Photo: Michael Portanda
Oh, the beloved Beer Issue—close to my heart and even closer to my liver. As usual, I get to use the Beer Issue as a chance to twist some tops and bend some elbows on someone else’s dime while pretending to write a serious article, and it’s the one time of year where the SLUG editors can’t give me any shit for writing my column drunk. It’s possible to slur in an article—if you’ve ever read any of my zines, then you already know that.
This year, SLUG gave me an assignment about craft beers popping up in blue-collar bars. As you may already know, I don’t consume a lot of craft beers—they all taste like pine trees to me. I’m a creature of habit, especially when it comes to drinking. Budweiser and Jim Beam when I’m at the bar and Natural Light and Evan Williams when I’m home is pretty much what my liquor cabinet consists of … and by liquor cabinet, I mean kitchen counter.
Needless to say, I needed some guidance on this topic, so I called up Jaime Horton who works for Uinta Beers, one of Utah’s most respected craft brands. She also knows how to handle herself around a bunch of drunk old men, which was pretty mandatory for this assignment.
Jaime was kind enough to meet me at The Westerner and take me to some of the valley’s hidden gems of day drinking. Breaking my Downtown routine of frequenting dives such as Willie’s and Uncle Bart’s, we ventured west. How far west? All the way past Redwood Road to Magna—8400 West. If you haven’t been bar-hopping in Magna, you just haven’t been bar-hopping. I’ve drunk in this city half my life, and I have no idea why I haven’t been out there before—adventuring with Jaime to taverns unknown made me feel like we were the Lewis and Clark of bar crawling.
Magna, to me, feels like Salt Lake Valley’s dirty little secret. No one talks about it. I don’t know anyone that has ever admitted to being from Magna. The only person I’ve ever really met from Magna was some kid that I was in drug rehab with as a teenager, and he was—honest to god—one of the dumbest human beings I had ever met. He left me wondering if they put something in the water once you pass 6200 West or something. I’m not worried about calling him out in this column because the chance that he can even read is super unlikely. (Truth be told, I’d rather be from Magna than Provo—I hate that city.)
Thus, our Uinta Beer bar tour began. The first watering hole we stopped at after refusing to line dance at The Westerner was The notorious Bears Den. I couldn’t come up with a better name for a Magna strip club myself. Since it was 2 in the afternoon, there were no strippers to grace the stage and no shitty DJ calling them by their fake names. I just had to imagine it in my head. Despite the lack of B-team nudity, I was enthusiastic, as the ambiance of the The Bears Den was terrific. Maybe this is because I was there at 2 p.m., but this was the brightest, most well-lit strip club I’d ever been in—none of this dark, neon-light bullshit. I tip extra when I can see the stretch marks and botched boob-implant scars. I ordered a shot, and Jaime and me were on our way.
A short jaunt from The Bears Den led us to The Copper King, where I saw no copper, but many kings. There, Jaime and I pounded Cutthroats and mingled with the locals. The Copper King also has a way-legit claw machine. Being the proud owner of the claw machine at Willie’s (loaded with porno and pregnancy tests), I have to play these fuckers every time I walk past one. I can tell when these things are rigged. Whoever is running the claw machine industry in Magna, you’re doing it right. Keep up the good work.
Heading back to the east side away from the refinery, we made one last stop at Rendezvous off of Redwood Road—again, another day-drinking spot I had never heard of with cheap drinks and old men swearing at the pool table. It was my kind of place for sure. This bar is literally in a K-Mart parking lot. How could you not love it? Oh, and they had Uinta on tap, but, at this point, Jaime kindly gave me permission to order a Budweiser.
Bars like these have so much more appeal to me. Maybe I take my drinking too seriously, but when I go to the bar these days I don’t want to be social. I don’t want to be around people or working on my scene points, waiting 20 minutes to get a shot. I want to go to the bar to drink. Talking to like-minded old men who are there for the same reason feels like I’m looking directly into my future.
All in all, thanks to Uinta Beers and Jaime Horton, my craft beer adventure was a great day. Tricking beer reps into getting me drunk has become quite the pastime for me. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back slumming it up in Magna in the near future.