RedRock Brewing Company
254 South, 200 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. - Midnight
Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. - 1 a.m.
Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. - Midnight
Beer and food pairings have become increasingly common in Utah as more and more interesting beers have come to the marketplace. Many of the local breweries in town have fine restaurants in addition to fine beers. RedRock Brewing Company brews some of the best beer in the state, and given the state of beer in Utah, that is no small feat. A reliably good restaurant is associated with the brewery and feeds the yawning dining room, which fills the deep, cellar-inspired restaurant space.
The menu suggests beer pairings for some items, which are restricted to beers that are always on hand, generally to the amber, alt and lighter beers. All beer served is $4.50 a pint. Only one salad calls for a dark beer, the oatmeal stout. We decided to try an evening of pairings to see what came of the results, both in terms of pleasure and surprise. So our group, my willing friends and I, ordered mostly things for which the menu had suggestions.
We started with Fried Green Tomatoes ($7.99), Calamari ($9.99) and Onion Rings ($5.99)—the onion rings didn’t have a recommended beer. The green tomatoes were paired with the honey wheat beer, which was light and dusty and tasted roughly like what swimming underwater feels like on my skin. The golden-edged, slightly crunchy tomato dabbed in the white aioli was a bite of springtime sunlight. Don’t confuse this sunlight flavor with the sunlight that is a gin-and-campari cocktail. This sharp tomato flavor was emotional. I felt it evoking some sentimental idea of southerness and humidity and summer, which I was surprised to find inside myself. The calamari is not the perfect platonic calamari I remember having here a decade ago. Its situation in my fried-fish world is factual, but not memorable. The amber that was paired with it swallowed passively, telling a quick story in flavors: warm campfire coals on a cold night, rushes of malt in a sharply edged band—easy to drink but hard to talk about. The onion rings looked like Captain America’s shield, minus the star. These are totally imposing fried vegetables, and they are aggressively filling to boot.
At this point, a word about beer pairings—I told our server what we were up to and asked her to make some recommendations for beer. One in our party wanted to order the Flat Iron Steak ($16.99) which was an unpaired item. She asked Chef Holmes what the pairings should be, and he completely changed the beers from the menu suggestions. We continued forward with the chef’s ideas and ordered accordingly. Our common experience was now a boutique experience, but I have to confess that for all this, beer and food are just beer and food, and I love both of them, but I don’t think about the two of them in a relationship like I do wine. Regardless, we made our way to the next course.