Every January at work I get a copy of the calendar to pick my vacation days for the year. One of the first things I do is find out what day Schlafly’s Hop in the City is being held on and make sure to request off of work. I’ve been to this festival every year since 2008 and there’s good reason why. Not only is it a chance for Schlafly to throw a party and show off their diverse portfolio of brews, but it’s also a reminder of why they’ve been such a huge part of the amazing beer scene in St. Louis since 1991.
For those unfamiliar, Hop in the City is Schlafly’s largest beer festival, held every September. This year’s festival took place on Saturday, September 17th. With over 40 beers to sample, food, and live music from Calexico, White Denim, Black Pistol Fire and others, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy.
Before the festival festivities even started, I was able to get a sneak peek at the new bottling line at their downtown location, the Tap Room. They’ve installed an eight head bottle filler and two foeders for sour/wild beers. The first beer being bottled on the new line will be Schlafly’s Imperial Oktoberfest, which I was able to try and I have to say, it’s a great beer. If you head down to the Tap Room, be sure to have a look, as it’s located by the bar on the lower level.
With all of that being said, let’s get to the best part: The beer! With over 40 beers available to try, including special tappings throughout the day, there was a plethora of options. The styles ran the gamut from lagers to imperial stouts, milds to saisons and ciders too. Here are my personal favorite beers from Saturday:
Coconut Crème Ale (5.5% ABV, 17 IBU): This beer really impressed me and was my overall favorite. Very creamy with great fresh coconut flavors. I could see myself drinking a lot of this beer. Hopefully they bring this one back next year.
Vastly Mild (4.2% ABV, 20 IBU): Schlafly nailed this one. A collaboration with Port City Brewing from Alexandria Virginia, this low alcohol beer had great flavors of hazelnuts, caramel and toffee. Perfect example of the style.
Smoked Stout (8.0% ABV, 45 IBU): Smoke beers: some people love them, some people hate them. This beer will convert anyone on the fence. A great stout base with just the right amount of smoke flavors from smoked beechwood malt, this beer went down way too smooth.
Imperial Oktoberfest (8.0% ABV, 35 IBU): As I alluded to earlier, this beer was another highlight for me. A more robust version of a traditional Marzen, this had great toasted malt flavors with German hops balancing things out.
POTUS (5% ABV, 25 IBU): POTUS is a pale lager. Nothing fancy, just a well made, easy drinking crisp lager. Highly enjoyable.
Rye IPA (7.2% ABV, 65 IBU): Crisp and spicy, this beer was very well done, with bold citrus flavors and a refreshing rye finish. This one will be part of their “Hop Allocation” series that we’ve been teasing in our recent New Brew News posts.
This year’s Hop in the City was not without it’s downsides though. Lines seemed disproportionately long and confusing. That was something that was a big gripe on social media during and after the event. To me, a lot of the focus seemed to be more on the bands than the beers. Overall, there was very limited seating and shade and it felt somewhat chaotic. Obviously putting on a beer fest is a daunting task, so one has to expect some issues will arise. Hopefully Schlalfy takes notice of these problems and corrects them next year.
Despite these issues, I’m definitely glad I went. Schlafly makes some excellent beers and has a lot of cool new things coming out soon. I’m excited to see what the future holds and will be back next year for my tenth in a row. Cheers!!