Can't-Miss Breweries in St. Louis

St. Louis has a lot of great breweries to try

click to enlarge Schlafly Tap Room, - LULU NIX
Schlafly Tap Room,

There's a reason St. Louis was selected as the best beer city by USA Today for two years in a row. We have got the goods. There are craft breweries in so many neighborhoods and more popping up everyday. But what do you expect when your city lies in the shadow of the grand dame of American beer, Anheuser-Busch/InBev? We are, in a way, the town that beer built, so it seems right we keep innovating.

2nd Shift Brewing
1601 Sublette Avenue No. 2, 314-669-9013

In 1999, Steve Crider got a homebrewing kit for Christmas. By the following year, he was brewing 20 to 40 gallons of beer a week, he told Sauce Magazine in 2016. He was, by his own admission, obsessed, but it wasn't until 2006 that the machinist started to think about opening a brewery. The result was 2nd Shift, originally located in New Haven, Missouri. Crider named the first beer he released Art of Neurosis because it took him 30 iterations to fine-tune it. But his efforts paid off: The beer was roundly praised, and 2nd Shift was on the map. In 2016, Crider and his family left New Haven to open their current location — a 13,000-square-foot production facility and tasting room on the Hill (the neighborhood's first brewery). Crider's beers have become known throughout the city and further afield due to his healthy appetite for experimentation, which creates beers that defy expectations and satisfy thirst. —Rosalind Early

4 Hands Brewing Co.
1220 South Eighth Street, 314-436-1559

Established in 2011 with a small tasting room adjacent to the brewery, 4 Hands has grown into a vast, two-level establishment. On the first floor, patrons can snag Peacemaker's tasty bar food as well as a selection of the brewery's offerings, including the classic Imperial Chocolate Milk Stout; Strange Stout, a collaboration with Strange Donuts; Vigilante, made with Mission Taco Joint; and more. Upstairs is the large, open tasting room, which has free Skee-Ball and other arcade games, as well as a rotating lineup of beer, cocktails, wine, cider and nonalcoholic drinks. The brewery has nine core beers but adds variety with standout seasonal releases such as Contact High, a hoppy wheat beer; Apricot Prussia, a Berliner Weisse; and Ill Repute, a pumpkin-pie stout. —Jessica Rogen

Alpha Brewing
4310 Fyler Avenue, 314-621-2337

Not so long ago, breweries and bars might have had a single sour or wild-fermented brew on offer. It's still unusual to spot more than one on a menu. Alpha Brewing, which opened its Tower Grove South location in 2018, exceeds expectations in this regard. The brewery's sours, currently six, include Apocrypha, a sour black ale aged in pinot noir barrels, and Passionfruit Funk, a sour blond ale brewed with passionfruit. For those without the taste for the slightly lip-puckering brews, Alpha offers a range of stouts, ales, premixed cocktails and hard seltzers, many brewed with citrus. In addition, Alpha serves great renditions of classic bar food such as burgers, wings and pretzels — and has an impressive, umbrella-and-picnic-table-strewn biergarten in which to enjoy all of the above. —Jessica Rogen

click to enlarge Take a tour of our beloved brewery. - The tours make us think of two words: free samples. And get all touristy and pose with a Clydesdale while you're at it.
Take a tour of our beloved brewery.
The tours make us think of two words: free samples. And get all touristy and pose with a Clydesdale while you're at it.
Anheuser-Busch St. Louis Brewery
1200 Lynch Street, 314-577-2626

When you think beer in St. Louis, you think Anheuser-Busch. The largest brewing company in the world, Anheuser-Busch InBev maintains its U.S. regional headquarters here in town and serves up Budweiser, Becks, Michelob and Stella Artois to the masses. For a day full of beer served with a side of St. Louis history, visit the brewery on Lynch Street. You can sign up for a tour of the campus and see where all of the magic is made. Guides will walk you through the beer-making process, take you through the cellars and show you the Clydesdale paddock and stables. At the end of the tour, they hand you a cold beer (if you're 21 or older, of course). You can also just pop into the biergarten for a cold one — it's open between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day of the week. —Jaime Lees

Bluewood Brewing
1821 Cherokee Street, 314-261-4079

Bluewood Brewing and the embedded Burger 809 have a laid-back and welcoming vibe. The bartenders know their stuff and are incredibly willing to help you figure out what option, or what flight of options, to get. Plus, the space itself is both child and pet friendly; you can have a drink on the patio with your furry friend or watch your kiddo grab a board game while you kick back. There are weekly trivia nights, live music and additional activities throughout the month. There is also a window to the brewmasters plying their craft, which gives the brewery experience an effortlessly cool vibe. —Jenna Jones

Civil Life brewing Co.
3714 Holt Avenue, no phone

Civil Life Brewing Company has been a St. Louis mainstay since Jake Hafner and Dylan Mosley opened it in 2011. And with a recent expansion, Civil Life has doubled the size of its outdoor patio, making it an even greater spot to sip some brews on warm nights. Aside from the brewery's cozy atmosphere, regulars return to the south St. Louis pub for its crisp and roasty Schwarzbier — a cold-fermented black lager with notes of coffee and chocolate. Another must-try is Civil Life's flagship beer, the American Brown, a medium-bodied beer with a satisfying blend of caramel, cocoa and coffee notes. Arguably even more iconic than its beers are Civil Life's popular "Be Civil" yard signs. Featuring the brand's mascot, a mustached gentleman in a bowler hat, the signs can be seen throughout the city, reminding even those who've never had the pleasure of sipping Civil Life's beer to take it easy and spread civility.  —Monica Obradovic

click to enlarge Can't-Miss Breweries in St. Louis
Earthbound Beer | Sara Graham

Earthbound Beer
2724 Cherokee Street, 314-769-9576

Earthbound Beer operates as a brewery, but it's really a St. Louis landmark. Mosey down Cherokee Street, and it won't be too long before you stumble upon it. The brewery's building is more than 150 years old, with rumored wonders in its underground lagering cellars. Up top, the beer is just as spectacular as the building's history. With brews like Chicken and Waffles Blonde, Meteor IPA, Cookie Brown and more, everyone can find something. Earthbound is also a pillar of the community: Proceeds from some of the beers go to local organizations such as the Missouri Abortion Fund, PROMO and Circus Flora. There's also the occasional pop-up from the Filipino BBQ specialists at the Fattened Caf. —Jenna Jones

Heavy Riff Brewing Company
6413 Clayton Avenue, no phone

At Heavy Riff, the worlds of music and beer coalesce into an experience that simply rocks. The microbrewery in the heart of Dogtown serves up music-inspired brews to match its decor of guitars and music posters. On tap, you'll find a wide selection of numbers on "the setlist." A toasty brown ale called the Velvet Underbrown is hearty but not overwhelming. The sour Mamas and the Papayas beer boasts a satisfying tartness. Heavy Riff's menu offers barbecue eats and smoked meats such as the smoked reuben — housemade corned beef, slowly cooked on hickory and cherry wood and served on marbled rye bread with Swiss cheese and house-ginned sauerkraut. Both the tap and food menus satisfy, and with Heavy Riff's non-fussy, rock & roll atmosphere, it's a good place to have a relaxed hang. —Monica Obradovic

The Modern Brewery
5231 Manchester Avenue, no phone

Modern Brewery President and CEO Beamer Eisele studied brewing at Harvard. While some may be surprised that the university offers such a course of study, no one doubts that Eisele is a very knowledgeable brewmaster, as Modern Brewery has some of the most sought-after beers in the metro area and supplies beer to popular locations around town. Modern Brewery's offerings include a salted-chocolate stout, a tangerine-tasting mimosa-style sour and its flagship IPA, Citrapolis. Modern Brewing recently opened a 6,000-square-foot space in a garage between warehouses on Manchester Avenue. The brewery paused in-person dining during the pandemic, though, and is currently offering only to-go orders. —Benjamin Simon

click to enlarge The bar has about ten Narrow Gauge beers on tap, in addition to a large selection of drafts from other local and national breweries. - Iain Shaw
Iain Shaw
The bar has about ten Narrow Gauge beers on tap, in addition to a large selection of drafts from other local and national breweries.

Narrow Gauge Brewing Company
1595 North Highway 67, Florissant; 314-501-6108

From its humble beginnings in the basement of the Florissant Italian restaurant Cugino's, Narrow Gauge Brewing Company has grown into one of the area's most respected craft breweries. Its IPAs, sours, stouts and numerous other styles have made Florissant a must-visit for beer aficionados — that's reason in itself to stop by the north-county taproom, though having all that delicious Italian food located in the adjacent Cugino's adds to the allure. With expanded capacity on the horizon (the owners secured a larger space just down the road from their current digs), this dark-horse brand is making sure its presence is known well beyond north county.  —Cheryl Baehr

O'Fallon Brewery
45 Progress Parkway, Maryland Heights; 636-474-2337

If you want a delicious beer, look no further than O'Fallon Brewery. It makes all the beers. Want a beer that tastes like a cookie? Try O'Fallon's Dad's Oatmeal Cookie Stout. Appearing around the holidays, this fan favorite tastes exactly like a Dad's oatmeal cookie with notes of cinnamon, caramel, oats and vanilla. Want a nonalcoholic THC-infused beer? Try the Mohi, a partnership with O'Fallon Brewery and Swade Cannabis. Want an ultra-local beer that reminds you of a St. Louis neighborhood? Head to the Hill or Soulard, where you can find O'Fallon brews specifically made for those neighborhoods. But also don't miss heading to O'Fallon Brewery itself, where you can get the Smoked Porter, a dark beer that was named the best smoked beer in America. —Rosalind Early

Perennial Artisan Ales
Multiple locations including 8125 Michigan Avenue, 314-631-7300

The phrase "tiny but mighty" comes to mind when writing about small-batch brewery Perennial Artisan Ales, which continues to grow as the years go by. Opened in 2011, the brewery and tasting room added a 15-barrel brewhouse in 2016. Then, in 2020, Perennial partnered with Olive + Oak to create Perennial on Lockwood, a restaurant with a top-notch beer list. Perennial focuses on the adventurous beer lover. The brewery's Belgian- and American-style craft beers often incorporate unique ingredients that range from fruits to spices to wild yeast strains and result in batches that defy traditional categories. While the brewery focuses on small batches, the taproom has a wide range of beers available to be explored. —Jenna Jones

Rockwell Beer Company
Multiple locations including 1320 South Vandeventer Avenue, 314-256-1657

Fun-and-approachable Rockwell Beer Co. is the lively brewery along South Vandeventer made out of shipping containers. If the weather is remotely pleasant, customers fill its beer garden. Newcomers to the craft-beer scene may initially feel overwhelmed by all its offerings, but Rockwell makes choosing easy. Its beer menu is divvied up into four main categories — hoppy; malty; light and crisp; or funky, fruity and tart. The brewery strives to have a fresh take on the craft, aiming for fun, not fussy. Its second location in Francis Park is the picture of that ethos. —Jenna Jones

click to enlarge Schlafly Tap Room. - LULU NIX
Schlafly Tap Room.

Multiple locations including 2100 Locust Street, 314-241-2337

When it opened in 1991, Schlafly became St. Louis' first new brewpub since Prohibition, and effectively kicked off the area's craft-beer revolution. Now an institution in its own right, Schlafly has expanded from a singular taproom on Locust to include Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood, Bankside Brewpub in St. Charles and Highland Square Brewpub in Highland, Illinois. Each place is a little different but Schlafly keeps them all connected to the community by hosting events such as Art Outside, an art fair for local and national artists and a chance for Schlafly to debut its new seasonal beers. —Jenna Jones

Side Project Brewing
Multiple locations including 7458 Manchester Road, Maplewood; no phone

Not simply one of the best craft breweries in the area, Side Project Brewing is considered by hardcore beer folks as the pinnacle of the brew universe anywhere; in 2019, Rate Beer named it the No. 2 brewer in the world. That's right, the world. When you taste Cory King's barrel-aged brews, you understand the acclaim. Forged from a background in fine dining, Side Project reflects King and his wife Karen's passion for wine and Belgian-style beers; the brand began as a true "side project" when King was with the also-acclaimed Perennial Artisan Ales. Eventually, he and Karen took the leap and founded their own brewery, garnering legions of followers from far and wide over their last nine years in business. With a new outdoor tasting venue across the street from their original space, there are now more ways to experience what is arguably the area's top craft brewery.  —Cheryl Baehr

Six Mile Bridge
11841 Dorsett Road, Maryland Heights; 314-942-2211

When Six Mile Bridge founder Ryan Sherring shared a batch of his homebrew with a business associate back home in South Africa, he never thought it would lead to a brewery in the United States. Fast forward roughly a decade, and Sherring, together with his wife, Lindsay, now runs a growing operation that includes both a Maryland Heights brewpub and Botanica, a sister restaurant in Wildwood that incorporates Six Mile Bridge beers into a thoughtful menu balanced between upscale and casual. As good as the food is at both locations, Six Mile Bridge is fundamentally about the beer, which has garnered much acclaim. The Coffee Maple Stout is a particular favorite. If you think summertime is too hot for such a beer, one sip will prove there is no season for something so delicious. —Cheryl Baehr

Third Wheel Brewing
4008 I-70 North Outer Road, St. Peters; no phone

Third Wheel Brewing has a lot of beer, including rare ones. There's Ophelia's Wit, for example, a Belgian witbier brewed with coriander, orange peel and rosemary. Or try Goomah, a stout with a creamy chocolate and dark caramel taste. Visitors can also sample the three Beers for a Cause. Proceeds go to support Ukraine (Brew For Ukraine, a wheat), the St. Louis Pink Boots Society (She Is Power, a Belgian IPA) and the LGBTQ community (Glitter and Be Gay, an Australian sparkling ale). Third Wheel's St. Peters home opened in 2017 as the town's first brewery. Inside, people will find an old-school feel with wooden chairs, wooden tables and wooden floors. —Benjamin Simon

click to enlarge Scenes from Urban Chestnut's Wolpertinger festival. - JON GITCHOFF
Scenes from Urban Chestnut's Wolpertinger festival.

Urban Chestnut Brewing Company
Multiple locations including 4465 Manchester Avenue, 314-222-0143

Urban Chestnut started in 2011 as a collaboration between former Anheuser-Busch employees. Since then, it has turned into one of St. Louis' most popular craft breweries, selling beers all over the country, and all over the world. Everything about Urban Chestnut feels like a cross between St. Louis and Europe. This is not surprising since brewmaster Florian Kuplent learned the brewing craft in Germany and even maintains an Urban Chestnut in Hallertau, Germany, near his hometown. In St. Louis, you can enjoy Urban Chestnut at either of its two St. Louis brewpubs: An outdoor biergarten in Midtown or a beer hall in the Grove where you can sip on an IPA while eating New York-style pizza and a currywurst. The perfect blend of American and German? We think we may have found it. —Benjamin Simon

Wellspent Brewing
2917 Olive Street, 314-696-2919

Kyle Kohlmorgen, head brewer and founder at Wellspent, started brewing beer in college. He founded Wellspent Brewing in 2017, but for a while, it looked like it might not last. In August 2019, Kohlmorgen closed shop and put everything up for sale. But with a new partner on board, Wellspent reopened in 2020, and thank goodness for that because the craft beers here aren't to be missed. Kohlmorgen's Baq 2 Baq, a 12 percent Belgian quadrupel aged in red-wine barrels, won a gold medal at the Festival of Wood & Barrel-Aged Beer. We also recommend I Choose Not to Run, a coffee stout made with Blueprint Coffee's Tekton blend and a bit of barrel-aged stout. For those wanting something lighter, Wellspent also offers On the Bright Side, a tart, raspberry-infused wheat beer that has a touch of sea salt and is the perfect drink for a summer day. —Rosalind Early

Scroll to read more Bar Guide articles (1)


Join Riverfront Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.