One of the fun things about living in the St. Louis region is taking advantage of adventures to be found on both sides of the Mississippi River. This past fall, as we made our way towards a day hike trip near Grafton, Illinois, our drive took us right through the heart of picturesque Alton, Illinois. The historic town sits along the Mississippi River just above the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and just below the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, Alton is truly a “river city” rich in history.
Founded in 1818, Alton remains a postcard of the dream of ‘main street’ America, with 19th century buildings lining the streets, inviting strollers to enjoy a bit of river life. One such building started its life as a bakery in the late 1800’s. After a fire in 1929 and a series of remodels, additions, and changes in ownership, the building remained a bakery until the early 1980’s when it shut down.
“The Old Bakery Beer Company was born in early 2015 after we were introduced to the beautiful old Colonial Bakery building in downtown Alton, IL,” said James Rogalsky, brewer and co-owner. “We have tried our best to keep the building’s history alive and our name is just a small piece of that endeavor.”
This week, Old Bakery Beer Company debuts two new brews.
The Extra Special Pub Ale is not as bitter as a traditional ESB (Extra Special Bitter) in that it is more balanced, leaning a bit towards malt. On the nose, the Goldings hops will give you a bit of a floral, herbal scent. On the tongue, expect lots of deep malty flavors: nutty caramel, bready, with some graininess from the rye. It finishes with just a touch of bitterness and then more malt.
“The style of this beer is all about balance, and this one is nowhere near as bitter as IPA’s can be,” said Rogalsky. “The word bitter scares a lot of people, and I feel it doesn’t represent this style appropriately, so we changed the name to reflect that this brew is not a bitter.”
“I’d been working on this beer with one of our bartenders. We had heard of some breweries in Minnesota brewing with wild rice. It adds a nice floral, nutty aroma and taste so we thought it would fit perfectly in a Biere de Garde,” said Rogalsky.
Beer Advocate defines Biere De Garde as golden to deep copper or light brown in color. They are moderate to medium in body. This style of beer is characterized by a toasted malt aroma, slight malt sweetness in flavor, and medium hop bitterness.
“This is the first Brett beer we’re releasing at the brewery,” says Rogalsky. “Brett is the shorthand term for Brettanomyces. It’s a ‘wild’ yeast strain that is on the shortlist of “BSO’s” – beer spoiling organisms. It’s traditionally found in lots of Belgian style ales, but was originally discovered in Britain.”
Brett beers are typically fermented with typical brewers yeast and then hit with Brett to ferment out some of the residual sugars. “This process can take a few months to a year and creates lots of interesting “funky” flavors and aromas,” said Rogalsky.