Ogden / Layton, Utah
Kym Buttschardt and her husband, Peter, are not the descendants of poultry farmers. When they chose the name for their second restaurant and first brew pub in Ogden's Historic 25th Street district, it wasn't due to a personal affinity for male chickens but because the bird would look good on a logo. It later turned out to mean a lot more. Though they did not realize it at the time, the moniker, Roosters Brewing Company, actually embodied their ultimate goal.
"We had chosen a location within a neighborhood that was trying to revitalize itself," Buttschardt recalls. "Our goal was to create a community gathering space first and a restaurant and brewery second. Now our establishment has become an anchor. It's a home away from home for many people, and they often refer to it as 'The Roost.'" The space is regularly filled with both locals and tourists enjoying pub food and fine-dining favorites as well as an array of draft beers and bottles including top-selling Bee's Knees Honey Wheat and Hellevation IPA.
Community has always been important to the couple, who met while attending the University of Utah and working in the restaurant industry. Roosters Brewing Company has allowed them to share that passion with others. "As part of the downtown revitalization effort, we were able to share our food with all of the burgeoning, wonderful non-profits that have since added vibrancy to our community," says Buttschardt.
They encourage their employees to get involved as well. "It's ingrained in our culture and our training," she says. "We go to every event; we donate food, money and time. We're very involved in community service, and our employees see this, so they naturally want to get involved as well." To this end, Roosters Brewing Company's employee benefits package includes paid time off for volunteer pursuits.
Currently brewing out of both their Ogden and Layton locations on seven-barrel JV Northwest systems, Roosters Brewing Company produced 1,100 barrels in 2014 and is on track for 1,300 this year.
While one might think producing flavorful 3.2 beers -- the highest alcohol by weight allowed in draught beers in Utah -- would be the biggest challenge for the couple and their brewmaster, Steve Kirkland, Buttschardt says it's actually other regulations.
"The challenge is the limitations on how we can sell our product in the state. It's quite complicated," she explains. "We only brewed 3.2 beers for 17 years because that's all we could sell in our pub or in kegs for distribution. In order to start brewing higher point beer to bottle and distribute, we had to obtain an entirely different set of licenses."
The Buttschardts love the craft brewing lifestyle and are now looking to expand. Their next big investment will be a canning line, and they hope to open a production-only facility that will enable them to get their product into the hands of beer drinkers outside their own state. "We've been distributing our bottles locally for almost two years," says Buttschardt. "We'd love to see people drinking our beers a little farther away from home."
Favorite beers: "Steve and Peter both have refrigerators full of Roosters beer," says Buttschardt, "and that is what they tend to drink at home. Pete's favorites include the Hellevation IPA and the Chanticleer 20th Anniversary -- brewed for Roosters' recent 20th anniversary celebration -- which was a Belgian-style rye. Steve prefers the Iron Rooster Imperial Stout and our Honey Wheat."
Challenges: "We want to remain a private and locally-owned company yet still grow the brewery," Buttschardt confides. "It's hard to expand when you assume all the risk yourself. We've had to mull over the decision to take on more personal investment risk, but we think the time is right."
Opportunities: "The industry is exploding, and the economy is starting to move again," Buttschardt says. "People love craft beer, and there is so much room for growth. Because we already know how to do it successfully, it's fun to be able to continue to put our product out there -- and more of it."
Needs: "I suppose our most immediate need is capital," Buttschardt says thoughtfully. "We know we can get it, but doing so is always a big decision and a time-consuming process."