We’d been in Utah for more than two weeks by the time we got to Moab. Utah is an outdoorsman’s mecca; it’s not exactly a beer mecca. Moab Brewery, however, has strong distribution throughout the state and I had been drinking their red-topped Johnny’s IPAs quite a bit leading up to our visit. I was curious before the visit, however, that it was only 4% alcohol but didn’t style itself a session IPA. A trip to the brewery cleared that up. It turns out that convenience stores and the vast majority of restaurants are only permitted to sell beer with a maximum alcohol percentage of 4%. So, ambitious breweries like Moab must brew two versions of certain beers if they want to be able to distribute widely throughout the state. Anyway, the true Johnny’s IPA clocks in at 7% and, as expected, is far more flavorful. Look for the blue-topped Johnny’s can for the stronger version.
Anyway, I’ll start with some of the positives about Moab Brewery. I can say with some confidence that it is almost certainly the coolest bar in all of southern Utah. They have a special club license that allows them to serve beer to people without those people also ordering food. As noted, they are also permitted to sell >4% beers. And, as part of that special licensing, as near as I can tell, children were not allowed in the bar area.
Now on to the not so cool. It’s also just kind of lame in there. The place is huge –they advertise themselves as the biggest restaurant in Moab. It was crowded all three times that we were there, but also didn’t seem to have a great energy about it; the bar was also understaffed each time we were there. Most offensive though is the fact that despite the brewery clearly being a cash cow in its own right, they decided to litter their establishment with advertisements. Every other TV in the bar cycles through promotional videos for jeep rentals, zipline adventures, etc., and there is a huge banner advertising Skydive Moab above the bar. Not even Applebee’s is this cynical.
As noted, the IPA is pretty good and Lauren was fond enough of the Pilsner, but they also have a weird obsession with Ambers, with both an Amber Lager and an Amber Ale. The word “Amber” isn’t that prominent on the cans and we had accidentally bought the Amber Lagers a few weeks back (neither of us liking Ambers, we gave them away).
Anyway, we love Moab the city and, despite its faults, the brewery seems the only place in town to just have a real beer, so we’ll likely be back there sometime.