Beyond Budweiser and Beer Nuts
Four brewpubs in downtown Jackson have won awards for their beers. They’ve got food to match.
By Scott Eren
Charcuterie alongside the Raspberry Beret saison and Hen of the Woods appetizer at the Roadhouse Pub and Eatery on the Town Square. Photo by Amber Baesler
PAIRING FOOD AND beer is nothing new. Certain foods—think pizza, hotdogs, or peanuts—have accompanied beers consumed at homes and bars forever. These simple staples were the perfect counterpoints to the simple, easy-drinking beers that were, until rather recently, standard. But the craft beer revolution has changed the beer many Americans drink. Brewpubs in Jackson Hole are evidence that it’s changing how we eat, too. But Jackson Hole being Jackson Hole, the newly elevated food programs at our brewpubs aren’t quite so fussy as those at destination bar-restaurants like Chicago’s The Publican or Churchkey in Washington, D.C., where you might find rabbit liver mousse paired with a spicy French saison.
Here, burgers are menu-mates along with regional and international dishes like shishito peppers with yuzu aioli, baked ricotta crostini, and khao soi, a rice noodle soup widely served in Laos and northern Thailand. (In the latter, it’s sometimes called “Chang Mai Noodles/Soup.”) A bonus is that four breweries—StillWest Brewery & Grill, Roadhouse Brewing Company, Snake River Brewing, and Melvin Brewing—are within our compact downtown; each is within a ten-minute walk of the other three. No car required, even in the brisk winter months.
STILLWEST BREWERY & GRILL
JACKSON’S NEWEST BREWERY, StillWest Brewery & Grill, is also the most physically imposing: it’s a three-story building near the base of Snow King Mountain. Walk past the outdoor lounge and coffee shop on its ground floor and head up to the second floor, home to the dining room, a large bar (where the full food menu is served), the brewing operation, and an expansive balcony with an impressive view of Snow King. The dining room feels airy with a vaulted ceiling; the wood used on the walls was reclaimed from a barn in Tennessee.
StillWest’s brewing operation is helmed by owner Don Alan Hankins, who brewed for years in Alabama before opening StillWest with his wife Chaney. Hankins’ beers tend towards faithful interpretations of classic styles. Beers like Kolsch and Irish Red Ale anchor the menu year-round, and limited-run beers like Peach Wheat or a spiced pumpkin ale emerge when seasonally appropriate.
The food menu here is strong on southern classics. The Bama Sandwich—seared thick-cut bologna, bread-and-butter pickles, and a fried egg—is wonderfully executed. Also popular is the modern and colorful walnut pesto pasta with eggplant and chicken. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., 45 E. Snow King Ave., 307/201-5955,
ROADHOUSE BREWING COMPANY
WHILE STILLWEST IS the newest brewery in town, the title of newest taproom goes to Roadhouse Brewing Company. Roadhouse was founded in 2012—it started in the back of a now-defunct barbeque restaurant on Teton Village Road—then moved to a larger facility two miles west of downtown in 2017, and, late last year, opened a full-fledged brewpub on the Town Square. Roadhouse is the brainchild of brewer Colby Cox and chef/restaurateur Gavin Fine.
You’ll immediately notice that the space is built to foster lingering, with tons of seating and sports-tuned televisions. One wall of the dining room is clear glass, behind which lives a 20-barrel brewing system used for small test-run batches of new recipes. (Roadhouse’s main brewing facility remains in West Jackson.) Five or six of the taproom’s experimental beers are available at any given time, and they’re only available here. In addition to these small-batch beers, Roadhouse has about a dozen of its flagship beers and an equal number of beers from other regional breweries on tap. In total, more than 30 draft options are available and, yes, Roadhouse does flights.
On the food side, the menu satisfies those looking for either a full meal or a snack. You can’t go wrong with a sausage or hotdog plate (made locally by Fine’s butcher imprint Bovine + Swine). The classic homemade beer pretzel is enough to share. If you want to eat more adventurously, the duck wings—rich meat and crispy skin tamed by a sharp Chinese mustard sauce—are shareable, too. Those looking to lean into Mountain West ingredients will be happy to find bison, elk, and trout on the menu. Open daily at 11:30 a.m., 20 E. Broadway Ave., 307/739-0700, roadhousebrewing.com
MELVIN BREWING ISN’T immediately recognizable as a brewery. This is because it’s inside the restaurant Thai Me Up. Still, Melvin has won more awards for its brews than any other local brewery (it is also the only local brewery with international distribution and brewpubs outside the valley). Numerous awards recognize Melvin for making some of the best hoppy beers of any brewery in the world. Core beers Hubert, Melvin, and 2×4—a pale ale, IPA, and double IPA, respectively—have all received gold medals in international competitions. To further aid in hoppy exploration, every two months Melvin features a new Imperial IPA, aka a high alcohol hop bomb.
If hoppy beers aren’t your thing, don’t worry. The brewery has also won awards with its stouts and lagers.
Of the four brewery-restaurants in town, Melvin/Thai Me Up is your best bet for late night action. (It’s also the best bet for Kung Fu fans; its TVs are continuously tuned to vintage Kung Fu movies.) Food and drinks are available here until, or even past, 11 p.m. You can’t go wrong with the Central and Northern Thai curries or the burgers, which come with toppings like fried peppers and house-made Thai mayo. Also, the late night snacks are magic: “Cowabunga rolls” are a homemade take on pepperoni pizza rolls; “Thai poutine” consists of fries topped with curry and mozzarella cheese. Open daily from 5 p.m. to late, 75 E. Pearl Ave., 307/733-0005, melvinbrewing.com
SNAKE RIVER BREWING
WITH A TWENTY-FOOT “brewpub” sign and facilities that take up an entire block, Wyoming’s oldest brewery (founded in 1994) is hard to miss. Snake River Brewing, known as SRB or simply “the brewpub,” is one of Jackson’s most popular hangout spots. It’s spacious, casual, and families with members under the age of 21 are welcome in the upstairs dining area.
For beers, Pako’s IPA is always on tap, along with the worthwhile Zonker Stout. If you happen to be lucky enough to be around when SRB is pouring its coffee stout made with local Snake River Roasting coffee (this usually happens in late October), order it. The past two years it’s won gold in the crowded coffee-stout category at Denver’s Great American Beer Festival.
In terms of food, SRB is the closest to traditional pub fare, with a menu built around seasonally changing burgers, pizza, and pastas. But here traditional doesn’t mean boring. There’s a pizza topped with house-made chorizo and dried figs, and a bison burger with frisée and smoked onion aioli. Appetizers include beer-battered buffalo cauliflower, and fried green tomatoes with tasso ham and pimento cheese. Both have the kind of salty-savory richness that pairs well with hops. Open daily at 11 a.m., 265 S. Millward St., 307/739-2337, snakeriverbrewing.com JH
StillWest Brewery and Grill’s Bama Sandwich. Photo by Ryan Dorgan
Roadhouse Pub and Eatery includes a 20-barrel system for small batch recipes. Photo by Amber Baesler
Melvin Brewing was born in a small closet in the back of Thai Me Up restaurant. Photo by Bradly J. Boner
The Snake River Brewing Company is popular with locals and visitors. Photo by Ryan Dorgan