The 9th Annual Centennial Beer Festival was held this past weekend at The Historic Schnaider Brewery Malt House downtown. Dozens of breweries pouring hundreds of beers were available to all attendees in three separate sessions on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. For an extra $22, you could get a VIP ticket which gave you access to breweries serving rare and limited releases, cellared & vintage selections. The VIP tickets also got a pint glass as opposed to the small tasting glass you get with a regular ticket and even food was included. Not a bad deal overall.
We were in attendance Saturday night and were inside and filling our glass within 10 minutes of the doors opening. The atmosphere was quite relaxed and since the sessions are shorter than most other beer festivals, it felt more casual as opposed to the “try all the beers!” vibe that we’ve seen at festivals in the past.
The setup was straightforward and it was run very smoothly. The first floor had domestics and imports, the second floor was all local and regional, and the VIP section was in the basement. I had some great beers on floor 1 that I was looking forward to like Ommegang Selassie, but I made sure that most of my time was spent on floor 2 where the locals were pouring.
The booths on each level were spread out nicely and the aisles were wide enough to avoid congestion among attendees. I don’t remember a time where I had to wait for more than one person in front of me to get a pour and at a festival, that’s saying a lot. While I had a lot of great beers, some stood out more than others. Below you’ll see a handful of my favorites and although they’re in no particular order, I will definitely say which one was at the top of my list.
Missouri Beer Company: Dark as Funk | 10.0% ABV/22 IBU
This dark sour has dark fruit notes and the tartness wasn’t overwhelming. Being unable to taste the alcohol makes this one more dangerous than it looks.
Six Mile Bridge: Coffee Maple Stout | 6.0% ABV/20 IBU
The body on this beer feels bigger than 6% and the bitterness in the coffee balances out the maple syrup nicely. It’s sweet but not overly so and at the ABV, you can have a couple of them.
Rock Bridge Brewing: Blood Spree | 4.4% ABV/6 IBU
This Berliner Weisse is made with blood oranges and is an incredibly approachable sour beer. The fruit sweetness does its job in balancing the sour so even your friends who don’t like sours will be surprised by this one.
Bastard Brothers: American Lager | 4.13% ABV/18 IBU
I put this one on here for my macro drinking mother-in-law. While it wasn’t at the top of my list, it was a clean, sessionable lager with a tinge of sweetness. It could replace any macro with ease and the fact that it’s local is a big plus.
Urban Chestnut: Reine Liebe | 5.0% ABV/28 IBU
This was an incredible pilsner. The noble hops were floral and spicy with the malts being biscuity and sweet. Add to it that it was brewed for Catherine Cares, a local organization working to uplift families of children facing devastating diagnoses, and it makes the beer that much better.
Main & Mill Brewing: Mexican Chocolate Stout | 5.5% ABV
This beer was a special tap put on at 7:30 during the festival and yes, it was my favorite. Another brewer in attendance called it “Abraxas Light” and trust me, it was a very high compliment. For just 5.5% the mouthfeel was nice and full and the heat from the Ancho, Serrano and New Mexico Chiles was perfectly balanced by the chocolate and vanilla sweetness. Everything was well balanced and it was the only beer I went back to for seconds (and maybe thirds).
This was my first time attending the Centennial Beer Festival and I had a blast. There was no shortage of innovative or delicious beers and it was nice to see some breweries take a chance with some new or innovative styles (a Cherrywood Smoked Dunkel from Ferguson was one of the most unique I tried). The local beer scene is expanding faster than any of us can keep up with and it’s bringing us some delicious brews. I’m excited to see where our city’s beer journey is heading and Centennial Beer Festival was a perfect event to get people talking about what’s happening next.