My beer fridge is full of beers that constitute staples, or beers I must have on hand at all times, as well as beers I’m trying out. But, as my staple list grows, sometimes another has to go. The fact is tastes change. I’ve become a freak for New England Style IPAs, Coffee Stouts, and experimental flavor brews of any style. As that happens, some beers just seem to fall to the wayside.
So, there I stood, ogling my fridge, thinking of the beers that were no longer in there. Here are a few that deserve to come back, once I have some space.
Zwickel | Urban Chestnut Brewing Company
A classic Bavarian Lager made right here in St. Louis! Zwickel was a great introduction to the world of craft beer for a public who has grown up mostly on the American Lager. While more full-bodied and flavorful, the pale malt and German hops keep the flavor profile familiar for a community that is hungry to explore the new beer frontier.
Pale Ale | Schlafly Beer
It saddens me a bit that back in 1992, when I tried my first “craft” beer, that I did not have the foresight to realize I was tipping back something special. Something that would actually mean something to me 29 years later, and I might even come to love to write about.
If memory serves, I had my first “craft” beer at Tom’s Bar & Grill in the Central West End and it was Schlafly’s Pale Ale. Back then it was hard for a young man from St. Louis to branch out to any beer that didn’t have word’s Bud or Busch or Natural on the can. That’s the curse of living in the STL. It all seems so adventurous now, but back then it was just another beer I was drinking. Damn 25 year-old-me for not knowing what I know now.
This particular pale is the definition of clean and balance for me. Pours a clear amber-gold with just a hint of fruit, malt, and hops on the nose. Perfect distribution of both malt and hop on the tongue with just the proper hint of fruit and bitterness to keep your mouth interested.
Little Big Hop | 2nd Shift Brewing
This was the first NEIPA that I found brewed locally. I was introduced to it, during a tasting session explaining the differences between this style and regular IPAs. The speaker told us to focus on the back of your tongue. Once I did that, the flavor profiles of each became that much clearer to me.
Little Big Hop is full of rich hop flavors and pleasant aromas and at under 5.0% ABV, you will be able to enjoy multiple cans. 2nd Shift describes this beer as “stupid good” and they’re right. It’s one of the more balanced NEIPAs you’ll find.
The Angel and the Sword | Civil Life Brewing Company
I first had this beer was the first beer I tried during my first visit to the Civil Life taproom in south St. Louis. For me, this malty, slightly bitter treat helped me understand the definition of a balanced beer, as well as the nuances of flavoring. It kind of takes you everywhere from bitter and sweet to malty and bready. And clean, this beer drinks as sharp.
Hoptimistic India Pale Ale | Charleville Brewing
My wife and I work hard each year, give up many things including vacations, in order to send our kids to the same summer camp in Bemidji, Minnesota where we met when were 15. Once we had both kids going, we had 8 weeks to ourselves. The year that finally happened was the same summer Charleville opened their taproom about 2 miles from our house in south St. Louis. After we drop them off at the airport and say our goodbyes, mommy and daddy head straight to the brewery.
This is my “congratulations to me” beer. But, now that the summer is wiped out, and no kids are going to camp, this beer needs to find a home in the fridge.
Red Rye IPA | Missouri Beer Company
I love Rye beers. I have had quite a few of them over the years, but this one of my favorites. It’s actually partially inspired by Founders Red Rye, but it is not a clone. It has a different character all its own.
It is made with 25% Rye malt with 1/3 of the Rye being Crystal Rye Malt. There isn’t any other Crystal malt in it for color. Along with the Columbus hops, they use some German Hallertau Hersbrucker that contributes to the earthy flavor. It is a Red IPA, so if you take away the large Whirlpool hop, and dry hop additions it’s basically a Red or Amber Ale, so it has a little more malt sweetness.
On the first sip, you’ll get all the spicy rye malt with a slight caramel sweetness, bitter-citrus hop flavor with a more than slight earthiness.