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Restaurant Happenings - February 2004

Moab Brewery
686 South Main Street
Moab UT 84532
(435) 259-6333

Do the Brew!
by Annabelle Numaguchi

The Moab Brewery is the largest restaurant in Moab. It’s big in size. It’s big in reputation. It boasts a big selection of beer. And it offers a big menu of favorite food items. The only thing that isn’t big about this place is the brewery. It’s a small, personal enterprise of fresh hand-crafted ales. This isn’t just any micro-brewery; this is the Moab Brewery.

The Moab Brewery is a local landmark. Even if people haven’t had the pleasure of eating at the restaurant, most are familiar with the first-rate brew. The tastes associated with ales sporting the names Derailleur Red and Scorpion Pale are popular well beyond Moab’s borders. Considering that this little-brew-pub-that-could serves beer drinkers in Utah, Montana, Idaho and will soon expand into Wyoming, it’s no wonder they’re getting the Moab Brewery name known in a big way.

The Moab Brewery was established in 1996 by two gentlemen who were well equipped for this type of venture; John Borkoski, who had previously founded a brewery in McCall, Idaho and Dave Sabey, who proudly avows his “appreciation of good beer anywhere.” The Brewery operates under the good guidance of General Manager Mike Miller, Chef Van Hartenstine, and Bill Bennett, who sports the enviable title of Master Brewer.

The ales are made right on the premises, as evidenced by the enormous shiny stainless steel vats enclosed by a glass wall along the south side of the restaurant. The elongated brew room is so clean, it literally sparkles. Bennett began his infatuation with brewing beer at home and pursued a degree, which included chemistry, engineering and sensory analysis, at the American Brewer’s Guild. He explains the critical importance of sanitation in the brewing process and jokes around that he is merely a “glamorized janitor.” In fact, the process is scientific and demanding, especially at a micro-brewery where the beer making involves manual input.

The Brewery offers eight of its own beers on tap. The ales range in flavor beginning with the lightest, Lizard Light, described as “a classic American ale...golden in color and delicately hopped for a refreshing dry finish.” The darkest beer is the Raven Stout, “an oatmeal stout with plenty of roasted malts....a creamy start and a crisp finish.” The selection also includes a pilsner, a hefeweizen and an amber lager. The Park City Pilsner is brewed with traditional saaz hops for a full flavored ale and the Elephant Hill Hefeweizen is an unfiltered wheat ale which imbues the beer with its traditionally distinctive flavor.

The menu of the brewery is designed to offer foods that pair well with the beer. Unlike many brew pubs whose food takes a back seat to the beer, the Moab Brewery runs its restaurant like the food is as much of a draw as the drink. This explains their success.

The copious menu offers a variety of foods, including soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, chicken, burgers and fish. The kitchen incorporates the on-site brews into their recipes, such as the restaurant’s signature item, Beer Cheese Soup. Beer is also blended into the Barley Stout Mustard and the Jack Daniels Beer-B-Q Sauce, which spread over a half-pound burger makes a dynamite accompaniment to a glass of ale.

The Moab Brewery helps diners choose a beer to accompany their meal that enhances the enjoyment of the food, which is particularly reflected in the daily specials. They also offer suggestions in the menu insert, such as recommending the Park City Steamer with the Smoked Portabella Mushroom Pasta or the Smoked Half Chicken. Miller offers the following general guideline, “Choose a lighter beer such as the Lizard or the Hefeweizen when ordering seafood and a darker ale such as the Scorpion or Pale with beef or pasta.” Although beer is the mainstay of the brewery, wine and liquor are also offered.

The Brewery is located in a sizeable building, which at one time housed a mechanical store. The restaurant has taken good advantage of the sweeping spaciousness of the building, now painted in a soft sandstone and trimmed in natural wood. Although the bar is separated from the restaurant, the dividing walls don’t reach the ceiling, which give both areas the open and airy feeling of an atrium.

The Brewery is decorated with colorful outdoor gear, such as bicycles, kayaks and a hang glider, all borrowed from adventure outfitters around town. The restaurant is large enough to house a novelty jeep, cut in half lengthwise and attached to a half wall with a dummy poking its fabric head out of the driver’s seat. Murals depicting wildlife and red rock scenery contribute to the outdoor adventure atmosphere. An exterior patio allows patrons to enjoy cool desert evenings in the summertime.

In the meantime, Moab Brewery offers plenty to keep customers fulfilled during the winter months. Dime Wings (10 cents a chicken wing) and $1.75 pints at the bar mean that you can fill your belly and refresh your spirit for under five bucks. Thursdays offer free pool and Fridays All-You-Can-Eat Fish & Chips with $5 pitchers of Park City Pilsner. And the Brewery celebrates Valentine’s Day by giving the first fifty ladies a free rose.

Considering the big selection, the big tastes and the big savings, the Moab Brewery is hard to miss. Summer or winter, evening or daytime, with lots of friends or on a special date, anytime is a good time to do the brew.
The Moab Brewery is located at 686 South Main Street and can be reached at (435) 259-6333. Gear and beer can be purchased on the web at Entrees range in price from $6 to $15. Beer can be purchased to go by the bottle or growler. Also, check out the new 7-pack for $6.99 (“3.2 means you can have one more!”)

Recipe of the Month


Sunflower Cilantro Dressing

1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 bunch cilantro (about 4 ounces)
1 ounce garlic cloves (2-3 cloves)
3.5 ounces white wine vinegar (a little less than 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup olive oil (or a blend of 80% canola and 20% olive)

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Mix thoroughly. Dressing can be saved for a couple of days in the fridge.

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