For over 200 years, St. Louis has had a vibrant and dynamic brewing scene. From Falstaff, Griesedieck and Lemp to Schlafly, 4 Hands and Civil Life, St. Louis has been blessed with talented brewers satisfying thirsty locals with tasty suds. We’re definitely spoiled by having access to world class beers being made right in our backyard. That’s what makes the 11th annual St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival that much more special. A premiere showcase of the St. Louis beer scene, it features over 50 STL area breweries pouring over 100 different styles of beer, food, live music, special tapping of rare and limited beers and home brew club tastings, all happening beneath the ST. Louis Arch. I consider myself lucky to have been able to attend and rejoice at the support and respect our local breweries receive.
The long stretch of downtown road that was taken over by beer tents for the day was filled with patrons from a variety of craft beer backgrounds. Some folks are just getting into craft beer with this being their first festival. Others have been drinking craft for years and are happy to come see how the local scene is evolving from year to year. Local homebrewer and festival attendee Kally Gehly explains, “When you’re curious about local beer, this is the place to be. You get to try all the things that you’ve wanted to try but maybe were afraid to buy a whole pint of.”
Curious customers at a craft beer festival are definitely going to have an eye-opening day. If you’re willing to try a little bit of everything you might stumble upon an unexpected favorite. “I like the darker stouts and so I’m always looking for a surprise,” said St. Louisan Arnie Troy, “However, in looking for that surprise, I often end up finding it with a beer from a different style that I didn’t expect.”
I’ve tried a lot of beers in my time but I know that even for someone like myself, finding an unexpected favorite is something I look forward to at these events. After pouring over the beer list for Heritage Fest, it was an almost Herculean task to plan my strategy of attack. Once I had established my battle plan, I waded in and started sampling. Here are the beers that pleased my palate:
Civil Life German Pilsner (5.1% ABV)
This was my first beer of the festival and it was excellent. Crisp, clean, easy drinking and sessionable, this is classic Civil Life, executing a perfect take on the style. Well done.
Earthbound Dead Druid King 2017 (6.66% ABV, 0 IBU)
I was blown away by Dead Druid King. A hopless black wheat beer seasoned with oak leaves, this was complex, malty, fruity, yet very refreshing. Earthbound’s creativity never fails to impress me.
Earthbound Red Hot Riplets Gose (?? ABV)
This was being poured at the St. Louis Hop Shop’s Rare Tappings Tent. The perfect balance of heat from the Red Hot Riplets and sour tang from the gose to create an unholy flavor combination. While it might not be for everyone, I was delighted by this one.
Bluewood Brewing Leviathan-Blend#3 (12.7% ABV)
If this beer is ever bottled, beer geeks will lose their minds. A barrel aged Imperial Stout brewed with espresso and Tahitian vanilla, this one ticks all of the boxes on the “whale” checklist. Dangerously drinkable and deliciously smooth and creamy with great chocolate, coffee, vanilla and barrel characteristics, Bluewood has definitely put themselves on my radar as far as new breweries to watch.
Bluewood Arch City Haze (8.9% ABV, 70 IBU)
The New England style IPA category has exploded in recent months. It seems like every other brewery is throwing their hat into the ring, trying to out juice the competition. While I tried several NE-style IPA’s at Heritage Fest, this was the clear winner. Hazy, dank, creamy and juicy, it was a great example of the style and mega tasty to boot. Keep your eyes on Bluewood. They are going to do great things.
Two Plumbers Player 2 Pale Ale (5.0% ABV)
Reminiscent of the rauchbiers from the legendary Schlenkela brewery in Bamberg Germany, this offering from Two Plumbers hit all of the right notes. Great smoke flavors from the applewood, yet the underlying pale ale was still very present. If you’re in St. Charles and love beer and/or video games, make sure you stop by.
Perennial Artisan Ales Suburban Beverage (4.2% ABV)
A friend of mine has been raving about this beer and somehow I had never tried it, so Heritage Fest proved to the perfect opportunity to partake. This gose is zesty and very fruit forward, with refreshing lime and citrus flavors, bringing with it a with a pleasant tartness. Perennial nailed this one.
Ferguson Brewing Coffee IPA (7.1%ABV, 56 IBU)
Hops and coffee don’t sound like they go together, but Ferguson has found just the right mix of roasty coffee flavors and citrus and pine hop flavors to create an very well balanced beer. I don’t even drink coffee and I thoroughly enjoyed this.
White Rooster Dry Hopped Front Porch (4.5% ABV, 30 IBU)
Another great example of balance, this farmhouse ale had all of the classic saison flavors with just the right amount of dank, resiny hops. Hoppy and refreshing.
2nd Shift Little Big Hop (4.9% ABV)
Little Big Hop sees 2nd Shift using their hop prowess to bring us an a tantalizing session IPA packed full of flavor, yet light on the ABV. Getchyasum!
As far as I’m concerned, this year’s Heritage Festival was a home run. Extremely well run with short beer lines, plenty of food options, free water and great scenery on the riverfront, this was a beer enthusiast’s dream afternoon. If you couldn’t make it to this year’s fest, make it a point to go to next year’s. You won’t be disappointed. Cheers to everyone involved in putting on the event and the St. Louis Brewers Guild for continuing to support our great beer community.
See below for our photos from the event and a short video recap.
Heritage Festival 2017