As of May 1st, Utah officially moved into the moderate risk “orange phase” of the Governor’s multi-tiered approach to reopening the state as it begins to stabilize from the coronavirus crisis. Although positive coronavirus cases continue to accumulate, state leaders appear to be looking to find a balance between public health and safety and mitigating the economic damage caused by the pandemic. But, moving from red to orange level risk protocols does not mean returning to normal. There is a long way to go before anything resembling normalcy can exist again. If there is any certainty to cling to, it is this – the virus will be with us for the foreseeable future and we will need to learn to live with it.
Proceed with Caution
While Utah was operating in the red (high risk phase) restaurants, bars, and breweries were not allowed to be open for dine-in or on-premises consumption. Instead, the focus has been on takeout and to-go sales while some establishments opted for full closure. With the new moderate risk directive going into effect, these businesses are now allowed to reopen for dine-in if they adhere to strict guidelines designed to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. But it is up to each individual business to decide whether they feel they can do that safely.
Even with detailed guidelines issued by the state, there are many circumstances that cannot be anticipated, and there is much focus on keeping customers safe, with perhaps less emphasis on the protection of workers serving those customers. For example, staff are required to wear masks while customers are not. All Utahns have been encouraged to wear face coverings in public, even when maintaining the suggested 6 feet of distance from each other. Doing so helps keep the respiratory droplets of the wearer from traveling through the air to others. Of course, one cannot wear a mask while eating and drinking, so it must be removed for that purpose. But many are leaving masks at home entirely when going on outings, particularly when they will be consuming food and drink.
For some businesses, the risks are still too high to justify opening for dine-in and have opted to continue with takeout and curbside service. The Bayou issued this statement explaining why they will be holding off for now. Others, like Bewilder Brewing, have decided to proceed with opening under the restricted conditions. Whether a business chooses to open may depend on their individual circumstances. Bewilder has a large, airy space with a patio, and plenty of room to spread out. They are also a very new brewery and likely less able to weather an extended closure financially. I stopped by for a pint and felt reasonably safe doing so, but everyone will need to decide for themselves whether they feel comfortable with the risks of eating and drinking out.
Check our updated list of Utah Breweries and Operation Status for current offerings.
As we navigate this strange, new world in which an ongoing pandemic is our reality, it is important to make good decisions for both ourselves and our community. This will be more important as we venture out of our homes and back into society. Consider whether you or someone in your household are deemed high-risk for coronavirus and err on the side of caution whenever you can. Think of protecting others as well as yourself. Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth when you go on a beer run or to a restaurant or bar, and only remove it when you are actively eating or drinking. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance from anyone not in your household (including friends) and avoid crowded spaces. Continue to stay home as much as possible and get takeout food and beer to-go as often as you can. These businesses need our support now more than ever as the weeks of pandemic survival tick by.
I know we are all anxious to get back to normal. Living in isolation and deprivation is taking a toll on us. Let’s do what we can to be vigilant so that we can ride it out and avoid setbacks that could prolong the misery. We cannot remove all risk, but we can do our part to minimize it for everyone. Someday we will all be sitting together again remembering when. What stories we’ll have to tell!
To end things on a positive note, here are some highlights from the past two weeks.
More Pink Boots!
Two more beers using the 2020 Pink Boots hop blend were released, including the one brewed by the entire Utah chapter at Proper Brewing. This was our last hurrah before everything shut down on us, as described in Circle the Boots: Utah Breweries Stay Strong Amid Coronavirus Pandemic. Zwickeled Pink, a German-style lager, doesn’t smack you in the face with hoppiness, but artfully highlights the hop blend while remaining crisp and refreshing. Available to-go at Proper. Fisher Brewing has crowlers of their Pink Boots pale ale for off-site consumption. If you’re dying to taste the hop blend in all it’s glory, this one’s for you! Remember that a portion of proceeds go to support the Pink Boot Society and women in the beer industry.
Grid City Beer Works
Of all the breweries in Utah, Grid City had the worst luck when it came to the consequences of coronavirus. Set to open the very week of the shut-down, their dreams of starting off with a bang were dashed like a broken bottle of beer on the pavement. They remained shut through most of April, but finally opened for takeout food and crowlers to-go on April 23rd. Beer is now also available in 16-ounce cans so get on down there and support Utah’s newest brewery!
Cinco de Mayo!
This year it fell on a Tuesday, so tacos may have been in order. But it was also the day Red Rock Brewing unveiled a new barrel-aged beer, the festive Nuevo Leόn! Take a tart lime gose, age it in a tequila barrel, and you’ve got a unique beer with a lot of character. I love the way sweet notes of vanilla from the barrel played with the salty sour flavor of the traditional German-style gose. Nuevo Leόn is sold out at the Red Rock Beer Store but will be available at the pubs when they reopen for dine-in, and can also be found at the newly reopened Slackwater Pub & Pizzeria.
As we slowly ease ourselves into shorts weather, the summer beers are hitting the shelves. RoHa Brewing Project has a new session beer for such times called High on the Hop Lazy IPA. It’s swimming with hoppy layers of floral, citrus and tropical fruit, sweet grainy malt, and a bitter finish. Get it to-go at RoHa and your local grocery or convenience store.
There’s a whole lot more happening in the Utah craft beer scene so get out there and purchase those essential beverages in support of your local brewery!