First microbrewery in St. George to start selling craft beer, with plans for much more

Michael Key pours "Agua del Diablo," into a glass at Silver Reef Brewing Co., St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Silver Reef Brewing Co., St. George’s first ever microbrewery, is launching three craft beers Friday with plans to sell its products across Southern Utah, open a pub restaurant and beer garden, and become the beer of St. George.

Glasses of beer and root beer at Silver Reef Brewing Co., St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

The brewery, named for the mining ghost town just north of St. George, is the first brewery to come to St. George and is located at 4391 S. Enterprise Drive.

With the growing nationwide popularity of craft beer, owner David Moody said he saw the need for a brewery in the area. He began construction on the brewery last year and started brewing beer over the summer.

Michael Key, director of brewing operations, has been in the brewing business for 25 years and spent most of his career working for Gordon Biersch Brewing Company. Coming to St. George, he saw this as an opportunity to spread his wings, create his own beer recipes and develop a brewery the way he wanted to.

“What it offers to the community is local, quality craft beer. That’s what I hope and believe we can bring,” Key said.

Key is trained in the German style of brewing, so the beer is never force carbonated. They also use a reverse osmosis system to convert local water – which is not very good for brewing beer on its own – into quality beer water.

“Water is the most important ingredient in beer. You can have the best hops, the best malt, the best yeast, but if your water is not good, your beer is not good,” Key said.

Barrels of beer at Silver Reef Brewing Co., St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

The brewery is starting out offering three 3.2 percent draft beers to distribute to restaurants and bars across Washington County on Friday.

The first beer is called “Fresh and Juicy” and is a hazy session-style IPA. The IPA was brewed with a malt called Golden Promise and five different kinds of hops.

“If you smell it and you taste it, it’s nice and tropical. You pick up melon and pineapple and everything in that beer. And it’s not bitter,” Key said.

The second beer is called “Color Country Red,” and is an American red ale fermented with Belgian ale yeast and a fruity character.

The third beer, a Mexican-style lager, is named “Agua del Diablo,” which means “Devil’s Water.”

“We’re really happy with how all three turned out, but I’m really enjoying the ‘Color Country Red.’ … I’m really happy drinking that beer,” Key said.

They have also brewed an all natural “Silver Reef Root Beer,” made with sugar, root beer flavoring, natural vanilla and bark flavoring, and no additives or preservatives.

Tanks and grains used for brewing beer at Silver Reef Brewing Co., St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

Plans are also in motion to begin canning the beers, which will be available at the brewery and in stores by March or April of this year.

Once they begin canning, they have plans to design a golden German-style helles bock, as well as an IPA with a higher alcohol content. They’ll also craft seasonal brews and an even wider variety once the pub and beer garden open in about six months.

The team is still in the planning process for the pub and restaurant menu, but they have plans to build a beer garden with fire pits, games and a stage for music events.

They plan to host one special event per month, everything from a gathering of the St. George Wine Club to holiday events such as Oktoberfest and Cinco de Mayo. They also hope to partner with local charities, starting with Switchpoint Community Resource Center, to help raise money through events and beer sales.

The brewery has six 60-barrel tanks, which can hold 120 kegs of beer, and three 40-barrel tanks that can hold 80 kegs. They have plans to distribute their products as far as Cedar City, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, but for the now the focus is on the Washington County area.

Not only do they have plans to expand the brewery, but they also have a vineyard, have begun making wine with the help of the IG Winery in Cedar City and hope to eventually have a winery on site in St. George.

They will also start a distillery business in the next year, making rum, vodka and bourbon.

The brewery is having a VIP grand opening Friday night, and community members who wish to try the beers can attend a beer and food pairing event at The Ledges on Saturday from 7-9 p.m. The event costs $45 per person, and guests must be at least 21 to attend.

“We just want to be the local beer and people kind of grab onto us and be the beer of St. George,” Key said.

Email: mshoup@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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13 Comments

  • tcrider January 24, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    If its anything like any of the other low alcohol content beer that is sold in this state, I would
    not waste your time and money and go to mesquite and buy some real beer.

    • KR567 January 24, 2019 at 7:41 pm

      I go to Mesquite to buy REAL beer and Alcohol not the flavored water product that is LDS approved

  • Kilroywashere January 24, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Make the stage big enough for a full drum set and 4 musicians. We need a rock venue super bad in this town. Otherwise join About Time pub, George ‘s place and Evens Stevens, with little or no differentiation. The new alcohol limit for DUI is a real barrier for me. I figure 2 pints would put me close to the limit. If you can have to have live local bands like Wirelefant, then you will thrive. Good luck.

  • mesaman January 24, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    OK, so I’m not a beer drinker. What is an IPA? It should have been explained to neophyte such as I.

    • iceplant January 24, 2019 at 8:29 pm

      IPA stands for India Pale Ale.
      Any IPA worth a tinker’s dam is going to have an alcohol content of at least 6% or more.
      This swill they serve in Utah is an insult to actual IPA’s.

  • xbcmc059 January 24, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    This should go over well considering the new the new DUI laws in Utah, not to mention the local inbred religious zealots.

  • Pa Triot January 25, 2019 at 5:52 am

    Why three different beers? If they’re all 3.2 just stick with one and call it “Prohibition Porter”.

  • Mike P January 25, 2019 at 9:03 am

    I seriously wish this new business and brewery well. I cant’ wait to try their brews, although I’m not a fan, AT ALL of I.P.A.’s. Like most that know their beer, I also wish it was coming in at more than 3.2 but ya do what ya gotta do. I also question $45 to taste just three, 3.2’s. Not interested in “food pairings” as I feel the best pairing for beer is a ball game and snacks.

  • Rice January 25, 2019 at 9:17 am

    I don’t get all the hate for them making 3.2%. It makes sense, of course they’re going to start with brewing something the locals can actually buy in the store. I for one am already on board, and looking forward to cracking open a few fresh and juicy’s at the lake this summer!

    • iceplant January 25, 2019 at 2:04 pm

      3.2% beer is essentially flavorless swill. That seems to be the hardest thing for folks to understand. Alcohol content has a lot to do with how a beer tastes. There are a handful of exceptions. I went through a micro-brew phase during the 90’s and I’ve tried MANY different beers from all parts of the globe. Beer in Utah simply doesn’t hold a candle to other beers. There are close approximations but beers from elsewhere in the country and especially international brewers win out every time. Some European beers will have alcohol contents of 9% and higher.
      Let’s be honest here, most of us who drink beer do so for the buzz. I’d rather drink one good bottle of real beer than drink a six-pack of anything from Utah. That’s just how it is. It’s why many of us are willing to travel to Mesquite to stock up.

      • Kilroywashere January 25, 2019 at 8:09 pm

        Gee Iceplant we agree for once. Shhhhh. My best friend growing up closed his microbrewery in Vancouver Washington 2 years ago on Halloween. It is a tough biz, and I hope this microbrewery makes it. On that note WE NEED A REAL MUSIC VENUE IN SG. Rock is dead in this town.

        • Redbud January 26, 2019 at 9:37 pm

          Yeah don’t tell iceplant, but I also agree. I also agree a good rock venue would be really awesome! I have a pretty nice sound system in my house (probably the only expensive thing I own), and most the time I’m playing rock. I watched your video on youtube kilroy, I don’t know who’s who in it, but it was pretty cool!

  • An actual Independent January 26, 2019 at 6:45 am

    Some of you really overblow the alcohol content issue. You realize you can buy full strength beer in Utah, right? This brewpub probably will sell it. If you can’t judge a beer based on anything but alcohol content, then a microbrewery’s effort is wasted on you anyway.
    I grew up in a 3.2 state, very near what was then the nations largest 3.2 brewer. Until a few weeks ago, grocery stores there were also limited to selling 3.2 beer. When I was growing up, you could buy 3.2 at the store when you turned 18, but had to be 21 to buy the stronger stuff in liquor stores or bars. That was the case in many states at the time. But 90 minutes away, the legal age was 19 for everything.
    It was actually the Federal Government that started doing in the 3.2 breweries through the mechanism of highway funding. Federal funding for highways was changed and you didn’t get funds unless you adopted the uniform drinking age of 21. So states adopted the 21 year drinking age, and the well accepted practice of only allowing lighter beer sales to younger customers was out the door. Many states held to the practice of only allowing 3.2 to be sold in grocery stores, but even that has almost disappeared. So for purely economic reasons, very few brewers will make 3.2 now because there isn’t enough demand left to justify the costs of production and distribution.
    I brew my own beer, and will make recipes anywhere from about 4% to 8%. I make heavier beers in winter, and lighter more refreshing beers for the heat of summer. And I drink beer because I like beer. I would utterly reject the statement that most of us only drink for the buzz. There are times at home when the buzz is a nice side effect, though.

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