Instead of doing our traditional road match recap (since let’s face it, you don’t want to read a recap about us blowing a lead after Dani’s red card), we decided to take a different approach on our different trip to Utah. First off, we had my colleague Alistair Dennis write a piece that likely got him banned from the state once the Mormons realized they couldn’t convert him. After Louis and the chickens went on their advance scouting trip to the Wasatch Valley via the south of Spain, I could only convince H.E. Pennypacker to fly up to Utah with me for the match. If we had the full compound, maybe we could have tried every draft beer at Beer Bar.
As some of you surely know, Utah has some of the most peculiar alcohol laws in the country. While they have banned the requirements for alcohol to be served in private clubs, and they have reformed the Zion Curtain laws, Utah still bans the sale of all draft beer over 5% ABV unless it’s in a distillery. We decided to embark on a challenge to see if we could find any decent 5% beer (can or draft) in Salt Lake City. Would it be easier than finding a $6.50 beer at Q2? Would anything taste as good as an $18 Electric Jellyfish?
We embedded with the traveling Verde fans for a day-long trip of semi-debauchery since let’s face it, how drunk can you get on 5% beer at 4200 feet above sea level? For full disclosure, we used the outstanding UTA light rail system along with walking for every step of this journey. We are looking forward to the day when we can hop on a train near our False 9 Compound once Project Connect is complete.
Over the course of the day, we consumed a variety of Utah 5% beers, among other beverages, and here are our reviews:
Sinday Pale Ale from Level Crossing
Drinking at a Saturday lunch makes you a sinner, right? The Sinday Pale Ale was a very light, easy drinking Pale Ale. Was it an award winning beer in my mind? No. Was it a solid start to a 75 degree sunny afternoon? Yes. It paired quite well with tempura green beans and chicken skins, so there were no complaints on my end.
Melvin Star Valley IPA
H.E. sort of cheated with this next selection as Melvin Brewing from Alpine, Wyoming. However, since it was still a 5% beer and it was in a 20 oz. can, we can never knock him for finding a good value. This IPA was designed to appease the local population, while still packing enough of a hoppy punch to satisfy the craft beer masses. It was good enough that we want to go to their Jackson, WY brew pub and try the Thai Poutine at Thai Me Up.
Red Rock Ginger Gose
I tried to order a Philly Sour beer from our bartender. Somehow, I received a ginger gose from Red Rocks Brewing, which is one of the oldest craft brewers in the state. The ginger was simply overpowering and it tasted like a gose. So at least the good people in Utah didn’t lie to me, even if they could never serve me the beer that I ordered. It wasn’t exacting my beer of choice, but if you want a river of ginger, it’s may be your beer of choice.
Rimando Pale Ale from Kiitos Brewing
It probably should come as no surprise that the best 5% draft beer I had in Utah was Rimando Pale Ale from Kiitos Brewing. Being named after Real Salt Lake goalkeeping legend and rejected Austin FC color commentator, Nick Rimando, this pale ale was as good as any pale ale I have had in recent years despite being only 5%. It surely helped that Colorado scored two penalty kicks against LAFC while drinking the beer, but I would be glad to drink this beer regularly. Despite the fact that the RioT is on Rimando Way, I didn’t see this beer for sale at the stadium, and that seems like a missed opportunity for RSL.
WTF on these Kiitos IPAs
A couple of other Verde travelers who were not abiding by our rules both ordered the canned 6.1% IPA from Kiitos in theory. You can look at those beers with your own eyes, and I have no clue how they are the same product. Looks like some quality control is needed over at Kiitos. Therefore, if you get a bad Rimando Pale Ale in the future, we know who to blame.
Beers at the Stadium
Since I was a bit below championship hydration levels when I arrived at the RioT (pretty sure the $5 margaritas at the Green Pig Pub didn’t help), I didn’t drink much aside from one Squatters Juicy IPA at the match, which was a stadium reasonable $11.75 for a 20 oz can. It was another perfectly fine Utah beer that I would gladly drink outside of Utah. I know a few of our Verde fans ventured into the selection below, but I honestly forgot to get reviews from them. The fact that the RioT has a better craft beer selection than our Texas counterparts is a complement to Mormons being hospitable to us drinkers and the reality that many MLS teams have terrible craft beer selections for a wide variety of factors, including the league’s partnership with Heineken.
Overall, Utah’s decision a few years ago to decrease the state’s BAC limit from .08 to .05 and to increase their base beer laws from 4% to 5% means that the state is now joining up with its Western counterparts in producing solid beers, even if they are still short of their full potential. As a result, I’ll downgrade the Utah beer ratings from a red card to a yellow card. Too bad, the refs in Utah keep giving our boys in Verde those red cards, or else we may finally be able to get a result at the RioT one of these years.