Lou Brew Reviews: Schlafly Bottleworks

We’ve been sort of avoiding visiting either of the two Schlafly (pronounced shla [‘a’ like in ‘cat’]-flee) brewery locations because we’re now St. Louis craft beer snobs who view Schlafly as practically being on the same level as any Anheuser Busch product. That’s not exactly fair — mostly, Schlafly was our first St. Louis beer experience, and we found Schlafly beers back in Virginia, and they seem to be everywhere here, so they just aren’t *exclusive* enough for us anymore.

Anyhoo, we decided to visit Schlafly because it was one of the few breweries we haven’t yet visited and (the Bottleworks location specifically) because it was pretty convenient for us and the friend we were meeting up with.

First, let me throw some fun facts at you: Schlafly was the first microbrewery to open in St. Louis since Prohibition. They opened their downtown location (Taproom) in the early ’90s, and expanded to a second location (Bottleworks) in the early 2000s.

Secondly — and maybe this should have gone first — you need to know why visiting Schlafly is imperative. They have a bunch of beers that aren’t sold everywhere. Specialty and seasonal options that are freaking tasty and fun. We really liked the Kentucky Mule Ale specifically (which basically tasted like a Moscow Mule, but with beer). The Bottleworks location is pretty big, with lots of seating (indoor and outdoor), a shop full of beer glasses and t-shirts and 6-packs, plus a space you can walk around and learn more about the different beers being brewed (and windows you can peek through into the plant).

It was a lot of fun and surprising in the best way. The food looked really good, but we’d just eaten so we’ll save taste-testing for our next visit.

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Lou Brew Reviews: Civil Life

Civil Life is possibly my husband’s favorite of the local breweries — but more for the atmosphere than anything. We found Civil Life because it is one of the few breweries that has (or at least advertises) outdoor seating. (Some, like 2nd Shift and Modern, have huge warehouse doors so you can still enjoy the sun and warmth even if not technically sitting outside). It reminded him of a beer garden we liked to frequent back in Virginia, with its picnic tables and no-fuss environment.

I only had the Oktoberfest beer, which was good but a little heavy. My husband had both the Oktoberfest and the Brown Ale, which is their most popular beer.

The weekend we went was their anniversary, so it felt in some ways like we were crashing a party — most everyone else seemed to be regulars who all knew each other.

It’s a small brewery with picnic tables outside and a few tables inside, but they do let you wander around and see the tanks and their actual brewing process. We’ll have to go back in the spring so I can try more of their beers.

*UPDATE*:

We revisited Civil Life as soon as the weather warmed up. The beer garden out front was a lovely spot to enjoy the sun and a tasty German Wheat. They are cash only, something I had forgotten, but they do have an ATM on site. Also, the beers are so inexpensive — $2.50 for a 10 oz pour, $5 for 20 oz. Their food looked really good too; we’d discussed getting nachos but didn’t have time before some of our group had to get to school for a late meeting.

Lou Brew Reviews: 2nd Shift

2nd Shift has a similar “stay for a while vibe” as most of the breweries here. Located in a warehouse, it has the long, family style tables as well as a few smaller tables, and lots of board games to choose from if you so desire.


Plus, unlike any other brewery, this place has CATS. The one that hung out with us reminded me of my fat cat growing up, although this lady was even bigger. Of course, she went straight for my husband, since he’s allergic and therefore is not a fan. Somehow, he attracts them like the bird-lady in Home Alone 2 attracts pigeons.

I am not pleased with your lack of affection, good sir.

As far as beers go, he liked their Czech Pilsner, and I enjoyed both the Hibiscus Wit and the Blondie. My husband also tried the Act of Neurosis IPA, but he didn’t like it as much as the Pilsner.

 

Magic of Home

So as I was driving home the other day, I was trying to think of the right words to explain the love I feel for where I am. Every time I try to simply say “I love Saint Louis,” it doesn’t capture what I mean. My husband is able to make it smaller, explain away the magic with rationalities like the convenience of city living or the newness of this environment for us.

And he’s right, but he’s also so very wrong. When I say how much I love it here, I mean so much more than the architecture or stores or restaurants or people. They’re all fantastic, sure. But there’s something…more. Deeper. More pure. It’s a knowledge in my bones that I belong in the world. It’s magical. It’s home.

And as I reached my exit, I glanced up at the bridge that spans the highway like I always do — there’s often someone standing up there, just watching the cars pass, and for whatever reason, it makes me smile. Today, though, was more magic.

Someone had written a marriage proposal in painted cups wedged into the chain link barricade. Whoever Jonna (Ionna? Tonna?) is, I hope they say yes.


And for all the other people dating other Jonnas who take 44E home, tonight may get a little awkward.

MAGIC, GUYS!

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.

~

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!).

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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