ST. GEORGE — Policy Kings Brewery first opened the doors to their taproom Nov. 2 last year, becoming the second brewery to open in Southern Utah, the first black-owned brewery in Utah and the only brewery in Cedar City.
During their first year open, the biggest focus for Policy Kings has been creating a community around beer. They have been able to do so rather quickly, opening their taproom only eight months after starting construction. Now a year later, they are trying to build a community bigger than just what they have established in Cedar City.
“The more breweries the merrier, so the more we have in the neighborhood, the more people get out and start beer hopping,” Policy Kings co-owner Dre Ridgel said. “We’re working hard to build that beer community, and that’s been our main focus as of late.”
Since Utah has some complex regulations surrounding beer, there has been a stigma that follows the beer community, at least in Southern Utah. In the Salt Lake City area, the brewery and beer community is now booming. There are people that are covering, blogging and even creating podcasts about beer. Since comparatively, the beer community in Southern Utah is behind the curve, Policy Kings is trying to make it more accepted.
Despite state regulations, both Dre and Sara Ridgel said Cedar City has been a great place to start a business.
“It’s been even better to get a brewery started,” Dre Ridgel said. “We took nine months to get open, that’s with all the licenses and everything. It has been the best option as far as no kickback.”
Since Policy Kings has a liquor license, they don’t just serve craft beer, but they also serve wine spritzers, craft cocktails and more.
Policy Kings is trying to encourage people to go out for drinks, instead of staying in. They have found many people tend to drink in the safety of their homes, or behind closed doors. Dre Ridgel wants the community to know Policy Kings is a safe place for people who want to enjoy beer, without being judged.
“We don’t judge, that’s been our motto forever,” Dre Ridgel said. “You come in here, you won’t be judged. People come in and have a good time and we talk about beer. We don’t talk about politics, we don’t talk about religion, but we cover the spectrum for everything else. That’s the beer community. That’s what it should be, and we’re working at that.”
The brewery has big plans on the horizon. Policy Kings is looking to expand and hopes to open a home brewing supply store.
It has also benefited Policy Kings to be a small brewery. They rotate their beers quickly, giving people a variety of options on a weekly basis, which is often not the case at larger breweries where certain beers are regularly featured for a full month. Every week, or every other week, Policy Kings has at least two or three different beers in their taproom, with a total of six beers on tap.
In the process of working to create a greater community around beer, they have formed a small one of their own.
“It is definitely more personable,” Dre Ridgel said. “We know 99% of everybody that walks in, and that 1% is the tourist or passersby.”
Because of a recent change to Utah law, the highest ABV for beer served on draft will jump from 4% to 5% starting Nov. 1. This is a monumental step for craft beer in Utah, as the rule has not been changed since the prohibition ended in 1933. To celebrate the law change, Policy Kings will be hosting a party Nov. 1 with live music, a food truck, ice cream and cookies.
“The first is really not our anniversary, but we incorporated it because it’s like an ‘end of prohibition party,'” Sara Ridgel said. “That’s when 4% is going out, and 5% by volume is coming in. … That’s huge for Utah. If you’re in Utah and you have a business like this, you have to be happy with what you can get and see that as a baby step.”
Nov. 2 will mark the brewery’s actual one-year anniversary, and on that day they will be holding a speakeasy-style party. There will be live music and era-based cocktails, and a costume is encouraged.
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