Midvale • Eleven years ago, when Joe and Helen Petras opened the Bohemian Brewery, they wanted to introduce Utah diners to the food and beer of Czechoslovakia. But not just any beer.
Joe Petras who died in October of a heart attack was interested only in making lager beers. "He felt that a lot of people made ales because they were easier and cheaper and faster to make," said the couple's son, Pete Petras. "We are primarily a lager house for this reason."
In simplified terms, ales are brewed using a warm fermentation method, making them ready to drink in about a week. But lagers the German word for stored are aged at lower temperatures, requiring anywhere from six weeks to six months before they are drinkable.
That attention to detail has paid off for the Petras family. Today, Bohemian's 10-barrel brew house creates up to 30 batches of beer a day. The brewery has three signature beers, including a crisp, full-bodied Czech pilsner, an amber-colored Viennese lager and the dark Cherny Bock Schwarzbier.
Bohemian, at 94 E. 7200 South, also was among the first U.S. brewers to package microbrewed beer in cans, which experts say is better for the beer and the environment.
"My father was definitely a unique guy. He was all about doing things 'the right way,' things that were handmade, traditional and craftsmanlike," Petras said. "One of his big complaints was how people would cut corners and how people would get lazy and wouldn't pay attention to details."
Petras said his father also wanted to introduce Utahns to beer from a Czech point of view. "In the Czech culture, beer is such a big part of the community and it is treated like wine," he said. "Beer is paired with food."
Which is why, in addition to beer, customers return to Bohemian for the food. One of the house specialties is the pierogies and bratwurst plate ($15). The bratwurst comes wrapped in a pastry that's stuffed with cheese, dill-seasoned potato, sauerkraut, sautéed bacon, onions and dill sour cream.
For Vaclav Zeleny, a native of Czechoslovakia, Bohemian Brewery offers a taste of his homeland. "When I had the Old World roast pork, I thought it was my mother making it in the kitchen," Zeleny said of the tender pork cubes served with homemade bread dumplings and sauerkraut.
Ed Matthew, a regular for more than a decade, returns for the atmosphere and, of course, the lagers. "For me, it's the uniqueness, the camaraderie and the quality of the beer," he said. "It's more personal [here] and kind of a neighborhood bar."
More than half the tables at Bohemian are communal with large benches, so that on a busy night, customers can't help but get to know their neighbor, Petras said.
"This is part of the culture that [Joe Petras] wanted Utah to experience that was commonplace back in Europe."
Old-world fare paired with carefully crafted European style lagers brewed on-site and served in the cottage-style restaurant filled with laughter and good times.
Where • 94 E. 7200 South, Midvale; 801-566-5474
Hours • Monday-Sunday; 11 a.m. to midnight
Web • bohemianbrewery.com