Read about our visit to St Louis here!
The St Louis metro area has way too many breweries even for us to visit. Luckily, we’ve become pretty good at identifying which breweries are a must visit. Our method combines web research (their site for beer list and design features; Google pictures for taproom vibe) and asking the beertenders at the breweries we wind up initially selecting (assuming we do in fact really like them) for their favorites. On this trip, the feedback we got from the beertenders was surprisingly consistent. We were told to visit:
2nd Shift Brewing
4 Hands Brewing Co
Civil Life Brewing Co
Side Project Brewing
Narrow Gauge Brewing Co
Perennial Artisan Ales
With that said, here were our favorites:
1) 2nd Shift – This was our top brewery and given its location and awesomeness, we actually visited twice. Their tasting room is a massive open area with two cats milling about and a parrot in the back. They had three New England IPAs when we were there, one of which was a session and another dry-hopped. We loved all three of their beers and the scene.
2) Perennial – Ahead of our visit we had seen Perennial called out in this article as one of the ten best breweries in the country so we were willing to make the ~20 minute trip down to the Patch neighborhood in southern St Louis. It lived up the the hype. They constantly change their beers, and when we were there they had on tap such eclectic brews as a stout with ancho chilies, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, and vanilla beans, and a dry-hopped saison with grapefruit oil. Our favorite was the saison aged in red wine barrels. In terms of the scene, their tasting room has a cool little bar area with old-school, teal bar stools and then a bigger, less cool room beyond the bar with a bunch of tables. The staff was knowledgeable about the beers and very friendly.
3) Narrow Gauge – Narrow Gauge is actually in the northern suburb of Florissant, MO, and we made the trip based on recommendations and because it wasn’t too far out of the way after hiking in the St Charles, MO area. The tasting room is part of a dive (in a good way) restaurant and bar with common ownership called Cugino’s Italian Bar & Grill.
This is a small brewing operation that typically only has between four and six beers on tap at a given point. Like Perennial, they constantly mix up their brewing and they commonly run out quickly–they told us that they were releasing two new IPAs the day after we were to be there and that they may run out of the cans of those that same day. When we were there they were down to four beers and only one of those, a porter, was available on draft. We did try their double dry hopped mosaic IPA from the can and it was fantastic enough to take some home. Anyway, hopefully they’ll increase their capacity and begin distributing in the near future because they clearly know how to make outstanding beer.
4) Four Hands – Four Hands is located in a cool old brick building just north of Soulard. We tried their three IPAs, their one pale, an imperial red aged in Jameson barrels with cherry and orange peel (aptly called Old Fashioned), and a nitro raspberry vanilla wit. All were solid, but our favorite was the Galaxy Gravy, a seasonal hazy IPA brewed with galaxy hops that was pretty close to the New England IPA style that I now prefer.
- Everyone we surveyed loved Civil Life, but we just aren’t big fans of English style beers so skipped it.
- Side Project is run by the former head brewer of Perennial and specializes in barrel-aged beers. Again, we were told consistently that we should go, but we just ran out of time on this trip.
- We also didn’t make it to St Louis Hop Shop, but we were told it was the place to buy Missouri beers.