Beer Travels: Moab Brewery in Utah

When I’m on the road, I always try to stop at local breweries or sample local beers. On my old blog, FuzzyBrew, I frequently profiled breweries that I visited while traveling. I’ve decided to continue that tradition on Memphis Beer Blog. This is the first such Beer Travels post, and there will likely be many more to come.

Moab Brewery sign

After a long day of hiking in the desert heat of eastern Utah, a cold beer really hits the spot.

Moab Brewery, which is both a craft brewery and distillery, as well as a restaurant, has been serving locally-made beers in Utah for more than 25 years.

For those that don’t know Moab, it’s a small town that attracts hikers, mountain bikers, and off-roaders who come to explore the area’s famous red rock landscape, canyons and natural arches. The town also borders two national parks — Arches and Canyonlands, both of which are breathtaking.

Moab Brewery is located right on Moab’s main strip at 686 S. Main St.

The brewery was founded in 1996 by John Borkoski and Dave Sabey and was sold to Montage Partners, a private equity group out of Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2020.

Utah’s archaic beer laws

Before we go any further, let’s talk about beer laws. The state of Utah has some weird ones.

As I learned on my recent visit, Utah’s beer laws are actually much better than they used to be, but still unconventional.

Beers poured on draft or sold in grocery stores are limited in alcohol content to 5% ABV. Utah does allow breweries to make stronger beers, and they can even be served on premise, but those beers must be bottled or canned.

I’m guessing the point of this is just to discourage breweries from making stronger beers because it will cost more to package them.

A couple of other Utah beer oddities:

  • You can only buy one beer at a time, which means no pitchers.
  • While breweries can serve beer without food, alcoholic drinks can only be served with food at restaurants.

Moab Brewery’s beers

As a result of the more conservative beer laws, most beers on Moab Brewery’s beer list are 5% ABV or less.

Of course, as an IPA guy, I had to try the stronger, hoppier beers, both of which were canned.

The Johnny B’s IPA (IBU 75, 7% ABV) was decent. It has a global rating on Untappd of 3.53, which seems about right. It was the more citrusy of the IPAs I tried.

The FMU Double IPA (IBU 137, 9.6% ABV) had a 3.74 Untappd rating, and was more floral. I did give it a 3.75, though I could have gone lower.

After having sampled a lot of excellent beers in Boulder earlier in the week, these were not in the same world-class category of hoppy beers, but still satisfying.

I did not try the Desert Select Export Stout. It was rated higher on Untappd (3.79), but didn’t seem like a great choice after a day of hiking. The Black Imperial IPA is also a well-rated beer.

The highest rated of Moab’s 5% ABV beers available on draft that day were the Juicy Johnny’s Hazy IPA (3.57), followed by the Black Raven Oatmeal Stout (3.54).

In the absence of a sour (the seasonal sour listed on the menu was not available that day), my wife had the Johnny’s FrUtah hazy pale fruit ale (IBU 38, 5% ABV). Again, she liked it, but did not rave about it.

Beyond the beer at Moab Brewery

The food menu at Moab Brewery has something for pretty much everyone, including burgers, salads, wraps and sandwiches, pastas, fish and steaks. The kids’ meals come served on Moab Brewery frisbees, which the kids loved and got to take home.

The walls inside the restaurant had some cool western-themed paintings, but otherwise the room has a chain restaurant feel to it. Service was good.

We only went to Moab Brewery once during our 4-night stay, as we wanted to try other restaurants in town. I’d definitely recommend Miguel’s Baja Grille and Trailhead Public House & Eatery, which were both excellent.

We did not go to the Salt Lake City-based Proper Brewing, which has recently opened a Moab location, and appeared to be the only other brewery in town. On a return visit, I’d like to check it out, and try more beers from Moab Brewery.

Hopefully, by then, the beer laws will be rewritten to better support the craft beer scene.

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