Pie & Beer Day finally becoming a thing?

Monday , July 21, 2014 - 3:23 PM

It looks like that whole Pie & Beer Day thing finally might be starting to catch on.

The counterculture response to Utah’s traditional Pioneer Day celebration does indeed seem to be picking up steam.

Somewhere a few years back, somebody cleverly noticed that if you say it fast enough, and don’t enunciate, “Pioneer Day” sounds an awful lot like “Pie & Beer Day.” So they decided July 24 would be a great time to celebrate the Utah holiday with beer and pie — either pizza pie, or the traditional dessert variety.

Until now, this Pie & Beer Day phenomenon has primarily manifest itself in private gatherings, posts on social media sites like Facebook, and the rantings of the occasional deranged columnist. But this year, there’s an actual community event that folks are invited to attend.

It’s the first “Pie & Beer Day on Pioneer Day,” presented by radio station KRCL 90.9 FM and a Salt Lake City restaurant called Beer Bar.

Vicki Mann, general manager at KRCL, says the event is a fundraiser for the community radio station. It was the brainchild of her afternoon on-air host and longtime Ogden bluesman “Bad” Brad Wheeler.

The Pie & Beer Day celebration is planned for 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday at Beer Bar, 161 E. 200 South, a relatively new restaurant co-owned by Ty Burrell, an actor on the ABC sitcom “Modern Family.” That day, a $15 pie pass will offer samples of six pies “from what pie connoisseurs would say are the best pies in Salt Lake,” according to Mann. Among the establishments serving pie will be Eva Boulangerie & Bakery, Copper Onion, Carlucci’s, Tulie Bakery, Cafe Trio, and Pago. All of the proceeds from the pie sales will go to KRCL.

Beer samples will also be offered, for $1 each. In addition, Kyle Trammel, billed as “Utah’s only cicerone” (to save you fellow teetotalers from looking it up, a cicerone is sort of like a beer sommelier) will be at the event, suggesting pie pairings with various brews.

The flier for Pie & Beer Day on Pioneer Day features an anthropomorphic slice of pie and a bottle of beer smiling and holding hands — a la the popcorn, drink and candy that sang “Let’s all go to the lobby” in movie theaters beginning in the 1950s. And at the bottom of the flier is the tongue-in-cheek small print: “No handcarts please.”

Mann believes this playful Pie & Beer Day theme will catch on.

“I think it will become an annual thing,” she said. “It’s just so KRCL.”


“We’re a little irreverent,” she admits. “And the audience we attract, this is right up their alley.”

Now, I realize that there are those who may be deeply offended by the idea of Pie & Beer Day being associated with Pioneer Day. But like it or not, beer is as much a part of the pioneer story as seagulls and crickets. After all, I understand that Orrin Porter Rockwell, bodyguard to the early prophets, ran one of Utah’s first beer distilleries.

So, is Vicki Mann worried they’ll offend some folks with the Pie & Beer Day designation?

“Not at all,” Mann says. “We’re just having a pairing of pie and beer. It’s a play on words, and it’s meant to be in a positive way.”

Besides, she’s quick to point out, everyone’s invited — whether you imbibe or not.

“You can come for the beer, but you can also come just for the pie,” Mann said. “We’ll also have soft drinks there.”

Including, she points out, root beer.

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SEMarkSaal.

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