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Sep 21, 2014

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Route 66 Brewery

November, 2001

By Bobby Bush

Some years ago, the historic St. Louis Union Station was converted into a mall complete with hotel and brewpub. Route 66 Brewery & Restaurant moved into its present railroad station location on May 1, 2000. Founded as Old 66 in May of 1998 in Crestwood, MO by Rao and Shashi Palamand, the brewpub operates under the umbrella of Summit Brewing Group. Rao spent 23 years in R&D at Anheuser-Busch where he helped create some of their most popular brands such as Bud Light and Michelob Classic Dark. After departing A-B, this father and son team, as natives of St. Louis, wanted to build a restaurant in their hometown and brew flavorful beers.

Despite the mall-front property, Route 66 maintains its own atmosphere. An elongated room with long, meandering bar, the brewpub plays up the railroad theme a bit, but it’s really fabled Route 66 that dominates the decor. More on that later. Right now, it’s about beer.

With a hockey game flickering from the tube, we began our sampler tray with Lake Shore Light, a thin banana-ending tricycle beer. Packing a little more punch, Mike Marker Amber Lager was pleasantly balanced with a quick hoppy, bitter finish. Rambling Raspberry Ale presented a huge berry nose, yet this golden ale’s flavor was clean punctuated with non-cloying raspberry texture. River City Red Ale, which according to the bar literature represented “a crossover point into the realm of flavorful beers,” was a well-balanced session beer with just a pinch of sweetness showing through at swallow’s end.

Brewer Steve Sloan’s seasonal Oktoberfest was very traditional. A medium bodied lager, its flavor profile was centered on warming caramel sensation which faded with a sweetish finale. Though over-billed as a “version of the famous IPA [with] a decisive hop bitterness and a dry hoppy finish,” Imperial Pale Ale was basically a highly quaffable, session beer: a nice pale ale and nothing more. We concluding this tasting with Route 66’s Streamline Oatmeal Stout. This big (6.0% abv) dark beer wafted mocha aroma and strong complex flavors dominated by roasted malt. Streamline was a non-bitter, easy-drinking, smooth beer. Very nice. Brewer Sloan’s other seasonal beers, not available during this visit, are American Brown Ale, Great Plains Porter, Continental Wheat Ale and Classic Blonde Ale. Definitely another St. Louis must-see destination.

And now for your history lesson. Route 66 runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. This well-traveled path of yore is known as the “Main Street of America” for its role in the early 1900s traverse of Americans across the country. Route 66 Brewery & Restaurant celebrates this important piece of Americana with décor from a bygone era. Hundreds of pictures and original postcards tell the story of Route 66 from its construction to the attractions, hotels and businesses which sprang up along the way. Wall-sized maps show the exact route the “Mother Road” took, highlighting some of the uniquely American stops along the way. How ‘bout that, beer and history in a pint glass. Enjoy! (This historic info was lifted from the brewpub’s informative website. See w ww.route66brewery.com for the entire story).

And follow the link to "Morgan Street"
for more of St. Louis' brewpub lifestyle.

This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.

© Bobby Bush

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