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Archive for April, 2009

Boulevard Beer and Growler’s Pub have teamed up to host a beer dinner on Tuesday, May 12th starting at 6PM.  The cost of the event is $38.11 (excluding tax and tip) and will feature five courses paired with Boulevard Beer.  You’ll also have the chance to meet Boulevard Founder and President John McDonald.

Reservations are required and must be in by May 6th, you can make them by calling 314-984-9009.  I’ve posted the menu below for your perusal.


Germans and beer, those two words go together like peanut butter and jelly.  To celebrate all things German and beer, the International Tap House has decided to put on a Maifest.  With a full two days of events, May 8th and 9th, you’re sure to get your fill of all things German, including  brats and Bavarian style pretzels from Surf Dogs.  Here’s the schedule of events:
Friday May 8 – Open at 3pm.
Live Music:
4-7:45pm John Frischer
8-Midnight Adam Stanley

Saturday May 9 – Open at 12PM
Live Music:
1-4pm: Brian Kious
4:30-7:30 Liquid Bisquit
8-Midnight TBD

Now, you may be wondering, what about the beer? Well, the Warsteiner Keg Truck will be on site and will provide 10 tap handles of your favorite German beers. Here’s a list of just some of the things you can expect:

  • Radeberger
  • Hofbrau
  • Warsteiner
  • Franziskaner
  • Rogue Dead Guy
  • Boulevard Maibock
  • Charleville Maibock

This week’s Know Your Styles is being brought to you by John Steckert (vyvvy on the forums). Without any hyperbole, John is probably one of the most knowledgeable beer guys in St. Louis, so I’m excited he helped out with this series! Thanks again to Paul from the Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton for supplying the beers for this feature. Also, if you’re interested in writing a Know Your Styles article, feel free to email me.


Northern English Brown Ale

The brown ales we have today have their roots with English Mild Ales. The mild ales were quite popular as a harvest time drink and were used to refresh the manual workers in London. While the mild ales are relatively low in alcohol, the reason for the name is the low amount of hop bitterness imparted by the beer. The color of the mild ales varied with some being quite pale in color to being as dark as a porter.

In the 1920s brown ale style were derived from the dark mild ales and there were two styles that were mainly separated by region – Southern English and Northern English.

Southern English Brown Ales were quite mild in alcohol content and significantly darker than the Northern English Brown Ales. The dark brown coloring many times has to do with caramel or black invert sugar being used to give it the darker color. Most of the Southern variety is very dark and almost opaque and has quite a sweet palate. And like the milds that it came from, the hop presence and alcohol content is very light. The popularity of this style has declined significantly and will likely never be written up here on “know your styles” if for no other reason, that there are few, if any, examples of this in the area.

Northern English Brown Ales are generally medium gravity and alcohol content (4.2%-5.4%). While there is some sweetness this is an all malt beer with no additives like its Southern version. The Northern English Brown Ales also have more of a hop presence than Milds or Southern Browns. This style has risen considerable in popularity.

One of the earliest versions is still one of the most popular brown ales today, Newcastle. The Newcastle Brewery was a merger of several local beer makers and was created in 1890. The Newcastle Brown Ale was created Colonel Porter (ironic name for the beer created) over a three year span and was introduced in 1927. It began winning awards the following year and over 80 years later is the most popular brown ale in the world.

The Northern English Brown Ales I sampled for this were Newcastle, Samuel Smith Nut Brown, Wychwood Hobgoblin for the English versions and Avery Ellie’s Brown Ale and Lost Coast Downtown Brown for American takes on the style.


What you should be seeing

Northern English Browns are clear dark amber to reddish brown with a head that is somewhere between off-white to light tan. All of the beers sample for this looked almost identical on their pours – very dark brown with a reddish tint and a light tan head. The only one that looked a bit different was the Sam Smith since it was a bit darker than the rest.

What you should be smelling

The aroma should be malty with some nuttiness and possibly some caramel or toffee. There should be some light sweetness, it may have some light hop notes, light fruity esters and little to no diacetyl. The aromas of the beers sampled had some differences. The Newcastle had toasted malt, biscuit, caramel and a hint of diacetyl. Sam Smith’s was very nutty, heavier breadiness and moderate sweetness. The Hobgoblin was very nutty, very sweet and lots of dough and toffee. None of the three English versions had any hops of mention. The US versions both had toastier malt, lighter on the nuttiness and some hop presence.

What you should be tasting

There should be gentle to moderate malt sweetness with a nutty, light caramel character. There can best toasted, biscuit or toffee-like character. The bitterness level should be medium to medium-low. The hop flavor can be light, but none noticeable is also acceptable. Fruity esters can be present and well as low diaceytl. The finish should be medium-dry to dry. All of the examples I had displayed some nutty flavors along with toasted malt. The Hobgoblin was by far the sweetest of the bunch, while Avery was the driest and toastiest along with the hoppiest of the bunch. Sam Smith displayed the ester like aspects more than the others. The only one that I detected any diacetyl was in Newcastle, but it was very light.

How you should be drinking

Most traditional glassware will work just fine for Northern English Brown Ales. I’ve found recommendations for dimpled mugs, but since I didn’t have any of those I used a simple handled pint glass. Shaker pints and imperial pint glasses work fine for the style as well. Brown ales pair well with many meat dishes as well as smoked fish and heartier salads.

pint_nonic_glass.jpg dimpled_mug_glass.jpg

What you should be buying

While Newcastle has probably been on about everyone’s list at some point other examples of other English versions available are Wychwood Hobgoblin, Sam Smith Nut Brown Ale and Riggwelter Yorkshire Ale. We also have many US examples available of this English style including Bell’s Best Brown, Avery Ellie’s Brown Ale, Goose Island Nut Brown Ale, Lost Coast’s Downtown Brown, Bear Republic Pete’s Brown Ale, Wolaver Brown Ale, Arcadia Nut Brown, Barley Island’s Dirty Helen and many others.

Related styles

Milds, Southern English Browns, American Brown Ales

ciceros.jpg Cicero’s Italian Restaurant concludes their Winter Beer School semester this Wednesday from 5:30-6:30PM. Cicero’s Beer School provides background about beers and beer styles usually directly from people directly in the beer industry.

It’s a perfect opportunity to learn more about a style you’re unfamiliar with or to just brush up on a style you haven’t enjoyed in a while. Also, you can’t participate in next week’s graduation ceremony unless you’ve attended one class, so tonight is your last shot.

This week’s school is being taught by Mitch Turner of Major Brands Distributing. Mitch will be on hand to discuss and provide samples of Chimay Red, White and Blue as well as Avery Maharaja. Go out and take advantage of one of the few places where you can drink and learn!

If you can’t make it out to the Beer School, you can check out all of the classes via podcast at

mattingly_84x128.jpgThe Mattingly Brewing Company may now be producing full scale productions of beer, but that doesn’t stop them from showing off what’s yet to come. Tonight, Head Brewer Drew Huerter will be offering his a Brandy Oak Aged version of the Cardinal Direction Abbey Dubbel.

Hopefully we’ll find out what’s coming up for the Peek-a-Brew over the next few weeks soon! Be sure to head out and taste some of Drew’s excellent beer.

Got some word on who should be attending the 2009 St. Louis Microfest Saturday Session.  Here is a list of the breweries that will have beer at the festival:

  • Anderson
  • Almar Orchards
  • Alandale
  • AB/Inbev
  • Augusta
  • Avery
  • Bards
  • Bear Republic
  • Bells
  • Big Sky
  • Blue Moon
  • Boston Beer CO
  • Boulevard
    • Draught Saison Brett (VIP Tent Only)
    • Draught Tank 7  (VIP Tent Only)
  • Breckenridge
  • Buffalo Brewery
  • California Cider Company
  • Cathedral Square Brewery
  • Cider Jack American Hard Cider Co
  • Founders (No Founders this year.)
  • Granite City
  • Great Divide
  • Green Mountain
  • Griesedieck
  • High Falls
  • Jolly Pumpkin
  • Lakefront
  • Left Hand
  • Leinenkugels
  • Magic Hat
  • Mattingly
  • Morgan Street
  • New Belgium
  • New Holland
  • Odell
  • O’Fallon
  • Ommegang
  • Pyramid
  • Redstone
  • Rogue
  • Schlafly
  • Shmaltz
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Southern Tier
  • Spanish Peaks
  • Spoetzl
  • Square One
  • Tin Mill
  • Tommy Knocker
  • And many more!

I’ve also been told that as far as draught vs bottles goes, “60% bottles/40% draft, but that is a guess.” This isn’t a complete list, it’s just the list that was presented to me.  Hopefully some of the breweries we’re used to seeing at the festival, like New Albanian, will still be there.

I’ll be attending the Saturday session and it looks like a perfect weekend for a festival.  Weather is currently looking like 67 and sunny.  Be certain to check out the previous post about Microfest for some of this year’s highlights.

dark_lordYes, that’s right. I’m giving away two bottles of the much sought-after beer from Three Floyds Brewing, Dark Lord.  Now, there are some rules for this contest:

  1. You have to live in the St. Louis Metro area.  I’m not shipping this beer, we’ll meet at a mutually-agreed location and you’ll get your beer.
  2. You have to be 21 years of age.  Duh.
  3. If you already have some 09 Dark Lord, please do not enter this contest.  I’m trying to open this open to people who didn’t have a chance to buy the beer.
  4. Please don’t sell this bottle after receiving it.  This is coming straight out of my allotment which means right out of my pocket.
  5. There will be two winners, so I can spread the love.

If you’re interested in winning a chance to own one of the most coveted beers in the world, email with a subject of “Dark Lord” and tell me what you’re willing to do to own this beer. I have a feeling we’ll have a lot of people interested in winning so I’ll be randomly drawing two winners for a single bottle each on Monday, May 4th at 9AM.