Ogden’s Talisman Brewing Company quickly growing as one-year anniversary nears
Talisman Brewing Company's owner, Dusty Williams, checks the heat of the Uplifted Scottish Ale mash with brewer's apprentice Teague Broccardo on Feb. 21, 2017, at the Ogden brewery.
BRIANA SCROGGINS/Standard-Examiner

Talisman Brewing Company reflects on first year, plans to open tavern in Ogden

OGDEN — Back in the day, when Dusty Williams brewed beer out of his kitchen, the requests from friends and others were a regular thing.

“People would ask us all the time, ‘Can you make it for our wedding?’,” said Williams’ wife, Joann Williams.

Invariably, the Williams would politely decline the potential for a little extra income, not wanting to run afoul of Utah’s strict alcohol laws. They produced enough for themselves, keeping output within Utah restrictions for home brewers and just passing out free samples to visiting friends.

“We’re not rule benders or breakers by any means. We’re pretty straight-laced,” Joann said.

These days, though — not even a year after turning what had been a hobby into a husband-and-wife business, Talisman Brewing Company — their craft beer is flowing.

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Talisman Brewing Company co-owners Joann Williams and her husband, Dusty Williams, pose for a picture Feb. 21, 2017, at the Ogden brewery.
BRIANA SCROGGINS/Standard-Examiner

Production after launching the business on March 26 last year soon surpassed expectations as demand blossomed, and as Talisman nears its one-year birthday, the brand is gradually making its way around the state. The Williams sell their beer at several supermarket chains, supply restaurants and bars, and sell out of their Ogden production facility, located north of the city center.

“Just day-to-day, we’re definitely moving product,” said Dusty, who decided to elevate his hobby to a business after leaving the U.S. Air Force and Utah Air National Guard. “Our tanks are always full, that’s a good way to put it.”

Now the goal is solidifying the beer’s reach around the state, into Salt Lake City, Park City and beyond. Five new permanent flavors are to be added to the label by June, on top of the six varieties already in the lineup, and plans are in the works to open a tavern at their 1258 Gibson Ave. location by next fall. They’re also testing out a Beer Yoga event — yoga followed by beer tasting for $10 a head — and down the road, are eyeing Idaho as a potential new market.

Call it a thirst for craft beer, which is made at smaller breweries and typically comes in a broad range of flavors.

Utah is home to 23 craft breweries, by Joann’s count, with three more taking shape in the Salt Lake City area. It’s a small number in comparison to the perhaps 300 craft brewers in adjacent Colorado, Dusty said, but there is a definite market in Utah.

He sees room for more breweries in the state and thinks they would help spur the craft beer culture and create yet more demand for craft beer.

“It’s not just for the locals. It’s for the people influxing into Utah, for tourism, for work,” he said. The only craft brewers in Ogden are Talisman and Roosters Brewing Co.

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Talisman Brewing Company co-owner Joann Williams takes a picture of the business' award-winning beer for social media while her husband and co-owner, Dusty Williams, brews Uplifted Scottish Ale on Feb. 21, 2017, at the Ogden brewery.
BRIANA SCROGGINS/Standard-Examiner

HOPS, YEAST, GRAIN, WATER

Dusty, who heads up beer-making at Talisman, started his hobby in the late 2000s. He was drawn by the science of the craft, the notion that by manipulating just four key ingredients — hops, yeast, grain and water — you could make a seemingly endless variety of beer. At that stage, the Williams — parents to four — were more drawn to fine wines.

He would take over the kitchen at home to brew, passing out his concoctions when visitors came. “Anyone who came over knew they were going to get asked, ‘Hey, try this. Here, try that,’” Dusty said.

But as his Air Force and Air National Guard stint wound down, the notion of starting a craft brewery, turning the hobby into a business, gained steam. Two of his beers placed in the top five in a home brewing competition, and the compliments about his beer kept coming. Thus, he and Joann — who leads the business side of things — ultimately decided to make a go of it.

Just three days after opening, Joann — who maintains a full-time job at Kimberly Clark as a marketing manager — reached a deal to distribute Talisman beer at Harmons grocery stores.

Then, just two months in, Dusty — who was out of the service and working for Lockheed Martin — decided to quit that job and throw himself full-time into Talisman. He originally thought he’d hold onto the job with Lockheed for two years while he tested the brewery business. But it was demanding work, making beer, and interest in the product necessitated higher output.

“We just decided to jump off and open the parachute and see how we land,” he said.

Since then, they’ve acquired three new tank fermenters, nearly doubling their output capacity. Earlier this year, Talisman’s Iron Age oatmeal stout won a gold medal at the Best of Craft Beer Awards competition in Bend, Oregon, which included much larger operations.

“To be put in that category with bigger brewers is beautiful,” Joann said.

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Teague Broccardo, a brewer's apprentice at Talisman Brewing Company, watches as grain and hot water are mixed Feb. 21, 2017, during the mash-in process for the business' Uplifted Scottish Ale.
BRIANA SCROGGINS/Standard-Examiner

Dusty foresees steady growth in demand for Talisman beer through 2017, and Joann says the business is in the black. They’ve hired a full-timer to help Dusty make beer and two part-timers to help with retail sales. But profits are typically reinvested back into the business, and thus, it’s hit or miss if Dusty gets a paycheck any given month.

Still, he isn’t complaining. Maintaining a thriving business and doing something he loves is a reward in itself.

“It’s definitely, absolutely an industry about passion,” he said. “It’s not a huge money-maker. It’s definitely about passion.”

Reach reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.