Salt Lake City :: Hog Wallow Pub

Drink it up in SLC behind the Zion Curtain!

From their website:

It is the latest reincarnation of the oldest and most notorious bar in the Cottonwood Heights area. Established in 1947 by a returning World War II veteran who converted an abandoned Civilian Conservation Corps bunkhouse into an out of the way watering hole he named “The Branding Iron”. Over the years the bar has changed names a number of times most notably, The Wagon Wheel, Demete’s, The Fox and Bottle Inn and D. J.’s Beer Garden. In 1997 the bar was transformed into The Hog Wallow Pub.

Salt Lake City is home to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  One of the tenants of the Latter-day Saint’s Words of Wisdom is that one should not drink “wine or strong drink.”  With a population of around 50% Saint, I think that it may be damn near impossible to find a good watering hole.  In all honesty, it is.  While there are no shortages of places to buy alcohol, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere too alluring to go and drink it.

I do my normal google search of beer garden near/in <city>.  A place called DJ’s Beer Garden pops up a few slots down the page!  What the hell!  I am a little suspicious though.  I can’t find reviews or a website, but I can extract an address, and away I go.

Driving through the city, I make a quick stop at the Temple.  There are no less than 3 weddings being photographed at 2:00 on a Wednesday afternoon.  The temple is quite beautiful from the outside, but I don’t even attempt to get a peek inside.  I think they can see my heathen aura from a mile away.   I take my photos, gather my awe and jump back in the car and head for DJ’s Beer Garden.

I make it out to a more suburban area.  While Eliza Moneypenny tells me to wind my way behind a shopping center, I hear the standard “Arriving at destination, on right” and I just drive right by, not seeing a damn thing.  Ugh.  “I knew it wouldn’t be here anymore,” I think to myself.  I drive down to the end of the obscure road.  But.  I decide to turn back and give it another shot, given my track record of never finding any place in one attempt.

As sure as the driven snow, when I approach it from the opposite way, I can see something.  It really is difficult to see though!  Nestled back under dozens of trees and behind a stone wall is an establishment, but it isn’t DJ’s Beer Garden.  It is a place named The Hog Wallow Pub.  I figure that the location had merely changed management and if there was a beer garden there before, there might still be one now.  I park in the shady parking lot and check out the hours of operation.  They don’t open for another half hour but the neon OPEN sign is lit, so I mosey in.


The inside is open and cozy at the same time.  The bar sits comfortably in front of me as I walk in. It is the center-head of a big pool table area, a stage and  dining area that looks like it wouldn’t be out of place at a ski lodge.  The ceilings feel warm and low.  I ask for a local brew (not the Polygamy Porter but it is an option) and I make my way to the garden out back that I spy through the circular window.

I am stunned.  Really.  It is the most garden-y beer garden I have seen yet.  It is the very definition of lush.  The area is drenched in shade.  The flora is wildly varied.  Each of the countless trees is different than the one next to it.  There are planted flowers in the center.  The space itself is not very open though it is very comfortable.  I feel like I am in “The Beer Garden Exhibit” at the botanical gardens.


As I look to the left, there is a small waterfall falling from the trees.  Beside it I can see a small set of meandering stairs that leads into the foliage.  It takes you to 2 private alcoves that each sit at least 4 people.  They are magical.  As I wander down the small path I find 2 more alcoves.  They are set a little apart from the rest of the area because of the level change but still central to the garden.


I make my way back to the main floor of the garden.  There are set of round tables set up in a more communal fashion to the right.  A few older men are sitting there, laughing and drinking on the sunny afternoon.  All together, the space is rather small compared to the gardens I have seen that are set up more conventionally.  I love how cozy and cool it feels.  I can hardly decide where to sit!  When I do, I choose to plop down right in the middle, under one of the pines.


Even the fence is draped in green vines that creep all around the perimeter of the garden.  I am encased in greenery and it feels fresh and clean.  I begin to notice that I am not alone.  There are faces peering at me through the leaves!  They are wonderful carvings!  They are hidden all around, some more hidden than others.  There are quaint little lamps either in the trees or on the ground.  I can picture them giving off a pleasant soft light as the dark of the evening sets in.  In the meantime, I sit and sip my local brew in bliss.

I see a man going around wiping off some tables and ask if he is the owner or GM.  He is the manager but he doesn’t seem to eager to talk to me when I tell him that I am not from the newspaper.  He is expecting someone that day that will write an article about the Hog Wallow.  Sorry dude, it’s just me.  I ask him quickly “Why a beer garden?”  He responds that they focus more on the nightlife and getting bands to come.  I am a little put off at his dismissal of this amazing space as being merely a good place to listen to music at night.  If no one ever played a note or danced a move here, it would still be a remarkable spot just being what it is.

The bartender, on the other hand, is extremely helpful and friendly.  She tells me about its’ history as an old mill then as a Civilian Conservation Corps bunkhouse almost 70 years ago.  She remarks that despite the religiosity that the region is known for, there aren’t really too many restrictive laws.  It is merely on the people themselves to decide where and what they will do.  She does tell me about the old Zion Curtain law that was meant to keep underage patrons from seeing alcoholic drinks being poured to protect their fragile minds.

I love this little hideaway.  It is old, clean, fresh, shady (the good kind) and purely relaxing.  I grab another brew and just sit and soak it in.

A little Beer Garden of Eden, right in Salt Lake City, holy cow!

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