Before the torrential rains, ominous streaks of lightning and public protests, Gut Check had a terrific time this past Saturday evening at the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival. That's because we did our fair share of "sampling" before the atmosphere turned ugly (in more ways than one.)
This year's festival featured more than twenty regional breweries gathered under massive tents in the Central Fields of Forest Park. The nearly 100 different beers were arranged alphabetically by style, so we started at the ales and worked our way down. What we discovered was an excellent sampling of St. Louis' robust beer-brewing community.
Trends: On a hot, humid night, hoppy IPAs and drinkable ales were the biggest crowd pleasers and thus in abundance. On the downside, very few stouts were on hand. (So maybe we need beer festival in December? We say, emphatically, yes!) Schlafly, offering up a total of fifteen different styles, seemed to be the most familiar and most sought-after brewery. But drinkers also lined up at a few of the harder-to-find, less prominent breweries as well. The general goal of most people was to just try 'em all.
One of our first samplings was with the Saint Genevieve-based Crown Valley and its IPA, the "Wooden Nickel." It was a fresh, crisp way to begin the evening and made us want to drive down to Crown Valley's tasting room and winery at some point in the near future.
Going in a completely different direction, we moved on to 2nd Shift's "The Katy," a wood-aged sour. Sours are currently all the rage with beer snobs, probably because they are the least accessible to the uninitiated. As the name suggests, sours are bitter and a bit fruity and acidic. At times they can be so overpowering that your lips become permanently puckered. But we were pleasantly surprised to discover that 2nd Shift's sour was light, airy and drinkable -- that is, not cringe inducing.
We next went in search of Perennial, one of the most experimental and exciting breweries in St. Louis. Unfortunately, Perennial only brought one beer, the "Black Walnut Dunkel," a dunkelweizen, or dark wheat beer. Perennial's version is brewed with Missouri black walnuts and was delicious; its sweet, nutty swirls made it definitely one of the most flavorful beers at the festival. All of which made us wish Perennial was better represented. Oh well, we pressed on.
Continue on for Gut Check's take on Schlafly's weird "hopinator" contraption and more unusual finds.
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