SALT LAKE CITY, UT (ABC4 News) – It’s heavily taxed and the laws surrounding it are strict. Despite that, it seems Utah sees a rise in alcohol sales every year. Beyond just the sales, Utah now has the most craft breweries and distilleries it’s ever seen.
As of July, there were 31 breweries throughout the state, with more licensing applications coming in. There are 16 distilleries in Utah as well.
Alan Scott co-owns Waterpocket Distillery with his wife in West Valley City.
“There is a population that has a great interest in this industry in the state of Utah…The people are here, the interest is here,” says Scott.
Ashley and Chris Cross own New World Distillery in Eden, Utah. They say that craft’s come back is no surprise.
Chris says, “If it’s not head and shoulders above anything big booze is making, then you shouldn’t be making it. Look what’s happened to the craft beer world, much better product going in the bottle and on the taps, craft spirits should be exactly the same way, and that’s where we set our bar.”
That sentiment seems to be catching on.
Terry Wood is the Director of Communications at the DABC. He explains, “In the last ten, fifteen, twenty years, it’s really exploded as far as the number of micro-breweries or distilleries…Utah is a very business friendly state, and it’s a wonderful atmosphere too.”
Alcohol sales bring in major funds to the state and local governments. During the 2016 fiscal year, liquor sales in Utah totaled over four hundred million dollars. Those funds are distributed to things like the general fund, and school lunch and public safety transfers. Last year, nearly 44 million dollars went to those programs.
All of the brewers and distillers we spoke with agreed: the licensing process can be long, the taxes can be hefty, and the laws can be strict, yet they choose to remain in the state. They all say, despite some obstacles, they are seeing success getting their products into restaurants, bars, and state liquor stores, and they welcome the growing community.