HBS Road Trip: St Louis Edition – June 2018
Houston Beer Scene has another exciting Road Trip article to share with you!! This time, Peter visited the St Louis area and hit six breweries and the Side Project Cellar over the course of the weekend. The breweries visited were (in the order visited): Six Mile Bridge Beer, Narrow Gauge Brewing Co, Side Project Cellar, Side Project Brewing, 2nd Shift Brewing, Heavy Riff Brewing Co, and Perennial Artisan Ales.
Most of the breweries I visited were on the small to medium size for craft breweries. All six breweries I visited had foeders! So if you like tart, oak aged beers, then St. Louis is a must visit!
Note: not all reviews or notes will be the same format due to the number of beers tried or other unique factors. Side Project Brewing and Cellar will be an article of their own, so they will be absent from this post.
Six Mile Bridge Beer
Six Mile was a very pleasant surprise! It was actually the only brewery I went back to twice during my trip. Part of the reason for my second trip there was the proximity to my hotel, but I would not have gone back if I did not enjoy the beers and my time there. Six Mile Bridge does not serve food but there was a food truck there when I visited around dinner time.
A short history; Six Mile was started by husband and wife team, Ryan and Lindsey Sherring. Ryan is a native of South Africa and he actually had a brewery in Cape Town called 021 Brewing Company that opened in 2012. In 2015 Ryan and Lindsey moved to St. Louis and started Six Mile.
The beers on tap when I was at the brewery were:
1. DDH NEMA IPA
2. DDH Citra IPA
3. Irish Red Ale with Honey
4. Coffee Maple Stout
5. Bavarian Hefeweizen
6. Blood Orange Wit
7. Double Berry Berliner
8. Cinnamon Maple Stout
Favorite Beer: Coffee Maple Stout – The balance between the coffee, maple and roasty flavors was maybe the best I’ve had. Restraint is a good thing, especially with maple, and Ryan married the flavors together perfectly. The mouthfeel and color of the beer were perfect to style.
Most Surprising Beer: Cinnamon Maple Stout – I had this before I had the Coffee Maple because it came recommended, so before I was impressed by the balance of the coffee and maple in Coffee Maple Stout, I was surprised by the balance of the cinnamon and maple. Very delicious brew and I highly recommend.
Least Favorite (doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it): DDH NEMA IPA – There was nothing wrong with this beer, but there was a problem with the drinker (me). I didn’t realize that the beer was brewed with lactose. I think the surprise ruined the beer for me.
Final Thoughts on Six Mile Bridge
Overall, cool little brewery owned and run by some really great folks. Got to meet Ryan and take a tour given by Lindsey. They just launched their beer in cans, so congrats on that!
Beers are available at the brewery, cans are now available as well for off-site enjoyment.
Narrow Gauge Brewing Co
Prior to my trip, Narrow Gauge was one of the breweries I identified as a must visit based on my love of IPAs. I had previously heard about Fallen Flag and some of their other IPAs, but I wasn’t super familiar with the brewery itself. After not eating at the previous brewery, I was hoping that Narrow Gauge either served food or had a good food truck. What I found was even better
Narrow Gauge is in the same building as Cugino’s Italian restaurant and, man, was I happy. Sitting at the bar, I looked at the appetizer menu because I heard someone say their wings were good, so I was ready to order. Then the guy next to me got his food delivered and everything changed. I ended up copying his order and getting a the Stuffed Meatballs, they were absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture before I dug in, so the picture isn’t ideal.
I had a flight and had very mixed thoughts on the beers. Some of the beers I had high hopes for were not up to style standards, mostly due to the mouthfeel/body of the beer. Fallen Flag – a hazy IPA – was one of those beers. I wanted to like it more than I did. But there were also some very good beers that I highly recommend if you go there.
Some of the beers I really liked were: Join Us In Creating Excellence (J.U.I.C.E.) – a hazy IPA, Nelson’s Galaxy – Another hazy IPA, and Kofe – an Imperial Stout aged on coffee. All these beers met or exceeded my high expectations.
Favorite Beer: Kofe – an Imperial Stout aged on Coffee
Most Surprising Beer: Kofe – an Imperial Stout aged on Coffee
Least Favorite Beer: Believe it or not… Fallen Flag. Now if you look this beer up on any of the rating sites, it’s going to have a pretty good rating. It is a fine beer, but I feel it was a little oversold from others online. I also liked some of their lesser-known hazy IPAs better than this one. Maybe it’s because I am spoiled by the awesome Hazy IPAs from SpindleTap Brewery, Baa Baa Brewhouse and B-52 Brewing.
Beers were available at the brewery and cans were sold for off-site enjoyment. I left with two 4-packs.
2nd Shift Brewing
Before my trip I reached out to a few beer bloggers in the St. Louis area. One of the guys I reached out to works at 2nd Shift. He gave me a number of suggestions and revealed his potential bias, which I appreciated. He mentioned a few of the breweries I visited, including 2nd Shift with the full disclosure, plus a few more.
I had heard a lot of good things about the 2nd Shift beers, especially the Limited brews. I was really hoping to try some of the Katy variants, even though I knew my chances were slim. I was unsuccessful in my Katy variant search, but I was pleasantly surprised at a new beer, Bridget. Bridget is a foeder brett beer that is light, crisp, and tart. There are slight notes of apricot, oak, and vanilla.
One of the other beers I got to try, that I had previously identified as a wishlist beer, was Barrel Aged LSD (Liquid Spiritual Delight). Lots of bourbon barrel in this chocolate heavy imperial stout. It paired well with the Chicken Adobo I ordered from the onsite food option, Guerrilla Street Food. The food was good, the flavor was great and would have paired well with a number of beers on tap; unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed with the presentation.
Favorite Beer: Tie (which I hate!) Bridget and BA LSD were both solid beers.
Least Favorite Beer: Hibiscus Wit. Fine beer, but I’m not a big fan of Hibiscus.
Final Thoughts on 2nd Shift Brewing:
2nd Shift is a great place to go with a group, because they seem to have the most variety in the beers they serve. The food was good and reasonably priced. When I come back to town, if 2nd Shift has some of the variants of Katy available, I will definitely be back. Otherwise, I would expect that I will visit new breweries.
Heavy Riff Brewing Co
Because Heavy Riff was the third brewery of the day for me, I spent the least amount of time there. What I learned in my short time was I absolutely need to go back next time I am in town. Would you believe that in a brewery named “Heavy Riff Brewing Co” there were guitars and music memorabilia all over the place? The icons for each beer on their menu were different types of guitar heads. While I was there, I had a full beer and a taste of 2 or 3 others.
Surprise, surprise, surprise, I ordered another foeder beer and loved it! Apricot Layla was light bodied with apricot on the nose, and tart, funky apricot on the palate.
The other beers I tasted were Velvet Underbrown (a Brown Ale with lactose), Daisy Glaze (a New England IPA), and Nine Tonight (a Strong Belgian Saison with golden raisins and wildflower honey). I really liked the Velvet Underbrown and would have loved to have ordered one, but it had already been a long beer day. When I return to St. Louis, I will go back to Heavy Riff for that beer.
Nine Tonight was very well executed. Daisy Glaze was fine, but as with some of the other “New England IPAs” I had in St Louis, the body of the beer wasn’t quite right. I expected a slightly more creamy mouthfeel than I got; however, it was nice and juicy.
Favorite Beer: Apricot Layla
Most Unique* Beer: Velvet Underbrown – Oatmeal brown ale with lactose
*Unique is a funny word. Normally I would say Apricot Layla (because it’s a foeder beer) but it seems that every brewery in town has a foeder and makes a similar beer. Just because they make a “similar” beer does not mean it is well executed.
Most Surprising Beer: Velvet Underbrown – Oatmeal brown ale with lactose
Final Thoughts on Heavy Riff:
Very good beer and a fairly different atmosphere than the other breweries I visited. I wish I could have had more beer, but I was driving, so no mas. Gots to be responsible yo. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet anyone at the brewery that was above the level of a bartender, I would have liked to hear about the story behind the brewery.
Perennial Artisan Ales
Perennial Artisan Ales is probably the most well-known brewery of those that I visited. It is the only brewery I had any experience with prior to my visit.
Many people are aware of their beer Abraxas, for good reason. Abraxas has multiple variants and I figured I would miss out on all of them, since they are seasonal and limited release beers. The base version of the beer is An Imperial Stout brewed with ancho chili peppers, cacao nibs, and cinnamon sticks. Luckily, I was able to purchase a bottle of Abraxas at the brewery, so I was very happy. I was also lucky enough to trade for a bottle of Vanilla Abraxas during my time at the Side Project beer release.
Favorite Beer: Abraxas – An Imperial Stout brewed with ancho chili peppers, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks. And no, I did not drink the entire bottle. That was to take home!
Most Surprising Beer: She’s Like a Rainbow – American Wild Ale
This beer is being listed as “Most Surprising” because I can’t say I remember having a beer quite like it. She’s Like a Rainbow is a blend of a mixed-culture ale and a cider, both of which were aged in oak and then refermented on raspberries. For me, the beer was surprisingly dry, but I really enjoyed the fruity funkiness that I got on the palate and on the nose.
The beer was good, but it also has a great story behind it. The Perennial Artisan Ales lost a member of their family, Chef Claire, at the end of 2016 to Sarcoma. To honor Claire, the brewers at Perennial blended this beer. The brewery is donating all the profits from the beer to the Patient Care Fund. Multiple members of the Perennial family also cut their hair and donated their ponytails to Wigs for Kids.
Needless to say, my trip to St. Louis was a blast! I’ve been on a few beer trips around the country and this was probably my favorite. It doesn’t matter what kind of beer you like, there is a brewery for you in the greater St Louis area. The retail stores I walked into had a pretty good selection of beers, both in terms of brands and styles. I am not well versed in the beer laws in Missouri, so I’m not sure if “breweries” have to actually have brewpub licenses to sell beer for off-premise consumption or not. What I do know is this, every brewery I went to either sells packaged beers or fills growlers/crowlers for off-premise consumption.
Unlike the big Texas markets, most of the breweries are releasing at least one or two tart or sour beers, as well aged foeder beers. Bourbon barrel aged beers, Double Dry Hopped (DDH) IPAs, and NEIPAs were also very well represented.
If you are looking for a beer destination, I encourage you to consider St Louis. As you make your plans, I recommend you identify a few breweries you want to visit and leave some room in your schedule for recommendations from locals. I always like to ask breweries about their favorite local brewery, excluding their own of course.
If you have questions that are not addressed in the article, feel free to email me at Peter@HoustonBeerScene.com or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter.