Uinta Brewery Expansion
September 22nd, 2009
Despite laws, religion, and the poor economy Utah's Uinta Brewery is growing every year and expanding into more product lines.
by Richard Markosian
Second in a two-part series on Utah's Expanding Breweries. View the first story here
"Cutthroat" pale ale beer truck
Will Hamill has figured out how to work just hard enough to make his business a complete success, but also have enough time to enjoy skiing, biking and the great Utah outdoors. For this reason Hammil has no interest in ever starting a restaurant, like every other Utah brewery has done.
"My craft is in the beer manufacturing, not the restaurant business and I don't want to compete with my customers." So Hamill has stuck with what he enjoys most: crafting great quality beer, which can now be found everywhere--even Costco.
Hamill is the president and brewmaster of Utah's only exclusive beer brewery. Hamill says that maintaining his focus on crafting high quality beer is what has made Uinta Brewing Company Utah's largest brewery. Visiting every brewery in Salt Lake City in the past few months I'm finding a few things they all have in common: people who love their jobs; people who are dedicated craftsmen; And a casual way of going about business that is unlike any corporate cubicle environment.
who is also the acting brewmaster.
Uinta beers have won many awards since
the brewery's inception in 1993.
Hamill takes me on a tour of his facility, "This is our R&D room." It looks like something out of a frat house: a beautiful foosball table and a specially designed fridge that holds a keg of Hamill's new Schwarzbier. "Do you want a beer?" he asks. I gratefully accept, Schwarzbier is a black lager with a soft head and has hints of malty espresso. Only available on draft.
Hamill tells me how Uinta got started: co-founded with Del Vance in 1993. Hamill and Vance became acquainted because they both had an idea to start a brewery in Utah and they had both arrived at the same name "Great Basin Brewing Company". Vance had registered the name at the state licensing agency. Once Hamill discovered the name he had chosen had already been taken, he paid Vance--at that time a stranger--a visit at his home. "We settled the matter over a few beers, and eventually we decided to become partners." But Great Basin was short lived when they discovered in a national publication they had to find a new name after a company in Sparks, Nevada launched "Great Basin Brewing Company". Hamill explains: "Not being litigious people we decided we would find a new name and we settled on "Uinta".
Hamill and Vance worked together for 7 years. But Vance wanted to get into the brew pub/ bar end of things and Hamill wanted to stick with brewing beer. So in 2000 Hamill bought out Vance's interest in the company for an amount that Hamill wouldn't disclose but he indicated was well over one million dollars. Later Vance went on to co-found The Bayou. (More on Vance in our Beerhive story here)
After his buyout Hamill increased the scale of Uinta's operations when he purchased land West of I-15 and built an enormous 30,000 sq/ft warehouse. "Since 2002 we have increased the capacity by 4 times 13,000 to 55,000 barrels per year."
Last year Uinta launched a completely new product line of beers "4+" the four represents the four ingredients in beer (barley, hops, yeast and water) the "+" is regarding the emphasis on all organic ingredients plus one addition (honey, pumpkin, or Belgium yeast). Hamill says this new line of beers is selling especially well in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. Hamill also disclosed Uinta will be offering a line of premium beers unlike anything seen in the Utah market: 12-15% alcohol beers, aged in oak barrels and cork finished. "They will be small batched, high alcohol super premium beers," said Hamill. Read More online at UtahStories.com.
Learn more about the Uinta Brewery:
Read Uinta's entry at The Beer Advocate
View more articles in our current issue:
Rage Against All Work and No Play: Uinta Brewery Expanding