Imagine yourself sitting by a beautiful gurgling river with incredible views of the Wasatch Mountains whilst noshing one of over a dozen amazing artisan pizzas or delicious spicy chicken wings and sipping an exceptional craft brew from a selection of over 200 beers! Sounds pretty damned nice doesn't it? This my friends is exactly what you will find at Slackwater Pub & Pizzeria located at 1895 Washington Boulevard in Ogden, Utah!
I recently sat down with Slackwater beer buyer and assistant manager Dana Russell to chat about the Slackwater Pub & Pizzeria, the local beer community, and craft beer in general:
Slackwater was opened 6 years ago by owners Krissann Smith and Justin Gumm, transplants from Alaska. Both Krissann and Justin came from the restaurant industry and had always dreamed of opening their own place. (The restaurant's name, "Slackwater" originates from Justin's and Krissann's love of the water and outdoors, as Justin is an avid fly fisherman.) They also own another restaurant, the West Side Yard in Victor, Idaho (not far outside of Jackson, Wyoming). Dana explains that their success is "based on return clientele and community support. We sponsor a lot of community events." Furthermore, every server at Slackwater is required to be cicerone certified [which Slackwater sponsors] so we have a very knowledgable staff".
A lot of that beer knowledge stems from Dana's own craft beer experience and dedication to the industry. A Hawaii native, Dana worked at Kona Brewing Company for 8 years starting in the late 1990s at their Oahu location. She moved to Ogden, Utah 5 years ago and started working at Slackwater soon after. The restaurant's previous beer buyer set up a beer school that Dana attended to learn more about the industry and availability of craft beers in Utah. When he left a few years ago, she took over as the buyer and has been kicking ass ever since! She chalks up her success and the success of Slackwater in general to their staff and the "great support from the local beer community; the community has been very receptive to what we do."
I asked Dana if she has any frustrations in her job. She loves what she does and loves the Slackwater owners and staff, but does get frustrated with the Utah Department of Alcohol Beverage Control(DABC), their lack of communication and overall mismanagement. But even with her frustration, Dana tells me the local liquor store they use is really supportive and very helpful as are the various brewery representatives she works with each week.
Dana drives to Salt Lake City once a week to buy local beers direct from breweries and is also hoping to expand their beer line. She is currently working on getting Breakside beers in and recently added Mother Earth Brewing beers to their line, and added the following beers from breweries they already carry:
- Green Flash Brewing Pallet Wrecker
- Stone Brewing Enjoy by 4/20 IPA
- Firestone Walker Imperial Brown
As with all my interviews, I asked Dana what beer she likes to crack open and what tunes she likes to spin after a long day of selling pizza and brews. "I'm really liking the Red Rock 20th Anniversary Red right now and I love jazz, particularly A. Davenport. That helps me relax!"
Make sure you check out Slackwater online at:
And if you are in the area, make sure to check out these exciting upcoming Slackwater events:
- Epic Brewing tap takeover: April 26th
- Uinta Brewing tap takeover: May 17th
- 2 Wheel Tuesdays (April 18th, 25th and May 2nd, 9th)