Wednesday, May 25, 2011

St. Louis Beer Travel Guide

Continuing our series of beer travel guides is the St. Louis Beer Travel Guide. This one is written by Mike from STL Hops, the best beer site in St. Louis. Mike is also the author of 2 of my favorite emails ever including one from this morning which was simply "I think I may hate you". That email was in response to all the work he was putting in on this little opus on St. Louis which may be the longest, most comprehensive post about travel in St. Louis that makes no mention of the Arch. I give you Mike Sweeney's St. Louis.

Almost a day doesn’t go by where I don’t get an email or see a post on Beer Advocate with people asking about what kind of beer related things to do in St. Louis.  So, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a list of great craft beer spots in the metro area.
The only problem with this list?  It’s never going to be all-encompassing.  The St. Louis beer scene is growing at an exponential rate that  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to keep up.  But, I’ll make ever effort to update this list as time goes on.
The following is a list of breweries, brewpubs, restaurants, and retail shops within about a 45 mile drive of downtown St. Louis.  We have some wonderful breweries, such as Crown ValleyCharleville, and 2nd Shift Brewing, also within about an hour’s drive of St. Louis.  Make sure to look for some of their beers around the metro area.
Anheuser-Busch (1127 Pestalozzi St. & Lynch St).  OK, let’s be frank, most of you aren’t going to be interested in drinking the beer from AB.  But, it’s one of the oldest breweries in the country and it’s certainly cool to see some of the historic buildings.  The tour itself is very impressive, but don’t expect the tour guides to know much off of their script.
O’Fallon Brewery (26 W Industrial Dr, O’Fallon) We can all breathe a sigh of relief, O’Fallon Brewery is going to stay with us for some time to come. If you’re looking to make a trek out to O’Fallon for a tour, make sure to call in advance to verify that they’re still doing the Saturday tours they’ve done in the past.
Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Schlafly Plaza, Maplewood) While technically, the Schlafly Bottleworks is a brewpub, so it could fall into the list below, it’s also the location of most of their production.  They do tours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from Noon-5PM on the hour. Their tour guides are all beer nerds, so they love talking about beer.
Urban Chestnut Brewing Company (3229 Washington Avenue) Urban Chestnut, at least for a short time, can boast about being the newest production brewery in  St. Louis.  While they don’t have tours, they do have a lovely tasting room in a very neat building.  Their very knowledgeable staff can walk you through all of the beers they currently have on tap.
Augusta Brewing Company (5521 Water Street, Augusta) Located in the heart of the Missouri wine country, Augusta is putting out some stellar beers.  Their Hyde Park Stout recently won gold at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival.  It’s a lovely trip and Augusta has some lovely bed and breakfast spots.
Buffalo Brewing Co. (3100 Olive St) The Midtown area of St. Louis has certainly blown up with new breweries, but Buffalo was the first.  Be certain to check out their very tasty Rye IPA and the surprisingly refreshing Chili Beer.
Ferguson Brewing Company (418 South Florissant Rd, Fergusson) The Ferguson Brewing Company is the pride of downtown Ferguson.  They’ve just celebrated their first birthday by announcing the fact they’ve begun distribution of their beer around the St. Louis area. Look for their St. Louis Pale Ale and their Pecan Brown Ale.
Kirkwood Highlands Brewing Company (105 East Jefferson Avenue, Kirkwood) Smack dab in the middle of historic downtown Kirkwood, Kirkwood Highlands has the distinction of being the only brewpub to be located in south St. Louis County. Brewmaster Dave Johnson has done a great job putting together some very impressive beers, my favorite being their Belgian Wit.
Morgan Street Brewery (721 North 2nd Street) Not only does Morgan Street set itself apart by being one of the oldest brewpubs in St. Louis, they also are the only brewpub in the area that produces nothing but lagers. They’ve gotten so good at it that their Golden Pilsner has not only won gold at the Great American Beer Festival, but also at the World Beer Cup.
Schlafly Taproom (2100 Locust St) Being St. Louis’s oldest brewpub, Schlafly has certainly lead the way for all other breweries that have come up after them. Set in an historic printing building, the Taproom is one of the most unique brewpubs in all of St. Louis.  It also has, in my opinion, one of the best menus in town.  This is a must visit.
Six Row Brewing Company (3690 Forest Park Avenue) Founded in 2009, Six Row brewing has quickly established itself as one of the best breweries in the area. Their Porter is one of my favorite American porters.  Their new menu would make for a great lunch or even a light dinner.
Square One Brewery (1727 Park Avenue) While the beer scene in St. Louis has moved quickly in the past few years, it’s always nice to see some places that were ahead of the curve.  Opened in 2006, Square One has not only put out some unique beers, but they’re also the first microdistillery restaurant in the state of Missouri.
The Stable (1821 Cherokee Street) St. Louis has a storied history of beer, in no place is it more present than at The Stable.  Located in the old Lemp Brewery stables, The Stable not only has a number of their own excellent beers on draught, but also 40 different beers from around the world.
Trailhead Brewing Company (921 South Riverside Drive, St. Charles) What other brewpubs in American can boast being just seconds away from the start of the Lewis and Clark Expedition? Right in the heart of historic Main Street St. Charles, Trailhead was one of the first and one of the oldest brewpubs in the metro area.
Bars and Restaurants:
33 Wine Shop and Tasting Bar (1913 Park Avenue) Don’t let the name “wine bar” fool you, craft beer nerds in St. Louis have long flocked to 33 to check out their handpicked beer list and consistently fascinating selection of draught beers.
Bridge (1004 Locust St) With 55 beers on tap, Bridge Tap House has the largest selection of draught beer in town. Owner Dave Bailey also has pulled off the most improbable feat and has also created the most casually romantic beer bar in town.
Bigelo’s Bistro (140 North Main Street, Edwardsville, IL) Right in the heart of downtown Edwardsville, Bigelo’s Bistro has been serving craft beer longer than a lot of restaurants in St. Louis.  Owner Mark Pruitt always makes sure to keep a list of unique beers on tap.  If you’re headed to Edwardsville, also be sure to check out the newly opened Global Brew Tap Houseas well.
Cicero’s (6691 Delmar Boulevard)  Cicero’s has long established its spot as having the best beer list in the U City Loop. But even after all these years, it shows no sign of slowing down. Cicero’s in one of the few places in town that holds a regular Beer School, letting people learn and drink at the same time.
Dressel’s Pub (419 N Euclid Ave) If you’re looking for a true pub in St. Louis, look no further than Dressel’s.  One of the few places that regularly serves cask beer, the beer list is always top notch.  It’s dark and cozy interior makes for a great spot to bring a book and grab a pint.
Farmhaus (3257 Ivanhoe Avenue) What Farmhaus loses in draught, they make up in a huge variety of American craft beers. Their bottle selection is as varied as their menu, providing options to pair with every dish. This is absolutely one of the best restaurants in St. Louis and it can also boast one f the best beer selections.
The Good Pie (3137 Olive Street) If you’re visiting St. Louis for the first time, you may hear some locals talking up local St. Louis-style pizza. It’s probably in your best interest to ignore them.  Instead, hit up a spot making pizza like it’s been made for hundreds of years.  The Good Pie is St. Louis’s only true Neapolitan pizza.  The best thing is that they also love beer and have an always rotating craft beer selection.
Growler’s Pub (3811 South Lindbergh Boulevard, Sunset Hills) South St. Louis County is kind of a dead spot when it comes to craft beer, but if you’re stuck down there, you’ll always be able to find an oasis in Growlers.  While it may not boast the most unique selection of beers in the area, it always has something interesting on tap and the food is consistently good.
HandleBar (4127-29 Manchester Avenue) One of the newest spots in the Grove neighborhood, the emphasis at the HandleBar is local.  They only carry local beers on draught, so if you’re trying to get some local flavor get on your bike and head over.
International Tap House (1711 S 9th St161 Long Road, Chesterfield) iTap, as it’s known to its regulars, has quickly become a juggernaut in the St. Louis beer scene.  Each location not only provides over 40 beers on tap but also 500 beers in bottle.  It’s the best place in St. Louis to check out the large variety of beer that is now available.
Iron Barley (5510 Virginia Ave)  I don’t think it’s any stretch to say that Iron Barley has not only one of the most unusual menus in town, but also the most unusual decor and locations.  But, being off the beaten path has allowed them to put together a great selection of beer and one of the best places in town for a meal.
Pi (6144 Delmar Boulevard10935 Manchester Rd400 North Euclid Avenue) It’s crazy to think that only three years ago, there was only a single Pi.  Within the next year or so, we’ll see another one in downtown St. Louis and even one in Washington DC.  It’s one of the best pizzas in St. Louis and owner Chris Sommers has done a great job of making sure to keep some great beer on draught.
Mangia Italiano (3145 South Grand)  This sleepy little spot on South Grand provides not only a varied selection of beer, but also handmade pasta.  It’s American-style Italian food, for sure, but it’s not that gloopy and gloppy stuff you’ll find at the big boxes places around the area.
Milagro Modern Mexican (20 Allen Avenue #130, Webster Groves) Milagro not only has the best beer list of any Mexican restaurant in St. Louis, but has one of the best lists period. Their traditional Mexican fare pairs up well with the large selection of hoppy beers that Milagro has to offer.  Also make sure to check out their fantastic Sunday brunch.
The Royale (3132 South Kingshighway Boulevard)  I don’t know how he did it, but owner Steven Smith put together one of the best places in St. Louis that a lot of people haven’t heard of.  Good food, great patio and a very knowledgeable staff makes for one of the best beer joints in St. Louis.
The Shaved Duck (2900 Virginia Avenue) When Shaved Duck owner Ally Nisbet changed from fine dining to a neighborhood BBQ joint, people thought he was crazy. Two years later, there are people lining up out the door to try their slow smoked BBQ.  Their beer selection is always varied and it’s pretty crazy cheap.  Just be warned, if you get the Smothered Fries, be prepared for a nap afterward.
Sidney Street Cafe (2000 Sidney Street)  If you’re looking for a finer dining experience, look no further than Sidney Street Cafe.  Owner Kevin Nashan has made great strides in expanding their beer list; proving that you can do so even in the shadow of the King.  It’s one of the best restaurants in town; a can’t miss.
Liquor Stores
Corral Liquors (3304 Nameoki Rd) The beautiful part about living on the border of another state is that we not only have access to beers in Missouri, but Illinois as well.  So, when you make the trip over to Corral, you’ll not only find some of the same excellent beers you’ll find in Missouri, you’ll sometimes find some choices not available in St. Louis, like Port/Lost Abbey, Victory, and even Three Floyds on very rare occasions.
Randall’s Wines and Spirits (1910 South Jefferson Avenue11000 Old Halls Ferry Road, Florrisant10800 Lincoln Trail, Fairview Heights, IL)  With stores in the city, north county and Illinois, Randall’s has provided plenty of different spots to pick up some great beer in the area.
Wine and Cheese Place (7435 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton14748 Clayton Road, Ballwin9755 Manchester Rd, Rock Hill) I think it’s say that for a lot of us St. Louis craft beer nerds, Wine and Cheese Place holds a special spot in our heart. Not only do they have one of the largest selections around, but manager Paul Hayden is constantly using social media to work and talk to his customers.  It’s easy to see why they have such a loyal following.
Regular readers will probably notice that there are a lot of places missing off of this list, and that’s true. There are just so many places in St. Louis that are doing a great job serving and selling craft beer that it’s difficult to keep up.  That’s not even to mention the fact that we’ll have four new craft breweries (The Civil LifePerennial Artisan AlesFour Hands Brewing, and Exit Six) coming online by the end of the summer.
My best suggestion is to check out the STL Hops Beer List as it updates pretty regularly.  That will give you an opportunity to see what’s new in the area.  I’d also suggest checking out the STL Hops forums, the people that post there are a fountain of information.
If you're interested in writing a beer travel guide for your area or city, contact me at


  1. That is quite a list of STL breweries. It makes me wish that KC had more, but I guess it's quality and not quantity :)

  2. The quality is higher in St. Louis too, sadly.

    While Boulevard is great, none of our smaller breweries are really at the level of a Six Row or Urban Chestnut (unless you take a very generous view of what KC is that includes Lawrence).

    We also don't have beer bars on the level of iTap and we don't have anything remotely like 33 Wine or Pi.

    St. Louis does not get the credit it deserves, yet. It belongs in any serious discussion about top 10 beer cities in the country.

  3. Cicero's on Delmar is great. Check this place out!

  4. I went on the Schlafly tour last year and let me tell you, one of the most fun times I've ever had. My brother and I drove non-stop and got there right as a tour was starting. They held the tour just for us so we could go to the bathroom beforehand. Super informative tour; the guys really are beer nerds. After learning the history of St. Louis brewing in a nutshell we got a nice tour of the brewery and bottling line. After that we got to drink our samples. He would pour two large pitchers and start one at each side of the horseshoe shaped bar. By the time all beers were passed out, we found at least 3 pitchers worth of beer left over. Our guide pulled up a chair next to us, handed us full pint glasses and drank with us til the next tour came in. Awesome time.

  5. Your list is missing Flying Saucer St. Louis. Opened in 2013.