Cherokee Street in St. Louis may be one of the most eclectic and vibrant places in the whole city. It’s a street where quirky meets conventional and where past and present meld seamlessly. It’s no surprise then that this is where Earthbound Beer has made its home. Awarded 2015’s Best New Brewery in Missouri by RateBeer, Earthbound didn’t set out to make “weird beer” but is known for precisely that. Since opening in 2014, they’ve slowly gained a following that is now literally bigger than the brewery can handle. Its 45 gallon brewing system will be re-purposed as a pilot system when their new 7 bbl system (over 2oo gallons) comes to life down the street in a bigger and more accommodating brewery space that Earthbound will move to before the year’s end.
So, what’s the driving force behind these “weird beers” that are taking the brewery beyond its current capacity? There are three owners of Earthbound so technically one third of that force is Rebecca Schranz. Rebecca is a woman who until a few years ago would’ve been content in the depths of a library, putting her anthropology degree (one of the two degrees she holds) to good use. Possessing the ability to excel in things she’s passionate about and the inability to turn down a new adventure, Rebecca suddenly found herself a professional brewer, crafting some of the most unique recipes the St. Louis beer scene has ever tasted.
Name: Rebecca Schranz
Position: Co-Owner/Brewer Earthbound Beer
Beard: “The occasional hair that comes in with age.” – Rebecca
What’s your favorite beer brewed by Earthbound?
Last year we brewed 76 distinct beers in 120 days so picking one is a somewhat impossible task. My favorite in the last month was a cucumber pepper kölsch I developed using chili pequin at the end of the boil and cucumber juice in secondary. The nose was overwhelmingly cucumber forward, but the light kölsch body helped move it across the tongue to finish with some heat from the chilis at the back of the mouth. The heat helped balance out the vegetal quality that can overwhelm other cucumber beers. With the temperatures we’ve been having, it was an easy sell and a crowd favorite.
What’s your favorite local beer that’s not brewed by Earthbound?
I’m a a sucker for 2nd Shift and just about anything that mad genius Steve Crider is up to. Katy made me fall in love years ago, but I lost my mind over Chateau la Douchebag last year at Crider Fest. A very excellent regular of mine brought me a keg of Katy for my birthday this year, and we party tapped it out of an iced-down trash can in my backyard. I have never felt so decadently south-city in my life.
What’s your favorite non-local beer?
Scratch’s Golden Beet Porter is a beautifully executed beer. I enjoy an earthiness to my beer, and I believe Scratch has figured out how to balance their foraged and grown adjuncts with a solid base recipe. Of course getting their beer isn’t the easiest task, but a trip to a true farmhouse brewery only two hours from home makes for an excellent weekend trip.
How did you end up as a professional brewer?
I accidentally became a brewer. My partners, Stuart Keating and Jeff Siddons, asked me if I wanted to join them in opening a brewery, and I said yes. My degrees are in Psychology and Anthropology, and I figured I would be done with grad school by now. Instead, Stuart showed me how to make beer, and I slowly took over much of the production. Brewing is methodical with a tangible result which I find incredibly satisfying. Over the last year I have taken over most of the brewing so Stuart can concentrate on our paperwork and the logistics of our expansion. We split the new recipe development 50/50, which is definitely an area I would like to become more proficient at, but after brewing for only about a year, I am proud of the growth I have experienced.
What’s a typical day like for you at Earthbound?
Every day is a different day. Typically, I brew Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. But I also bar tend, pour at a majority of our events, manage the schedule, handle donations, and just about any other odd job that needs to be done. Basically the only things I don’t do are cellar work because Jeff is great at his job and doesn’t need my help and the accounting. More often than not, the jobs cross over regardless of the day. I don’t know what it feels like to be bored anymore.
What’s your most favorite and least favorite beer to brew?
It’s difficult for me to pick a specific favorite because we are known for our variety. My favorite style to brew is the Gruit. Gruits are a hopless beer which require different herbs to dry and bitter the beer. Because the Gruit doesn’t have any style guidelines per se, we play with the bodies of very traditional styles- wits, blondes, brown ales- but we finish them with herbs like yarrow and mugwort. There is a complexity in spice and herb editions that I don’t have to think about in other styles. I highly encourage people to try the style if they come across it. On the total opposite end of the spectrum, I despise brewing IPAs with huge hop editions. We are on a barrel and a half brew system until we move into our new location, and the current boil kettle doesn’t allow for the best boil over control despite my best precautions and diligence. I have to baby the boil for a majority of the time and have an extra hand on deck in case I can’t step away.
What are some upcoming beers from Earthbound that you’re excited about?
I am excited to get into our new space at 2724 Cherokee later this year where I get to use a seven barrel brew system and focus on distribution beer as well. We have a canning line purchased, and we are pretty excited to move beer into the market that can be taken just about anywhere. Our customers are so psyched by the variety of beer we offer, and we are constantly asked how they can take it home. For now, that means growler sales only, but just you wait for what we have in store for the cans. We can’t wait to see pictures of folks floating or hanging out on Art Hill with a Thai Basil IPA.
If someone’s never had an Earthbound Beer experience, what’s something you want them to know about your beer or your brewery?
I would encourage everyone to come see us at 2710 Cherokee before we move to 2724 Cherokee later this year. We are currently in a 1000 square foot space with an interior built almost exclusively by the three of us- the furniture and fixtures, the walk in coolers, etc. The new space is in a former pre-prohibition brewery building with stunning architecture which we couldn’t be more excited to move into. However, I think seeing where we came from is an important part of our story. We love good beer, but we have never felt like beer is an inaccessible commodity. We have made it our living to show people the variety of beer and how neat subtle changes in a recipe can produce a totally different flavor. After I greet everyone who walks up to the bar, I tell them I am happy to answer their questions. Sure, the beer may not be what you are totally used to, but one of the best feelings I can have as a brewer is to watch someone enjoy a “weird” beer for the first time and change their perception of what makes a great beer. It’s not always what you were expecting.
Earthbound Beer will pour you a beer from 4pm-1:30am Wednesday-Friday, Noon-1:30am on Saturdays and from Noon-8pm on Sundays. If you catch wind of a beer on tap that you’d like to try, don’t dawdle. Small batches and a constantly rotating draft list may mean you have a very small window to try their latest creation. If you’d like to drop in for a pint or have any questions, see below for their address and additional contact info.