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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Craft Beer Lover's Guide to 72 Hours in St. Louis

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 at 8:54 AM

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Flight at Urban Chestnut Biergarten
  • Flight at Urban Chestnut Biergarten


Ease over to Urban Chestnut Brewery and Biergarten, housed in a converted 1920s garage, before the weekend comes to a close. Much smaller than its sister brewery and bierhall in the Grove, the original midtown venue offers cozy indoor seating and a picnic-style outdoor space. Relax, sample German-style Reverence Series beers or the American craft focus of the Revolution Series, and practice saying, "Prost!" The food selection at the biergarten is more limited than the bierhall, but no less delicious. Share a picnic basket of salami, cheese, bread, vegetables, hummus, pickles and mustard with friends, or a sampler board of charcuterie and cheese before heading to the next stop.

Field Notes: The biergarten regularly features the rock of ÜberCool Deutsch, the accordion music of Larry Hallar, Bolzen Beer Band and other acts. Check the website calendar or Facebook page for scheduled performers who pack plenty of oompah.

When it opened in 1991, the Schlafly Taproom earned the distinction of being the first new brewpub to set up shop in Missouri since Prohibition.

From its midtown perch, it has been a real catalyst for St. Louis' craft-beer renaissance. Originally, the Taproom initially only sold beer on tap and in growlers. The brewery grew as public demand for its beer increased. Schlafly beer is now sold in fourteen states, plus Washington, D.C. Housed in a restored turn-of-the-century brick-and-timber building, the brewpub serves sixteen Schlafly beer styles on draft, as well as stick-to-your-ribs European pub food.

Field Notes: Ask the bartender or server about ideal beer and food pairings on Schlafly's menu. Suggested items include warm Pale Ale Bread with blue cream cheese, beer-cheese soup, Hefeweizen-battered Atlantic cod with fries and tartar sauce, and the Cuban sandwich.

Not far from the Taproom, Alpha Brewing Company is also a stone's throw from the City Museum. Its Beta (Barreled, Esoteric, Tart and Aged) Brewing Program is devoted to barrel-aged beers that run the gamut from sour to funky. For a more sessionable beer, try the American Kellerbier, a pilsner, or Game Day Red Ale, which features a balance of toffee, malt and hops.

More complex beers include Apricota Anniversary Ale, whose funky fruit flavor comes from use of chardonnay wine yeast, followed by seven months of aging in Pisoni Winery rosé barrels with four bushels of Missouri apricots. Pinot Noir Barrel Aged Apocrypha, a black saison, derives its color and roasted notes from Black Prinz malt. Its sourness stems from fermentation with a house strain that contains three separate yeasts.

Field Notes: Some of Alpha's beers, such as the superb Satanic Saison, are only available in bottles. Ask the bartender for more details. The brewery entrance is on the north side of the building that also houses 1st Financial Federal Credit Union; Alpha is in the rear portion of the building facing Lucas Avenue. Parking on both sides of Lucas in front of the brewery is free every day of the week. There's metered street parking daily until 7 p.m., but if you follow our itinerary here, you're in luck: Parking is free on Sundays.

These dozen breweries cover only a few of the many taprooms, brewpubs and breweries scattered throughout the St. Louis area. If you're willing to drive to the more far-flung suburbs, your choices increase exponentially. Other destinations include O'Fallon Brewery's new $10 million brewery in Maryland Heights, which features a restaurant with seating for 100 and a tasting room; St. Charles brewpub Trailhead Brewing Company; or Kirkwood Station Restaurant and Brewing Company, which sits in the shadow of the historic train station from which it takes its name. With so many options, a 72-hour craft-beer tour might require an extension or multiple trips in and around Beer City, USA.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Cory King as the founder of Perennial Artisan Ales.

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