As we finish up another year of beer, it’s time to look ahead to what we’ll be pouring, sipping and loving in 2018. I’ve reached out to a few of our town’s best brewers to see what we can expect from them in the next Year of Beer.
St. Louis city saw the debut of yet another brewery, this one with a bit of a twist. Center Ice Brewery owner Steve Albers has a serious passion for hockey and brewing beer. And now he’s brought both to life at his brewery just east of the Saint Louis University campus.
“It couldn’t be a better time in St. Louis hockey history to be a hockey fan here and since hockey is in my blood and it’s an extension of my personality this just fits,” said Albers.
“I want this to be the hub for the St. Louis hockey community. I pray to god the Stanley Cup makes its way here when we win it.”
Even though the brewery is new, there’s a lot of history inside. Albers used reclaimed wood from the St. Louis Arena where the Blues used to play before it was torn down in 1999.
2018, will mark Center Ice’s first full year in business. So what can we expect from Albers and his team?
“From a broad spectrum, we are looking to looking to continue our company mission of building a diverse and creative beer portfolio to complement our consumer connectivity,” said Center Ice Head Brewer William McFarland. “We will accomplish these goals by staying creative on the brewing side but also building a stronger consumer experience through our exclusive VIP room, collaborations with local businesses, and working with like-minded individuals.”
Local beer drinkers will find a growing beer portfolio with a wider variety of different unique takes on beers, complemented by the installation of ten more tap handles in the taproom which will put them at 20.
“We will always have at least 4 guest taps and want to have a 16 beer rotation,” said McFarland. “Our VIP room will have 4 of our core beers but will also have exclusive offerings that are not in the taproom. We will have a 15gal pilot system that we will be brewing highly creative beers that will serve as our gateway into more complex styles.”
We will also see more small-batch beers being created for events and festivals, with the goal of always bringing something exclusive and unique to their local consumers.
“Having a small system will also allow us to tap into the homebrewing community in the area and give us some flexibility with non-professional brewers who want to see their beer in our taproom. Everything we are doing is focused on bringing a high-end experience to those who are welcoming our brews,” said McFarland.
New for 2018 will be a new focus on canning of beers to be sold out of the taproom. They are currently prepping for four packs of 16oz cans that will be served alongside their crowler options. There are also plans for a big dive into their barrel aging program. Right now they currently have 4 bourbon barrels, but have plans on bringing in well over 20 barrels to launch into a new realm of brewing creative beers and focusing on bigger complex styles.
One of the first beers that will be released in 2018 will be Pre-Game Pale Ale. The Pre-Game Pale Ale was created with the team’s love of hoppy beers in mind.
When brainstorming for the Pre-Game Pale Ale, the Center Ice brewing team wanted to create a complex take on the style. The overall idea for this beer is to maintain a roasted malty backbone to compliment the citrus aroma and hop character. They built the grain bill with three different roasted malts including Carafa, Carabohemian, and CaraWheat, this to achieve darker and richer notes to heighten the hoppy flavor profile and aroma. The flavor profile will be a complementary balance between the darker roasted body with an approachable piney bitterness that finishes with a huge hoppy finish.
“We like to consider ourselves different from many of the breweries here in St. Louis so this pale ale will be our personal take on giving the consumer a different experience than many of the APAs that are in the market. Our goal is to have a minimum of one brand new release every week,” said McFarland.
That, my friends, is a bold goal.
The action plan for their brewing portfolio is to finish 2018 with at least 50 different offerings.
“We want to base our brand with high quality and creative offerings that remain approachable to every palate, so there will be many styles that we have yet to brew that we are overly excited about,” said McFarland.
The Local Scene
While Center Ice is certainly one of the most exciting new additions to the local scene, they fully appreciate the scene itself and hope to be a part of the growing collaboration efforts between so many local breweries.
“What excites us the most is that we view ourselves as a blank canvas. The brewery scene in St. Louis is at an elite level with a great foundation of breweries such as 4 Hands, Perennial, and Side Project but this allows us to navigate how we want to lead our brand into a very thirsty city,” said McFarland.
“We want to continue to push our brewery as a highly creative, differentiated, and approachable style of a company and this will be done by collaborating with other like-minded companies and focusing on building up our connectivity within the city.