Bar exam • Bonneville Brewery is like two establishments in one.
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Tooele • Bonneville Brewery Restaurant & Pub opened last March in the same building where the previous Tracks Brewing Company toiled for years, reinventing itself several times before permanently closing its doors.
If Tooele Valley residents can appreciate Bonneville Brewery's excellent handcrafted beers and really good high-end pub food at a lower cost, then the new place might just make it.
The first thing that hits customers upon entry is the wide-open floor plan, with a sort of industrial feel that is clean and spacious. The wandering eye can land on an abundance of TVs two that could eclipse a small car – and lots of photographs depicting Bonneville Salt Flats racing scenes.
Bonneville Brewery has two liquor licenses, which for the downstairs portion makes it a family-friendly environment where children are shielded per Utah law from the mysteries of cocktail making.
If you want to go to the upstairs bar, which has two pool tables, you have to be 21 years old.
A huge opening between floors allows guests at the restaurant and bar to peer into each other's business and even watch the same TVs. The large west-facing L-shaped outdoor patio off the bar is a work in progress, offering a view of train tracks below, suburban sprawl in the foreground and the distant Deseret Peak rising above the Stansbury Mountains.
Bonneville Brewery's duality concept is catching on, and frequent patron Isaac Gutierrez is probably the perfect spokesperson.
"Every seasonal [beer] they've come out with has been incredible," said Gutierrez, 23, of Tooele.
He raved about the appetizers, the entrée menu, the pastrami burger, the atmosphere everything, really.
"The bartenders and staff are all super friendly," said Gutierrez, a truck driver who stops at Bonneville Brewery after work to unwind.
Bar manager Dave Crabbs said the goal is to appeal to more of the community with a restaurant down and bar up.
"We're able to kind of service everyone that way and not just focus on one particular segment of the population," said Crabbs, a former liquor rep and bartender of 10 years.
Crabbs has had fun creating new drinks, including a $3 shot menu with unique choices such as Caramel Apple (Black Velvet Toasted Caramel Whiskey and apple juice) and a Skinny Colada (Svedka Colada Vodka, pineapple juice and club soda).
Crabbs is also quick to cheer for chef Joseph Davis, whose impressive culinary résumé manifests itself in a diverse starter menu.
The Rubin Roll ($6.49), for example, is fantastic with its house-cured and smoked pastrami and house-made Thousand Island dressing. It's made with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut inside a light pastry/wonton-like fried shell and is presented with glazed baby spinach and a drizzle of dressing.
Davis makes his own pizza dough and sauce, smokes his meats on site and adds his own twist on lots of pub favorites, including the awesome half-lamb, half-beef "Blamb Burger," which comes with fresh herbs, feta cheese and tzatziki sauce and a side of hand-cut fries. One of the pizzas features fresh mozzarella and slices of delightfully sweet "preserved" San Marzono tomatoes.
"We get a lot of people saying Tooele really needed this," said general manager Brandon Crosby. "It's a higher standard of everything from food to beverages to facilities. There's been a lot of people waiting for something like this to pop up out here."
A longtime fan and devotee of craft brewing, head brewer Dave Watson chose a career of making beer over photojournalism and hasn't looked back. The goal now is to win over the hearts and palates of Tooele's beer-drinking community.
"Tooele is a little bit of a challenging market because craft beer is not a big thing here," Watson said. "I really hope to make an impression here … but I also want to see the brand grow. I don't want it to stop at these walls."
It's a good idea to ask for samples before deciding on a pint. The Goldenrod Ale, Antelope Amber, Landspeed Lager and Sir Malcom's Stout are all good beers. The current seasonal is a delicious nitro-fueled English-style brew called the Railton Special Bitter.
Bonneville Brewery has already started selling its craft beer in other Salt Lake Valley places such as The Bayou, Beerhive and Avenues Proper. The beer also is available in the All-Star Bowling Alleys in Sandy, West Jordan and Tooele which also happened to be owned by Bonneville Brewery owner Brad Shepherd.
"If I get my way," Watson added, "when people ask, 'What is Utah beer?' at the same time they say 'Squatters, Wasatch, Red Rock,' they're going to say 'Bonneville.' That's the direction I'd like to go."
Bonneville Brewery Restaurant and Pub
Brewpub with a family-friendly restaurant downstairs (with a separate liquor license) and a 21-and-older bar upstairs with handcrafted beers made on site and an upscale pub-food menu.
Where • 1641 N. Main St., Tooele; 435-248-0652
Open • Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to midnight
Details • facebook.com/BonnevilleBrewery