Hops & Pie expands, gets a beer engine and adds new dishes beyond pizza

A guy sitting at the bar at Hops & Pie makes a declaration: "This," he claims, pointing to his slice of pizza pronged with pineapple, "is the best crust outside of Italy." World traveler needs to wrap his pearly whites around a sandwich, which are new additions to the Hops & Pie menu that recently expanded, as did the tiny space that's always butt-to-butt with beer geeks and pizza junkies.

"Before we expanded, we used to run a sandwich of the day, and they were really popular, so we decided to add them to the menu, along with a a few new salads, a vegan macaroni and cheese that's amazing and the chipotle and mango carnitas, which were a Sunday-only thing that really deserved a place on the daily menu," says Leigh Watson, who owns Hops & Pie with her husband Drew.

And despite the fact that I was having lunch elsewhere, I couldn't pass up the smoked pork-and-apple compote sandwich, which could very well be my newest mania. If you're in the mood for a smoky swelled stack of pork topped with an apple compote liquored with bourbon, melt-y sharp white cheddar and baby arugula on a griddled bread roll, baked in house, nothing comes close.

And very few restaurants come close to the number of tap lines at Hops & Pie, which also boasts a new beer engine attached to a keg in a cooler that sits behind the wall. "We're really excited about having the beer engine, and we'll switch out the beer -- now a stout -- when the keg is kicked," says Watson, adding that the beer engine, which is hand-pumped, results in a pour that's "slightly less carbonated and slightly warmer, much like an English-style beer."

If it's still available, you can try it in a few weeks, along with several beers from Epic, an excellent Utah brewery that's delivering six different brews, including a sour apple saison and an imperial stout, to Hops & Pie for its Littlest Big Beer Fest on Sunday, March 4 at 2 p.m.

And you'll have a hell of a lot more room in which to get inebriated, because the expanded Hops & Pie now has an additional 36 seats, all of which are framed by local art. "We were able to get our feet wet with the smaller space, and never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined we'd be so well-received, and now, we're able to accommodate not just more people, but larger groups, too, and that means a more comfortable restaurant for everyone," says Watson.

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