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A day in the life of Ska Brewing

February 13, 2011 By: grant Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Travelin', Video

If you’ve been paying attention, you are well aware of our fondness for Ska Brewing‘s Modus Hoperandi. I first discovered it last summer on a trip out to Colorado, and Mike and Jeff have since become quite the fans.

We’ve blogged about the fantastic brew a number of times — here, here, here and here.

The brewery tweeted this video a coupla days ago and I thought I better share. Lots of great beer porn here.

Unfortunately, the closest you can get Modus Hoperandi is about 4-and-a-half hours away.

Modus is in St. Louis

If you find yourself passing through St. Louis and buying beer, we’d sure appreciate a sixer or three.

St. Louis beer tour, Part 4: Straub’s (Bringing home some beer)

February 04, 2011 By: mike Category: Craft beer, Travelin'

Read all entries from the St. Louis beer tour:
Part 1: Schlafly Tap Room || Part 2: Morgan Street fail(s), and a decent Downtown sports bar || Part 3: Six Row Brewing Company || Part 4: Straub’s (Bringing home some beer) || Part 5: Anheuser-Busch 

St. Louis beer haul

Jeff, of FuzzyBrew, is the master of traveling and bringing home new kinds of beer, especially if an airplane is involved. He can pack them up and travel with beer like no one I know.

I’m not there yet. But I do like to bring home beer if I’m traveling and have my car.

So on my recent visit to St. Louis, I made sure to do some shopping.

Luckily, my brother had just been to St. Louis and recommended Straub’s, a Miss Cordelia’s-like grocery with a nice selection of beer, most of which you can’t buy in Memphis.

My goal was to bring home some Missouri brews that I had yet to try. I did that, plus I picked up some other great stuff.

Here’s what I brought home:

• Two six-packs of Schafly Coffee Stout. I just brewed a coffee stout, so I was interested in trying a commercial version of the beer. St. Louis’ Schlafly uses Kaldi’s Coffee and mixes it with an Oatmeal Stout for a really nice beer.

• Two six-packs of Schlalfy No. 15. This is Schlalfy’s 15th anniversary ale, which is wheaty and spicy. Not a huge fan, but my fellow FuzzyBrewers don’t mind the wheat beers.

• Two six-packs of Schlalfy Winter ESB. A decent winter seasonal brewed with rye flakes and plenty of hops. They were out of this at the Schlafly Taproom, so I was happy to find it here in bottles.

• One six-pack of Cherry Chocolate Beer from O’Fallon, Missouri’s O’Fallon Brewery. I read about this beer online last year, and started craving it for some bizarre reason. I like cherries, and I like chocolate. I bought a sixer when I saw it at Straub’s and couldn’t finish one bottle. It was awful.

• One six-pack of Tin Mill Brewing Company‘s Doppelbock from Hermann, Missouri. A tasty winter brew with nice roasted malts.

• One six-pack of Big Sky IPA from Big Sky Brewing Co. in Missoula, Montana. One of two non-Missouri beers I brought home. It’s a really, really nice IPA. Citrusy, but well-balanced. Hated to finish that sixer.

•Finally, I picked up three six-packs of Ska Brewing Company‘s Modus Hoperandi. This is actually why I went to Straub’s. My brother found this Colorado beer when he went to St. Louis and brought home a sixer for me. One of the best beers I tried in 2010. I bought a six-pack for me, and sixers for both Grant and Jeff. (They also got Schlafly mixers.) They were quite happy with the gift. When I go back to Missouri, I’ll bring back even more Modus.

Up next: In Part 5 of the St. Louis beer tour, I visit the Mecca for beer lovers in the United States, and try to keep a straight face.

St. Louis beer tour, Part 3: Six Row Brewing Company

January 20, 2011 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Favorite Bars, Travelin'

After a great visit to the Schlafly Tap Room and an unsuccessful detour to the Morgan Street Brewery — as detailed in Part 1 and Part 2 of my St. Louis beer tour series — it was a new day, and time to find another brewery.

Read all entries from the St. Louis beer tour:
Part 1: Schlafly Tap Room || Part 2: Morgan Street fail(s), and a decent Downtown sports bar || Part 3: Six Row Brewing Company || Part 4: Straub’s (Bringing home some beer) || Part 5: Anheuser-Busch

Six Row Brewing Company - St. Louis

Six Row Brewing Company in St. Louis

One of the best things about visiting St. Louis? The museums in town — from the Saint Louis Art Museum, to the Science Center, to the Zoo — are all free and have some excellent exhibits. (The penguins at the zoo, for example, are not to be missed. Just don’t get too close or they will splash you and soak you to the bone. Trust me on that.)

Well, after a long (and wet) day of museum hopping, it was time for a few cold ones. We headed to Six Row Brewing Company, 3690 Forest Park Ave. in Midtown, just off the campus of St. Louis University.

Located on the grounds of a former Falstaff Brewery, Six Row is an intimate and friendly neighborhood bar that just happens to brew some great craft beer on site.

The building occupied by Six Row dates back to 1910 and housed the administrative offices and reception center for the original Falstaff plant in St. Louis.

Six Row Brewing Company sampler

Get the sampler at Six Row and try 'em all.

When we arrived, a few guys were throwing darts. A few people were at the bar. It was quiet, laid-back and inviting.

So what to drink? I decided to try ’em all.

For $7, you can get sampler of all six beers on tap at Six Row. Samplers are a great way to taste the different styles of beer at any brewpub.

Here’s a quick review of the Six Row offerings:

Kolsch (ABV: 4.6%; 27.1 IBUs): This German-style beer, an ale-lager hybrid, is very light-bodied with a crisp hop bitterness.

Whale (ABV: 5.0%; 31.4 IBUs): Ten malts (yes, 10 malts!) go into this interesting wheat ale-pale ale hybrid, that’s pale copper in color and leaves you with a bitterness on the back of the tongue that lingers.

Double IPA (ABV: 8.4%; 68 IBUs): The strongest of the beers I tried at Six Row, almost two pounds of hops go into each barrel of the Double IPA. The hops add both piny and citrus characteristics to this unfiltered brew.

Six Row Brewing Company brewing equipment

The copper mash tun and brew kettle at Six Row

Porter (ABV: 5.2%; 36.7 IBUs): Chocolaty,  sweet and malty all describe this tasty, strong porter.

Honey Weizen (ABV: 5.2%; 17.5 IBUs): Brewed with honey from Florissant, Missouri, this drinkable wheat beer is not overpowering in its sweetness, which is balanced by Saaz hops.

Belgian Dubbel (ABV: 7%; 22 IBUs): I’m not a huge fan of Belgian beers, but I enjoyed this malty brew, with hints of caramel and fruit flavors.

The food at Six Row is simple, but tasty: sandwiches, soups and salads. I ordered the Steamy Roast Beef & Cheddar, which came with locally-made chips from the Billy Goat Chip Company. I paired that with a porter, which made for a great meal.

Coming next week: In Part 4 of the St. Louis beer tour, I hit the grocery store in search of beers I’ve never tasted.

St. Louis beer tour, Part 2: Morgan Street fail(s), and a decent Downtown sports bar

January 13, 2011 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Favorite Bars, Travelin'

Read all entries from the St. Louis beer tour:
Part 1: Schlafly Tap Room || Part 2: Morgan Street fail(s), and a decent Downtown sports bar || Part 3: Six Row Brewing Company || Part 4: Straub’s (Bringing home some beer) || Part 5: Anheuser-Busch 

So, it’s about 8 p.m. on a Monday night in St. Louis and — as told in Part 1 of this series — I’ve just had a tasty meal and a pair of great beers at the Schlafly Tap Room. I’d like to make one more stop before calling it a night, so we head to the Morgan Street Brewery, the closest St. Louis brewery to my hotel Downtown that features a slew of beers crafted on site, including a Honey Wheat and a Cobblestone Steam Lager.

Here’s where things go wrong.

Fail #1: I got a Garmin for Christmas and immediately found myself relying on this GPS device to find my way around St. Louis. It had generally been reliable — until now. The exit off the interstate to get to Laclede’s Landing was closed, unbeknownst to Garmin, and we end up across the bridge in Illinois, briefly lost and definitely frustrated. We turn around and get back on track, make it to Laclede’s Landing, rumble over the cobblestones, and pay $5 to park.

Morgan Street Brewery in St. LouisFail #2: We walk up to the Morgan Street Brewery. I snap a few exterior photos. I can almost taste the malty goodness. We walk up to the door. And … it’s locked. Yep, Monday night, around 8:30, and the place is closed. I had just checked the website earlier in the day, and the place was supposed to be open from 4 p.m. to 2:3o a.m. No sign on the door. No sign of life inside. Nothing. Big ‘ol waste of time. And $5 poorer.

OK, so we head back to the hotel, the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch, a pretty nice place and the closest you can possibly stay to the Arch, and try to salvage the ending to this night.

We had earlier noticed a bar in the hotel, the Brewhouse Saint Louis Historical Sports Bar, so we make a beeline there as soon as we get back to the Hyatt.

I was pleasantly surprised.Brewhouse Saint Louis Historical Sports Bar

The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons were on the TVs, all 18 of them, and the game is close. I get a copy of the beer list, and life is good.

The menu had a mix of St. Louis beers, from Budweiser to Schlafly to O’Fallon, as well as craft beers from across the country.

My brother had been to St. Louis recently and brought back some O’Fallon Hemp Hop Rye, which was decent. That’s what Sara ordered. Instead, I got the O’Fallon 5-Day IPA, an American-style India Pale Ale that’s dry-hopped for “five extra days” with 11 lbs. of Cascade whole hops per batch, as well as some Glacier hops. It had a very piny hop flavor and was nicely balanced by the sweet malts. It was a good beer, and I ended up getting another on my last night in St. Louis at a cool place called 1111 Mississippi.

"Your Beer Here" napkin

For my last beer at the Brewhouse, I decided to try something from Colorado. I ordered the Titan IPA from Great Divide, which was the first beer I’d tried from this Denver brewing company. It’s a heavily hopped IPA, with both piny and citrus taste and aroma, and a 7.1% ABV. I liked it, but ultimately preferred the O’Fallon.

I didn’t have any food at the Brewhouse, but it features some typical pub grub — nachos, wings, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers — as well as bangers and mash, smoked beef brisket and fish ‘n chips. It all looked pretty good.

The place also sells some cool T-shirts that say “Brew Me,” which I pondered purchasing, but passed on.

The Brewhouse has a nice laid-back vibe, and I’d definitely recommend it to people staying in Downtown St. Louis who are in need a dose of beer and sports.

Coming next week: Part 3 takes me to another brewpub in St. Louis, and I sample every beer in the house.