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SLC bookstore and brewery team up for limited edition 'Monkey Wrench Gang'-themed beers

Posted at 8:13 PM, Nov 22, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — The A. Fisher Brewing Company and Ken Sanders Rare Books are teaming up to release a limited-edition beer run based on author Edward Abbey's famous book, "The Monkey Wrench Gang."

Proceeds from the sale will go to the iconic Salt Lake City book store as it prepares to move locations after 25 years at its current location on 268 South and 200 East.

"I just thought it was this terrific idea, and it's like, how can I say no to that?" said Ken Sanders, owner of the book store.

"The Monkey Wrench Gang" is one of the most popular books at Sanders' store.

"Every used Abbey that comes in here gets hoovered off the shelf," he said.

The book is also a favorite of Fisher's co-owner and head brewer Colby Frazier.

"The monkey wrench gang, the gang themselves, have always been kind of an inspiration for my partners and I," Frazier said.

He has also been a long-time customer of the book store.

"Ken's book store, and small businesses like Ken's, are what make and what have always made Salt Lake City a wonderful place," he added. "That's worth saving and protecting."

With the news that the store would have to move, or possibly close, due to nearby development, Frazier said the collaboration made sense.

Sanders can no longer afford to pay the high rent at his current location with all of the nearby construction and has been forced to consider uprooting the business.

"What I'm doing isn't sustainable," Sanders said. "I can't afford to pay $8,000 to $10,000 a month to move this store."

The limited-edition beers are brewed to match the personalities of the four characters from the book: a rye pale ale for "George Washington Hayduke," a hazy pale ale based on "Bonnie Abbzug," an American wheat ale for "Seldom Seen Smith," and a stout for "Doc Sarvis." There are also two beers based on the whole group and the book itself.

The cans feature artist Robert Crumb's famous drawings of the characters from an illustrated version of the book that Sanders published on its 10-year anniversary.

Aside from the fundraising aspect, Sanders said he is excited to bring awareness to his longtime friend Edward Abbey who died in 1989.

"I knew Ed pretty well. We had a lot of adventures together, Sanders said. "We really want to expose people to Edward Abbey. He was a complicated man."

Sanders said it was a pleasure to team up with one of Salt Lake City's oldest brewing companies to bring this idea and the characters from the book to life.

"It's been a blessing," Sanders said excitedly.

Fisher will release the first beer, a west coast pale ale called "The Gang" on Nov. 28. The others will follow in the weeks after. Customers will have to pick them up in-person at the brewery and will be limited to six cans as they expect to sell out fast.