The Annex by Epic Brewing
When we started planning our trip to the Salt Lake City area, I told J there was one thing I wanted to do. I wanted to stop by what is probably Utah’s most well known brewery.
When I was planning, I wasn’t planning on the rehearsal dinner being Thursday night, so I wasn’t quite sure when I was going to get back in to Salt Lake, but with the dinner being Thursday just as we got to town, it meant J and I had all day to explore Salt Lake City on Friday.
The Annex by Epic Brewing opened just over a year ago in Salt Lake City’s Sugar House Neighborhood. The gastropub is in a pretty large and pretty upscale mixed use building along 2100 South Street. J and I were stopping in for lunch on a Friday morning just as the pub was opening so finding street parking along one of the side streets was no problem. During busier times, there is a parking lot behind the development that offers an alternative to finding a space on the street.
We walked up to the door just as the hostess was unlocking it. J and I were still on Eastern time, so to us, 11 AM felt more like 1 PM and we were hungry. We were both up somewhat early (again, due to the two hour time difference), so we decided just to head in to Salt Lake City and try to get to the pub as it was opening.
Being the first customers of the day, we had our choice when it came to seating. We opted to sit inside although they had a really nice patio out in front of the building. It was starting to get pretty warm out and while sitting outside would have been nice, it would have been a little too hot.
Our hostess showed us to a table overlooking some small fermentors in the front of the space which then looks out over the aforementioned patio. I grabbed the beer menu first and started forming my plan of attack. They had 35 to try and since we do have some access to Epic’s mainstays here in Michigan, I wanted to go after some stuff that would be a little harder to get.
Normally, I would just ask for a flight. I did that when the waitress came over and her reply was, “Utah’s liquor laws suck.” So no, I couldn’t get a flight. You are only allowed two 2oz. samplers at a time. Just for comparison, most breweries do flights of 5 oz samples,so that shows you how small a sample out there is. Also, they can’t put anything on tap over 8%, so every time I ordered something that was over that 8%, they’d have to pour it out of a bottle.
I figured I was just going to be a pain in the waitresses side and order two beers at a time then order two more once those were finished.
I started out with two big beers. The Smoked and Oaked and Big Bad Baptist. Smoked and Oaked is part of the Exponential Series. It’s a Belgian Strong Ale that is made with a smoked cherry wood malt then aged in whiskey barrels. There’s a strong whiskey flavor to it, but the beer itself is kind of mellow. Big Bad Baptist was probably my favorite. It’s another beer that is part of the Exponential Series. The Imperial Stout is aged in whiskey barrels as well and has a strong complex flavor of cocoa, coffee, and bourbon.
J decided she was just going to drink water, but since we were each allowed two beers, she asked me what I wanted and ordered a couple just so we’d have more waiting. The 2 oz shots didn’t last long. She wanted to try the Brainless on Cherries and the next beer I wanted was the Barleywine. Brainless on Cherries, again, part of the Exponential Series, is the Brainless Belgian Style ale that has cherry puree added to it then aged in French red wine casks. There are a number of variations of Brainless (including Brainless on Peaches which is pretty easy to find around here), but the cherry one really sounded good to J. The cherry flavor is not overpowering at all, but it’s there and adds a distinct flavor to the typical Belgian flavors. The barleywine was for me and, like most barleywines, was delicious. Nothing really standoutish about it, but very flavor, very boozy, and very good.
Four my last two beers, I figured I better bring down the ABV a little bit. There were a couple different Saison varieties to choose from and I chose the Sour Apple Saison. This Belgian Style Ale came off more like a cider to me. The apple flavor was very prominent and I didn’t get a whole lot of the ale. Sort of tasted like a much, much better version of Red’s Apple Ale.
The final beer was an IPA. Beer drinkers out west much not be in to the in your face hops like we are in Michigan. Finding an IPA was not an easy task while we were traveling. When I sat down at Epic, I didn’t imagine it was going to be so hard, so I waited until the end to even order one.
I chose the Hopulent IPA to round out my sampling of beers. This one is from the Elevated Series and it’s a Double IPA with an ABV of 8.4%. The beer had all the good fruity and citrsusy notes of a good DIPA, but the hop punch that I’m used to wasn’t quite there. Still, a very good, drinkable beer that I could easily sip on while sitting around the fire.
We didn’t go to Epic just for the beer although I would have been fine with that. We actually went for lunch and while their lunch menu isn’t huge, it is really, really good.
I actually didn’t order a burger even though there was one on the menu. Instead, I ordered the Butcher’s Sandwich. This HUGE sandwich was piled high with provolone, salami, copola, mortadella, pepperoni, and a Calibrian Chili Vinaigrette. I cannot tell you how big this sandwich was. It was served on a flaky Ciabatta bread bun and the sandwich as a whole was epic (see what I did there?) The vinaigrette didn’t overpower the sandwich but instead complimented the already spicy meats and the cheese brought all of that down just a notch.
J was a little disappointed at first when she saw there wasn’t much on the menu, but then she took a bite of the BLT she ordered and changed her tune. As the old saying goes, it’s not the size, but how you use it…that goes mostly for the menu size because the sandwich size, even on this BLT, was huge. The same ciabatta bread used for my sandwich was stuffed with tomatoes, applewood smoked bacon, iceberg lettuce and a lemon aioli. The sandwich was way too big for her, but it’s one of those that are so hard to put down. She ate as much as she could before admitting defeat and pushing the plate away to keep herself from eating more than she should.
The sandwiches didn’t come with sides but we both added on an order of fries. The fries were just as delicious as everything else we got at Epic. They were skin-on fries that had that perfect crispy, golden outside and soft, chewy inside. Perfect accompaniment to the sandwiches.
Our bill for all the beer and two huge sandwiches was right around $40. We had a big day of exploring Salt Lake and this was the perfect start to that adventure. Great beer, stupid liquor laws, and amazing sandwiches.