Tag Archives: Stable

Draft Magazine Gets it Right

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.


Hopslammed!: Bell’s Hopslam (2011)

Worth the hype?

Bell’s Hopslam
Style: Double India Pale Ale
ABV: 10%
100% on RateBeer

So let’s just get this out of the way.  This beer is 18 bucks a six pack.  Yes.  $18.  That’s like wine prices.  3 bucks per bottle makes this beer more expensive than most bar prices of Bud Light/Select/Weiser/Wheat/Dry/Ice.  That said, this beer, in so many ways, is not for the faint of heart.  But I promise you, if you take the financial leap your taste buds will thank you.  (Well….maybe that’s not entirely true.  If you are not a fan of the IPA style you probably won’t like this beer.  Also if your thing is to drink a whole lot of beer at once because you’re still living vicariously through the memory of your college days when the beer tasted like water, there are other beers for you.   At 10% ABV and nearly double the price of most sixes of “good beer”, Hopslam is meant to be enjoyed and, dare I say, cherished.)

Hopslam also seems to be one of the more sought after beers in the area, despite its price.  It is only released as a seasonal and is therefore limited.  There’s a good chance that even as I write this that St. Louis retailers might be dry.  I got mine at Bombay Wine and Spirits in St. Charles and it was the second to the last six pack of two cases that had only come in an hour before.  The Wine and Cheese Place tweeted that Hopslam was finally in stock on January 18th and then tweeted again shortly thereafter that they were sold out.  The Stable tweeted today that they were tapping a cask of Hopslam tonight (1/21) at 6 pm, which is sure to go extremely quickly.  Now, this may be a case of Bell’s shorting supply to increase demand–like Cabbage Patch Kids, Tickle Me Elmos, and the Wii–but when you taste it, it’s hard to argue that Hopslam is merely hype.  This is a good beer.

The first thing that hits you when you pour the beer, is the floral aroma of the hops.  It’s sweet and citrusy, but definitely hints at the bitterness to come.  If you’re not a fan of IPA bitterness, this will definitely drive you away.  However,  if you are adventurous your pioneering spirit is rewarded with an extremely balanced and fresh tasting hoppy treat.  Grapefruit and honey.  Peach and Pine tree.  And a nice hop bite on the back end.  And you will never realize this beer is 10%.  There is no alcohol burn during any part of the tasting.  It is easy drinking and smooth.

Hopslam is a fantastic beer–one that I wait for each year, but I don’t think I would recommend it to everyone.  This is mostly because I’m selfish and that would push demand even higher 🙂 , but also because I don’t really think this beer is for everyone.  If you aren’t a fan of bitter beers, you aren’t going to like this and it will possibly turn you off of the IPA style altogether (I would recommend a Founder’s Centennial IPA or if you want to get local an O’Fallon 5 Day IPA those are much more akin to “gateway” IPAs than Hopslam).  This is a serious beer for serious beer drinkers with a fairly steep entry fee.  But I promise you….it’s worth it.

The following band, Sleigh Bells, is an acquired taste–and I’ll be honest, I haven’t really acquired it yet–but I love the sound of this song and thought it would pair nicely with a bottle of Hopslam….plus the band has the word Bells in it so it totally fits 🙂  Here is “Rill Rill” by Sleigh Bells:

“Breakfast of Breakfasts” at Stable

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.

Best “Beer Bar” in St. Louis?

In September, Draft Magazine published a list of the 150 Best Beer Bars of 2010.  They “scoured the country from Alaska to Hawaii and Portland, Maine to Portland, Ore., to find the bars where you’re guaranteed to sip unmatched suds.”  For St. Louis, they picked McGurk’s Irish Pub and Garden.

This is, if not a completely wrong choice, at the very least an odd one.  McGurk’s is definitely a good bar/pub/restaurant.  I’ve had great food there and have enjoyed a beer by the fire in their “garden”.  But the fact that they have an amazing patio, good Irish pub food and a substantial client base, notwithstanding, I don’t think anyone in St. Louis would call this a “Beer Bar.”

From the article:

St. Louis
Irish imports don’t come strictly in the form of beer at this 31-year-old pub; McGurk’s also brings in the Emerald Isle’s musicians to play its stage seven nights a week. Pouring 80 beers in all, the beer list predictably pours Guinness and Belhaven Wee Heavy, but rounds out with offerings from Schlafly and Odell. Sample the house beer, McGurk’s Irish Ale, in the 8,000-square-foot garden with the pub’s legendary fish and chips, or a bowl of Mrs. McAteer’s Potato Soup. 1200 Russell Blvd., mcgurks.com

In my estimation, a “beer bar” should be a bar with the philosophy of “furthering the culture of craft beer” at the forefront of its business, not just a place you can get a good beer.  Anyone can stock an Imperial Stout but it takes true guts to be a bar in STL that stocks an Imperial Stout and which doesn’t even sell Bud Light.

Here are some “Beer Bars” in St. Louis getting it right:

iTap is by far the front runner in the STL Beer Bar scene.  They have two locations (Chesterfield and Soulard), nearly 500 beers available (40 or so on an ever-changing tap) and a multitude of special events that bring craft beer to the masses.  If you haven’t experienced iTap, change this fact now.

Cicero’s has 53 beers on tap.  153 in bottles.  And have been around for 30 years.  Their Beer School aims to educate its students on the “many varieties, flavors, and intricate ways of the brewer’s craft.”  Plus it’s free (the school–not the beer).

A relative newcomer to the scene, Bridge serves up 250+ beers with 55 of those on tap.  Bridge holds quarterly beer dinners that serves the foodies and beer geeks alike with great beer and great food.

Stable almost doesn’t fit into the category of beer bars in that they are also a microbrewery (Amalgamated Brewing).  However, their guest taps are plenty and are ALWAYS great.  Stable doesn’t merely carry other brewers’s beers to fill some hole that the brewery itself is unable to fill (e.g. Paulaner Oktoberfest around Oktoberfest time).  Instead, they seem to be saying, “Here are our beers to sample.  But please have some of these fantastic beers as well.”

33 Wine Shop and Tasting Bar
Don’t let the name fool you, this is a Beer Bar.  Located in a nondescript building –with no sign– in Lafayette Square, 33 Wine has an extremely impressive beer list.    The back patio, which connects to Bailey’s Chocolate Bar, lends itself to drinking and general merriment.