St. Louis is located in the State of Missouri on the banks of the Mississippi and is famous for the Gateway Arch and known as the ‘Gateway to the West’. In brewing terms the city is renowned for being the flagship location of Anheuser-Busch who are now part of the AB Inbev conglomerate.
We decided to take at visit to this brewing city at the end of October 2015 to not only see how one of the largest breweries in the world operates but also to check out the craft beer scene.
The day started off with a cancelled flight due to mechanical problems which also impacted our connection in Philadelphia and meant arriving at our destination some 6 hours later than planned.
Morgan Street Brewery
Fortunately we were able to fit in a late night visit to Morgan Street Brewery which was located on the other side of the highway next to our hotel close to the Rams’ football stadium.
Surrounded by folks dressed up in Halloween costumes and brandishing plastic cups we opted for the following taster flight of beers (ratings out of 5):
- Black Bear Lager (4.6%, 26 IBUs, Schwarzbier) – smokey with slight astringency – 2.0
- Oktoberfest Lager (5.5%, 24 IBUs, Oktoberfest) – dark in color and malty flavor – 2.5
- Roggen Lager (7.2%, 22 IBUs, Roggenbier) – light in flavor given the alcohol percentage – 2.5
- Pumpkin Ale (5.7%, 14 IBUs, Spice Beer) – lightly spiced with predominant All Spice – 2.0
- Honey Wheat (4.7%, 16 IBUs, American Wheat Beer) – some honey flavor with lager yeast notes – 2.5
- Virgin Territory (5.5%, 50 IBUs, American IPA) – citrus aroma and hoppy flavor – 3.0*
* denotes our favorite from this sampler flight.
4 Hands Brewing
Next morning we headed south to the highly rated 4 Hands Brewing and arrived 2 minutes before opening time to find a crowd of people waiting and ready.
Some of the bar staff were dressed up for Halloween and seasonal treats were being passed around. The food selection was superb with generous portion sizes.
This brewery did not have sampler flights but you had the choice of ordering a 5oz of any beer or a full pour. Here were our tasting choices:
- Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown (5.5%, 20 IBUs, Brown Ale) – dark chocolate and roasty though no oatmeal flavor – 3.0
- Absense of Light (7.1%, Milk Stout) – this Peanut Butter Chocolate Milk Stout was served with a Reece’s peanut butter chocolate side and has an intense peanut aroma and flavor – 4.0
- Breakfast Beer (5.0%, 19 IBUs, Weizenbock) – burnt caramel followed by banana flavor – 3.5
- Fruitcake (6.5%, Belgian Blonde) – brewed with fruit and baking spices that gave Belgian yeast esters and nutmeg – 4.0
- Chocolate Milk Stout (5.5%, 20 IBUs, Milk Stout) – dark chocolate with slight vanilla flavors – 3.5
- Peacemaker (5.0%, Witbier) – spicy with coriander – 3.5
- Passion Fruit Prussia (4.0%, 8 IBUs, Berliner Weiss) – tart and clean with passion fruit – 4.5*
* denotes our favorite.
This brewery had top quality beer and food – do not miss if you visit St. Louis!
St. Louis is the original location of the macro brewery that is Anheuser-Busch (A-B) which some may ask why go visit them when you are into craft beer? Our response to that is we wanted to see how a brewery operates on a massive scale from a production perspective and also to explore some of the history.
It would be an understatement to say that the Anheuser-Busch complex is massive – the Malt House alone is bigger than the vast majority of large breweries!
We paid $10 each to go on the Day Fresh Tour which took us to visit the Budweiser Clydesdale Paddock & Stables before moving onto the Beechwood Aging Cellar, Brewhouse, and Packaging Facility.
The Clydesdale horses are huge reaching over 6 feet to the shoulder and we were able to see inside the stables which also had some old carriages that are now used for promotional and ceremonial purposes.
The Beechwood Aging Cellar contained large lagering tanks with a capacity of 3600 barrels and each tank contains shaved beechwood in the bottom to increase the surface area for the yeast which is used to carbonate the beer.
Next we moved onto the Brewhouse and were given an overview of the brewing process as well as a sample of Bud Light or Budweiser… most people went for the former… Once inside the Brewhouse itself there was a stark contrast between the old cast iron staircases & railings with the modern shiny stainless steel Brew Kettles.
The Packaging Facility building is 5 stories tall and on each level were bottling and canning lines. To get an idea on how much beer is produced, here are a few quick facts:
- A 12oz bottle is filled in 1/10 second.
- 1,950 x 12oz cans are filled per minute.
- 1,650 x 16oz cans are filled per minute.
- The spent grain that A-B produces is 6% of the total feed for cattle in the USA.
Upon leaving the Packaging Facility we were each given a gift of a 12oz bottle of Bud Light that had been filled that day. Finally we returned to the Biergarten for a complimentary drink using the voucher given during the tour. Our choices were Hoegaarden Witbier and Goose Island Oktoberfest – both owned by Inbev who own Anheuser-Busch.
Square One Brewery
After our tour it was time to stretch our legs and move onto the next location which was Square One Brewery. Here we had a good meal and indulged in two sampler flights.
Mainstay beers sampler:
- Bavarian Weizen (4.69%, 12 IBUs, Weissbier) – a clove aroma and well balanced clove & banana flavor – 3.5*
- Park Avenue Pale Ale (5.5%, 60 IBUs, American Pale Ale) – malty, caramel and citrus – 3.5*
- Irish Stout (5.75%, 35 IBUs, Dry Irish Stout) – roasty and perhaps even slightly smoky aroma with some dark cocoa in the flavor – 3.0
- Single Malt Scotch Ale (5.75%, 40 IBUs, Strong Scotch Ale) – caramel and toffee in the aroma and the flavor has some caramel sweetness with accompanying hop bitterness and a slight smoky finish – 3.5*
Seasonal beers sampler:
- Belgian Dubbel (7.25%, 30 IBUs, Belgian Dubbel) – a slight alcohol sweetness with banana – 3.5*
- Spiced Pumpkin Ale (5.75%, 22 IBUs, Spiced Beer) – a clove dominated Amber Ale – 2.5
- Oktoberfest (5.6%, 32 IBUs, Oktoberfest) – malty with some hop flavor – 3.0
- Maple Stout (5.0%, 35 IBUs) – chocolate and vanilla with some slight roast but no detectable maple – 2.0
* denotes our favorites in the above sampler flights.
When in St. Louis 6-packs from Schlafly are available at most beer retailers and air-side in the airport. They have more than one location in St. Louis and the nearest to us was the taproom.
We had the following in our sampler flight:
- Schwarzbier (4.9%, 25 IBUs) – slightly roasty – 3.0
- Oatmeal Stout (6.0%, 40 IBUs) – roasty without a slick mouthfeel that you would expect in this style – 2.5
- Pumpkin Stout (6.8%, 20 IBUs) – contrasting roastiness with light spice – 2.0
- Pumpkin Ale (8.0%, 16 IBUs, Spiced Beer) – cinnamon dominated with a slick alcohol mouthfeel – 2.5
- Coffee Stout (5.7%, 30 IBUs) – fresh coffee aroma & flavor – 3.5*
- Pale Ale (4.4%, 25%, English Pale Ale) – fruity and caramel notes – 3.0
The following day we returned here for their Bourbon Ale (8.0%, 30 IBUs) and Hefeweizen (4.4%, 16 IBUs) which were both good. As a side note their hot pretzels sticks and queso dip are excellent and great value.
Our second day was brought to a close with a visit to the slightly hard to find Alpha Brewing. This brewery was intriguing as it had a range of more usual ‘alpha’ beers on tap but also a barrel aging program producing their ‘beta’ barrel-aged, esoteric, tart and abstract beers.
The bar counter-top in the tap room was unusual too in that it was covered in coins from various currencies. Interesting to try spot the ones that you recognise.
- Amber Ale (5.0%, 20 IBUs) – malty – 2.5
- Schwarzbier (5.0%, 20 IBUs) – roasty and slightly sour – 2.5
- Belgian Blonde (5.0%, 20 IBUs) – very light and citrussy – 2.5
- Troll Wheatwine (10.0%, 50 IBUs) – intense melon and strong alcohol – 3.0
- For Richer or Porter (6.0%, 20 IBUs) – chocolate dominated – 3.5*
- Wicca Wheat (7.0%, 1 IBU, 100% Brett) – dry and light – 2.0
- Gin Gose (7.0%, 1 IBU, Gose aged in American Gin Barrels) – slightly salty, oaky, complex & lemony – 2.5
- Rose Saison (7.0%, 1 IBU, Saison) – tart, dry, crisp yet flat – 2.0
- Delphian (7.0%, 1 IBU, soured Blonde Ale) – acidic, fruity and rounded with depth – 3.0*
- Sukkot Saison (8.0%, 1 IBU, soured Saison aged on lemons) – dry – 2.5
* denotes our favorites in the above sampler flights.
Urban Chestnut Brewing
Our final day started with going up the Gateway Arch to enjoy the views of Illinois over the Mississippi and the opposite direction the city of St. Louis.
This was followed by a good long walk in the sun to Urban Chestnut Brewing. UCBC focuses on German beer styles and does a fantastic job! We enjoyed time in both the taproom as well as out in the sun in their biergarten.
- Schlossturm (5.2%, 38 IBUs, Dusseldorf Altbier) – caramel and hop bitterness – 3.5
- Grande Pumpion (8.0%, 20 IBUs, Honey Imperial Pumpkin Stout) – based on a Sweet Stout with slight smoke and a hint of honey – 3.0
- Apotheosis (5.3%, 18 IBUs, French Saison) – spicy and fruity – 4.0*
- Count Orlok (5.4%, 22 IBUs, Black Pumpkin Wheat Ale) – lightly spiced which is dominated by nutmeg – 3.0
- Dorfbier (5.2%, 20 IBUs, Munich Dunkel) – a caramel aroma with bread crust flavor – 3.0
- Oktoberfest – a fruity aroma and light body – 3.5
- Braggot (11.0%, 25 IBUs, Russian Imperial Braggot) – brewed in collaboration with Michael Fairbrother of Moonlight Meadery combining malt and honey. A bit roasty and rich with slight honey flavor – 4.0*
- Schnickelfritz (4.8%, 12 IBUs, Bavarian Weissbier) – subtle banana and cloves with a biscuity flavor and buttery aftertaste (in a good way) – 3.5
- Winged Nut (5.4%, 22 IBUs, Signature Chestnut Ale) – predominantly clove and banana flavor due to the Weihenstephan yeast – 3.0
- Zwickel (5.2%, 20 IBUs, Bavarian Style Lager) – smooth and grainy – 3.0
- Stammtisch (5.4%, 36 IBUs, German Pils) – clean, crisp yet ends bitter – 3.0
- Schnickelfritz (4.8%, 12 IBUs, Bavarian Weissbier) – subtle banana and cloves with a biscuity flavor and buttery aftertaste (in a good way) – 3.5*
- denotes our favorites in the above sampler flights.
St. Louis is a great brewing city and our highlights were 4 Hands Brewing and Urban Chestnut Brewing though the others were worthwhile visits too. There are more breweries to see in the city but we restricted ours to those reachable on foot from the downtown area.
If you have any comments or questions please do not hesitate to leave them below.