Lou Brew Reviews: Heavy Riff and 4 Hands

Since these two are tied for 2nd place in my book, I decided to do a post about both of them together.


We just sort of stumbled upon Heavy Riff the other day, after the most delicious burgers at Hi-Pointe Drive-In. Their Squeeze Box Lemon Wheat is pretty good, and I was surprised how much I liked the Eat a Peach IPA and their American Pale Ale Left Coast Envy, since I’m not a huge fan of hops (I know, how reliable can my craft brews reviews be if I don’t like IPAs?).

The space is a good size, with a few booths, some pub tables as well as actual dining tables. They have a shelf full of board games — so lingering over drinks is encouraged.


The theme of the name carries throughout, from guitar draft handles to posters of rock legends and concerts along the walls.

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Four Hands is a bit more “commercial” than most of the other breweries, which my husband didn’t like as much. They have a nice lounge area with couches and low tables, as well as the main bar area with the long tables and plenty of seats at the bar. Then there’s an upstairs, with it’s own bar, booths and tables, and old-school arcade games like skee-ball.

We tried a handful of samples, and my husband really liked the (seasonal) Snake Oil Red IPA, and my favorite was the (also seasonal) Tangerine Slam/City Museum (for some reason, it had different names depending on the drinks menu you looked at). The Single Speed is year-round and pretty good, blonde ale.

We met up with a few friends here before the Army-Navy game, so it was a fairly brief visit. I’d love to go back now that the seasonal beers have changed over (and maybe this time snap a few pics!).

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February Fashion: Part 1

These were taken before February so don’t technically count for the month, but I like the outfits.

I’ve been pretty obsessed with fashion and style blogs lately. Enough to wish I had my own style blog, enough to know I most likely never will. I know myself well enough to accept that while I love putting together outfits that make me feel great, I don’t know enough to give other people advice about their own style. Also, I’m still trying to pull my own style out of a blending together of my very different style icons.

Beth (This is Us), Maggie (Grey’s), Jess (New Girl), Mandy (Last Man Standing), and Sabrina (The Mick) *Photos from Google*      (also, not pictured: my sister in law)

However, as sort of a creative challenge, I determined to try with every outfit this month (none of this just throwing on leggings and a t-shirt because it’s Saturday nonsense — not that there’s anything wrong with leggings and a tee, especially with the athleisure trend seemingly here to stay). It’s been fun putting together combinations I haven’t tried before, and I’ve found a few new “fave outfits” that just make me feel great.

2/3 – 2/7 (- 2/5 [no pic] + quick change for Date Night)
Of course, I was sick (like call-out-of-work, fuse-to-the-couch kind of sick) the first two days of February. Those days I did manage to at least change from PJs to leggings and a hoodie, but that was as far as I got.

2/8-2/10 (+ fundraiser event and polka dot details)

I’ve been jotting down ideas for each day, as well as noting the ones I really love (like both center pics above).
I’ve only run into one major dud (and I immediately changed), which is great, but this project is really about finding clothes and outfits I truly *love*. At the end of the month, I’ll highlight my favorites, which will also make dressing for work a lot easier, too!

2/11-2/14

The challenge has the added bonus of helping me clean out my closet of clothes I rarely wear or ones I learn I won’t wear again (which in turn makes room for new pieces to love!).

Lou Brew Reviews: Urban Chestnut

As I posted recently, we’ve visited quite a few of the local breweries, and Urban Chestnut takes the number one spot in my personal favorites list.


Urban Chestnut (in the Grove — haven’t been to the Midtown location…yet) wins because the Schnickelfritz is one of my favorite beers, and I like the beer hall atmosphere of the brewery. There are long, family-style tables (we got to share ours with a wedding party once), a decent-sized outdoor patio for nicer weather, and a great space for private parties, too.

The bartenders are knowledgeable and helpful if you aren’t sure what to try. They’ll let you taste a few before finding your new favorite. They’ll also tell you all about their sister brewery in Germany (which is why their beers all have German names).


While we haven’t tried food at every brewery, so this isn’t exactly a fair comparison, I do like the pretzel offered at Urban Chestnut. It’s browned nicely on the outside, warm and soft inside — even if the accoutrements are a little unexpected (still not sure what the orange glob is).

I will say, we went here a little too often over the span of a few weeks, so I had to take a break and explore what other brew options are out there. Now that some time has passed, and I’ve visited plenty of other breweries, I can say with some confidence this place holds the number one spot for me.

St. Louis City Museum

My brother came to visit us in our new city just before Thanksgiving, which gave me the perfect excuse to check another “touristy” item off my STL bucket list: the City Museum.

It’s basically a giant jungle gym for kids and adults alike. There’s a “tree house” of metal caging, caverns that lead to spiral stairs — that climb all the way to the top of a 10-story slide. They have an outdoor ball pit surrounded by elevated walkways and castle-like turrets. The roof supposedly has even more awesome things (including a ferris wheel), but it was too cold, wet, and windy when we went so we did not get to check it out.

The whole time I was chasing my baby brother through the obstacles and losing him in the caverns, I kept thinking just how awesome a place like that would have been when I was younger. When I was little, my swing-set was my palace, a felled tree my pirate ship, the space under the porch my bandit’s hideout. My imagination ran wild with the simplest of settings, so how much more could I have been with whales to crawl through, cages to dangle from, and castle towers to climb? I’m pretty sure my parents would never have gotten me to leave. Even now, my imagination kicked in and I found myself dreaming up pretend adventures — which made the realization I’d reached the thin catwalk that led to the top of the 10-story slide slightly less stomach-dropping.

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My not-so-baby brother was too tall for some parts…not that we didn’t try to stuff him in!

The City Museum is a great experience for any age. I’ve read they have adults-only nights on the weekends, when a DJ fills the building with the hottest hits and it’s less weird to order drinks at the bar. However, even when the place was overrun with kids, we had a blast.

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Drinking in the Lou

Saint Louis is the location of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, and a huge microbrewery scene, so we knew before we moved we’d be getting our drink on once settled in. I already wrote about visiting AB during our first few days in the new city, and since then, we’ve visited a LOT more breweries (detailed posts to come).


Personally, I’d rank them as such:

  1. Urban Chestnut
  2. Heavy Riff (beers)/Four Hands (atmosphere)
  3. 2nd Shift
  4. Civil Life
  5. Modern
  6. Square One*

*Square One is a brewery/distillery and set up more like a restaurant than anything, which we were not expecting. The beers were good, but the overall impression was meh. For the first time in the 4 month’s we’d been here, the bartender was not at all friendly.  We have to give this place another try with this in mind — hopefully when someone else is tending the bar.

Also, Missouri has its very own wine country. We’ve only visited one vineyard so far, but plan to make more trips as the weather warms up. Montelle Vineyards has lovely views of rolling hills from its multi-level decks. When we visited, they had live music that reminded me of a very good wedding band — great voices and excellent, catchy song choices. The wine was decent — although, coming from Virginia, our bar was set pretty high. I would say we will continue visiting wine country, but more for the views and ambiance than the wines (we’ll see if that changes as we try more of the wine offerings).

Leaving aside the breweries and vineyards, Saint Louis has an epic number of bars. In our neighborhood alone, we’ve found several fantastic options depending on the mood of the night.

For football or other sporting events, or if you’re in the mood for a huge variety of beer options, International Tap House is the place to be. In the Central West End location, I-Tap has three levels of seating and plenty of TVs throughout, as well as a couple fire pits and seating out in front of the building. The bartenders are so friendly. They’ll offer you a draft list (if you’re too far from the chalkboard wall covered in the current draft options), but more often than not, they’ll ask what you’re looking for or what you like to drink, and make suggestions that are almost always great.


Taste is another CWE bar that is a must-visit. They have a booklet of cocktails and are masters of them all. Sitting at the bar, if you don’t find something that strikes your fancy, you can tell the bartender what flavors you like and they’ll whip something up just for you. There’s a cozy section upstairs with intimate couch-seating for date night or catching up with friends. Also — and I know this is going to sound weird — the restroom by the bar is the most beautiful bathroom I’ve ever witnessed. Exposed brick walls, Edison lights, ivy dripping from the ceiling, tea candles, and an antique-style toilet with a pull chain come together to feel like some sort of romantic fairy tale setting, rather than somewhere to do your business.


Just around the corner, Tom’s Bar and Grill is a great spot for trivia on Tuesday nights. The pitchers are a little small, but at trivia, there’s a chance to win a free one. There’s karaoke on the weekends, which is entertaining whether you participate or just enjoy from the audience. Their chicken tenders are delicious, and their late night menu is full of great snacks like mozzarella sticks and wings.

For wine, Sasha’s in Demun is the spot. They have a huge selection of wines, and even though it was very busy when we visited (with a huge party of our own), the servers never seemed rushed or stressed. I stuck with a couple of reds, all of which were delicious. The food also looked really good, though we didn’t have any this time around. We will definitely be back for dinner!

If it’s a dive-bar you’re looking for, CWE has one of the last ones in the city: Rosie’s. It somehow maintains that authentic, divey-grunge feel while being rather clean in actuality. Beers are cheap: under $3 for local beers is hard to beat, except by the under $4 Tito’s and Tonic. As it’s the only dive bar around, the owner runs a tight ship — absolutely no service without IDs, which is more than I can say for a lot of spots we’ve been in Missouri. They also sell cigarettes, snacks like Slim Jims, and 375mL bottles of liquor, in case you want to take your party to go.

For late night, you can’t beat the $2 tacos and tequila shots deal at Mission Taco. Their tacos are fan-freaking-tastic, even if the tequila is rail. I’ve been to both the Delmar and CWE locations, and both are great — but they get packed. The tacos come out as they’re ready and somewhat mixed together, so you have to be ready to defend your shrimp taco against over-eager friends who don’t remember what they ordered (yeah, I’m looking at you, Greg).

There are a lot of other great restaurants offering stellar drinks and deals. We have a whole list of places yet to try out, so I’m sure this will be followed up by a sequel post.

Cheers for now!

SUPER BOWL LII

To avoid major controversy, I won’t be discussing who I’m rooting for this Super Bowl. Also, as a Raiders fan living in Missouri, neither of my teams got very close, so the investment as far as fandom goes is minimal (yes, I know I’m supposed to hate the Chiefs, but I’m all about teams that are fun to watch, ~quasi~ home team spirit, and being rebellious in my football enjoyment, so Raider Nation can deal). All I’ll say about this game is if Carson Wentz hadn’t gone down just before playoffs, it would be 100% more interesting.

What I had wanted to talk about was all the delicious snacking I plan to do. However, I’ve been hit with a horror of a cold this week, and while I’m on the mend at the time of writing this (Saturday), I still won’t be 100% — and neither will my home — by kick-off, so we’ve vetoed inviting people over for the game.

To combat some of the sadness this brings me, I’m sharing with you some of the easy recipes I’d planned on providing for my hungry guys.

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The first would have to be pizza quesadillas. This is one snack that hits the spot when you’re feeling pizza without the wait for delivery OR Digiorno. The recipe I found comes from Snixy Kitchen. This recipe is for pepperoni pizza quesadillas, but I’ve tried it with plenty of other “toppings” like spinach, mushrooms, (pre-cooked) sausage crumbles…whatever you like on your pizza, you can put in your quesadilla. We’ve done it with avocado slices, too. It’s so quick, so easy, and SO delicious.

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I also planned to throw together some garlic ranch pretzels from Big Rigs ‘n Lil’ Cookies. I made these for Christmas Eve one year, and they got devoured. They’re just heartier than pretzels alone to be more filling while waiting on the main course, but not so filling that you lose your appetite.

Buttery Garlic Ranch Crack Pretzels

What Super Bowl party would be complete without a dip or two? I haven’t gotten around to trying out this recipe yet, but a football game calls for a great beer cheese dip. This one from Cook the Story looks so easy to toss together. I also like that they suggest including veggies like broccoli and cauliflower as dipping options, along with the usual baguette slices or chips.

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Of course, I’d have to use this opportunity to show off a delicious dessert, too. These peanut butter balls from Two Twenty One are a sure-fire hit. They are one of my husband’s favorite treats I make, again, usually for Christmas Eve. Just because peanut butter balls are generally a holiday snack, that doesn’t mean they can’t be rolled together to top off a day of unhealthy snacking. Plus, you could probably flatten the peanut butter mix into little football shapes, then once the chocolate hardens, draw some lacing on them with a touch of icing — if you’re feeling like the over-the-top host/hostess a game like this deserves.

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I’m also currently cooking up a crockpot of chili, which I would love to share, but can’t ever get a recipe written down (the ones I do jot down never turn out as well as the ones I just throw together willy-nilly). Chili is a great football meal by itself, or, as I’d planned it, ladled over nachos and topped with cheese, green onions, and sour cream.

Oh well, I’ll probably make a couple pizza quesadillas and hunker down in my blankets with a bowl of chili to enjoy the game — and commercials — just my hubby and me.

Better luck next year (to my health, to the Raiders, and to all the teams that haven’t won five+ Super Bowls).
*all food photos taken from the recipe source pages*

Castlewood State Park

I am in love with this place.

As a lover of all things princess-y, the name is what made me choose this park to begin my foray into the world of hiking. We hiked here for the first time on our 2nd anniversary, and we keep coming back.


Probably the worst thing about winter is how hard it is to find enjoyable outdoor activities that don’t cost much — if anything at all. That’s why when we had a weekend of 60 degree weather, my husband and I grabbed a couple of friends and seized the chance to hit the trail one more time.


We always do the Lone Wolf Trail. It’s a relatively easy trail, with a couple steep up-hills and a very long, winding staircase down to the banks of the Meramec River. The views from the top are breathtaking every time.


I’ve never been big on hiking, so I don’t know if it’s some idea of a Midwestern spirit that drove us out to the trails the first time, but now I can’t wait for the warmer weather, when exploring even more of the endless trails and parks around us will be more feasible.

Until then, I’ll keep looking through my pictures of Castlewood and hope for another spring-preview weekend to hit the trail again.