Front Page Reviews & AIR
I have to admit, sometimes Utah feels like an outpost of civilization – even to one such as me who lives here and adores it. One of the things I love is that most people and most companies within Utah know how to play up the State’s soft spots for a chuckle and a knowing wink. Case in point: Polygamy Porter.
Before I tell you about this year round offering of Wasatch Brewery in Park City, let me give you a quick primer on the ‘odd liquor laws’ about which many visitors, or the uninitiated, either complain or express some measure of doubt or consternation. First, let’s dispel the myths: there are no dry counties in Utah. In fact, Utah state law precludes their existence, unlike many states like Virginia, Tennessee, and those of the Northeast, that are supposedly more ‘happening’ for a drinking scene. Spirits can be enjoyed only in places that have the proper license and make food available for purchase. Beer that is on tap or sold in normal stores must be limited to 4.0% alcohol by volume. State liquor stores carry everything stronger. So, no biggie on any of this. Minor differences.
Now let’s handle the pairing of a Utah-based song with a Utah-made beer, both equally humorous and self-effacing. Polygamy Porter is produced at a 7000 foot elevation in Park City, and thus a number of references to being “high” could have worked magic for the marketing team, but instead they chose to have some fun with Utah’s past issue with polygamy. Recall that polygamy developed into a cornerstone practice of the Church of Latter Day Saints by the mid 1800s—based on Joseph Smith’s revelation on the sacred ordinance of plural marriage—and became the major issue standing between Utah and statehood. It caused an embargo to descend, and almost started a war. The practice continued, and does to this day, on a much smaller, more secretive scale, though no less nefarious. Most practitioners now belong to a separate offshoot of the Church of L.D.S. with the tagline “Fundamentalist,” and these separatists live in isolated desert communities, in Canada, or in Mexico. Still, a handful of polygamists crop up right in the cities and suburbs, treading the same malls and slopes as everyone, hardly recognizable. It have been as a “tribute” to these plural marriage chameleons that Wasatch Brewery took this name for their porter, as it’s obfuscated and hides its sweetness (its BIG LOVE) at first taste. The slogan “why have just one” surely followed.
I’d like to pick a song from the powerful selection of indie-rock or jam rock natively available in Utah; that would be what I authentically hear out on a night with Polygamy Porter in my glass. But this might be a bit obscure. So I’ll take some music inspired by Utah, specifically inspired by the Mormon missionary duos sent around the world, who knocked on the door of duo Trey Parker and Matt Stone, co-creators of South Park (actually, Parker was a Mormon from Utah before he got so irreverent). Anyways, I’m pairing Polygamy Porter with two songs from their recent Broadway smash The Book of Mormon – “I Believe” and “All-American Prophet.” These seem to capture the essence of this thread of Utah life. Parker writes just enough information for the uninitiated to grasp key concepts of Mormonism, while at the same time remaining cognizant of how inane they must sound to everyone outside of the Zion Curtain. Grab tickets for the show and try to sneak in a Polygamy Porter under your coat.