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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

10 Must-Visit St. Louis Tap Rooms for the Craft Beer Connoisseur

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 7:14 AM

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click to enlarge Square One has that beautiful old Lafayette Square look. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Square One has that beautiful old Lafayette Square look.

1727 Park Ave., Lafayette Square; 314-231-2537
In the heart of Lafayette Square, Square One Brewery and Distillery has been brewing beer and crafting distilled liquors since 2008, and each year its offerings only get better. The flagship beer here is an IPA. You can't throw your growler across the room without hitting an IPA, but Square One's is a bellwether knockout, with a dark gold, malty taste and a clean but surprising finish — the electricity stays on your tongue long after your first sip. We recommend hanging out in the full-service restaurant attached to the brewery; the enclosed open-air patio feels more like your friend's backyard than a noisy bierhall. Other highlights include the maple stout, but our money's on Gose the Gozerian, a featherweight brew that is fairly tart and brewed with salt and coriander — it's operating on another plane of existence.

100 E Pitman Ave., Wentzville; 636-856-9300
If you find yourself venturing westward for family reunions or weekenders in KC, stop along the way to visit the very recently opened Friendship Brewing Company in Wentzville. It took co-owners Brian Nolan and Dan Belcher two years to finish their gut rehab of a 102-year-old historic building, finally turning it into the tap room of their dreams with creative eats and 25 taps to explore. The outdoor space is expansive, while the inside is decorated with Nolan's extensive collection of beer memorabilia — he's dubbed it "The Brewseum." For Nolan, beer is a landscape with very few boundaries, which is why Friendship takes creative liberties with a ginger-lime IPA and a raspberry-jalapeno red ale. There's always something new to try here. "Some small batches don't make it through the night," Nolan says. One of Nolan's biggest inspirations in craft beer is Civil Life. "Our American Brown Ale has been compared to theirs, and they really set the standard. They've been making so many great beers and they've been like a godfather to us," he says. Hang with this newbie and you'll be making new friends in no time.

click to enlarge 4 Hands beckons beer lovers to LaSalle Park. - ROBERT ROHE
  • 4 Hands beckons beer lovers to LaSalle Park.


1220 South 8th St., Lasalle Park; 314-436-1559
A local favorite for a long time, 4 Hands' Brewing Co. is slowly becoming a beer mecca — offering games, great food and a portfolio of craft beer that has to be tasted to believe. The huge brewing space just south of downtown allows the company to focus on traditional brewing and barrel-aging complex, drinkable concoctions. It's a great spot to hang — the street corn and tacos are alone worth a visit. 4 Hands' recent release of the canned City Wide American Pale Ale has seen its reputation solidified — not only by the can's design, which is drastically different from the rest of the brewery's artwork and a clear show of support for St. Louis — but by its intense, thirst-quenching pale ale flavor. It's the new beer to take with you everywhere you go.

click to enlarge Perennial beckons beer lovers to Carondelet. - PHOTO BY PETE DULIN
  • Perennial beckons beer lovers to Carondelet.
8125 Michigan Ave., Carondelet, 314-631-7300
A multiple award winner from the Great American Beer Festival, Perennial is a craft-brewing oasis in the south city blue-collar neighborhood of Carondelet and was one of the first St. Louis brewers to catch on with locals like wildfire upon its 2011 launch. The outdoor space is a summer retreat during happy hour, showcasing some of the best sunsets in the city. It's worth returning to again and again, as Perennial offers plenty of new and exciting saisons and hopped brews that are exceptional in design and delivery. It frequently hosts tastings of new items: bold witbiers fashioned with wild yeasts, mosaic hops and mixed brewing styles. Having recently expanded distribution to Minnesota, this brewery shows no signs of slowing down, with plans of expanding into a full-service restaurant. The stellar beers pair well with the current modest menu of Companion pretzels and charcuterie. Perennial's Funky Wit is our recommendation here: on par with the genre of wheat beers, it breaks the mold by adding spices to create a dry aftertaste that recalls apricots and summer fruits — the tartness and slight carbonation bring the funk in this stellar offering.


3714 Holt Ave., Tower Grove South; no phone
You've seen Civil Life's logo: a mustachioed gentleman in a bowler hat, beaming beatifically, as though he's headed to the pub right now. Ah, if only we all could be so happy. But maybe we can, because Civil Life is setting new standards in craft beer all the time. Located in Tower Grove South, the beer hall space is wide open on the inside, with tables, games and a free library all on offer. Outside, the patio is tent-covered, with a walkup window to order beers so you don't have to waste time inside and miss out on a single day of summer. You can't go wrong with the Rye Pale Ale — a 2014 Great American Beer Festival gold medal winner, and one of the warships in an ever-expanding arsenal of amazing craft brews.

Interested in more bar-related content? Pick up a copy of the RFT's annual Bar Guide, which hits the streets this weekend. Or check out our complete guide to the city's best dive bars and our roundup of 25 St. Louis bars for every mood.

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