Local Spotlight

Inspiring Innovations by Utah’s Local Brewers

Two local breweries, SaltFire and Shades Brewing came up with inspiring innovations to survive tough times.


SaltFire Brewing Co.

Crafting beer is an art form. It requires knowledge, patience, finesse and creativity. 

At SaltFire Brewing Co., owner and brewer Ryan Miller has taken the art of brewing to the next level. Using a process typically reserved for making wine, Miller implemented the use of two massive oak barrels known as foeders (pronounced food-ers) to age and sour his Mobius Trip line of beers. Each foeder holds 600 to 800 gallons of beer, which is considered small when compared to those used for storing wine.

“What we do with them is take fermented ale and inoculate it inside the foeder with wild strains of yeast and it sours the beer,” Miller explains. “That can take months, if not years. Oak-aged sours are complex beers.”

Miller then draws off the top of the foeder. “About half,” he says, “then we refill it with freshly fermented ale. At this time, we don’t have to inoculate it because now there’s a culture.”

Using the solera method, SaltFire creates a uniquely distinct brew that, once aged, is bottled and ready for consumption. Often, it’s an eight or nine month process, but it can take longer depending on environmental factors such as temperature.

Stop by SaltFire and enjoy a cold one. Cheers!

2199 S W Temple, South Salt Lake, UT 84115

Shades Brewing

The art of innovation is alive and well at Shades Brewing, where CEO Alexandra Ortiz and her business partner Trent Fargher have capitalized on creativity.

“Sometimes you have to get super creative, and not just with beer,” Ortiz explains. 

Lacking an assembly line for packing and shipping beer made it hard for Ortiz and her staff to keep pace with the growing demand for their products. 

“We’d have someone gluing the ends of the boxes and someone else filling them by hand,” Ortiz says. “It’s not anyone’s favorite job and it can be overwhelming.” 

  It was time-consuming and tedious work. And that’s when Trent stepped in.

By modifying a pizza box-making machine, he was able to adapt it for stuffing beer boxes, and he automated the manual process by adding a conveyor. Now, four people can do the whole job.

“It’s pretty fast! Ortiz exclaims. “Two people load cans and a third person case-packs them and stacks them onto a palette. The fourth person runs the machine and loads it with boxes. It’s allowed us to have multiple-case packs at the grocery store.”  

A machine designed for this purpose costs around $200,000, but Trent bought the pizza box part and the conveyor for about $20,000. 

Shades is also trying out a robot on their canning line that’s still in the beta testing phase, and they love their lime cutting machine that takes the work out of all that slicing for the 800 to 1,000 customers they serve on a Saturday night. 

Creative innovation is always on tap at Shades.

154 W Utopia Ave, South Salt Lake, UT 84115

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