Friday, March 11, 2011

Squatters Hop Rising

A relatively new entrant in the Wisconsin market, Squatters, and the related brewery Wasatch are together known as the Utah Brewers Cooperative. The Cooperative recently won Best Mid-Size Brewery at the Great American Beer Festival. When I was in Denver, their beers definitely stood out among the crowd.

A Brewer's Cooperative? Wasatch Brewery was started by Milwaukee native Greg Schirf, in Park City, Utah in 1986. In 1988, Schirf asked the Utah Legislature to allow brewpubs in the state of Utah; in 1989, Wasatch opened its first brewpub there in Park City. Later that year, 1989, two fellows from Salt Lake City started their own brewpub called "Squatters". The two brewpubs continued on their own way for the better part of a decade, establishing themselves as the best beer in Utah. [ed note: Admittedly, not a particularly high bar to hurdle; but both are among the best brewpubs in the country, at that]

One of the things that we talk about a lot on Madison Beer Review is the biggest challenge in the brewing industry: money - how to get it, how to use it. Well, as you might expect, Utah is not exactly flush with cash for the brewing industry and for two breweries looking to expand at roughly the same time, this means they are both chasing the same, relatively small, pile of money. [ed note: this is the same problem that non-profits in Madison have; breweries here suffer from a different problem - the lack of non-traditional financing here, but that's another story for another day]

So, Wasatch and Squatters banded together to form a Cooperative that jointly owns the brewing facility where each of the breweries brew their beer. Wasatch doesn't own the brewery, Squatters doesn't own the brewery; the Utah Brewers Cooperative owns the brewery, and Squatters and Wasatch are both members of the Cooperative and use the brewery that the Cooperative owns.

The Cooperative is an interesting arrangement that I think we are going to start seeing a lot more of around the country given the success that Wasatch and Squatters are having. It makes a lot of sense. Instead of two or three breweries each building their own small facilities with excess capacity, they build one large brewery with little excess capacity. It is cumulatively cheaper to purchase, cheaper to operate, easier to maintain, and easier to distribute from.

Squatters Hop Rising Double IPA
BA (B). RB (96).
Appearance: Bottle comes marked "75 IBU's", but check out last week's discussion about the Lupulin Maximus to maybe re-adjust your thoughts on that; a burnished copper body with a thick, dense, white foamy head with fantastic lacing; a slight and fine carbonation make for a wonderful presentation.
Aroma: citrus and pine with a slight woodiness of leaves in the spring; a fairly strong malt presence sits just underneath the hops
Flavor: crisp and strongly, but not intensely, bitter; the back of the mouth puckers quite a bit, and the stickiness pervades; a rather generic bready, "malt" flavor is there, but the hops are the primary flavor component here
Body: medium-bodied, but the hops just hang around all day, each wash of saliva just washes the hop residue from the inside of the mouth - it sounds gross, I guess, but it's really quite pleasant
Drinkability: One the west coast they would drop the "double" and this would be a straight-up IPA in Oregon or Washington; and it's easily as drinkable as an IPA; I bought a single bottle, but easily could go through a six-pack (probably too quickly)
Summary: It's one flaw is that it does not seem to warm up particularly well; while it tasted great at cold-ish temps (maybe low-40s or so), as the temp creeps into the upper 40s and 50s, the hops become a little cloying; the water is a little "hard" and there's a slight metallic taste on it that prevents this from being an All-Star, but otherwise, very solid and enjoyable.


  1. Where can I get this in Wisconsin?

  2. I got mine at Steve's on PD.

  3. Barriques in Fitchburg.

  4. Bottle Stop on E. Wash...

  5. Where can I buy it in California?


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