From Homebrew to Business Success
Sage Dawson and Lynn Litchfieldâ€”owners of Toasted Barrel Brewery next door to The Soup Kitchen in SLCâ€”say they got into the beer brewing biz because â€œWe 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.â€ Although theyâ€™re now proud owners of a brewery specializing in sour beers, Sage is still a full-time firefighter/paramedic and Lynn works in construction.Â
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. â€œLike many homebrewers, I wanted my own brewery,â€ he says. â€œIt wasnâ€™t until my love of biology and sour beer developed that I became serious about brewing as a business.â€Â
Litchfield, who serves as COO and Head Brewer at Toasted Barrel similarly started with home brewing. â€œI 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!â€ he says. â€œOnce 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.â€
Dawson describes Toasted Barrel Brewery as â€œa 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.â€
And indeed Toasted Barrel beers are literally rooted in Utah.
Says Sage, â€œWe 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.â€
Â The best sour beer in UtahÂ
Known for their expertise in brewing sour beers, Dawson says, â€œWe 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.â€
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).Â
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 â€” 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 Utahâ€™s best bars also carry some of the brews, including, but not limited to, Beer Bar, Beerhive, Lake Effect, Whiskey Street, The Green Pig, Duffyâ€™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 Breweryâ€™s special releases.Â
Dawsonâ€™s hopes for the future of the upstart brewery arenâ€™t small.
â€œOur goal is to make the highest end beer products ever sold in Utah and become a small but nationally sought after brewery,â€ he says.
As for advising someone who is thinking of embarking on a career or venture similar to his, he says, â€œBe patient. Everything in the alcohol world takes tons of time.â€
412 W 600 N, Salt Lake City