Saturday, September 28, has long been circled on the calendars of beer-lovers, because on this day, Cory King's Side Project Brewing (8125 Michigan Avenue; 314-631-7300) unveils the first beers of an ambitious lineup. The non-ticketed, open-to-all event has piqued the interest of many and is expected to draw a crowd, based solely on King's reputation as head brewer at Perennial Artisan Ales (8125 Michigan Avenue; 314-631-7300) where he has helped create some of the most popular beers in St. Louis (See: Barrel-Aged Abraxas). Before the kegs are opened up, Gut Check was lucky enough to get a look behind the curtain to see what's on tap.
Like many brewers, King found his way to beer via home-brewing, but he also just so happens to have a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a master's degree in business. Those degrees and an indefatigable work ethic have allowed him to successfully manage brewing duties at Perennial and simultaneously carve his own path with the appropriately named "Side Project Brewing."
Side Project is what those in the craft beer industry call "gypsy brewing." Typically, gypsy brewers travel to established breweries to lease their equipment while using their own recipes. King's Side Project is bit unique in that he leases Perennial's space and equipment while also working as the head brewer at Perennial. Basically, it's a hell of a lot of work.
"It's after work and on the weekends; but I have free reign to lease the brew house," King says. And it's that freedom that has proved so alluring. "The reason I'm starting Side Project is to really not necessarily re-brew a lot of things," he explains. "A lot of breweries you go to are factories -- brewers there make four recipes, and they make them over and over, and that's not why I love brewing. The reason I got into brewing was to always try new things, to always be pushing forward." The innovativeness constantly on display at Perennial has helped King gain a dedicated following of self-proclaimed beer nerds who crave new, bold flavors, and is why many expect big things come September 28.
Continue for the details on King's first batches.
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