If you only go to one beer festival in St. Louis, I highly recommend you attend Lupulin Carnival hosted by 4 Hands. This annual celebration of the hop plant (humulus lupulus) brings together more than 50 different breweries from across the country and also celebrates the release of War Hammer, 4 Hands’ fantastic Imperial IPA. Throw in carnival entertainment including sword swallowers, fire breathers, acrobatics AND a ferris wheel and you’ve got barrel of fun. I’ve attended the past three years and I can testify that it never fails to amaze me.
Unlike past years, this year’s festival was held at Union Station instead of the parking lot of the brewery. This proved to be a smart move on behalf of 4 Hands, as it made the festival much easier to navigate and led to less wait time between delicious beers. It also provided more room for the performers to dazzle the crowd with their astonishing skills.
With so many world class breweries, it was hard to pick which beers to try. Having done my homework before the festival and studying the map of where each brewery would be, I plotted my course before the gates opened and the madness began. Navigating my way through a sea of hardcore beer lovers, I was able to sample some quality brews. These are the highlights of my 2107 Lupulin Carnival experience.
Transient Artisan Ales: The Juice is Loose (8.1% ABV)
This imperial IPA I extremely well named. Juicy, sweet and bursting with flavor, this beer leapt out of the glass with flavors of passion fruit, pineapple and citrus. Extremely well balanced, this beer is an IPA lovers dream/ Seek this one out!
18th Street Brewery: Twisted Doom (7.5% ABV)
New England style IPA’s are all the rage, and 18th Street’s take on the style did not disappoint. Juicy, dank and citrusy, this beer hit all of the right notes. One of my favorite out of state breweries, 18th Street has proven they are worth the hype.
Pipeworks: Crimson Snapper( 9.5% ABV)
If I had to make a list of breweries that I wished were distributed in Missouri, Pipeworks would at the top of the list. Crimson Snapper sees them doing what they do best: making super smooth, super drinkable double IPA’s. This beer features the addition of honey and blood orange, making it even more delicious. Poured by Metal Steve himself!
Narrow Gauge: Zavtrak (10.1% ABV)
This beer deserves every ounce of hype it receives. Luscious chocolate, coffee and maple syrup blend seamlessly in to one fantastic imperial stout. Narrow Gauge Owner/Brewer Jeff Hardesty was on hand to fill glasses of this one.
Mile Wide: Nomah! (6.5% ABV)
This pale ale hits all of the right notes. Super smooth with great tropical and citrus hop flavors, this beer was simply an outstanding example of the style. If you’re ever in Louisville, make sure you visit the brewery and sample some of their offerings.
Civil Life: American Session Ale (4.2% ABV)
This beer is classic Civil Life. Low ABV, with a nice balance of hop and malt flavors, this flavorful session IPA proves that you don’t need 100 IBU’s or double digit ABV to wow the craft beer enthusiast. Well done.
Mikerphone: Imperial Smells Like Bean Spirit (10% ABV)
Similar to Zavtrak from Narrow Gauge, this Imperial Stout is brewed with maple syrup and Tugboat coffee. Essentially, breakfast in a glass. Amazingly delicious.
Lagunitas: SF Fusion 43 (9.0% ABV)
This beer is pretty much what you’d expect from Lagunitas. Hopped with Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Pekko hops, this double IPA is juicy, sweet and flavorful, with a drinkability factor of 11. Dangerous, but so very worth it.
Against the Grain: Clearly Everybody Wants Some (6.0% ABV)
This India Pale Lager is the perfect blend of crisp lager flavors with the hoppy goodness of an IPA. Another great brewery from Louisville, make sure you scour the shelves for cans of Rico Sauvin and Citra Ass Down, both available locally.
So, after spending almost three hours tasting some of the most fantastic beers on the face of the earth and witnessing astounding feats performed by trained professionals, I’ve come to the conclusion that St. Louis is one of, if not the best, beer cities on the face of earth. Cheers!!