I’m just going to put it to you straight.
As far as culture goes in the STL area, the “bedroom community” (and my hometown) of St. Charles is not known for much. Unless you count wicker baskets and historical re-enactments as culture. As far as good beer goes, St. Charles has one “microbrewery” (Trailhead… although no one serious about beer ever really considers Trailhead) and about three “beer bars” (The Old Millstream Inn –awesome, Llywellyn’s Pub –whose beer list is largely AB-InBev products, and R.T. Weiller’s— although it seems people typically go to R.T.’s for the food and discover that they have a decent beer list). No one comes to St. Charles for beer. However, that might be changing.
For the past two months, I have been attending what Picasso’s Coffee House owner Chris Schulte has dubbed “Beer U”–an attempt at educating the masses about good beer (Full Disclosure: Beer U was a collaboration between Chris and myself–inasmuch as I begged Chris to do it 🙂) In a recent conversation, Chris talked about how beer–and specifically craft beer–fits in with his entrepreneurial vision. He said:
“At Picasso’s, we cater to the connoisseur. This person is looking for a beverage that is out of the ordinary, prepared with great care and skill. [Our] coffee and espresso beverages are truly unique…Similarly, in offering a beer and wine menu, we are try to cater to that same connoisseur (perhaps at a different time of day)… In tasting these drinks, we are all interested in the preparation or creation of these beverages. We taste them and look for body, finish and unique qualities in the beverage that set it apart from others.”
Beer U is an effort to broaden the horizons of the people who walk in the door. It attempts to take something that most people view as pedestrian (beer) and elevate it a bit. Much like what Picasso’s has done with coffee.
I must say that the Beer U events that I have attended (one in February and one in March) have been entertaining and informative. Representatives from the beer distributors come in and talk about a specific brewery. In February, we learned about Abita and in March, Sierra Nevada. I think wherever you find yourself on the Beer Geek Spectrum, you would definitely get something out of the evening. If nothing else, it’s a good way to meet like-minded Beer Geek individuals.
Tonight (April 27th, 2011) the featured brewery will be our neighbors to the West, Boulevard Brewing Company. We will be tasting some of the Smokestack Series (some of Boulevard’s best beers in my opinion). I even heard a rumor via Facebook that the distributor is bring some Chocolate Ale with him. Should be a great night. Come on out and get your Beer U knowledge for the month!
20 bucks gets you tastes of all the beers, appetizers from Frankie Tocco’s Pizzeria, Boulevard SWAG and tickets for three beers of your choice after the tasting is complete.
(Update– Tonight’s Boulevard beers: Saison Brett Batch 2009, Chocolate Ale, Bourbon Barrel Quad, Seeyoulater Doppelbock 2009, and Dark Truth Stout. Awesome dark and heavy lineup!)
Picasso’s Coffee House
101 North Main Street
St. Charles, MO 63301-2826
Lucky four day weekend for this beer drinker. And iTap’s Stone release event started it off. I think I counted about 6 or 7 deep at the bar. Waited 30 minutes to unsuccessfully get a (second) beer. Was a little disappointed in the service at iTap, but not in the beer.
Yes! I…sorry Goose…WE (my wife and I) are going to the Stone Brewing Company “Total Tap Takeover” at iTap in Soulard (and the fact that I am off work for Good Friday the next day, makes April 21 Better Thursday). According to their website, of the 40 taps that iTap has, 24 of them will be dedicated to Stone. The list:
- Stone IPA
- Stone Pale Ale
- Stone Levitation Ale
- Stone Smoked Porter
- Arrogant Bastard Ale
- OAKED Arrogant Bastard Ale
- Stone Cali-Belgique IPA
- Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale
- Stone Ruination IPA
- Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2011
- Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2010
- Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2009
- Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine 2007
- Stone Old Guardina BELGO Barley Wine
- Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2010
- Stone 14th Anniversary Ale
- Double Bastard Ale 2010
- DDH Stone IPA
- DDH Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale
- Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean
- Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle
- Stone Smoked Porter Aged in Bourbon Barrels
- Arrogant Bastard Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels
- Stone Imperial Russian Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels 2008
I have only ever had Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, so this is going to be a treat. My only problem will be deciding which Stone beers to try–I can’t possibly try them all can I?
Help me out… What have you had and what should I try first?
For a little over a year now, my wife and I have been holding regular beer tasting
parties at our house. We call the get-togethers Beer Snobs Unite! The idea is not to get together and bash the macrobreweries or those who are not as enlightened as us (as the name might suggest), but to get together and celebrate the wide range of tastes and styles of beer…and of course to drink it.
Left Hand Milk Stout
The premise is that each month there is a theme (previous themes have been, Seasonals, Most Offensive/Humorous Name, Beers of Missouri, etc.) and each person brings a snack and a six pack (or equivalent thereof) and we taste each beer in turn. The members are responsible for introducing their beer to the group (such introductions have ranged from summaries of wikipedia entries, reading directly from the six pack carrier, rate beer reviews… even food pairings), then we taste, comment (most of the time briefly) and move on to the next one.
This month, in honor of Valentine’s Day, the theme was a beer you love. The
timing was wrong for me to get some Hopslam, so I chose the next best thing (from Bell’s that is): Two Hearted Ale. I actually didn’t particularly like this beer the first time I had it (way back when the only IPA I had ever had was O’Dell IPA). Now I consider it my “go to beer” in most situations. If there isn’t anything new to get or I just want a solid great tasting beer, I reach for the Two Hearted. My wife, couldn’t be more opposite on the taste spectrum than me, but much like Communism and Fascism, more unites us than divides us. She chose the newly released seasonal, Founder’s Imperial Stout. We both first had this beer about a year ago and we fell in love with it (she more than me, admittedly, though I have stated before in this blog that I love Founder’s Imperial Stout). She calls it “liquid motor oil goodness…” and you can’t buy a better endorsement than that.
I want to give a couple brief tasting notes on each of the beers that we had for the tasting…no full review because in most cases I only had a taster’s worth.
The other beers of the night were (in the order of appearance):
- Rogue Dead Guy Ale: Always a solid beer. No frills, just great taste. It was a great way to start the night. Read more of my thoughts here.
- Magic Hat No. 9: I’m not the biggest fan of No. 9, but there’s nothing wrong with it. It has a distinct apricot taste that I think you either like or dislike. That said, it was a pretty decent follow-up to Dead Guy.
- Founder’s Imperial Stout: Amy was anxious to taste hers since it had been almost a year since we had it, so we tasted this one earlier than I had planned. The consensus of pretty much everyone present was that this was an awesome beer. There was an audible, collective gasp as she poured the first motor oil taster.
- Bell’s Porter: This was my first time tasting this beer and I have to say it was a very solid Porter. Nice color and a good mouthfeel. I could definitely see myself getting one of these again.
- Left Hand Milk Stout: I love this beer and I always forget that I do. It has such a pleasantly thick mouthfeel and caramel roastiness. Its low ABV and very smooth taste make this a very “sessionable” beer even if you couldn’t define it as such.
- Schlafly Coffee Stout: I’ve talked about my love for Schlafly’s Coffee Stout before. This night was no different. A nice pleasant balanced coffee stout. This is one of Schlafly’s best beers.
- Bell’s Two Hearted Ale: Choosing beers for a tasting is kind of like making a mix tape. You have to plan what’s coming next based on what’s been before. I saw that we had, like, 5 different IPAs in the fridge and I knew that switching straight from the coffee stout to an IPA might be dangerous. So I had a decision to make. Do I risk folks thinking that one of the beers is bad solely based on the fact that they had it after some dark beers –I mean at some point you have to make the break, right? Or do I just bite the bullet and use my wonderful, floral piece of IPA heaven as the sacrificial lamb? What are hosts for? 🙂
- O’Dell IPA: If my memory serves me correctly (and very often it
The beer that started it all...
doesn’t), this was the first true craft beer I had ever had in my life. I had tasted Blue Moon, Tsingtao and other so-called macro-crafts before, but nothing like this beer. This will forever be the beer that changed it all for me.
- Milwaukee’s Best Light (yes…The Beast): This was pretty predictably and universally panned by everyone present. The claim to fame was that 2 Tallboys of Beast light and a pack of smokes costs less than most of the beers that everyone else bought. The taste was exactly as I had left it in college: thin, watery, and an overwhelming (to me at least) taste of pear.
- Caldera IPA: This one was a new one for me. Very fresh and crisp. A lot of grapefruit in the nose and taste. I will be looking for this one again.
- Blue Moon: Blueberries!
- Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA: I think this is a great beer, but I didn’t get a lot of the “extra” part of the Extra IPA, just a nice malty and decently bitter beer.
- Deschutes Jubelale: One of the attendees has a friend who lives in Austin, TX and was able to send some Deschutes up to him. I liked this one a lot. I really would have liked to have a whole bottle to myself 🙂
- Deschutes Black Butte Porter: There was only one bottle of this one available, so I didn’t get much. It was also get later and then night and my memory gets a little fuzzy 🙂 The only thing I remember is that I didn’t like it as much as Bell’s.
- And a Schlafly mix-a-six which incuded Kolsch, Oatmeal Stout, Pale Ale, and Scotch Ale: I got even less of each of these beers than I did of the Deschutes Black Porter. Luckily I have had all of these beers before. All of them are solid selections from Schlafly.
These parties have been instrumental in my quest for deeper understanding of beer and since I have now figured out how to wrap my head around the concept of pacing when you are drinking 14-18 types of beers from 4 oz. taster glasses :), are a fun diversion from the workaday world. Thanks to all the fellow Beer Snobs who have helped make it possible!
Posted in Beer, Beer Events, Beer Snobs Unite!, MO, STL, Tastings
Tagged Beer, beer snob, Beer Snobs Unite!, Bell's, craft beer, Founder's Brewing, MO, Porter, Schlafly, Sierra Nevada, STL, tasting, Urban Chestnut
In 2010, Draft Magazine listed McGurk’s as the best beer bar in St. Louis. For their 2011 list of Best Beer Bars in America, Draft Magazine seems to have beefed up the STL scouts. Two of the best “beer bars” in St. Louis, iTap and Bridge, finally made it onto the list. With nearly 700 beers available between them, these two spots are the most obvious choices in St. Louis.
Congrats to both Bridge and iTap for the well deserved recognition!
While most of the beer news in St. Louis has been the amount of new brew pubs opening up, there are still quite a few beer bars to choose from in the area. My additions to the “Beer Bar” list for St. Louis, would be the same as last year:
The Stable (http://www.thestablestl.com/)– The fine folks at Stable are definitely doing something right. Their most recent beer event (tapping a cask of Bell’s Hopslam) saw more than 200 people in attendance and a blown cask in 42 minutes.
Cicero’s (http://ciceros-stl.com/)– Cicero’s continues to be a solidly diverse beer bar that offers free beer school on Wednesdays.
33 Wine Bar (http://www.33wine.com/)– Don’t let the “wine bar” in the name fool you, this is one of the better kept beer secrets in STL. They have no sign in front of their Lafayette Square location and, honestly, don’t really need one. Most of their marketing seems to be from word of mouth and Twitter and from the strength of their awesome beer list.
Posted in Beer, Beer Bar, Beer Events, Brew Pub, MO, STL
Tagged Best Beer Bar in STL, Bridge, Cicero's, craft beer, iTap, MO, Stable, STL
It eludes again.
Canadian Breakfast Stout.
Founder’s I love you.
On Sunday November 21, 2010, Stable will host the Breakfast of Breakfasts. From Stable:
This is a beer lovers dream! We’ll open up for brunch at 9:30 am and along with our delicious brunch menu, we’ll be serving Founders Breakfast Stout, Kentucky Breakfast Stout and Canadian Breakfast Stout. You decide if you want to pour them over your waffles.
What an amazing event. Founders Breakfast Stout would be enough of a reason to get out of bed on its own, but throw in the coveted Kentucky Breakfast Stout, very rare Canadian Breakfast Stout and mix it with Stable’s awesome brunch menu and you’ve got yourself a reason to nurse your hangover from the STL Hops Anniversary Party.