolupez. This Utah-born son of Mexican immigrants said he “struggled to find a craft beer that paired well with Mexican food.” So he decided to brew one himself. After experimenting with homebrew, he decided to dive into business. Chavez took brewing classes and used his skills as a lawyer to navigate the permitting process. Finally, he opened what he calls a “mini, micro, super-nano brewery” next to his parents’ restaurant. He created the name Zolupez by combing his parents’ hometowns (Zoquite and Guadalupe) and his family surname.
Zolupez is Utah’s first Latino-owned specialty brewery that creates Mexican-style artisanal beer. Chavez explained, “Our small-batch craft recipes are authentically inspired by our family’s Mexican heritage and actual personal experiences. We’re very honored to add ethnic diversity to the craft brew scene.”
When he says small batch, he means it. You can stand in the middle of the brewery and be within a few feet of everything. Chavez’s ten-gallon system yields five gallons of beer per batch. The beer is fermented and then bottle conditioned, creating natural carbonation. Chavez demonstrated the process, saying “We individually cap and label every single bottle. There is something special about doing it by hand.”
On a small table in the back, I saw what makes Zolupez unique: tubs of Mexican ingredients, one or more of which goes into every beer. Chavez said, “all our flavors draw on traditional Mexican ingredients, like piloncillo, canela, agave nectar, yerba buena, and chiles.” The vibrant labels on each beer describe its inspiration. Each bottle also has suggestions for Mexican dish pairings.
At present, the best-selling beers are the Zolupez amber ale and IPA, but they have more coming. Chavez explained, “We just finished brewing our new Zolupez Pineapple/Tepache Pale Ale and Jamaica (Hibiscus) Wheat Beer cervezas. Our new Mango Coconut Golden Ale cerveza will be available in spring.” They also plan to release an authentic Mexican lager around Cinco de Mayo.
Small Operation Big Waves
This small operation is already making big waves. Whenever they post on social media that they have beer ready, Zolupez sells out in a day. They have big plans for the future, starting with installing a one-barrel system that will sextuple their production. After establishing themselves, they’ll work on moving to a larger space. But whatever happens with size, Chavez doesn’t want to lose the small-batch, local feel. He said, “Our goal is to stay in Ogden City limits. I was born and raised in Ogden; my family is here. I love that there is a renaissance here. There’s a healthy, vibrant, Latino community and I want to be part of that leadership.”
Not in Ogden? No problem. Chavez said you can “look for Zolupez beers in grocery stores and on tap in restaurants/bars in Salt Lake City, Park City, and St. George later this year.”
To learn more, you can follow Cervezas Zolupez on social media or go visit his website. They are located at 205 W 29th St., Unit #2, Ogden.
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