US - Midwest St Louis Beer Guide

Discussion in 'Beer Travel, Events and Releases' started by beerindex, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. beerindex

    beerindex

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    West Michigan
    Yes, STLHops has a guide, and it is fairly good. But it is a bit out of date, and a bit too neutral (which isn't that helpful if you are from out of town and trying to prioritize).

    Breweries (The Best)
    1) 4 Hands Brewing Co - They have a fairly wide range in beer styles. The do free tours every Saturday. And they offer some damn fine bar food. Beer to try: Contact High.

    2) Perennial - These guys really go out of their way to serve the local beer community in terms of allowing tastings/events to be held there. And on Thursdays they always show off something new on tap. But their brewery-only bottle releases are insane. So if you drive in for one, expect to line up at about 4 AM. Note: Side Project also operates at Perennial, and thus does not have its own entry. It is very much worth drinking their beers when available.

    3) Schlafly - Aka the original craft brewers here (and yes, Tom Schlafly is related to Phyllis Schlafly, though he is much more liberal than her). They are always putting new beers on tap, some of which are pretty damn good. Any rye beer they make is a must-try. And they have recently started making sours that are tap-only. The have two locations, Bottleworks and Taproom. Which has a better tap list varies at any given time, so check out both online. Bottleworks though is in the heart of downtown, and thus a lot to a some of the top bars mentioned below.

    4) Civil Life - If you want more traditional, session-type beers, this is the place to go. Lots of classic German and British brews, in a nice environment. Its owner was the previous owner of 33 Wine.

    Not worth visiting, but you should try on tap or in bottles:
    1) 2nd Shift - This place is pretty far out of your way, and their bottles are plentiful around town. Their best beer, the Green Bird Saison, is brewed exclusively for The Bridge (mentioned below), and is therefore usually available.

    2) Cathedral Square - Their bombers are cheap, and other than Forbidden Fruit, are worth trying. A majority of their line is modeled after traditional Belgian offerings, and are pretty solid. If you want them on tap, Diabolitos always carries them, because they share an owner.

    3) Morgan Street - If you want to hang with drunk fratbros, then by all means, visit this bar in the Arch Landing area. But these days, they can their beer. And some of it is pretty good. They are mostly known for their pilsners (of which they make a few).

    4) Excel - They have only been around as a brewery for a year, before which they were in the craft soda game (they still make that too). Admittedly, I have only tried their Anniversary beer (Ryeday the 13th), but it was delicious.

    The Also-Rans (visit if you have time, but do not prioritize):
    Heavy Riff, Ferguson Brewing Co, Augusta Brewing (a bit of a schlep), Square One.

    Be sure to miss:
    Alpha Brewing Co (which, besides serving crap beer, charges $20 for a brewery tour despite having a setup smaller than some homebrewing operations), Kirkwood Station, Six Row, Tin Mill, Trailhead, and Urban Chestnut.

    Still to come: bottle shops, restaurants, and bars.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
  2. beerindex

    beerindex

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    West Michigan
    Bottle shops (because you can't get to every brewery):

    1) The Wine and Cheese Place - For years now, they have been the uncontested best place in town for beer. They have multiple locations, but their flagship store is on Forsyth. This also means that they are directly across the street from the metrolink in case you didn't rent a car. They also regularly release bourbon barrel aged beers that are brewed exclusively for them by local breweries. And their prices are generally the best. But anything remotely rare goes very quickly.

    2) Friar Tuck's - They are a little overpriced, but the plus side of that is bottles tend to last there longer, whereas they might disappear in minutes at The Wine and Cheese Place.

    3) Randall's - The St Louis locations leave a fair bit to be desired, but their IL location (very close) offers lots of stuff not available in MO (like Hoppin Frog, Lost Abbey, Big Muddy, Southampton, Clownshoes, and Smuttynose).

    4) Plaza Liquor - Again in IL. Like Randall's, they are small, but they do carry beers not seen in St Louis.

    5) Lukas Liquor - Aside from the fact that they don't hold bottles as promised, a fairly good option, though Ellsville is a bit of a drive even compared to some of the IL stores.

    6) Corral Liquors in Wood River - They changed hands this summer, and the new owners are much more responsive to customer feedback, and they have worked well to up their selection. Not a whole lot you can't find elsewhere, but they have been known to have fresh Sculpin.

    7) U-Gas Waterloo - The only gas station in the area (at least that I know of) that carries beer worth drinking, and quite a bit of it.

    Now, allow me to comment on "other places that sell beer"
    -- Whole Foods, here generally, the selection is weak. But they did once have an exclusive Schlafly beer that was damn good.
    -- Schnucks, our major grocery chain, gets the occasional exclusive release from Schlafly. Selection varies heavily by location, but generally the ones in wealthier areas like Des Peres are your best bet.
    -- Starr's is a general gourmet/wine store with some decent beers. Prices are always high, and the owner is widely hated.

    Of course, every place you go will be selling beer, including movie theaters. So this is not meant to be exhaustive.

    Coming soon: Bars and Restaurants
     
  3. beerindex

    beerindex

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    West Michigan
    Bars:

    33 Wine - They only have 8 taps, but damn do they use them well. I have never once gone there and not been able to find at least one tap of a beer that is new to me. They also have a very solid bottle list. They keep a low profile, so you never know when they'll land something rare, but they have a solid track record. For example, they had both Black Damnation III and Black Damnation IV on tap at various points.

    International Taphouse - They have several locations, but the best selection tends to be at Soulard (which has a great pizza place next door). You can get whatever you like as a flight. Generally one of the strongest selections.

    The Bridge - This is THE place to get beer. Around 60 taps, and you can buy anything as a 4 oz, 12 oz, 20 oz, or 64 oz pour. Though, if you do go for a growler fill, bring your own, because they use clear glass. From time to time, they get some pretty special stuff, like Black Biscuit or NB Love variants. And because they share an owner with a couple of other area eateries, they have "exclusive" beers from Perennial, 2nd Shift, and 4 Hands.

    Cicero's - Huge bottle selection, relatively large tap list, but not a ton of it rotates. So be weary of ordering any style that doesn't age well. Also, because it is mostly a college bar, it can get obnoxiously loud. Pro-tip: eat at U-City Grille, the hole-in-the-wall Korean place next door (which is cash only, but Cicero's has an ATM).

    Hair of the Dog - One of the few non-frat bars on Washington Ave (the core of our downtown area), they tend to have some pretty good beers in bottles and on taps. Very competitive on prices. And with their new expansion, they have one of the best bathrooms of any bar I've seen.

    Nick's Pub - With the smoking ban, there are not many places you can drink while smoking inside. This is one of them. The place is a very low rent dive bar, but in recent years they have added considerably to their tap list. I think they are up to 80 taps now.

    Three Kings - Not nearly as good Riddle's, the bar it replaced. But pick it over Cicero's if you're on the Loop, because their beer is fresher, and they tend to have better quality beers than Cicero's.

    SOHA - This place is just turning one. And it's happy hour is one of the best deals around.

    Flying Saucer - Lots of taps, not very interesting. But I guess if you're catching a Cardinal's game and cannot be bothered to hit The Bridge or Hair of the Dog, it'll do.

    Global Brew Taphouse - Basically an iTap knockoff for the Metro East.

    Up next: Restaurants
     
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  4. end 0)))

    end 0)))

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    No love for Urban Chestnut? They do a great job in the IPA zone....
     
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  5. beerindex

    beerindex

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    West Michigan
    Personally, I have yet to enjoy anything I have had from them. But they were a fairly major brewery to forget to mention, so I'll fix that.
     
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  6. beerindex

    beerindex

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    West Michigan
    Iron Barley - Very much a dive, and it is overpriced for what it is, both in terms of food and more limited bottles. That said, most people enjoy their food, and they are definitely solid on the beer front.

    Farmhaus - One of the city's highest profile establishments, this place is very high end, and fairly expensive. They are also very small, so you would be wise to make a reservation first. No draught beer, but they do have a fantastic bottle list. And Perennial makes Brews For the Crews exclusively for them.

    Bigelo’s Bistro - The go-to eatery for beer fans in the Metro East. They are especially well known for making very good pizza.

    Pi - Personally, I am not nuts about their pizza, but many others disagree (Obama included). They have several different locations. And they get exclusive beers made for them like Schlafly Pi Commons.

    The Good Pie - They have gone way down hill ever since Marcoot became their cheese source. Still, if you want neapolitan pizza in the city, this is as close as you will get to the real thing. But their beer list is always good, if slightly overpriced. FYI, it relocated from Midtown (by Saint Louis University) to University City (by Washington University)

    Mangia Italiano - A step up from places like the Olive Garden or the Macaroni Grill, but not on par with the better Italian establishments on the Hill. But really, the main draw is their very large tap list.

    Pearl Cafe - Yes Virginia, you can find Asian restaurants with a good beer selection. Well, at least one. Over 200 beers.

    Baileys' Range - From the man who brought you The Bridge. Some of the best burgers in the area. And they offer 30 beers on draught, of which over 90% are local. And if you've got kids with you, fear not, they have an incredible selection of craft soda too.

    Pastaria - Not the best beer selection in town, but this is Gerard Craft's first real attempt at offering a proper beer selection. And the pasta is the best you'll find in the city. Be forewarned: they do not take reservations, so unless you go for opening or towards the end of the night, expect a fairly long wait.

    Blues City Deli - One of our most acclaimed delis, and the one with the best beer offerings. Fucking amazing chips selection too.

    Gringos - The food sucks. But, if you care to try it, they do serve grasshopper tacos. And they have three exclusive beers from Schlafly on tap at all times.
     
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  7. Jaminjohnson

    Jaminjohnson

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    Apr 12, 2013
    Location:
    Inside the sharknado
    You put heavy riff in that category? They don't even sell their own beer yet since they just opened...
     
  8. beerindex

    beerindex

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    West Michigan
    I did not know that. I figured by now they would have their own stuff on tap. I included them because they showed up at Vintage Vinyl during the last Record Day and were pouring two of their beers, both of which were serviceable but nothing to write home about.
     
  9. Jaminjohnson

    Jaminjohnson

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    I think you should probably visit an establishment and try their offerings before passing judgment like that.
    It would have been illegal for them to brew there with out a license and they had so many delays they just wanted to get open so they have guest taps on for a few weeks and brewed a beer at excel to help speed things up
     
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  10. end 0)))

    end 0)))

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    Sep 30, 2013
    Unbelievable that you would put Urban Chestnut in the "avoid" category. I live in Portland, OR and travel to SL frequently as a RAMS season ticket holder. UC is absolutely the best SL brewery that I have encountered for APA and IPA style beers. And I make a concerted effort to suss out all of the local spots when I am in town. This really discredits, to me, the recos that you have otherwise offered here. I have been to most of the listed recommended places and have a hard time seeing the excellence that your reviews suggest. Perhaps it is simply a matter of taste.
     
  11. Jaminjohnson

    Jaminjohnson

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    While I don't agree with the hoppy beers part, I do believe they make great German style beers which is their specialty. Just my opinion though.
     
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  12. bluedevil

    bluedevil

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    Oct 5, 2013
    I'm not sure I see what's wrong with the STL Hops list being "too neutral". Everyone has different tastes and it's already been pointed out here that some people don't agree with yours. I'll add to those by saying that 2nd Shift makes some damn fine IPAs, an awesome brett beer (Katy), and a great Hibiscus Wit. Green Bird is good, but far from their best beer IMO. I also will take iTap over Bridge 7 days a week and that's a no brainer to me. To each their own.
     
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  13. beerindex

    beerindex

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    West Michigan
    Nothing per se. Obviously people are free to disagree with me, or to consult said list (which was the primary aim in mentioning it). But my thinking is simply that St Louis has an abundance of options, and visitors tend to in town for a fairly short window of time, so they need to prioritize. Were I in such a position, I would want definitive opinions, because it makes it a lot easier to maximize the quality of one's trip. The obvious shortcoming here that this site is not Yelp, so the list reflects my preferences rather than the group average. Fortunately, anybody is free to comment, and thus express their differing opinion on whatever entity I mentioned.
     
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  14. CharlieMurphy

    CharlieMurphy

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    Jun 7, 2013
    Location:
    Tahoe
    I love Urban Chestnut
     
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  15. stljonathan

    stljonathan

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    Oct 2, 2013
    To get a quick hit of StL's local draft list, I agree that the Bridge's 4 oz drinks are the way to go. iTap has great lists, but no real sampler option and their local list isn't as great as the Bridge. Can't really watch sports there where as that's what iTap is all about.
     
  16. Surlydawson

    Surlydawson

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    I agree urban chestnut lacks in pretty much all off their beers including IPA. Truly 2nd shift (rat salad, AON, El gato grande, brew cocky) and 4 hands ( divided sky, resurrection, war hammer) have the best IPAs in town. I have yet to enjoy a UC beer all are underwhelming especially their IPA. I am hopeful more breweries pop up around town and make is into one of the leasing craft beer cities.
     
  17. FTowne

    FTowne

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    I would say that Schlalfy American IPA and TIPA are two of the best IPA's to come out of STL. Of course, that's just my humble opinion.
     
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  18. FTowne

    FTowne

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    Agreed.
     
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  19. Os

    Os

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    Apr 5, 2013
    Location:
    NJ
    this seems a little old now... anyone have a list of bars and restaurants? thinking a 3 night trip that is mostly about Side Project Cellar and some good food...
     
  20. tripsforjoe

    tripsforjoe

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2014
    Location:
    Edgewood, KY (Cincinnati)
    There is plenty of drinking to do at the Cellar. Just get in line at Bogart's now. It's the best thing in STL, hands down.