5 St. Louis Beers To Drink All Summer Long

Take a five-star beer staycation with these new (or new to you) summer brews

May 16, 2023 at 10:51 am
click to enlarge Urban Chestnut's Balkan Lager (left) and Perennial Artisan Ales' Jane Says.
Tony Rehagen
Urban Chestnut's Balkan Lager (left) and Perennial Artisan Ales' Jane Says.

I travel a lot for my work. Whether the assignment is beer-related or not, no matter what city or town I'm visiting, I'm always looking for a local brew. If I'm in a hotel and pull up Google, my phone barely lets me type the letter "b" before auto-filling "brewery near me." In just the last six months, I've sipped local beers from Chicago to Morgantown, North Carolina, to Indianapolis to Las Vegas to Des Moines, Iowa, to Brooklyn, New York. I was in Nashville, Tennessee, last week when the national Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo brought craft brews from all over the world to Music City.

I say all this not to brag (but seriously, you should see my Untappd, a veritable trove of exotic thirst traps) but rather to say that I've gotten snapshots of dozens of city beer scenes — and in my humble opinion, St. Louis' can hang with almost anywhere. You might think upon returning from these far-flung beer safaris that I'd fall back on a familiar local favorite or be tired of the stuff altogether, but the area's brewers, through their skill and imagination, are always creating new must-try brews. I'm a beer tourist in my own town.

So as you go on your summer vacation(s), be sure to check out the native taprooms and beer bars, order some flights to sample the local flavors and sneak a few cans or bombers home in the family SUV or your checked bag. But when you can't get away, remember that a five-star beer staycation is always an easy Uber ride away. Here are five new (or new to you) local beers that are more than worth the short trip.

"Balkan Lager"
Urban Chestnut Brewing Company
(multiple locations, including 4465 Manchester Avenue, urbanchestnut.com)
ABV: 4.8 percent

Summer is the natural time for a light, crisp and refreshing lager — but that doesn't mean you have to settle for the same old lawnmower beers. Craft brewers are doing amazing things with the tried-and-true style, and St. Louis's own lager expert, Urban Chestnut, has collaborated with the Webster Grove restaurant Balkan Treat Box to create this clean, slightly bready Helles beauty made with Hersbrucker hops, which add a bright, citrusy aroma.

"Gretel" Munich Dunkel
Shared Brewing
(2657 Lyle Avenue, Maplewood; sharedbrewing.com)
ABV: 5.3 percent

Dunkels are darker lagers, typically drank in the fall. But you don't have to wait to get your Oktoberfest on. Shared, a collective owned by employees of Side Project Brewing, has created this amber pour that packs just enough malty, caramelly sweetness into this surprisingly easy drinker. It slakes your thirst without weighing you down on a warm summer afternoon. All the same, I'd leave the sweaty lederhosen in the closet until September.

"Free the Sun" Fruited Berliner Weisse
Third Wheel Brewing
(4008 I-70 North Outer Road, St Peters; thirdwheelbrewing.com)
ABV: 4.9 percent

This seasonal is something I look forward to every summer. It's a sour loaded with orange sweetness on the nose and first taste that yields to vanilla to balance the tart on the finish. But the key is the perfect infusion of lactose to thicken the sip and create a creamsicle experience that'll take you back to the Junes and Julys of your childhood.

"Citropolis" American IPA
Modern Brewery
(5200 Oakland Avenue, modernbrewery.com)
ABV: 6.8 percent

OK, this is neither a new beer nor a summer seasonal release. But those are actually the reasons I want to celebrate it here — it's always there, it's always great. And my beer-drinking buddies and I feel like not enough people acknowledge that. Citropolis is a classic Citra-hopped (duh) American IPA that is equal parts fruity and bitter, while also being smooth. At a light-bodied 6.8 percent, it's right in that sweet spot between a session and a sipper, something you can enjoy, on tap or out of the can, all over town this summer — and beyond.

"Jane Says" Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
Perennial Artisan Ales
(8125 Michigan Avenue, perennialbeer.com)
ABV: 13.4 percent

There's no such thing as "stout season." Does one's palate generally wait until colder months to turn to a warmer, more decadent beer? Perhaps. Do you want to lug a bomber of thick and super boozy ale on the golf course or float trip? Probably not. But there is always a place for a good dessert stout — and there's almost always a good barrel-aged stout or barleywine at Perennial. The latest from the purveyors of the world-coveted BA Abraxas is this double pastry stout loaded with sweet chocolate and vanilla bean and earthy almond, thickened with lactose, and aged in Old Fitzgerald barrels for a sophisticated sipper to enjoy after dinner on the front porch.

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