In March of 1994 the Snake River Brewing Company opened its doors and became the first licensed brewpub in the state of Wyoming and only the second brewery to open in the state since 1954. Sort of surprising since nothing slakes the thirst worked up on the slopes better than a great beer – something Wyoming residents know a thing or two about. The brewery is the brainchild of Al Upsher, a former Budweiser distributor (what!!?), and his wife Joni who had once taught school and worked in public relations. Not, ostensibly, the sure-fire pick-to-win combo when gambling on the success of a brewery team. However, their success has been astounding both commercially and critically. Over the last ten years, Snake River Brewing Company has amassed 19 Medals at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) – the most of any microbrewery over that period of time! They’ve also brought home 5 World Beer Cup (WBC) medals, and as if that wasn’t enough, the Brewery itself was named Small Brewing Company of the Year for two consecutive years in 2000 and 2001.
Brewmaster, Chris Erickson, was recognized as Brewmaster of the Year for Small Breweries in 2000 and 2001! Way to kick off the 21st century, eh? When asked what he felt had contributed to the brewery’s enduring success, Chris stated that “we focus our attention on brewing our craft beers to style, meaning that a beer made here at our brewery would taste just like a Pilsner that you would have in the Czech Republic or a Lager that you would sample in Bavaria.” His skill is obvious and his accolades well-deserved (just wait till you try the Zonker Stout if you don’t believe us).
Research also seems to have played a role in their popularity; the Upshers discovered that the most successful breweries were often brewpubs that served food to complement their beers. Theirs, a converted warehouse, is an airy pub that combines the industrial design of a brewery with the richness of mahogany wood finishes while offering a casual atmosphere and fantastic views of the town ski area. The focal point of the kitchen is a massive wood-burning oven, which has never been turned off since the opening of the brewpub. Fueled by applewood imported by Washington, it is used not only for pizza, but also for smoking meats and vegetables for pasta dishes. Being the critical darlings that they are, you'll have to punch up the following address for a more complete list of awards won in their 10 year history, as it's far too extensive to print here:
For more information about the brewery, brewpub and scheduled tours,call (307) 739-2337 or check out their web site at www.snakeriverbrewing.com.