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Archive for September, 2007

Here’s your Friday STL beer update:

Here’s a list of upcoming beer events:

I’m hoping to stop by both the Oktoberfest and the Fall Harvest Festival this weekend, both should be a lot of fun. I also plan on attending the Slow Food STL Kitchen Clutter BBQ this weekend, should be a beautiful weekend for a BBQ. Whatever you do this weekend make sure to enjoy some good beer.

The St. Louis Brews, one of the local St. Louis homebrewing clubs will be holding their monthly meeting on October 4th.  Their new meeting location is the Annunciation Church in Webster Groves.

The next club meeting will be Thursday, October 4, 2007. Styles of the month are Octoberfest, Vienna & Dark German Lagers. We will hold a Club-Only Competition for Categories 4B-Munich Dunkel and 4C-Schwarzbier (Black Beer). 

I guess I’ll need to put one of these lists together eventually, but for the time being we’ll go over what the RFT chose for the best beer items in St. Louis. We’ll start with the easy ones:

Best Beer Selection in a Bar (2007)
Erato

Beware a bar that offers you the Bible-size tome of available beers. Do you have the time to search through that many choices? How confident are you that your bartender really knows the difference between, say, a dubbel and a doppelbock? The beer selection at Erato falls into that ideal range: long and varied enough to catch your attention, focused enough to keep it. Start with the tap selection: Paulaner Hefeweizen, Grimbergen Dubbel, Lindeman’s Framboise. (You might even find O’Fallon Smoked Porter, a cult favorite and former RFT Best Beer winner, on tap.) Serious beers. The one concession to “popular” taste? Guinness. The bottled selections are no slouch, either: the great Belgian beer Duvel; La Fin du Monde and several other fantastic selections from Quebec’s Unibroue; and a few of American brewer Rogue’s more intriguing varieties, Chipotle Ale and Morimoto Soba Ale. Once you’ve worked your way through the list, you’ll just want to start all over again from the beginning. You might not need another bar, ever again.

I’ve actually never been to Erato, so I’m going to trust the RFT’s judgment on this one. I took a quick look at Erato’s beer selection and it looks pretty nice so I’m leaning to agree with this 14620120.jpgchoice. I’ll even say that I agree with them that having a telephone sized beer menu doesn’t do much good to the average beer drinker if you don’t have a staff that is very knowledgeable when it comes to beer.

Which is why when people ask me where my favorite place to get a beer in St. Louis I usually tell them Bailey’s Chocolate Bar. It’s obvious that when they put the beer selection together at Bailey’s it’s done with a purpose, it’s not just adding another pils onto the menu so they can claim to have the most beer choices. (Oh, and while we’re at it RFT, why does wine get a special spot in the restaurant section while the beer is relegated to the Bars/Clubs part? C’mon…)

Best Homebrew Shop (2007)
St. Louis Wine & Beermaking

So there’s more to drinking than happy hours and hangovers. Liquor, you’ve learned, is a universe far larger than Jäger – a universe of tannins, acids, fruits and oak. You’ve realized, over the years, that winemaking is an endlessly fascinating process, crafted with one part art, one part science – and now you, too, want to be a vintner. First stop: St. Louis Wine & Beermaking, a great little shop in Chesterfield that has all you’ll need to get your bacchanal on. From simple winemaking kits to advanced reflectoquant meters and microscopes, the helpful staff will guide you each step of the way. You say beermaking’s your bag? They’ve got that covered too, with a full complement of barley, malt and hops. Time to take your drinking to the next level.

Absolutely no complaints about this, St. Louis Wine & Beermaking is the best homebrew shop in St. Louis and I’m happy to see homebrewing getting a little bit of recognition.

Now let’s move onto the one choice that’s sticking in my craw:

Best Beer (2007)
Wheach
O’Fallon Brewery

Yee-haw! Hey, everybody, it’s me: the Wheach peach. Surely you’ve seen my likeness emblazoned on a six-pack of O’Fallon Brewery’s fine summer brew. That’s right: I’m the li’l guy who looks like the lovechild of Pac-Man and Scooter the Talking Baseball. But I’m all peach, baby, and you need only one sip to fall for me. Not to knock my buddies at O’Fallon – Pumpkin Beer, you’re autumnal happiness in a glass, and Cherry Chocolate Beer, you are sumptuously sexy (call me!) – but I truly am the greatest. I combine two of summer’s most singular pleasures: biting into a juicy, freshly picked peach and sipping a crisp, smooth wheat beer. Tempted? Of course you are. Go ahead and have a taste. First you’ll get the sweet-tart notes of a peach at its prime, then the tongue-tingling delight of a perfectly crafted microbrew. You should expect nothing less from me, or from the good people at O’Fallon Brewery. You won’t find me in every season, of course. But when you do see me, you’ll know that the long, sultry days of summer have come ’round again at last. I gotta say it once more: Yee-haw!

Let me start by saying that I love O’Fallon Brewery, I think they make two of the best beers that St. Louis has to offer (more on that in a bit) but unfortunately in my opinion Wheach isn’t one of them. I’ll admit that having a hot dog while drinking a Wheach on a hot summer day isn’t too bad, but when I’m drinking it on its own I find that the peach flavor in the beer is kind of synthetic tasting. Brewing and selling fruit beers can be a difficult thing, if your beer says “fruit” people will be expecting it to taste like fruit. From there it’s a difficult balancing act that to me requires a subtle fruit flavor while not overpowering the malt. After all you want to remember you’re drinking a beer.

Now, my choice for best beer in St. Louis right now is O’Fallon’s 5 Day IPA. I’m not a huge hop-head, I find that many breweries nowadays are trying to one-up each other when it comes to hops. It’s almost seems like a game to see who can pack the most bitterness in a bottle. This does nothing for me. But O’Fallon has come out with an IPA that not only has a hop bitterness, but also is a refreshing drinkable beer. It’s a well crafted beer that has you craving more after you’ve finished your first glass.

Now I also know that no brewery is going to get by selling IPAs and Smoked Porters (their other fantastic beer I alluded to earlier) alone, that they’re going to need the Wheaches of the world. But that’s OK, I like to think of beers like Wheach as gateway beers. It’s one of those sorts of beers that you can hand to someone who says “I don’t like beer.” (That’s a blog entry for another day. ) But best beer in St. Louis? Nah.

But that’s it? These are only beer items in St. Louis? Why not a category for best brewery or best brewpub? Why not best store to buy beer? I’m sure if we can list “Best Place to Buy Rubber Stamps” we can find a place to laud the best brewery in St. Louis.

Back in early 2007 Bill and I were discussing the inaugural issues of Beer Advocate magazine, our general consensus was that it’s an uneven but well meaning magazine (with a lot of ads.) But one thing really threw us, in the April 2007 issue of the Beer Advocate magazine Jason & Todd Alström reviewed the Shotgunator in the Beer Ware section of the magazine. (If you’re unaware of the practice of shotgunning, here’s a wiki page describing the activity.)

We were confused that a magazine that has “Respect Beer” in big red letters on it’s front cover beerhelmet.jpgwould even take the time to review something as disrespectful to beer as the Shotgunator. If they are going to review the Shotgunator where do they stop? The beer hat? Beer pong sets? How do these items help to elevate the beer culture in America and get people to truly “respect beer?”

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve been given the opportunity (which I respectfully decline) to test out something called The Official Beer Glove. It’s not unlike one of these kitschy items that I mentioned previously as it’s nothing more than a glove with “The Official Beer Glove” written on the outside. Thanks, but no thanks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude, I enjoy everything my beer has to offer which includes the side effects. But that doesn’t mean I need to revel in the alcohol like the products I mentioned above do. There’s so much more to beer than the ability to get drunk. When I have a good beer in my hands the last thing I’m thinking is, “how can I drink this as fast as I can?” Instead I make the effort to enjoy every last drop.

Sorry Beer Glove, but I don’t need your gripper fingers to enjoy my beer, if it’s a good enough beer someone would to have to pry it from my hands.

It’s shaping up to be a pretty quiet week here at STL Hops (blame Halo 3) but I’m going to do what I can to provide some content (I can’t promise it’s going to be insightful or interesting, but I’ll do what I can.)

But in the meantime I had a pretty interesting beer related weekend here’s a quick rundown:

Cruised over to Whole Foods on Friday evening in the hopes that I’d get to introduce myself to Andy (the beer buyer) and maybe pick up some Great Divide, but unfortunately he wasn’t there. But I did get a chance to talk to Mike at Whole Foods who is not only a beer fan but also works at St. Louis Wine and Beermaking. Got to chat with him for a little while about all things beer and homebrewing and got to pick up a bottle of Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout.

After that we decided to have dinner at Wm. Alandale Brewing Company. Had the good fortune to meet Daran Churovich the chief brewer at Alandale, we got to have a nice discussion about his beers and brewery. He also informed me that they’ll have two new seasonals coming out to celebrate their Fall Harvest Festival: Chocolate Stout and Pumpkin Ale. I’m hoping to set up some time in the future to interview Daran and get his thoughts on the local beer scene.

On Saturday I braved the traffic at Telegraph and 255 (stupid construction) to make my way over to Columbia, IL to visit Andrew Traughber at Bon Vivant Wines. I just have to say that Bon Vivant is a craft brew mecca for those in Southern Illinois and South County. While Andrew may not have the hundreds of beers that Coral or Lukas have, he makes up for it with a wonderful selection of hard to find beers in Missouri. Here’s a list of what I picked up:

  • Three Floyds – Behemoth Blonde Barleywine
  • Three Floyds – Brian Boru Old Irish Red
  • Jolly Pumpkin – Oro De Calabaza
  • Brasserie d’Achouffe – Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel
  • Ommegang – Ommegeddon
  • Ommegang – Three Philosophers
  • Sam Adams – Imperial Pilsner
  • Dogfish Head – Raison D’etre
  • Dogfish Head – Festina Peche
  • Sierra Nevada – Anniversary Ale

If you’re in the area (or just want to make a special trip) make sure to stop by Bon Vivant and say “hi” to Andrew.

This festival is being put on by Alandale Brewery who will be introducing two new beers that day, a Chocolate Stout and a Pumpkin Ale.

festival.jpg

Hopefully this will be a regular feature going over some of the ins and outs of the beer in St. Louis

  • Looks like Food Network is going to be at Iron Barley today, here’s your chance to show that St. Louis beer doesn’t always just mean AB.
  • Boulevard Bob’s 47 is now available at the Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton.
  • O’Fallon is going to begin brewing their new seasonal, Goatsbreath Bock Ale next week for a November release.
  • Andrew at Bon Vivant Wines let’s me know they still have these seasonals and specials in stock:
 
  • Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale
  • Dogfish Head Festina Peche
  • Founder’s Blushing Monk
  • Ommegang Ommegeddon
  • Allagash Barrel Aged Seriers: Musette, Interlude & Curieux
  • La Rulles Estivale
  • Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen
  • Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner

Here’s a list of upcoming beer events:

I will be attending the East Perry Fair in Altenburg, MO this weekend. Nothing quite like watching the Mule Jumping Competition all while enjoying a delicious pork burger and drinking some homebrew. Have a good weekend everyone.