Proper Brewing Co: Salt Lake's Finest Craft Brewery

Back in the 1850’s the Avenues became Salt Lake City’s first neighborhood, even before Utah’s statehood in 1896. So it seems natural that Avenues Proper would become the Avenues first neighborhood bar and restaurant in 2013. The owners are three creative and passionate men that we call 'the dads' of our Proper family, a family that doesn’t seem so small anymore. Brewmaster Rio Connelly manages all things beer related, while his partners Andrew Tendick and Liam Connelly (brother) manage the marketing and business side of Proper Brewing Co.

From left to right; Liam Connelly, Rio Connelly, Andrew Tendick.

It was a bumpy road, fighting the city tooth and nail for a permanent club license in the bar section of the restaurant. For a while, Avenues Proper was limited to a seasonal club license, meaning the bar was only truly a bar from May till the end of October. You might be thinking, "Seriously? How is that possible?! That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard."

Well we thought that too, until this most recent January, when we finally received a year round club license for the bar side. Salt Lake citizens seem to find this most appealing on the weekends, especially for Saturday and Sunday brunch. Despite the number of unique craft beers available, the $3 Bloody Marys and mimosas seem to draw the biggest weekend crowds, bringing them back again and again. But the brunch drinks certainly aren’t the only things bringing the large crowds back into our restaurant. So what is it that people can’t get enough of? Is it the abundance of local foods and ingredients, prepared fresh to order? Is it the friendly wait staff, or the welcoming and comforting atmosphere? Could it be the unique beers, that you really can’t get anywhere else in the world? Well, maybe it’s a combination of all of the above.

The owners have been long supporters of Real Salt Lake, Utah’s Major League Soccer team. When they opened Avenues Proper they invited the team to come out, and the close relationship has just blossomed from there.  At Avenues Proper you can find a signed Real Salt Lake jersey hanging in the bar, a symbol of pledged support and comradery. At the new Proper Brewing Co bar you will find RSL propaganda hanging on the walls, surrounding a giant projector screen that reserves priority for RSL games.

To get the complete “Proper” experience, you’ll want to head down to 857 s Main Street to the Proper Compound, a lot consisting of a burger joint, a bar, a bottle shop, and a brewery all in one! There at the bottle shop you can buy Proper’s lineup of beers in 22oz bottles that include both high and low point beers. To be clear, that means 4% ABV (alcohol by volume) for all session (draft) beers, or higher ABV for all the high point beers. While Proper is only getting started on the brewing front, starting with their standard beers and a few other favorites, more are on the way.

Now Proper is expanding, and I’m happy to say I've been able to be a part of it and watch it grow from the inside out. The exciting thing is that the Proper Brewing team is creating high point beers that are completely brand new to the public. Who doesn't want to be one of the first ones to try a game changing beer? Because that is what these beers are, game changing. You won't find as much flavor packed into one delicious and refreshing beer like you will from Proper Brewing Co.

There are some key elements that separate Proper Brewing Company from other Utah breweries, and although they might not be noticeable to most casual beer drinkers, Salt Lake beer experts can’t deny the magic the Proper Brewing team is creating. One of the most notable things, in my opinion, is the difference in approach to creating the flavor. Head brewer Rio Connelly once told us at a staff training, “It is often said that malt is the soul of the beer. This is really what separates us from them. We don’t silo our malt, it is just too good. We use 30-35 different kinds of specialty malts, whereas most other Utah breweries silo large amounts of malt, and use the same ingredients in different ratios to make different flavor profiles. What you can expect from us is unique ingredients for every beer, resulting in very unique beers.”

Rio has already won awards for his Proper beers, including a bronze medal for the Roggen Schwarzbier at the 2014 North American Brewers Association (NABA). In Idaho Falls, ID, as well as a silver medal in 2015 for the Stumblebee Lager, a vienna lager made with local honey. As of right now the Stumblebee Lager is available, and the Roggen Schwarzbier is coming on soon.

Although it is hard to guarantee with 100% surety that we will always have them, you can expect to find our four ‘standard’ beers on draft at almost any given time; our flagship, the Proper beer, the Oatmeal Red, the Lake Effect Gose, and the Hopspital IPA. These trademark beers (minus the Oatmeal Red for nitro related reasons) are now available for purchase in the ever popular 22oz bottles. Proper Brewing has achieved a lot of firsts in Salt Lake City, and the gose (pronounced gose-uh) is one of those incredible achievements. The Lake Effect Gose is the first gose beer to be crafted in Utah, something that Salt Lake citizens love and remember. Many customers tell me it is by far the most sour and flavorful gose they have ever tried, while some customers pucker up at the tart aftertaste.

Although this beer isn’t for everyone, it tends to grow on you, becoming more and more drinkable with each sip. This is something that Proper strives for, to craft the most drinkable and balanced beers, rather than overblowing things. Assistant brewer Matt Sargent says, “Obviously a lot of stuff is experimental but we don’t want to punch you in the face with flavor.”

“My favorite is probably the Proper beer," Sargent says, "because it’s a beer flavored beer. It fulfills exactly what you want out of beer. It’s balanced, you can have one at any time of the day, any time of the year, it satisfies you.”

Although Proper’s main focus is obviously their beers, they hope to offer more than just good brews to Salt Lake City, now providing three unique hangout spots in the valley. Proper hopes to offer SLC more hangout spots that are comfortable and welcoming, where you can just chill without being pretentious and trying too hard, but where you can also enjoy fine beers while doing so. They take the beer scene to the next level, where you can experience something really intimate and unique.

As for me… I find it hard to say that I have a definitive favorite, as I fall in love with each beer every time I drink it again. Ultimately it comes down to the Little Sister Cerveza, a refreshing blue corn lager that goes great with a lime, or the Oatmeal Red, a creamy nitro red ale with hints of vanilla and roasted oats. These are just a few of my favorites and there are so many more to choose from, so get on down to Proper and try some for yourself!