I’m queer for beer. I’m also queer in general, but that’s actually beside the point. I try and stay hip on the scene and convince people that the fact I live in Utah doesn’t mean that I can’t get turnt, because trust me – it’s entirely possible and I do it more than I’d like to admit. Here’s the quick n’ dirty: beer that is on tap is 3.2% by weight or 4% by volume. I like to use the measurements by volume because it sounds slightly more palatable and okay. However, you can order and drink bottles of beer at higher ABV in most bars and restaurants. Liquor is on a timed pour which distributes precisely 1.5 ounces of booze. This means two things: 1.) I don’t order mixed drinks, and 2.) When I get mixed drinks out-of- state I get “surprise drunk” really fast.
Back in the old days, you needed a “private club membership” to get into bars. This essentially entailed either coughing up about $20 a year for a membership, or paying for a temporary membership that lasted several weeks for a much smaller fee of about $5. So long as one person in your posse was a member, typically your whole group was good to go in. It was completely nonsensical and kind of like paying a shitty cover every time you wanted to go out. This ended sometime around 2007-8 if my memory serves me correctly.
Gone are the days where I walked into grocery stores and got everything I needed for dinner including the bottle of wine; while I can grab beer that’s 4% or under at convenience and grocery stores – I need to visit a state licensed liquor store to get any other kind of libation. These stores are closed on Sundays and any holiday short of Arbor Day. God, this is backfiring – because the more I’m trying to convince you, the reader that our liquor laws are not ridiculous and oppressive – I’m confronting the fact our liquor laws are both ridiculous and oppressive. There’s also the Zion Curtain – which prohibits restaurant bartenders from being seen by the customer. Yes, we like to keep them hidden away like the Wizard of Oz, usually behind a partition or in the back – the general idea being that it combats excessive drinking by keeping the alcohol out of sight of restaurant patrons who choose not to consume alcohol.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that just because we have these laws in place – it should not reflect on the breweries out here and the beer we make. We don’t “water down beer,” and it is very real and not weak. Our community is strong, and if anything – these restrictions make us stronger. Rather than compete against each other, we help each other out – and I contest that it demonstrates a certain level of skill to be good at brewing flavorful session beers, and the higher octane stuff as well. In addition to breweries, Utah has world renowned cideries, wineries, and distilleries.
Recently a bill was passed that comes with some not-so-great implications for craft breweries in Utah. A Rep from my own state government was quoted as saying: “I just don’t think we need to cater to the alcohol industry in this state. I just don’t think we do. I think we’ve got family values here.” In response I have this to say: People will drink, all kinds of people. People of rightful and wrongful age, people of different religions and creeds. It doesn’t matter if they can see the man (or woman) behind the curtain make a cocktail or not, that cocktail still exists and so does freewill. Making it more difficult to obtain alcohol isn’t going to deter people from drinking it and consumption is not synonymous with defunct moral values.
We’re going to keep making beer, good beer. And gosh darnit, we’re going to drink it. It is a good industry and it’s how I support myself and my loved ones. It’s full of some of the most intelligent, kind-hearted, hardworking and best people I know. Maybe I’ll only have big IPA’s when I go on vacation, and perhaps I’ll never taste the gin enough in my martini. But that’s okay, that’s not life – it’s just a very small part of it and every time I see the silhouettes of the mountains I’m reminded how great of a place this is to live – and I’ll drink that. Cheers.