Trust us on this one: don’t plan your first visit to BEER BAR as a quick and quiet catch-up lunch with a co-worker, or you’ll be pissed at yourself for the rest of the afternoon. Sure, you’ll get a great beer and brat efficiently and satisfactorily consumed well within the allotted 50 minutes of your break. But then you’ll end up back at work sullenly watching the clock’s glacial progression through the PM cycle, kicking your own ass that you didn’t plan to wear stretchy pants and clear the calendar in anticipation of an afternoon engaged in day drinking, mildly inappropriate conversation, and sausage noshing with your BFFs on the bar’s sunny patio. See, BEER BAR ain’t your typical comfort food hangout, ladies and gents: and we mean that in the best-freakin’-possible way.
Yes, there’s a tempting and vast variety of carefully selected brews, as there should be at any joint proclaiming what it is in ALL CAPS. Oh, but it’s beer served at the precise temperature, poured correctly into a perfectly selected and freshly-cleaned glass, just as the brewer and your benevolent deity of choice intended it. Check. Big screen projections of sporting events? Double-check. Savory meat in tube form with lots o’ fresh fixin’s to go with? Hells YES. And that’s where the more typical barroom comparisons end, and the delicious diversion begins. If you like your comestible atmosphere more reminiscent of the boisterous camaraderie of a Bavarian village beer hall or après ski tavern than the soul-sucking isolation of a fast-food drive thru—and we COLLECTIVELY and decidedly do—then this is your new favorite place. Don’t be shy, now. Pocket your phone, sit at a long table next to someone who’s digging into something interesting, make eye contact, and say “hey.” You’ve got a love of beer and brats in common already, right? Maybe you’ll make a new friend. Awww. Warm fuzzies.
What Bar X represents in a superlative cocktail experience, BEER BAR does for hoppy beverages and casual food.
It doesn’t hurt that this casually-knocking-shoulders, laid-back, community-driven concept of BEER BAR was intentionally branded and developed to be that way. “We envisioned a place where people felt comfortable sitting together. Sharing great beer and food,” said one of the four owners, Jeff Barnard, when we met with him recently. He’s joined by a veritable Who’s Who of food and beverage royalty in the 801, along with co-owners Richard Noel, Duncan Burrell, and Ty Burrell [yes, Modern Family fans, Phil Dunphy]. They kicked through the wall of their next-door cocktail nirvana, Bar X, to combine the two spaces, both in liquor license ownership and in quality-driven principle, and in doing so added more than double the square footage. What Bar X represents in a superlative cocktail experience, BEER BAR does for hoppy beverages and casual food. Add to the mix award-winning chef Viet Pham [more with this talented and dapper gent and his fine dining plans in our Salty City, on the COLLECTIVE blog soon], who developed the bar’s signature approachable food emphasis and consulted on the menu and hiring. On-site, full-time chef, Brandon Kawakami, is keeping all this delightful shit tight on the daily. And, they’ve hired Kyle Trammell, the bar’s own cicerone –that’d be the sommelier of the beer world—as the totes legit brew genius supervising 30 beers on tap and over 150 bottled offerings on a constantly-revolving menu. Kyle’s keeping the hops geeks happy with such engineering wonders as an English-style hand pumped Beer Engine and soon-to-be-installed Randall hops infuser. Just ask your certified beer server what’s up with all that shiny steam punk gadgetry. They’ll steer [and serve] you right. There are even a couple of very refreshing beer-based cocktails on the menu.
The real coup for this whole enterprise, though? The inestimable talent of Austrian master sausage maker and Utah transplant, chef Frodebert “Frody” Volgger, who’s cranking out between 400 and 700 pounds of craft sausage weekly for our joy and delectation at BEER BAR. He’s directing all of this prodigious links-making two hundred pounds at a time utilizing SLC’s local Colosimo’s facility, using organic, conscionably-raised, and whenever possible, locally-sourced meats. All of this in addition to his “day job” custom butchering and producing house-made charcuterie at Caputo’s Market. Volgger has developed hundreds of recipes during a lifetime of artisan sausage-making. Says Viet Pham, “Frody has sausage running in his veins,” it’s such an intrinsic part of his life and love for the craft. A baker’s dozen of chef Volgger’s sausages are available daily at BEER BAR, with selections changing all the time. Think traditional German Bratwurst made with local organic pork, or game meat like elk. Provençal lamb sausage, and Mediterranean-style turkey links. Locally-sourced bison infused with fragrant chipotle. Perfectly-spiced “Louisiana Hot” sausage and a killer Kielbasa you’ll be happy to eat without a bun or any toppings: just tackle it straight out of your greedy paws with a dab of house-made mustard. Day-um, but watching carbs never tasted so good. Prefer your links less wild and more mild? Try the subtly-flavored chicken and apple sausage. And never fear, meat-free friends. Frody doesn’t make ‘em [sorry], but there are two “Field Roast” vegetarian sausage options: smoked apple sage or Mexican chipotle. Top that off with a salad and the flaky goodness of Frody’s own Austrian strudel, and tell your carnivorous co-workers to shut the fuck up and go buy you another beer. You’re busy, here. Eating strudel.
Utah ‘fry sauce?’ We guaran-damn-tee you this shit didn’t come out of a mass-produced squeeze bottle.
Count on every sausage served perfectly griddled with a nice crunch and squeak to the casing and the requisite curl of escaping steam from the interior at first bite, served on rolls baked fresh daily by local fave Eva’s Bakery. Patrons also choose from a menu of kickass house-made sausage toppers, which include requisite accompaniments like sauerkraut, sweet peppers, and caramelized onions, but also get a kick from the best of the owner’s recipe stash [don’t miss the tangy chimichurri or flamed jalapeños]. Instead of getting your vegetables exclusively in salad form, we’re all about taking a bunch o’ their lip-smackin’ kimchi and dumping it on top of the traditional Belgian double-dipped fries [oooh, the fries!] alongside homemade curry ketchup, or any one of their six super-fab flavored aïoli choices developed by chef Pham. Can’t live without Utah ‘fry sauce?’ We guaran-damn-tee you this shit didn’t come out of a mass-produced squeeze bottle. Get it on your fries, then in your face. #nomnom Even better? The menu will keep on changing, depending on what meats, techniques, and specialized equipment Chef Volgger can get his talented hands on, as well as whatever flavors the owners, chef Kawakami, and cicerone Trammell find inspiring and in season. All praise flexible work weeks! And stretchy pants.