October 09, 2018

Getting to know you: Ginger Bowden, Vernal Brewing Company

Written by
Ginger Bowden, owner of Vernal Brewing Company and Chef Mike Adams Ginger Bowden, owner of Vernal Brewing Company and Chef Mike Adams

Ginger Bowden welcomed me to her brewery in Vernal, Utah last week. It's a stylish building with a brewhouse in the back and a restaurant and bar in the front. Before taking me on a tour, she took me out to the attached garden that supports the restaurant. Cucumbers hung from a trellis, squash filled the raised beds, and there were tomatoes galore. The beautiful and crisp October day felt energizing as I walked the paths of the garden with Ginger. We then went into the well-lit brewery for a tour. In the middle of the building was the kitchen, where I had the pleasure of meeting the staff there, including Chef Mike who would cook up some delicious surprises for lunch later. 

Ginger is a fourth generation Vernal resident. She went to college in Oregon and studied environmental science. Her father influenced her to pick the major because "it was a wave-of-the-future thing." When she's not running the brewery, Ginger still dabbles in energy and environmental consulting for the various mining projects around Vernal. 

We sat down at the bar and sampled a new batch of the Red Ale. "It's malty and hoppy," Ginger said. "I love this beer. We start brewing it in September. It tastes like fall. People will come in and ask 'Do you have it back yet?'"

Operating a brewery in Vernal is a unique endeavor. VBC has been open since 2013. "When we first started, we were still a semi-thriving economy, and then everything crashed. We struggled pretty hard for about 3 years. Utah Travel and Tourism and Uintah Travel and Tourism have been doing a huge campaign to bring tourists to Utah, to our National Monument, and to go hiking, rafting, biking — all the things that we do here. It has made a huge impact. In the last two years we've only increased in sales and traffic." Indeed, as I sat there, the restaurant filled up for lunch on a Wednesday. 

There were lots of hoops to jump through to get off the ground. In fact, Ginger had to go to the city to request an ordinance change so she could have a manufacturing license in Vernal. It took six months but the extra work has paid off. 

Ginger's enthusiasm for her brewery is apparent. "Vernal Brewing Company is creating the scene here. Our mission statement is to create great customer service and lasting impressions so people want to come back. At our brewery and restaurant, you spend five days training, you know the menu, and you can answer all the questions before you start."

It's all hands on deck at Vernal Brewing Company. "On the brewery side on the canning line, we have a few people that work in the front or kitchen that will come back and help. They'll do the variety packs because they are all hand-packaged. When you work in the front of the house then go back in the brewery and work on that, it just gives you so much more knowledge."

The passion for craft brew is found throughout the operation. "The kitchen staff cook with beer all day. They try to incorporate it as often as possible. The menu is a collaboration. Old classics meet new favorites so you will see a lot of things that look familiar." VBC lives up to this with nachos, wings, but also pasta carbonara and chicken skillet with puff pastry. Chef Mike hand-makes the pasta for example, creating delicious classics that are unique for this region. 

I left Vernal Brewing Company enthused about this brewery that is creating new craft beer fans every day in the Uintah Basin and throughout the region and state where VBC distributes its beer.  When people go home, they'll say, "You wouldn't believe this amazing beer I had in Vernal, Utah!"