Slackwater Pub named Utah's best beer bar as its craft beer catalog grows

Wednesday , March 02, 2016 - 6:00 AM5 comments

BRETT HEIN, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — When Justin Gumm opened Slackwater Pub and Pizzeria, there were people who didn’t think the craft beer-focused business was going to last.

But now, five years later, the business has been named Utah’s best beer bar by readers of CraftBeer.com, a well-respected publication created by the Brewer’s Association.

“So to go from that to winning this award is great,” Gumm said. “It’s a good measure to show what craft beer in Ogden was compared to what it is now.”

Gumm said he follows CraftBeer.com, as many craft beer enthusiasts do, but was unaware of the survey that led to the honor until the publication let him know Slackwater was Utah’s winner. The winners were chosen as part of the site’s annual Great American Beer Bars competition, which was based on the results of a survey with more than 9,000 respondents, according to the website.

“We’ve been working really hard. It just shows we’re doing a good job,” Gumm said. “It shows that people appreciate the kind of quality and variety we have and that our staff is educated, with a lot more beer knowledge that your usual server might have.”

He noticed Slackwater, which has almost 250 beers in house, also stacks up well among other states’ winners. In fact, it’s in the top 10 when it comes to the variety of beer available.

Slackwater’s “Brewery Nights” — which are typically held on Thursdays and feature live music — have been instrumental to the success the pub and eatery has experienced, Gumm said. An influx of new breweries to the state has brought new craft beers and companies looking for exposure, and Gumm said many come to him first.

“They want us to be the ones to help them release a new beer. They stop in because we market things a little differently,” he said. On Brewery Nights, breweries will bring their new beers, have giveaways and let patrons see which of their brews please the palate.

An extensive beer catalog and new honors aside, there’s plenty of appeal for the non-drinker as well, he said, noting that all food at Slackwater is made from scratch and to order.

“It’s high-quality food, and we’re right there on the Ogden River, so it’s a great atmosphere,” Gumm said. “Just being able to sit by the river and eat the food is a great experience itself.”

He said the California sunrise pizza — roasted chicken, avocado and tomato — and the large serving size of the pork nachos are his most popular food items.

Slackwater will receive a plaque to showcase the honor from CraftBeer.com, one Gumm said he’ll be proud to display.

“All the stuff that’s happened for us, it’s all been humbling,” he said. “From starting at a 30-seat restaurant to now 210 seats ... It’s been fast, and it’s been humbling to see the community support we see on a daily basis, for this award or anything else. It’s all community based through word of mouth, and that’s what’s most rewarding to me.”

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net, follow on Twitter @bhein3 and find him on Facebook

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