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Thoughts on Beer & Food, Home & Away

Come Along and Ride on a Fantastic Voyage
Posted Friday, July 20th, 2012 by thewimperoo

Dave and I decided to have a little fun with this recap and do a blended recollection of the trip through each of our own eyes.  

Dan: Time to hit the road…

Dave: 6 am start, means 5 am for me... and a bit sooner for dan.  Dan arrived at 5 to 6 and we were on the road at 6:02... awesome. That being said, had we not made a ridiculous stop. I love the americana, it's part of why i like the travel and as we're passing along the long flat of I55, we see not the worst antique shop with pink elephants, ufo, large ice cream shaped trailer and large bicycle that i've ever seen, but a pretty gooden. I ask dan if he's game to get off and backtrack a bit to get to this place and he says yeah, with no reluctance i might add. So we see what there is to see.

There's a muffler man here... he doesn't have his axe, but it's a muffler man.

I think most of you can guess who this most reminds us of, and as he's taking a break from tbs at the moment due to projects and other stuff whilst hoarding sours, he shouldn't see this for a bit.

We also went into the antiques shop and as i find there's always creepy shit to shoot, i am usually well rewarded. Old stuff can be unintentionally creepy... (sorry bakes)

Dan: We’re cruising down 55 making really good time.  After passing an innumerable amount of billboards for antique shops, Dave spots a giant bearded man statue.  Asks if we should grab the next exit and photograph it for memorabilia-sake.  I’m fine with it.  So we head back and pull into the gravel parking lot to take some pics.  A giant pink elephant, green ufo, giant tricycle and ice cream cone shaped stand covered all of the outside attractions.  Once we’re done with pics, Dave says since we’re here we may as well double down and check out what’s inside.  I somewhat reluctantly agree in hopes that us “city” folk don’t get kidnapped and trapped in the basement.  We’re greeted by this guy.

As we make our way through the shop, it’s just an insane amount of junk.  Like junk on top of junk on top of junk.  Glass cabinets with old guns, pocket knives, dishes.  You name it, it was probably in this place. 

After wandering around for about 10 minutes, I say let’s go before we get sucked in and are stuck here for hours.  Dave agrees and we get back to the road.  But not before a little bit of cheese.

Dave: With that out of the way, we weren't that far from st. louis and our first stop which was the wine and cheese place. I really liked the layout and selection, but due to fun construction, and lots of fun one ways due to this being by a college, we weren't in the best of moods as we initally felt the stl was against us. I grabbed beer from here... a helles from urban chestnut, crabtree's peach saison, and something else... also grabbed some billy goat chips which happened to be one of the two staples at all of the craft beer joints we'll cover in this write up.

But the inside was a lotta cold doors of craft with a good handful of warm imports. Locals given the cooler treatment is sign of respect imo, they may not be as pricey as some of the imports, but the store's taking care of the locals. The wine and cheese place also had surprisingly... wine and cheese, more wine than cheese, but a nice cold counter of cold cheeses... it's worth your time to stop at and seek out stuffs.

Dan: As we get to within minutes of the grand ole’ Mississippi, traffic comes to a screeching halt.  Road construction as soon as you cross into Missouri stranded us in traffic for longer than we wanted.  Finally we’re able to pass and are on our way to check out the top local beer store, the Wine & Cheese Place in Clayton. Dave’s GPS is leading the way, unfortunately we run into a closed street, the GPS doesn’t react well to detours we made and we’re driving in circles getting frustrated.  Eventually we arrive at the destination.

Very unassuming from the outside and with no cars in the parking lot I thought the place might be closed even though the website said they opened at 9.  We walk in with no problems though.  Very nice selection.  I realize that outside of the hyper local stuff from 2nd Shift, Civil Life, Perennial, Schlafly, etc there really isn’t anything that we can’t get here at home.  I was interested in the 2nd Shift bottles, but they weren’t dated. I didn’t feel like playing freshness roulette with them so I passed.  Nothing else really tickled my fancy so I left empty handed.  

Dave: From there we wanted to get our drink on, and leaving the itinerary up to dan, next stop urban chestnut with lunch options, pappys bbq and a pizza joint called the good pie which was a nice surprise beerwise i must say.

Urban chestnut is, after you look at it a time or two, an old service station converted into a brewery. Garage doors and all that good stuff... i asked about the doors and keeping temp and the bartender let me know, they got the doors replaced with something more efficent for keeping in and out hot or cold ass weather, it's st. louis for gods sake...

The beerlist at urban chestnut is quirky and fun... To have someone tell you that on the left is "non traditional" styles that our brewer just felt like tinkering with and giving a go and the right is traditional styles following the standard guidelines for style is awesome. It's hard not to like a place that'll break rules for fun and for experiments sake. I enjoyed the vaclav pils and the maximillian and the hopfen gets a nod... all the beers i tried were clean and good, the bourbon beer they had on was obnoxious in it's bourbon character, but not bad persay. While sitting there, it was mentioned to other patrons that food could be ordered and delivered and or brought in... so we went in search of food to bring back and enjoy with their beer.

Dan: As time led up to this trip, Dave and I had been talking about where we wanted to go.  We both had some suggestions of places we’d heard of and researched on STLHops.  Dave left the itinerary up to me so I mapped out a few spots in what seemed like a logical geographic order with regards to our hotel.   Not wanting to lead us into shitty times, I felt a bit of pressure to not screw it up.  First drinking stop was Urban Chestnut.  It was conveniently located to two eating spots that I really wanted to try out.  Plus, it was about lunch time and I figured if we were going to be drinking all day we should probably get a good base of food.  We certainly did, but that’s getting a bit ahead. 

Urban Chestnut is in a rustic looking old garage.  Just a really great space inside, as well as a giant beer garden outside.  Although with St. Louis weather it’s probably only good in March and October. 

A super knowledgeable bartender explained the very interesting shtick of UCBC.  The Revolution Series is their take on various styles, and the Renaissance Series is their take at sticking to the traditional style guidelines.  15 beers on tap were way more than I expected.

We both decided to order a sampler.  Not at all stingy with their samples we each received probably 4 5-6 oz samples for $5 each.

Thrale’s Bourbon Barrel Aged RIS, STLIPA, BAP Kolsch and Schnickelfritz Hefe were my choices.  Dave went with the Vaclav Pils, Maximillion Weizenbock, Hopfen Bavarian IPA and Struisselspalt single hop IPA.  My favorites were the Kolsch, Maximillion and Struisselspalt. After hanging out for about an hour or so we decided we were hungry so we took off in search of food.  

Dave: Enter pappys. (turn down your speaker volume before you click, one of those music websites)

I got 10 oz of pork, a potato and corn. Dan got a half slab of ribs, brisket and coleslaw and pasta salad. I loved my pork and dan loved his ribs. Now here's the rub (see what i did there)... Pappy's is one of those joints that gets a massively long line, dan knew this going in, and he also has no patience for waiting as is his multitasking personality... i couldn't give a shit either way... the burning stench of sweet pig had me in it's spell. But dan had a point... we could be drinking while waiting for our food, so... we called in our order from the parking lot of pappy's and went to check out the pizza joint across the street while waiting for our food to get finished... 20 min was our wait and for the line they had, i'll take it.

Dan: I presented Dave with the choice between BBQ and pizza.  He preferred BBQ, so we rolled up on Pappy’s.  We walk around the corner and expect to see a big line, there isn’t one so I get a little excited.  But then we get around to the back of the building and there the line is.  I see people tailgating in the parking lot and realize this could take a while.  There’s a Pappy’s employee standing outside selling water bottles and pop, another sign we’re in for the big wait. I ask him how long he thinks the line will take from where we are, he says about 45 minutes.  I give a bit of a cringe, but Dave says let’s wait it out and see how fast it moves.  I go inside to check out a menu and see how long the line actually is.  Come back out with the menu and we start to salivate over the options.  After about 10 minutes of waiting in line, Dave can tell I’m getting antsy and wonders if we can just order the food to go.  So he calls the number on the menu, they say 20 minutes and take our order.  Score!  We walk around the corner and see that Buffalo Brewing Company is connected to Pappy’s.  I had heard some bad things about the place so it wasn’t on the radar, but we figured since we’re already here we may as well give it a shot.  Dave orders a sample of a Saison.  He takes a couple of sips of it and hands it to me and walks away saying he has to go to the bathroom.  I finish off the glass and realize what he meant.  “Let’s get the hell out of here!”  Really terrible. So we walk across the street to the Good Pie to wait for our BBQ.  

Dave:  So we went to the pizza joint and to my surprise and dans research... 10 solid taps with a firkin option awaited us... Firkin option was schafly ipa. Yes please. And we were bestowed with good conversation as we drank our beers in a pizza joint with nipple busting air conditioning even with a fire pizza oven to my leftish... i liked the bikes on the wall, the ambiance was pretty good, it'd be a good second if i didn't know the glory of pappys. Dan was on the fence about ordering something, but i talked him out of it and lucky i did... 20 min expired, the food was ready and back to the chestnut we went.

Dan: We walk inside and are greeted by a really nice beer menu and a super tempting menu of classic Neapolitan style pizza.  

Dave orders a cask Schlafly ipa and I order the 2nd Shift Hibiscus Wit.  Both were really tasty.  I was really tempted to order a pizza.  The wood burning oven was calling my name, but Dave wisely rebuffed the idea with words of BBQ.  One beer and our time was up.  Walked back across the street to Pappy’s, saw that the people in front of us in line were still 8 people away from ordering and laughed.  Took our food back to Urban Chestnut and enjoyed some more beer.  

Dave: Dan and i both got a beer and realized upon our return to urban chestnut we had no silverware or napkins... (bbq without these things makes you look primitive and sloppy) so we begged off some napkins from the bar and ate like mad and by the time we were done, dan and i were full. Crap. One stop and we were full... that's no good. 

Dan:  As we’re unpacking our food at the table, just about every single person asked us if that was Pappy’s.  We sheepishly confirmed and looked back at our food so not to make eye contact with them as jealous stares burned holes into the back of our heads from all of the other patrons.  Onto the food.  I feel that I’m a pretty tough critic of BBQ and have to say that the ribs and pulled pork from Pappy’s were top notch.  The brisket left a lot to be desired, no bark and cut too thin.  They gave us 2 sauces that weren’t needed but we sampled them both.  One was disgustingly sweet and the other a solid rendition.  Sides we tried were meh.  Cole slaw was overdressed and not vinegary enough.  Potato salad was bland.  Fried corn was dry.  Stick with the meats.  Food porn time

After eating all of that food and drinking another beer (zwickel for me & winged nut for Dave), both of us were ready to explode.  We decided to take a bit of a break from drinking and ride off to check into the hotel.  This little detour gave our stomachs a bit of time to digest and recover.  After that we hit up the Schlafly Tap Room.

Dave: The next stop was schlafly, so it would be a one beer and some samples stop...with a painless sidecar to the hotel for check in as it's easier go drinking when you know where you're going to crash.

Schlafly is the standard in st. louis. It's the goose island clybourn of chicago in metaphor. I had been to the bottleworks and was sorta turnt off by that place, the bar felt too small... the other location the one we went to on locust st. is much more to my liking. Dan and i commented if there were ever a tbs event or get together in st louis, that renting the upstairs bar at schlafly would be the way to go... Being fat and happy, i wasn't in the mood for imperial or double whatever and schlafly's taplist was all about the 5.6ish percent beer that day... smart people at that joint as you can consume more low alcohol in that heat. Belgian singel for me, with samples of the cream ale, yakima wheat and 80/- (scotch ale).

Walking around the joint, food was big, spaces were open and comfy, and it was an overall really nice place to sit have beer, or lunch and beer at that time of day. It's big too. Secondary bar is a little more hipster, so family and hipster are differenciated, tho the main bar doesn't feel plasticky like a rock bottom where it's one of those for all audiences kind of feel. Pool table in the other room as well so you can throw down in the mortal kombat of beer games whilst you drink like mad... beer is cheap in the stl if you play your drinking days right... Dan shot around inside the place and then we went off to our next location. Which happened to be a quick stop into the soulard farmers market. I'd been here before and i was using it as a walk around spot to process beer out of my bladder. We did that for a bit and then moved on to 4 hands...

Dan: As Dave said, Schlafly is an institution in St. Louis.  I wasn’t all that excited for the beer, but figured we had to go to check it out just to see the spot.  Draft list was full of easy drinking options which went well with the blisteringly hot weather. I drank my favorite Schlafly beer, the AIPA.  An excellent version of an IPA, super citrusy and delicious.  I walked around for a bit and checked the place out.  Took some pictures and we were on our way to the next stop. 

Dave: Now a quick epithet about my gps... it is handicapped in st. louis. Telling us to go left when right was right, very sad... think it's time for a new one. But that being said.

Dan: I messed up the directions to 4 Hands and we missed the street to turn on.  GPS got us turned around and Dave noticed that the Soulard Farmer’s Market was right there.  Still full, I figured a little bit of walking around wouldn’t hurt.  It was towards the end of the market so a lot of the stalls were already closed up and it was hot.  We did get a funny picture from one of the butcher stalls.

Dave: Swung into 4 hands. Really great vibe. Nice 15 person bar with a great open view onto the brewery. Foozball table as well. Cool bike art antlers.

The place had a lot going for it... a guy i know who used to work at goose now works at 4 hands... but sat down, ordered a berliner weiss and just took the place in. Asked the bartender if will was working and he said no... told him who i was and what my deal was and he nodded... upon my second berliner, he let me know will was coming down and he'd be there in a few. I was surprised and glad to see him... lotsa changes since i last saw him. He's where he needs to be, very chill and in control. Good times...

4 hands beers were solid, i wanted to find something wrong with them, but will and his crew are doing clean, awesome, tasty ass beer that pulls no punches and gives no quarter. This place, tho a bit hard to find is worth seeking out in the stl...

There's a new bottler coming and more tanks for more capacity, so... more for the stl, good for you ya bastards.

Dan: 4 Hands was the next stop on the list.  Dave had a hookup here; a former colleague at Goose is the head brewer.  We posted up at the bar and both ordered their Berliner Weiss, Prussia.

Dave chatted up the bartender and asked if his buddy Will as there.  I went to go explore the space and snap some pics.  

I sat back down, finished up the Prussia, and the bartender came back to let Dave know Will was on his way over.  Will showed up and offered to give us a tour of the facilities.  I grabbed the camera and went to town as Will gave us the treatment.  A really good space with room for growth, some barrels full of goodies, a hidden office for thinking & inspiration.

After getting the tour we sat down at the bar for additional conversations with Will and I sampled the rest of their selection.  I really enjoyed the Rye IPA. 

I also noticed a treasure trove behind the bar. Quite a collection.

I was hoping that they might still have some bottles of Prunus, Pyrus or Prussia but unfortunately nothing was available.  Maybe next time they come out.  Perennial was the next stop.

Dave: The third to last place that we hit was perennial...

Phil, another goose brewer, turnt brewery owner, was good to see again. He's running a topnotch joint in a really great space with a ton of room for expansion... Innovative is the word most associated with perennial and i'm hard pressed to disagree only cause i cant. The beers are good, they're fun and off the beaten path...

It's really funny that both will and phil both did berliners in the same stretch... the peach berliner, of which phil offered a taste of out of the tank was awesome. And again i bow to the hospitality of both brewers, both will and phil were very generous with their patience and beer.

Phil was giving a walkthru of his place to some folks and dan and i tagged along, they had the atypical questions you'd expect on those that have been on 2-3 brewery tours... So my questions would have seemed out of place so i saved them for when the tour was over, made more sense to me. Meeting phil's weekend guy, Jim, an amateur brewer phil met at a pro am comp. and hired on to run the shop on weekends, chatted us up and walked us thru giving a taste of something awesome that is in progress so that's all i'll say bout that... it's going to be great me thinks, so down the road i'll gloat.

Luckily i asked about swag and there was swag to be had... phil had some savant beersel workshirts... in large and 3x... #### yeah!! FORTHEWIN!

I think of all the spaces that we visited, perennial was the most chill... dan didn't want to leave, but i wanted to hit I-tap and our final destination which turnt out to be the dope spot... so i dragged him to the car, vowing that 4 hands and perennial were on the short list for a revisit when next we darkened the stl.

Dan: As soon as we arrived at Perennial, we were warmly greeted by Phil.  The friendliness and hospitality was off the charts from the start. Phil immediately took us to the bar and grabbed us a beer.  Tulips of Fantastic Voyage for the both of us.  I really enjoyed this beer.  I thought I wouldn’t like it as I’m not a fan of coconut, but the coconut was more of a background ingredient that added sweetness rather than coconut flavor.  

Next, Phil had a couple of out of town friends that he was giving a tour to so we piggy backed on that. He showed us the brew house and then down below in the cellar are the fermentation tanks, barrels and cooler.  We were also able to taste a sample of the Peach Berliner that is just in the beginning stages of fermentation.  It was really peachy at that point, but you can tell it’s going to be something special.  In 2 or 3 weeks when it’s ready I’m hoping to get a bottle somehow. 

Phil needed to leave so he gave us free reign to check things out on our own.  Leaving us around all of these barrels and beer is like leaving an unsupervised fat kid in a candy shop.  Let’s just say we showed a lot more restraint than the hypothetical fat kid would.

Jim was still there and was friendly enough to chat us up for a bit as he finished his work.  His story is crazy.  Basically the ultimate goal for most anyone that homebrews.  Get noticed by a brewery and get asked if you’d like to be the R&D department has to be a dream come true.  Since it’s already out there in the interwebs, I’ll gloat about getting to try Jim’s Ginger Gruit blend with Southside Blonde.  If you like ginger you’ll absolutely love this.  Tart, refreshing, so so delicious.  Another one of Jim’s creations was IPA #3.  A light hoppy session IPA.  This stands toe to toe with All Day IPA.  We really should have tried to con a sixtel of it out of them.  Every Thursday, Perennial releases a new beer and most of them have been from Jim’s arsenal.  After Jim had to take off we were left to our own devices.  We imbibed on a couple more beers.  I really enjoyed our time at Perennial.  I mean who doesn’t like getting VIP treatment and drinking for free.  The beers were all excellent but the people were even better.  

Dave: After that it was a quick trip to the other liquor store... Dan was the champ of navigation, or i just foisted that upon him, but he hunted around and found a place that wasn't bad, but i came up short on buying stuff sans some fitz sodas, but he came away with some nice perennial beers... So it worked out even tho I did almost get us kilt by cutting two lanes to get to said liquor store... but that's neither here nor there. From there it was off to I-tap...

Dan: Dave asked me to find a decent store in between Perennial & iTap. Randall’s on Jefferson seemed like a decent choice.  They had most of the usuals that we saw at the TW&CP and a bigger selection of Perennial.  I grabbed a bottle of Violet and Plan B. 

Dave: I-tap was good for a saturday and right across the street from soulard market, not packed, but full... Noticed the mondays 8-11, all drafts, 3 dollars... holy #### that place must bump on mondays... sundays had all local missouri beers... Shit was tight... economic for the craft drinker on a budget.

Went for a pale and dan went for el mucho hoppo... too bitter for his tastes and too sweet for mine we switched beers... bitter as #### and tasty to me, so win for dave... that's all i need. Had i but known it's bitterness, i'da bought some bottles, the bottle art was killin me tho... luchador with hop mask... no really.

The vibe of the place was like somebody's awesome basement bar with too much time and money into it... kinda if deco and nflmvp were to fuse into one being and then just spend the shit outta some money getting about 14 craft beer cold doors and 40 or so taps and a bunch of subtle swag to add on and not give a rats ass about what it costs just caring whether it got drank, that'd be soulard i-tap. Dark enough even in brightest day to feel comfy... dark bars rule.

Dan and i were getting hungry enough to say one beer here and lets hit the food...

Dan: iTap is the behemoth of beer bars in St. Louis.  40 taps and tons of bottles for here or to go.  Tap list was a bit lacking imo on the night we were there, but sometimes that’s the hand you’re dealt.  Plenty of interesting things to drink, but nothing really got me too excited.  

I ended up ordering the Charleville El Mucho Hoppo.  Way too bitter and nowhere near enough citrus for my taste buds.  Dave offered to trade me his Civil Life Pale so we drank each other’s beers.  Tap list in the menu book differed from the list on the wall or what we saw in the cooler so I kept asking questions about availability.  I think that annoyed the bartender because our service took a sharp dive to the negative soon after.  We were 1 and done and on our way to get some food.  

Dave:  Bailey's range. Bow the #### down.  It's kitchy, the prices for beer can't be beat, food is great. splooge. I really liked it, you need to go.

I had the american burger w/fried mac and cheese patty with cheddar sauce and bacon. And a milkshake next to my berliner from 4 hands. What??

I was so full i couldn't finish my fries... had we gone to this place first. It's a first stop to an awesome day in st. louis... can't recommend it more. Words really do fail. For a while I was convincing myself it's name should not be spoken... and should hoard it for all time... but then I thought... MADNESS!

After that it was the hotel and bed and the sleep.

Dan: Last stop of the night, Bailey’s Range.  I was pretty hungry by this point so it was a much needed stop.  In addition to a seriously good list of burgers, the tap list was what I had been looking for at iTap.  Tons of local beers, and a lot of the ones I had been looking for all day.

I started my drinking off with a 2nd Shift Katy.  I really enjoyed this saison.  Utterly delicious.  

For burger, I rolled with the Smoke & Fire Burger w/Fries & Siracha Ketchup

Smoked patty, cheddar, grilled onions, poblano sour cream and jalapenos cooked medium rare.  ####ing bonar inducing.  Finished off the night with short pours of 4 Hands Contact High and 2nd Shift El Gato Grande.  Perennial Violet blew as soon as I ordered it as I was hoping to get a taste before having to open my bottle.  Both of the beers I got were very good.  I probably could have drank for a while longer, but the prudent thing to do was head to bed 

Dave: And then the rooster, for breakfast, which was good. Went with the pbnj of breakfasts. OJ, Pancakes, and sausage... it was tasty, and i'd go back... worth recommending.

There is a diversion on the way back to destihl, but i won't recount that... i'll leave that one to dan. The ride back is always faster... cruised back with little delay on sunday.

Dan: I woke up early, like 5:30 early.  For some reason I sleep like complete shit after drinking.  I pass out for a couple of hours and then wake up every 30 minutes or so.  Sucks big time.  So I just chilled and waited for Dave to wake up.  We didn’t really have any plans for Sunday besides breakfast so there was no rush to get moving.  We still were up and out of the hotel before 9:30. Rooster was a place we had both heard a lot about so I had some high expectations for breakfast.  Their specialty is crepes so that’s what I had to get.  I went with the breakfast sausage crepe.  The sausage was tasty, but overall it was just ok.  Not sure what I was expecting, but I wasn’t wowed.  I’d come back and try something else.

After breakfast, we hit the road to return home with a lunch stop at Destihl in Normal.  Destihl is located behind the mall in Normal.  Dave made an ominous observation in that in all of his travels the success rate of breweries in malls is quite low.  Having had quite a few of Destihl’s beers at events in the past I figured all couldn’t be bad.

After the Spanish Inquisition into whether we could handle a sour beer, we finally get served.  First sip and I knew something was off.  This didn’t taste like any of the St. Dekkera series beers I’d been served in the past.  This one didn’t have much of a description so we asked the bartender for some details.  He didn’t offer much outside of the fact that the beer was only 11 months old.  Dave’s experienced brewer’s palate noted a pedio issue.  All in all it was a disappointment.  An order of cheese curds and sampler was next up.  

Curds were fine.  Even lower quality fried cheese is still decent.  The sampler…oof.  Small beer, Hopweizen, Hoperation DIPA, Oatmeal Espresso Stout and Antiquity Rye Wine.  Small beer was the only decent one. The rest were hot garbage.  Overall, the place had the atmosphere of a TGI Friday’s and the beer was lacking.  I’ll stick to trying samples at fests but I wouldn’t waste my time stopping here again. From there we cruised home in short order ending a fun 2 day stretch of drinking and conversing.

Dave: Rock on... next writeup for me is the summer beer fest in michigan and detroit...

Dan: We covered a lot of ground this past weekend, but I feel like there was more to see.  Next time we’ll have to hit Civil Life, maybe take the long drive out to 2nd Shift, definitely eat at the Good Pie [dave: and more pappys] and partake in some pinball on the Illinois side. [dave: six row as well]

Dave: Full set of pics:

Dan: Full set of pics: