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“Warm.” “Flat.” “Weird.”

Give a random person a cask beer and these might be some of the descriptors they might use to describe cask beer. But for craft beer drinkers, sometimes it’s the holy grail of beer.

Cask beer is typically served at cellar temperatures (55-60°) which your average beer drinker may consider “warm.” Cask beer is also not force carbonated which gives it a softer and less-pronounced level of carbonation. This style of serving beer is not for everyone. But those that love it, they can’t get enough of the stuff.

Last spring, Lohr Distributing‘s Cory King took a look at the International Tap House‘s cask program (which he also created) and thought, “Why aren’t we doing this here at Lohr?” So, Lohr purchased lots of firkins and began a cask program of their own.

“We want to be out-front of the craft beer market,” says Lohr’s Bob Gassoff, “We want people to see our commitment and devotion to craft beer in St. Louis. There is no better way to show our devotion than to honor the original form of serving beer.”

Rewards from this program have already begun to pay off with casks popping up around the area, including a cask of Six Row‘s Porter at iTAP and a cask of 2nd Shift Brewing‘s Art of Neurosis at the HandleBar. What else can we expect in the future? How about some casks from Green Flash Brewing in time for their kick-off on August 1st?

With firkins appearing everywhere, expect to see more and more cask beer in the St. Louis area in the upcoming months.

Let’s get the disclaimer right out of the way, Green Flash Brewing Company is a brand that I’ll be managing at Lohr.  (Also, I promise that I won’t make this disclaimer part of the story from now on.)  But regardless of my new job, I’ll proudly proclaim that I’m a HUGE fan of Green Flash.

So, I’m happy to report that the initial proclamation about their arrival was absolutely correct and we will begin seeing Green Flash showing up in Missouri during the first week of August.  If this time frame sounds familiar, it’s because this is also the week of St. Louis Craft Beer Week.

What can we expect during this initial roll-out?

West Coast IPA
This West Coast-Style India Pale Ale is extravagantly hopped, full flavored, medium bodied and copper colored. A menagerie of hops is combined throughout the brewing process to impart specific characteristics. Hops used include Simcoe for a unique fruitiness and grapefruit zest, Columbus for strong hop pungency, Centennial for pine and citrus notes, and Cascade for floral aroma. ABV: 7% | IBU’s:95

Hop Head Red Ale
Resinous hop character and bitterness balance the rich carmel malt base. We took it a step further and Amarillo dry-hopped the brew to 45 ibu’s, creating refreshing and savory hop flavors and aromas. Is it red IPA? That’s your call. ABV: 6% | IBU’s: 45

Imperial I.P.A.
San Diego-style IPA, as it has come to be known by many, is super-hoppy, high gravity, yet highly quaffable ale. Our Imperial IPA is created in this new tradition with intense hop flavors and aromas from a unique blend of Summit and Nugget hops. It’s all about the hops! ABV: 9.4% | IBU’s: 101

Double Stout
Golden naked oats mashed with dark crystal and robust roasted malts create a luscious black brew with satin smooth finish. Layering UK Target hops throughout the boil adds pleasant, earthy complexity while higher fermentation temperatures enhance overall flavor with fruity esters. An old-world style, done the Green Flash way. Big, bold, flavorful and complex. ABV: 8.8% | IBU’s: 45

Barleywine Style Ale
Our American-style Barleywine undergoes a three hour boil to intensify the caramel malts and the enormous Pacific Northwest hop charge. The result is a rich, estery brew with toffee notes and citrus hop flavors layered throughout. Enjoy this brew fresh today or lay it down for aging to see how the flavors of each vintage evolve. ABV: 10.9% | IBU’s: 85

Also expect some very cool goodies to make their way into the area during STLCBW as well. For those of you craving San Diego beer, here’s another fantastic one that will soon be available in St. Louis. I, for one, can’t wait.

So… things have been kind of slow around here.  One part of this is that summer always seems to be a bit slower for beer news.  The other part of this is that I ended my original job and have started a new one.  I’m happy to announce that I’ve accepted a position at Lohr Distributing as the new Craft Beer Manager.

I never dreamed four years ago when I started STL Hops that I’d have a job like this in the biz, but here we are.  It’s very exciting and I’m pretty stoked to start something like this.  But, you may have some thoughts or concerns about me taking on this position, so I’ve put together a little FAQ that will hopefully answer any questions you may have.

What’s going to happen to STL Hops?

Nothing.  I’ve been told by my boss that they don’t want anything to change with the website.  They understand that promotion of craft beer as a whole benefits the entire industry.

So, does this change anything you post?

Not really.  The only thing that may slightly change is that I’ll put up a disclaimer about events or products that I personally manage.  I’m mostly doing that so people don’t think I’m being shady about things.  But otherwise I still plan on posting news and information from all distributors, breweries etc.

Are you selling AB/InBev stuff?

With the exception of Goose Island, which makes awesome stuff regardless of who owns them, no.  My focus will be entirely on the craft brands that Lohr has recently picked up.

Did you sell out?

Well, if you mean by “selling out” that I get to work within an industry I’m extremely passionate about and get to work with many of the folks I’ve established relationships with over the past 4 years, then sure.  But so few of us get to do a job where they’re passionate and excited about what they’re doing, so this isn’t an opportunity I could just pass up.

You haven’t posted anything for the past three days, is this what we can expect from now on?

For the short-term?  Maybe.  I’m starting a new job and I’ve got a lot to learn.  I want to make sure to focus on doing the best job I can.  For the long-term?  No.

Part of the difficulty with STL Hops in the past is that I didn’t get an opportunity to visit locations around the area and talk to them as much as I’d like.  Now, I’ll have more chances to get out and find out what’s going on around St. Louis.

What happened to Cory King?  Is he not working at Lohr anymore?

Cory will be exploring another opportunity which I hope to be able to announce in the near future. He’ll still be a very vibrant part of the St. Louis craft beer scene. In the meantime, he’ll be taking me around and showing me the ropes.

Is there anything else that I should know about?

Yes, there is a good possibility that you could be seeing other people writing for STL Hops in the near future. I’ve said over and over again that this is a community. I can’t continue to keep doing this all by myself. I need to rely on other people to help make this site the best place to find information about beer in St. Louis.

So, is there anything I’ve missed?  Is there anything you’re concerned about or something I didn’t touch on?  If you have any comments, questions, or concerns please feel free to email me if you want to discuss them in private or leave in the comments below.

If I haven’t made this clear, I’m pretty excited about this job and I honestly believe it’s only going to make STL Hops a better site in the long run.

It all started back in November of 2010 with a business card. Then, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Evan Benn confirmed that we would be seeing Deschutes Brewery in 2011.  Well, I’m happy to report that Deschutes has found their distribution partners and we’ll begin seeing them in St. Louis toward the end of July.

STL Hops has learned that Deschutes has chosen Lohr Distributing (St. Louis City), Grey Eagle Distributing (St. Louis County) and Krey Distributing (St. Charles County) to sell their beer in the St. Louis area.  We’ll see a roll-out of Deschutes beginning in Kansas City about mid-July with St. Louis following a couple of weeks after.

The Oregon brewery, which produced about 200,000 barrels in 2010, will begin with sending out draught and bottles of their year-round beers like Mirror Pond and Black Butte with us seeing their very sought-after 22oz beers like The Abyss and Black Butte XXIII as the year progresses.

With the addition of Stone, Firestone Walker, Deschutes, and the soon to arrive Green Flash, it looks like we no longer need to head out to the west coast, because it’s headed to us.

Lohr Distributing is certainly putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to local craft beer.  In the past couple of months, they’ve not only hired a craft beer manager, but they’ve also added Six Row Brewing, Morgan Street Brewing, Ferguson Brewing, and Griesedieck Brothers Brewing.

They’ve now added yet another brewery to their very impressive local line-up: 2nd Shift Brewing. “We’re pretty excited to be partnered with Lohr,” says Craig Borcherding of 2nd Shift,  “We think they are really headed in the right direction with their craft beer, and we’re glad to be part of it.”

The move allows 2nd Shift to leave the beer sales to the sales folks at Lohr and to concentrate on doing what they do best: Brewing beer. Speaking of which, they have some very exciting things coming down the pipe.

One of the first beers that will begin hitting local bars, as soon as this weekend, is a collaborative effort between 2nd Shift and The Civil Life Brewing Company‘s head brewer Dylan Mosley.  The beer, which is simply named “Collaboration”, is an IPA featuring a proprietary hop blend called Falconer’s Flight.  Craig from 2nd Shift has a description of the beer:

“A 6.2% ABV, 50 IBU hop-forward (surprise!) beer. It was brewed with a commercial proprietary hop blend called Falconer’s Flight. The blend is Simcoe, Citra, and Sorachi Ace heavy. It’s got big tropical citrus notes upfront, with some pine in the background. Lemongrass dominates the finish. We’d hoped that we could use Falconers Flight as a straight Simcoe substitute, but it is just too different. Still a cool hop blend though.”

Some of the other beers we’ll be seeing from 2nd Shift around the area soon include a revamped Wheat Freak, the Little Big Hop, and also Art of Neurosis. The latter, which has been missing from the local market due to a shortage of Simcoe hops, will be coming back in the next few weeks.

Did you know there are over 1700 breweries in the United States as of 2010?  That’s the largest number of breweries since Prohibition.  It’s almost difficult to keep up.  I’ll admit that when first heard of Nebraska Brewing Company back in October I said, “Who?”

After I had a chance to try some Nebraska beers (in Boston, no less) I quickly said, “When?”  Well, that day has arrived.  Working from a tweet from Nebraska’s co-owner Paul Kavulak, it looks like Nebraska beer will be in St. Louis soon thanks to Lohr Distributing.  Current time frame to getting the beer in the stores should hopefully be 3-4 weeks.

With wins at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup, I can assure you that Nebraska is no slouch.  I’ve been told that we’ll be seeing both draught and bottles from NBC.  Here’s a list of some of the beers they’ve been brewing up:

Black Betty Russian Imperial Stout
Black as night and every bit Imperial, this RIS was originally launched to tremendous accolades. Going further, this Stranahan’s Whiskey barrel aged version meshes the rich chocolates, the coffee-like aromatics with the sweet whiskey nose and drying character of the oak. Slightly behind on the palette are the hops – held in restraint by the wonderfully full mouthfeel and broad flavors brought on by the perfect blend of so many malted barley varieties. Ready to enjoy upon release and perfect for extended cellaring.
9.3% A.B.V. 83 IBU

Chardonnay French Oak Hop God
Contained within this bottle is an artful creation which began with our Hop God Belgian-Style IPA, then enhanced by a 6 month maturation in French Oak Chardonnay Barrels. This version of Hop God is a fascinating, big, bold Belgian-style Tripel hopped in very high amounts to concentrate citrus, grapefruit and floral aromatics in the nose. The addition of Chardonnay barrel aging adds further dimension and oak tannins to an already wonderfully complex Ale – bringing to mind tropical fruits and peach. We know of nothing that compares – enjoy!
10.1% A.B.V. 108 IBU

Chardonnay French Oak Melange A Trois
Our first beer in the Reserve Series, Melange A Trois begins with a wonderfully big Strong Belgian-Style Blonde Ale and moves into the extraordinary category through an additional 6 month French Oak Chardonnay Wine Barrel maturation. The essense of Chardonnay permeates while a subtle sweetness remains from the Ale itself. Oak tannins combine to create a fascinating mesh of dry, sweet, and wine-like character. One of our favorites!
10.0% A.B.V.

Nebraskadian Black Ale
There has been much talk and controversy lately over a fairly new adopted style of beer featuring the blackness of a stout and the hop character of an IPA. We’re bucking both the naming trends of a “Cascadian Dark Ale” and “India Black Ale” and calling our newest Brewer’s Choice beer “Nebraskadian Black Ale”. Perfect for the dead of winter, this beer was made with a unique, seasonally offered malt called Black Prinz which gives the beer plenty of darkness in color but with a very restrained roastiness. We also threw in a generous helping of Simcoe hops that we’ve been carefully hoarding for just the right beer. The result is wonderfully piny and slightly floral to the nose, sweet and fruity at first on the palate and then a bit drier, with hints of chocolate and a finish that balances again towards the hops.
9.0% A.B.V. 88 IBU

EOS Hefeweizen
This medium to full-bodied beer, pale to amber in color, is most accurately described as a Bavarian wheat beer. The aroma and flavor of this unfiltered beer is decidedly fruity and phenolic — a big word for a brew that tastes like cloves, nutmeg or sometimes vanilla with banana-like esters.
4.8% A.B.V. 10 IBU

Hop God
A beautiful golden crossbreed of a Belgian Tripel and a West Coast IPA. A remarkable explosion on the palate with spiciness, tropical fruit, and a firm citrus bitterness that will leave you begging for more!
9.0% A.B.V. 101 IBU

Lohr’s Cory King has said that he’s interested to hear what STL Hoppers would like to see from Nebraska in St. Louis. So, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Swiftly and quietly, one of the area’s largest AB distributors has gotten into the craft game. I’ll be completely honest, when I heard that Lohr Distributing Company had picked up craft breweries such as Southern Tier, Tallgrass,  and Six Row, I was a bit concerned.

Was Lohr picking up these breweries just for the quick craft brewing buck or were they in it to expand not only their wallets but their portfolio?  After meeting with Bob Gassoff, who’s heading up Lohr’s craft beer and spirits division, I have no doubts that they’re in this for the right reasons.

One of Bob’s first decisions was to bring on International Tap House bartender Cory King as his Craft Beer Manager.  Cory, who previously worked at Glazer’s, brings not only a wide knowledge of craft beer and brewing, but also sales experience.  Cory’s biggest job will be education, “We are focusing on employee training, where all of our reps are Certified Beer Servers under the Cicerone Program with at least 5 or 6, not including myself, who will be Cicerones in the coming months.”

The other big piece of news that I received yesterday is that Green Flash Brewing has officially chosen Lohr to be their distributor in St. Louis.  I’m sure that won’t be the last acquisition by Lohr, I’m excited to see what’s next.

Edit: Failed to mention that Wednesday will be Cory’s last night at iTap in Soulard. Come on out to wish him well.