From Homebrew to Business Success
Sage Dawson and Lynn Litchfield—owners of Toasted Barrel Brewery next door to The Soup Kitchen in SLC—say they got into the beer brewing biz because “We have an extreme passion for good beers and couldn’t find the special sour beers we wanted here, so that made us take the leap.” Although they’re now proud owners of a brewery specializing in sour beers, Sage is still a full-time firefighter/paramedic and Lynn works in construction.
Like many in the world of craft beer brewing, Sage got his start as a homebrewer, brewing beer in small batches at home for 19 years before teaming up with Lynn to start Toasted Barrel Brewery. “Like many homebrewers, I wanted my own brewery,” he says. “It wasn’t until my love of biology and sour beer developed that I became serious about brewing as a business.”
Litchfield, who serves as COO and Head Brewer at Toasted Barrel similarly started with home brewing. “I got a homebrew set for my birthday and it took some talking into to actually get me to use the kit. I was a whiskey guy, not a beer guy!” he says. “Once I saw the process of making beer, I started to appreciate beer more and learn more and more about it from that point on. I recently received Gold at Lagerpalooza for a Hybrid Lager I home brewed. It was my first of many competitions and was only the second time I had brewed a lager.”
Dawson describes Toasted Barrel Brewery as “a small craft brewery focused on making the great beers we all deserve to have. Our products are made with locally grown grains and real fruits when added.”
And indeed Toasted Barrel beers are literally rooted in Utah.
Says Sage, “We use 100 percent Utah grown and malted grains as our base malts. We have beer aging that has wild Utah yeast cultures to make for a 100 percent Utah product.”
The best sour beer in Utah
Known for their expertise in brewing sour beers, Dawson says, “We take a ton of pride when our customers consistently say we make the best sour beer in Utah, and it can sit side by side against major national breweries.”
Among Toasted Barrels, sour beer specialties are Raspberry Weisse Man (Raspberry Kettle Soured Tart Wheat Ale); Young Bruin (Kettle Soured Sour Brown Ale); and Weisse Man (Kettle Soured Tart Wheat Ale).
In addition to the popular sour beers, Toasted Barrel also makes a tasty Belgian style Quadrupel Ale called Quad; a White IPA is known as Dollface; Four Saisons — a complex and fruity seasonal Saison; and Utah Double, a Smooth Wheat IPA.
The best place to get your hands on Toasted Barrel Brewery beers is to visit the brewery itself. But a handful of Utah’s best bars also carry some of the brews, including, but not limited to, Beer Bar, Beerhive, Lake Effect, Whiskey Street, The Green Pig, Duffy’s, Black Sheep Cafe, Lucky 13, and the Dayroom.
The Toasted Barrel Facebook page is a good place to keep up-to-date on the Brewery’s special releases.
Dawson’s hopes for the future of the upstart brewery aren’t small.
“Our goal is to make the highest end beer products ever sold in Utah and become a small but nationally sought after brewery,” he says.
As for advising someone who is thinking of embarking on a career or venture similar to his, he says, “Be patient. Everything in the alcohol world takes tons of time.”
412 W 600 N, Salt Lake City
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