Written by Adam LeClaire, Logistics Manager
One thing that never gets old in this industry is hanging out at different breweries. I always find it interesting to see how different people go about making beer in their own way. This past week I was given the opportunity to visit one of our sister breweries in Salt Lake City, UT – The Utah Brewers Cooperative. This brewery is unique in that it produces two separate lines of beer under that brand names Wasatch Brewery and Squatters Craft Beers.
The reason behind the trip was to learn about a computer system, Orchestrated Beer, that UBC uses. We’ll be knee deep in this system by the time anyone reads this. The experience in seeing the system in operation was extremely valuable, but I couldn’t think of a less interesting topic to read about than brewery ERP systems.
A walk through UBC easily shows how it has grown over the years. It’s easy to tell where new areas were added throughout the years as the brewery has grown. They house a 50 bbl brewhouse, a host of fermentation and bright tank space, and a combination canning/bottling line which is visible from a small pub. Aside from the main production brewery, they also have an offsite warehouse, a brewpub in downtown SLC, a brewpub in Park City, a restaurant in the Vivint Arena, and a restaurant in the airport. I was able to see the majority of it, but I never made it to Park City and I wasn’t about to fight against the traffic of a Jazz game to check out the restaurant in the arena.
Having never been to Salt Lake City, I took a night to walk around the downtown area to check out the city. It was impressive to see that although the city is a similar size to Grand Rapids, it has much more of a “big city” feel. I spent my other two nights in town exploring the nearby mountains. I was even able to meet up with a group of runners to climb Grandeur Peak just outside of town. Running in the mountains is quite a bit different than Michigan, but the view of the city was amazing from the top.
Salt Lake City is an awesome place, but the liquor laws of Utah are something else. Confusing doesn’t begin to explain it. For starters, you cannot pour a beer over 4% ABV on draught anywhere in the state – you can only serve “high point” beers from a bottle or can. There are a slew of different liquor licenses that a restaurant may have, but the most confusing that I encountered was at a small brewery I visited. In order for them to serve you alcohol, you had to be physically sitting AND order an entrée. They would only serve people who “had the intent to eat” when they came in. There was also something about not allowing children to see someone mixing drinks, but I can’t begin to explain that one.
All in all, it was great to be exposed to a different brewery for a few days. Everyone at The Utah Brewers Cooperative was amazingly friendly and welcoming. I’m happy to have made a few more friends in this industry and hopefully a few people I can call once this new computer system revolts on us.