By Bobby Bush
St. Louis is one of those cities and Missouri one of those states that have eluded my
brewery pursuits for too many years. The state has about 16 brewpubs, 25% of which are
in or near St. Louis. So, four it was and four it would be on this early fall afternoon.
Saint Louis Brewery and Tap Room begin operation in 1991 in a sprawling
three-story factory of a building with two bars and plenty of nooks and crannies containing
such niceties as darts, pool tables and a beer garden. Much of head brewer Steven Hale’s
brewhouse sits on the main floor, though most of his fermenters and conditioning tanks
reside in the basement. Two fermenters protrude through the older bar’s floor.
We sampled eight beers in the new (circa 1998) bar and four others in the original
barroom. Schlafly is the brand name for all of St. Louis’ beers. Brewer Hale’s
Hefeweizen was watery yellow in appearance and soft citrus in its flavor presentation.
With only 25% wheat in the malt bill, Wheat Ale was a pleasing, nicely hopped drink.
Brilliant gold in hue, Pilsner was sourly hopped with sweetish finish, while Pale Ale was
mild in taste with a hint of chocolate hiding in its lightly hopped texture. It’s the St. Louis
brewpub’s best selling beer.
Seasonal Oktoberfest was thoroughly caramel, medium bodied with swift dry
finish. Another seasonal, English Mild was smooth with sort of a twangy bitter taste and
biting end. Definitely a lager, Schwarzbier was chestnut brown in color and mostly bland
in taste with an underlying dark caramel foundation. Oatmeal Stout faired better. Big
body with mild smooth flavor, this near-black beer began bitter before fading to
semi-sweet chocolate mid-taste.
Our duty done on one side, we found several different beers and a friendlier
bartender on the other side of the building. Served cask conditioned, English Mild was
adorned with a thin white head of foam. Medium bodied and smooth in mouthfeel, this
version was better balanced than its carbonated brethren with subtle orange finish.
Kolsch, which the bartender warned had “been around a while,” proffered a
sweet-and-sour tangy punch mid-mouth and a nice, light bitter finish. Thinner than the
Kolsch, Helles was intriguingly smooth. Maltiness followed by hoppy bitterness, Helles
left with a faint floral finish. Flower nose, thin and cloudy, Witbier was slightly spicy,
closing with brief dryness.
Because of space limitations and legal reasons, Schlafly bottled beers have been
contract brewed by August Schell Brewery in New Ulm, Minnesota since 1996. St.
Louis Brewery recently announced that they would soon be bringing Schlafly home.
They’ve located a local building for their own microbrewery. When operational, the new
facility will sell bottled and kegged Schlafly beers. The Tap Room will still be functional
as a bar, restaurant and brewery.
Though we were several weeks late for the event, St. Louis Brewery stages an
interesting and unique festival of their own each year. Labeled “Hops in the City,” the
brewpub holds in reserved one keg of each beer brewed during the past twelve months.
All are tapped at this big anniversary celebration. The 2001 fest featured 35 different
Schlafly beers and live music. Chili, pretzels, bratwurst and other food were available, as
were brewery tours and brewing demonstrations.
On a more regular basis, the Locust Street brewpub publishes a monthly
newsletter, hosts bands every weekend and has plenty of room for private parties. Several
seasonal beers are always available. And their website - www.schlafly.com - is extremely
informative. Definitely a must-see St. Louis tourist spot. Celebrating ten years in business
and growing, St. Louis Brewery and Tap Room has a lot to offer.
And so does the rest of this marvelous city. Follow along @ "Route 66 Brewery."
This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush