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Without a doubt, we have some some restaurants in town that have quickly become institutions. I doubt many among us wouldn’t quickly and happily recommend Pappy’s Smokehouse, Pi Pizzeria, or Bailey’s Chocolate Bar to out of town visitors.   These are new classics here in our area.

So, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that 4 Hands Brewing Company would want to work with the owners of these restaurants to create some new and exciting collaborations. The start of these collaborations began with PiPA, a new American Pale Ale created exclusively for Pi Pizzeria.

Next up after that is a Smoked Rye Porter brewed with malt that will be smoked (alongside a few racks of ribs) by Mike Emerson of Pappy’s Smokehouse.  This beer, named the Smoked Pigasus, will be available this September along with a trio of candied bacon created by Kakao Chocolate, Salume Beddu, and The Shaved Duck.

To round out the new beers this fall, 4 Hands will work with Dave Bailey, owner of the aforementioned Bailey’s Chocolate Bar, and also Bailey’s Range, Bridge, and Rooster to create a beer featuring sweet potatoes, vanilla beands, nutmeg, and all spice. Dave Bailey has offered up his commissary kitchen to help bake the 300lbs of sweet potatoes that will be needed for this fall seasonal.

With creative new beers like these, there is no doubt that 4 Hands will become a new classic as well.

shavedduck.gifThere was a lot of hubbub back in early January when The Shaved Duck, one of the best beer restaurants in St. Louis, closed its doors for some retooling.  Well, snow and ice have arrived and so has the new Duck.

Shaved Duck owner, Ally Nisbit, let me know that The Shaved Duck will be re-opening its doors tonight with new menu offerings including things like flatbreads, smoked meats and chili.  But don’t fret, the excellent craft beer menu that helped get me excited about the Duck in the first place will be returning.

So, if you’re in the mood for a warm meal tonight and are willing to make the trek, give the Duck another go.

shavedduck.gifAs some of you might have heard via the St. Louis Magazine Blog Feast, the South City restaurant The Shaved Duck will be closing its doors on January 3rd.  Fortunately for us beer lovers this is not a death of a place to get a great meal and a great (and inexpensive) beer, but a re-birth.

Shaved Duck owner, Ally Nisbet emailed to let me know that the restaurant will be re-opening on January 27th with a new menu that will be focusing on rustic American cooking, “specializing in smoked meats, BBQ and traditional American side dishes.” But favorite dishes such as the duck frites and confit will not be going anywhere when the Duck reopens.  The Sauce Scoop reports that some of the new dishes we can expect include “flatbreads, substantial salads and several chilis (served with milk!) that range from from mild to screaming hot.”

But fret not, the beer list will not be going anywhere.  Stay tuned.

rft2008.jpgAh yes, the yearly “Best of” list from the Riverfront Times. If you were reading STL hops way back last year, you may remember I had a few gripes with last year’s lists. So how does the RFT do this year? (And yes, I’m choosing to ignore the people’s choice stuff.)

Best Beer Selection in a Restaurant
The Shaved Duck

Where do you find the beer list in most St. Louis restaurants? On the last page of the wine list – if you’re lucky. More often than not, it exists only in your server’s brain. It’s not too tough, after all, to commit to memory a “selection” of Bud, Bud Light and Bud Select. A server might try to memorize the beer list at the Shaved Duck. A photographic memory would help. The new gastropub in Tower Grove East stocks a terrific selection of beers. It’s not the longest in town, but it’s curated with great care. American craft beers are featured, from local folks like Schlafly and O’Fallon to industry “giants” like Bell’s, New Belgium and Anchor Steam to lesser-known but not lesser lights like Charleville and North Coast. There are only four taps, but the restaurant rotates in new brews with some regularity – all the more reason to return again and again.

Be still my heart. This is a category I suggested last year and low and behold and to see it actually in print brings a tear to my eye. As for the selection? Brilliant. I mean, let’s be honest, if we had seen The Stable, Erato on Main, Mangia Italiano or the Rotten Apple as the winner, would we have been any less happy? We’ve become very fortunate in the past year to see so many new restaurants pop up that really put an emphasis on great beer. I’m glad to see the RFT recognize that. continue reading…

I may have taken far too long to get the post on The Scottish Arms up, but I won’t make the same mistake twice. We attended the opening of The Shaved Duck on Thursday evening and I implore you to visit. Not only do you get a wonderful dining experience in an upscale but laid back restaurant, but you get a great selection of American craft beers.

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The Shaved Duck
2900 Virginia Ave (Map It)
St. Louis, MO 63118
(314) 776-1407

Beer: I’ll be honest, I can’t quite say enough good things about the beer selection. But one thing I want to get straight first, in the lead up to the opening of the Shaved Duck, Allie (the owner) called to ask for my thoughts on a beer list. Looking back on my post, it looks like I had something to do with the beer list as it is now. I just want to say, Patrick and Allie didn’t need my help in the least. They had done a great job of choosing a lot of the beers before I ever got there. I don’t want to take credit for something that I don’t deserve.

Anyway, now that I’ve got that off my chest, the beer menu is a varied at it is affordable. I didn’t see a single 12oz bottle over 6 dollars and not a single 750ml for over 10 dollars. I had a draught 20oz glass of Unibroue’s Maudite for $5.00. Let that sink in for a couple of seconds. $5.00?! I don’t think I’ve seen a draught Unibroue for less than $6.00 anywhere in St. Louis. Especially not one with a 20oz pour. I posted the list about a month ago, but it has changed slightly, as any good beer list should.

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Food:

The Shaved Duck offers a numerous amount of small plates (one of my favorite ways of dining) and a few entrées as well. We tried the duck fat frites and the scallop wraped bacon to start. Both were very tasty. The frites were nice and light but still contained enough fat to remind you that they’re fries. Too often I find that potatoes cut this small become something similar to French’s French Fried Onions. The ketchup paired with the fries provided just enough vinegar to cut down on the sweetness of the tomatoes. The scallop wrapped bacon was a bit of a surprise as we originally read it to be bacon wrapped scallop. The wonderful part of the bacon remaining inside of the scallop was that the smokiness of the bacon didn’t overpower the dish and allowed the sweetness of the scallop to come through.

Both entrées were well prepared, though we were both a bit concerned that the dishes seemed very “wintery” and we’re quickly approaching summer. Nevertheless I’m rarely going to turn down a dish offering marrow and the didn’t disappoint. Irene’s pork was pleasant with the fennel pairing very well with the orange glaze, but the pork could have used a bit more salt to balance the sweetness of the glaze. The desert similar to The Scottish Arm’s wonderful bread pudding but with the addition of dried cherries and coco nibs. Irene found the cherries a bit boozy, but after 3 9% beers, I was completely down with them.

Intangibles:

I think one of the things I enjoyed most about The Shaved Duck was it felt very warm and upscale, but never came across as pretentious. It’s very laid back and never makes you feel like they’re pretending to be something they’re not. The staff was very personable, but there were obviously some opening night jitters and mishaps. But I was very impressed how well things were handled for a restaurant making it’s debut.

I can’t say enough good things about my experience at the Shaved Duck. If I have a few quibbles it’s that the price for a few of the small plates was a bit high (for instance, $9 for a single scallop) but otherwise it was a completely enjoyable experience and made me wish I lived closed to Pestalozzi Street.

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I just received word from Scottish Arms owner Ally Nisbet that the Shaved Duck will be officially open for business on Thursday, May 1st at 5PM.  If you haven’t been following STL Hops, the Shaved Duck will be offering nothing but North American beers from some of the best craft breweries in the continent.  Here’s a write up from March detailing the Shaved Duck’s beer list.

You can make reservations for dinner by calling 314-776-1407.  But Ally says that if you can’t make it in for dinner, feel free to stop by and get a pint of beer!

I meant to write this up quite a while ago, but I’ve just gotten busy as of recent. So, I apologize to Ally and Patrick for not getting this up sooner. I’m guessing they’re far too busy with the Shaved Duck to even care! Also, let me apologize for the oft blurry pictures. I usually take 3 or 4 shots of something to make sure I have a good one. But all of these photos stunk.

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The Scottish Arms
6-10 South Sarah Street (Map It)
St. Louis, Missouri 63108-2819
(314) 535-0551

Beers: This wouldn’t be much of a Scottish pub if they didn’t feature beer and scotch, now would it? One of the first things you notice when you look over the Scottish Arms beer list is not only the big selection of English, Irish, Scottish and domestic beers, but also how reasonable the prices are. All draught beers are 20oz and all and except one are $5.50 a pint. I’ll provide the whole list of beers after the jump at the bottom of the post.

Food: Not only does the Scottish Arms offer tradition pub food such as Bangers and Mash and Fish and Chips (the fish breading is made with 6 different types of beer!) but more upscale fare as well.

Intangibles: I’ve never been to Europe (one of these days I’ll make it happen) but when I walked into the Scottish Arms it just felt like the UK Pubs of my imagination. It’s a warm and inviting place with people that truly care about beer.

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Be sure you view the full beer list after the jump. continue reading…