- ABOUT ME -
My name is Rio Connelly and I'm a professional brewer with over a decade of experience in the Utah Craft Beer scene. Having originally discovered a passion for brewing during college in Washington state, I've been experimenting with new styles, creating menus and writing about craft beverages at SLUG Magazine since my return to Salt Lake City in 2008.
I began working at my local homebrew shop that same year, learning as much as I could and then I got my first official job in the craft brewing world when I was hired to help open Epic Brewing in Salt Lake City. I trained under Head Brewer Kevin Crompton as his right hand and earned the titles of Lead Brewer and Assistant Production Manager, overseeing a large staff and being responsible for all aspects of production.
I left Epic to join my brother and a friend of ours in a venture to open Utah's first gastropub with a brewery on site. This became the Avenues Proper Restaurant, the first business in what is now a much larger group of enterprises. Our current operations at Proper include two breweries, three full-service restaurants and three bars, the most recent opening in April of 2019. I have planned for and worked at all locations in my capacity as Owner and Head Brewer, establishing SOPs, setting menus, pricing expansion projects and installing systems. During my seven years at Proper, I have never failed to win at least one medal in competitions we submitted beer to, including four gold medals.
In addition to working at Proper, I was elected to the Board of Directors for the Utah Brewers Guild in 2016 and served initially as Vice President and then President. During my time on the Board, I was integral in building cohesion among members, collecting dues, hiring an Executive Director who is still in place and planning Guild events among other forms of fundraising. My interest in beer education has continued to this day and I am a Cicerone-Program Certified Beer Server, a Recognized BJCP judge, and I have attended classes at the Siebel Institute of Technology, America's oldest brewing school.
In 2019, after seven years of success at Proper, I chose to step back from my position in order to shift my attention to using my experience to aid other nascent breweries, wineries, distilleries and bars in their goals. I know from experience that the first year or two are critical to the success of any business venture, and especially so in the hospitality and production industries. The process of starting new projects is exciting to me, and I enjoy working with people who have a passion for their product. By working in this mode, helping new companies get off the ground and avoid pitfalls, I will both be expanding my knowledge base and helping others experience the same great feelings that came with the success my partners and I enjoyed.