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Utah Travel Headlines

Friday, July 13, 2012

Drinking in Utah: A Road Trip


The title for this post comes from this LAWeekly.com article. The author, Patrick Comiskey, is their "drinks columnist." His article talks about the beauties of southern Utah, and the difficulty of getting a good drink in the southern half of the state.

It is interesting, albeit somewhat misleading. A large photo at the top of the article shows a glass of beer sitting on a rock overlooking the Grand Canyon, in northern Arizona.

He talks about how he and his wife travel to southern Utah every year or two, to escape from their pressure-cooker lives in California. To rejuvenate they: "...crawl into pits and gullies, slot and box canyons, into washes and draws and meadows, taking in geological epochs in a glance, where the rock is red and every wall face bears the promise of art in an ancient hand."

Not bad.

They he adds this paragraph:

Utah seems as backward as California is forward. You're more likely to see a mule deer than a cellphone tower for long stretches of road and open space, and signals come not from satellites but from the murmur of your bloodstream and your breath. You're forced to slow down and gather.

Wait a minute. Which place is more backward? Would you rather see a mule deer or a cell phone tower? Would you rather live in a pressure cooker or a slow-paced wonderland?

We do appreciate those enlightened Californians who love our backward backcountry.

Then he talks about the tragedy that comes because of Utah's restrictive liquor laws, and drags the Mormon faith into the mix. Here's a quote:

Needless to say, there wasn't a cocktail to be found. I'm sure there are taverns in Salt Lake City and environs, but I have yet to see anything that resembles a bar in the southern half of the state, where Mormon roots run deep.

Now, I'm just a hick from southern Utah and so I'm sure I wouldn't recognize a real tavern if I fell into one. However, some of my out-of-state friends like the pub at Spotted Dog in Springdale. The Bit and Spur saloon, also in Springdale, has a large liquor selection, as do several local eateries.

Actually, I wonder if Comiskey kept his eyes focused a bit too tightly on the amazing natural beauty of our canyon country, or maybe he didn't probe very far beyond the Grand Canyon, because he missed many excellent establishments that serve and sell a wide assortment of drinks. In Moab, for example, there are two wineries and numerous places where alcoholic beverages are served. In Boulder, Hells Backbone Grill offers an extensive selection of fine wines.

Comiskey does praise our "homegrown beer:"

There was, however, a small but very good selection of homegrown beer. Actually, better than very good: fresh, well-crafted, small-batch marvels that made us look forward to the end of each day's hike.

Perhaps the state's best-known brewery is Wasatch, its fame derived from its playful fun-poking at Mormonism, with brews like Polygamy Porter, Evolution Amber and Brigham's Brew (which is, in fact, root beer). My wife and I went for summer brews, however, like the K├Âlsch-style ale from Wasatch, and Uinta's Golden Spike Hefeweizen.

He also recommends the whiskey produced by the High West distillery in Park City.

Despite the backwardness of southern Utah, it sounds like he had an enjoyable trip. I do wonder, however, if he made it past the North Rim.

- Dave Webb

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