Ogden is a Utah town that likes to flex its “still untamed” tattoo. There’s plenty of evidence to back up that ink. Situated in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountain Range (about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City), Ogden attracts free spirits that thrive on skiing, biking, hiking and exploring the undomesticated heart of the American West. This rich mountain metro has a free thinking and feral cityscape as well. Entertainment around town includes activities like the Via Ferratta waterfall zip line and iFLY Utah’s vertical wind tunnel.
It all reflects nicely with Ogden’s checkered past, one rife with booze, railroads, brothels and gambling, evolving from Wild West days to Prohibition (Al Capone is rumored to have said it was too wild a town for him). So it only makes sense that this modern Utah hamlet, known for ecotourism and crime nostalgia, is also awash with a bold booze scene (two breweries and two distilleries). At the top of that selection is Roosters Brewing Co. (known for its stouts and other dark elixirs). Roosters is one of the oldest, still operating breweries in all of Utah (soft opened in 1994, officially opened in 1995).
“Roosters embodies Ogden’s unconventional, untamed and independent attitude,” confirmed Jacquie King, Ogden wildling and head brewer at Roosters Brewing. “Opening a brewery in Utah in and of itself is quite unconventional. They chose a street they saw potential in and helped make it what it is today through hard work, love of beer and killer employees. As for embodying the outdoors, our beers are named after our trails and mountains. Our labels feature bikes and the outdoors. Our owners and employees can be found out on the trails when they aren’t at work. Roosters has helped fuel the Ogden outdoor movement here by embracing and promoting the lifestyle and being the gathering spot as the momentum has grown.”
King epitomizes that species of nature-loving wildflower that grows all around Ogden. When she’s not trail running or river running (her two main hobbies besides brewing), she’s slogging long hours in the Roosters brewhouse. In fact, to even secure that brewing job, she worked for two years as an unpaid intern at Roosters. TWO YEARS! That dedication also recently got her elected to the Utah Brewers Guild Board of Directors and earned her a spotlight video from the local visitor’s bureau (Visit Ogden), which you can watch above.
“We were one of the first businesses to come back to 25th Street,” said King, describing Roosters and downtown Ogden. “At that time, Ogden was a rundown town in great need of revitalization. We brought business to 25th Street and helped lay the foundation for what the street and Ogden have become. Ogden is now an outdoor destination, and Historic 25th Street is continuously on Top 10 lists of best downtowns.”
Ogden’s 25th Street is also known for its rebellious side. It was once home to brothels, political scandals and gangs, but today it’s grown into a mecca for travelers, art collectors, foodies and lovers of the bold outdoors. In 1995, Kym and Pete Buttschardt opened the first Roosters Brewing on Historic 25th Street (today there’s one in Layton, Utah, as well). Roosters’ 119-year-old building (constructed in 1890) actually was a cathouse at one point too.
To try and capture the big character that is Ogden, Utah, we reached out to Roosters and King the other day. We tossed some questions her way. She tossed’em back. Enjoy the results…
CBB: Jacquie, thanks very much for taking the time. We know you’re putting in a lot of long hours at the brewhouse. It’s hard to image you actually worked two years as an unpaid intern at Roosters. That’s quite a life investment. What type of passion and patience does it really take to become a brewer in today’s competitive craft market?
King: Two years of an unpaid apprenticeship is a long time, but it has clearly paid off. I think the key in life is to pursue your passions. Just the fact that I was willing to dedicate myself to a craft for two years speaks volumes to my passion for this industry and my persistence. The brewing industry is hard to break into if you don’t have the experience commercially or the education. I still think apprenticing is one of the better ways to gain knowledge if you do lack experience. My story is unique, but if you are willing to put the dedication and time into this industry, you’ll succeed. This is an amazing industry to be involved in.
How would you describe the Utah craft beer scene? Do you feel Utah exudes a style of beer?
The craft beer scene in Utah is booming. We’ve seen a huge surge even this year with new breweries putting in for licensing, and we’ve had multiple new breweries open. For being a state with a lot of legislative red tape when it comes to alcohol, I think we are a beer destination. I wouldn’t say Utah has a specific style. I think our different breweries are known for their specific styles. At Roosters, we are known for our stouts and dark beers. Proper Brewing is know for Belgians. 2Row Brewing rules the IPA market.
What’s your favorite piece of equipment in the brewhouse or packaging hall? Who makes it? Why do you love it?
My favorite piece of equipment is a fermenter. Mine are JV Northwest. I love them so much I have one tattooed on my leg. I always tell people fermenters are where the magic happens. It’s the vessel where wort becomes beer.
What brewing advice can you give to upcoming brewers?
Just go for it. If you want to brew, dive in head first. This is a tough industry to be in. There is a lot of competition, but there are also so many craft breweries out there opening up. I would say to do whatever you can to get your foot in the door. Take a beertending job if you have to. Learn all you can about beer. I think the Cicerone program is amazing. Do not give up. You’ll have setbacks for sure, but stick with it.
What insights can you give to women looking to enter the craft beer industry? What should they know? What should their expectations be? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
Being a female in this industry is just like any other. You’re going to meet amazing people, and you’ll meet some jerks. Most of the men in the industry I’ve come across are welcoming and great to work with. When you meet the odd jerk, just ignore them. Their opinion doesn’t matter. Women have been making beer for thousands of years. Realize that this is a physically demanding job, but that’s why I love it. I think you should expect to put in the work, work long hours, go home sore and not receive any special treatment because of your gender. Also expect to love this job. There are certain advantages to being a female in the industry. We are still a rarity, which can be a good and bad thing. Most consumers are amazed when they find out a female makes their beer. They love it!
Ogden is a city known for its rebellious side, and as a trail and river runner, you seem to have a wild side yourself. Why do you think Ogden and Roosters are must-experience destinations for similar free thinkers that love craft beer and the great outdoors?
I can’t think of another city in Utah where you can be ripping up a trail one minute and be downtown the next, and this is all by human power mind you. No cars needed. We have the best trail access and affordability. Everyone knows peak bagging and beer drinking go hand in hand. Ogden is no question a must see for any outdoor enthusiast, and Roosters is the spot to hit after your outdoor adventures.