Pat Winslow is an affable guy who, to say the least, has had a varied and interesting life. Winslow, who hails originally from Cheyenne, Wyoming, had a career “riding the rails” as a conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad, worked for Christian churches, spent some time as a clown, and had a singing telegram business, which is where he met his lovely wife, Sara, during a job audition. And those are just a few of his eclectic exploits.
A former home brewer, Pat is now Head Brewer at Ogden’s all-new Ogden River Brewing, which opened its doors to the public this week. Years in the making, Ogden River Brewing was founded with crowdsourced Kickstarter funds – over $30,000 – which Pat raised. Of course, you can’t open a state-of-the-art brewery and brew pub with 30 grand, which is where Bryan Wrigley comes in.
Bryan is founder of the Lotus Company, a Wasatch Front-focused development organization with a “$200 million ground-up asset portfolio and has a $260 million development pipeline of some of the most diverse and interesting projects along the Wasatch Front.” Lotus Craft is the hospitality arm of the Lotus Company that helped Winslow create Ogden River Brewing.
Wrigley says, “Everyone who knows Pat, loves Pat. And it’s not just because of all the free beer. He exudes a genuineness and a passion for what he does that is as unique as it is infectious. Early on, I knew that I wanted to grow this dream with him.”
Lotus Craft has spared no expense in creating an eye-popping brewery and pub, as well as snaring some of Utah’s most sought after talent, which includes President of Hospitality, Doug Hofeling, who was former COO of Squatters and Wasatch Pubs & Beers; former Head Brewer for Uinta, Patrick Bourque, who will serve as Director of Brewing for Lotus Craft; and Landon Jeffrey – 2019’s Homebrewer of the Year, who was hired as Assistant Brewer for Ogden River Brewing. That’s quite an all-star lineup and the results are already impressive.
I sampled three of the five beers currently on tap at Ogden River Brewing and found them to be absolutely flawless. The brews available at present – eventually there will be 10 on tap – are Union Station Amber Ale, Aviator American Wheat, Hop Train Pale Ale (my favorite), Jacob’s Bogie Scottish Ale, and Patersbier Collab, which is a collaboration with Bewilder Brewing in SLC – a lower ABV version of a Belgian Trappist double or triple that is deelish. In addition, Ogden River Brewing offers wine and cocktails.
Pub managers like Dougie and servers such as Brayden help to make dining and drinking at Ogden River Brewing an absolute joy. To be honest, I am stunned (happily) at how dialed-in the service is for a place that’s only been open for 48 hours, at the time of this writing. Service is friendly, efficient, attentive and thoroughly professional, and Dougie and his fellow managers constantly patrol the brew pub to make sure everything is on track, which it is. You’d think that the place had been open two years, not two days.
There’s a beautiful dog-friendly patio in the rear of the pub, as well as an upstairs bar area with stunning mountain and Ogden river views which, I was told, is intended to be a 21 and over section of the brew pub.
The menu at Ogden River Brewery ranges from classic brew pub fare such as Fish n’ Chips ($16); Burgers featuring Niman Ranch ground chuck ($10); sandwiches and such, to more eclectic menu items like Jamaican chicken with jerk sauce ($17); a vegetarian entree called Root to Stem ($17); roasted cauliflower with lemon and chili oil ($10); fried deviled eggs ($10); a Pure Power salad ($15) of kale, cashews, dried cranberry, blueberries, broccoli, carrot, edamame, and tri-color quinoa with Champagne vinaigrette and tarragon oil – not exactly your daddy’s bar food.
There are a healthy number of vegetarian dishes available at Ogden River Brewing and pizzas, burgers and sandwiches can be made gluten-free, which is a nice touch. I’m not normally a fan of the American habit of drizzling balsamic vinegar onto Italian classics like a Caprese salad or Margherita pizza. However, I have to admit that my wife and I both thought the Margherita ($11) at Ogden River was outstanding, so maybe I’m softening in my old age.
The Executive Chef is an Ogdenite named Susan Beck. I was told that she is a former barbecue pit boss, which would explain Ogden River Brewing menu items such as the pulled pork sandwich with smoked pork ($12); Southwest smoked chicken salad ($14), smoked turkey sandwich ($14); applewood smoked baby back ribs ($18/half rack; $33/full rack); house smoked wings ($15), and more. Chef Beck says, “We’ll have all the go-to pub classics, with some more experimental offerings here and there. We’re also focused on providing great vegetarian and vegan options, with the focus for all of our ingredient sourcing being grounded in sustainability. We’re getting the highest quality products from as close to home as possible.”
If you’re just looking for something light to nosh on with a cold brew, or a starter to enjoy at the beginning of a meal, I recommend the excellent Jalapeño Cheese Dip ($10). It’s a generous serving of outstanding house-made tortilla chips (amazingly un-greasy) with a dip of roasted jalapeños, cream cheese and bacon lardons.
And, how could we resist a starter called Mormon Hush Puppies ($11)? This was a distinctly Beehive take on classic hush puppies – these ones made with Idaho potatoes, smoked cheddar and bacon, all rolled in cornflakes, then deep-fried and served with Antelope Island Sauce. The Mormon Hush Puppies, surprisingly, are light and airy – a really fun and tasty appetizer for sharing.
Portions at Ogden River Brewing sure aren’t skimpy. My wife ordered the Southwest Chicken Salad ($14), which pretty much covered a large serving plate. It’s romaine lettuce tossed with chunks of smoked chicken, black beans, cilantro, roasted corn, red onion and fried tortilla strips and zippy jalapeño ranch dressing.
If you’ve read this far, you can tell that I was very impressed with Ogden River Brewing. They seem to be doing everything right – right out the door and in the midst of a pandemic. I recommend heading there sooner rather than later though, because within a week I suspect there will be lines out the door filled with folks waiting eagerly for a taste of the Ogden River Brewing experience.
Photos by Ted Scheffler
Culinary quote of the week:
“Ah, beer. The cause of and the solution to all of life’s problems.” — Homer Simpson
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.