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Live Free or Drink

posted: 08/20/2003

Name: Greg Schirf
Claim to Fame: As founder of Park City—based Wasatch Brewing Company, Schirf has spent two decades taking on Utah's draconian alcohol legislation. "Utah is still a church-state that exercises complete control," he says. "They call it democracy in action; I call it abuse of power."
He Did What? Last April Schirf, 50, dressed as Ben Franklin and hosted his own version of the Boston Tea Party, spraying 64 gallons of beer into the Great Salt Lake to protest Utah's new $1.88 per barrel tax increase on suds. The stunt was his latest confrontation with the Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (UABCC). Back in 1997, Schirf emblazoned Salt Lake City billboards with the slogan: Wasatch Beers, Utah's other local religion. Baptize your taste buds. Surprise, Mormon conservatives weren't amused and the UABCC tried to ban religious themes in alcohol advertising shortly thereafter.

Undaunted, Schirf introduced Polygamy Porter. The ad campaign: Take some home to the wives. Again, Mormon conservatives were not amused, and the state's largest billboard company boycotted the ads. No problem—Schirf leaked the controversy to the media, and the exposure tripled his sales. "Hey, we're not in the business of making fun of anyone's religion," he says. "But the culture is fair game."

Behind the Bar: Besides Polygamy Porter, Schirf bottles Provo Girl (with Nice cans! on the label alongside former pro snowboarder Alise Liepnieks dressed as the St. Pauli Girl) and 1st Amendment Lager (Give me liberty or give me a cold one).

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