Grid City’s Bubbleworks: A Seltzer By Any Other Name
Beer & Spirits
At their most generic, seltzers are a carbonated alcoholic beverage made by fermenting cane sugar or malted barley and adding fruit flavorings. Down in South Salt Lake, Grid City Beer Works is crafting a beverage that, while labeled a seltzer, defies definition. Bubble Works is a boundary-breaking line of products that offer something appealing to all who imbibe.
CEO Drew Reynolds and Brewmaster Jeremy Gross have a symbiotic flow and comfortable, humorous energy. Along with President Justin Belliveau, they opened Grid City in early 2020. “There was a concerted effort to have seltzers from the start,” says Reynolds.
“Fermentation is fermentation, whether its wine or beer.”
They started their Bubble Works line with Cucumber Lime and Hoppy Hard. The Hoppy Hard is produced with the same hops as their flagship Pale Ale. Without the beer’s added malt to balance, the hops’ punchy, fruit characteristics shine in a clean and approachable beverage that is an easy intro to seltzer for typical beer drinkers.
Next in this effervescent family came a rosé seltzer that began as an experiment for Belliveau’s wife. Due to the 5% Utah draft laws, and a full line up already on tap, they decided to make the leap to a high-point, canned beverage. Most seltzers float around 5%, so there was no guide book on how to approach the process, but Gross was undeterred. “Fermentation is fermentation, whether its wine or beer,” he says. Part of what makes Bubble Works unique is their use of quality wine grapes, juices and yeasts. This does not make them a wine, though. There are other fruit juices and ingredients fermented at ratios that legally disqualify it from the classification.
The Rosé hard seltzer incorporates muscat grapes infused with raspberry, prickly pear and hibiscus juices. This seltzer reads wine aromatics on the nose with a brighter finish than a traditional Rosé. Fans of white wine or fruity sour beers will find this drink to be a perfect party companion.
Prior to working at Bohemian and Uinta, Gross had been a home brewer, long time server and bartender in the Park City fine dining scene. This knowledge base built a palate capable of creatively balancing unique drinks. One of his favorites to make during a seven year stretch at High West Distillery was a riff on an Aperol Spritz. And thus, Grid’s next seltzer, Aperitif, was born. “You always want to innovate, right? This really hits a seltzer drinker, a wine drinker and a cocktail drinker,” says Reynolds, who wanted to bring an innovative, “ready-to-drink” beverage to this booming sector of the alcohol industry.
With ingredients including gentian and rhubarb root, sweet orange peel and juniper berry, Gross has crafted a handsome beverage fit for lovers of earthy, herbaceous sips that packs an 11.2% punch.
Continuing with the mixed drink inspiration, their Elderflower seltzer nods to an Italian cocktail called the Hugo, which involves prosecco, elderflower and mint. They found that gewurztraminer white wine grape’s flamboyant, spiced flavors meshed well with elderflower’s floral charisma, then dropped the mint. Gross states it is “simple to make, but … there is complexity.” Their most recent seltzer, Raspberry Sage, invokes the wild Utah landscape. It is fermented with Pinot Noir grapes and red wine yeast, producing a drink as voluptuous as a summer sun–warmed snack straight off the vine.
“You always want to innovate, right?”
Grid City has more seltzers in the works, but it can be hard to play within Utah’s restrictions. These boundaries also force a creative flex to produce a winning drink. Reynolds says Gross “thinks in fermentation” and can conceptualize any idea from tank to tap. The seltzers at Grid City are not secondary to the beer but are an intentional, hybrid craft beverage in its own right. “It’s supernatural to us. It’s sort of like … What are we capable of?” Gross says.
Read more features on local brewing:
WB’s Changes The Narrative Surrounding Alcoholic-Free Drinks
Modern Drinkers Require Spirits: Proverbial Spirits’ Locally Sourced Liquor