It didn’t take long to process the changes from the customer side, subtle though they may’ve been. Only a few days removed from a DABC monthly meeting that changed the taproom’s status from a Tavern License to a Bar License, the bartenders at RoHa Brewing Project were pouring “high point” beers (those coming in above 5.0% ABV) from cans last Friday afternoon. Also showcased on the backbar were a small selection of three spirits. In short order, the RoHa taproom will be selling beer (obviously) along with those regionally-sourced spirits, wine, Mountain West ciders and canned cocktails from Desolation Distilling.
Prior to this decision, beers made on-site registering more than 5.0% ABV were sold only as to-go items and staff were quick to halt anyone mistakenly cracking open a can of the take-home stuff.
The recent change in licensing is a move that RoHa co-owner Rob Phillips says is a game-changer for his operation, which recently celebrated a fifth year in business.
Obviously, he says, the move was made to sell “our high point beer [and] our full lineup of beers.”
The changeover also allows the brewery to buy a complement of “every form of alcohol: beer, spirits and wine. And that’s what we intend to do. At least at this time, we won’t make fancy cocktails. The heart-and-soul of our business is still our taproom. But we’ll have at least three spirits visible and they’ll be sourced locally as much as possible. We’re already secured a local whiskey and vodka and we’ll add in gin in due time.”
Phillips says the change is “a huge opportunity for us.” “We pivoted in the last six months to focus on the tap room space. This is our jumping off point to offer up a full lineup of beer,” he says. Along with cocktails, RoHa will serve ciders, which are especially appealing for people drinking gluten-free. “Of course, it’s a chance to offer up everything we brew. I think it’s an even bigger deal for people who’re traveling through Salt Lake City and wanted to try a beer while here, but couldn’t. This will really be a huge advantage for us from that angle.”
If you’ve not been to RoHa Brewing Project (located on 30 Kensington Avenue, ‘tween State and Main) here’s a primer:
This Is a Day Bar
The hours at RoHa should bring a smile to the face of those who’ve kicked off of work early or have the day to themselves. The occasional laptop gets cracked open during the daytime and a small, pleasant patio is available to those wishing for some vitamin D. The current hours are listed at: Monday-Tuesday, noon-8 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday, noon-10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-6 p.m.
This Is Also a Dog Bar
You’ll figure that out quickly. Maybe because there’s a dog hanging around your feet, or you come across a hopper of free tennis balls, meant for chewing rather than racquets. A staffer’s dog, Kudo, is a frequent, mellow presence, and it’s not uncommon for a half-dozen canine friends to join Kudo on a busy weekend night.
RoHa features live music every Thursday and Saturday, usually from 7-9 p.m., though that varies for the occasional performer. On Fridays, the brewpub hosts everything from trivia to open mic comedy to ax throwing (via a mobile unit from Social Axe Throwing) to art classes offered by The Paint Mixer. Some drag bingo has been known to dot the calendar, too.
The Friday night event rotation also includes a monthly pairing of the house beers with a local food purveyor—the most-recent pairing was The Chocolate Conspiracy, so those options can be sweet or savory. On Wednesday afternoons, the staff also pours from a firkin, offering up a one-night-only chance to sip at some experimental efforts. Last week, that meant a tart (or more aptly described: TART) pineapple sour. Draft beers will retain the 5.0% maximum.
Let’s Call It a “Limited Menu”
The bar does offer a small selection of food, from opening to close. That means pretzels or pizzas daily, though food trucks offer an occasional visit, especially on weekends. (So far, Torito’s Tacos has been a regular-irregular visitor; they’ll also provide the food pairing options on May 20.) Phillips believes that food trucks will increase in frequency this summer, though he advises that fans shouldn’t really “expect us to be a go-to sort of place for dinner” on other nights. Having noshed on more than one, we can vouch for the pizzas as a fail-safe option.