Friday, November 9, 2012

St. Louis: Rain, Bowling and Beer

For our second day in St. Louis we had unfortunate weather, overcast sky and frigid rainfall.  Luckily our wonderful hotel provided a large umbrella for our day's explorations.  We had a very pleasant breakfast in the Moonrise Hotel's restaurant which was decorated in awesome Flash Gordon-esque pulp sci-fi art and had a giant funky juke box in the bar area. 

From there we wandered in the rain along the Walk Of Fame, featuring stars for such folks as Scott Bakula and Chuck Berry.  Most of the shops along here didn't open until 11, so we mostly window shopped until our walk back.  We saw a strangely large amount of Thai restaurants including Thai Pizza, as well as many small independent art galleries and curio shops.  I discovered a Vintage Vinyl, a large music store with actual CD's!  I bought the remastered Sugar CD Copper Blue and a Yes box set to fulfill my Alternative and Progressive rock needs.  Sj got some CD's by a band called Wussy that she had seen in concert recently...they are really good!

Our next stop was the Schlafly Bottle Works, the other location for this fantastic local brewery.  Located in a large warehouse building with a large but very wet outdoor beer garden, this is the larger of the two brewpubs.  Inside is a bit more modern and industrial than the other site, but still welcoming.  Black and white pictures of the brewery and brewing equipment line the walls in the dining area, interspersed with fantastic colorful chalkboard art and label paintings.  I tried the tasty and drinkable Belgian Singel, and the New Zealand hopped Tasmanian IPA.  Love the Schlafly beers!  My food was an enormous pastrami sandwich that made me not want to eat for a day!  Over our trip we found the Schlafly beers pretty much everywhere we went and it was always a great go-to brand.  Try the beers if you get a chance.  I bought myself a present there: a heavy stainless steel tap handle with 6 interchangeable beer displays.

On our way home we my have become lost briefly, but ended up running into a most impressive animal and jungle structure made entirely of iron.  We stopped the car and made sure to get a closer look.  This was near the entrance to the Zoo, but we didn't have time to really go in there.  An amazing piece of work!

Next up was Six Row Brewing, a newer and smaller brewery located in the old Falstaff Brewery building.   This is a small brewery, reminding me a lot of Barley Johns in Minnesota.  The bartender was very friendly and attentive, and knowledgeable about the beers.  He took our picture climbing up the stairs to the mash tun.  Overall the beers were not great, but I've had far worse.  The Whale (wheat pale ale) was interesting, but not my thing.  The special release Killer Whale had some fermentation issues:  Sj sniffed hers and gave me a funny look...yes buttered popcorn diacetyl was strong with this one.  Knowing we had more drinking to do this evening, we left some beer unfinished and headed to our next destination.

Our next stop: Urban Chestnut Brewery.  This place was in an old mechanic shop, with the brew system visible through the large garage doors.  The Tasting Room was concrete, solid wood chairs and tables, and a very nice wood bar.  One group of beers they brew is the Reverence Series:  more traditional ales and lagers like Zwickel, Pils, and Belgian Wit.  They also have a Revolution Series that is aimed more at pushing the envelope:  STLIPA (St. Louis Double IPA), Winged Nut (nice brown with real chestnuts,) and Old Tjikko spruce ale (Pine-Sol in a glass.)  All the beers (minus Pine-Sol beer) were very tasty and there was something for each of us to enjoy.  The tasting room was busy but not insane on a Monday night, but I bet this joint is crazy on the weekends.  The brewery style was great and I'd love to spend more time here.  No samplers, but they will serve a taste of something for free when you place your drink order.  One of the bartenders steered us toward two more places we should visit tomorrow...showing off the collegial nature of the local beer scene.

Next stop Three Kings pub for food and more drinks.  Captain Crunch Shrimp = awesome!  Great burger with deep fried jalapenos, spicy mayo and pepper jack cheese as well.  They had a great beer list and did samplers.  Got to try the Schlafly Bourbon Aged Imperial Stout that was quite tasty...but I wouldn't want more than that sampler size of it.

By now we had been out on the town all day and were back by our hotel.  Not to stop the excellent day we were having, we opted to try out the Pin-Up Bowl right next to the hotel.  A lot like a newer and less crowded Bryant Lake Bowl, this place had great beers and cocktails.  They have an excellent pin-up theme with cool posters and of course hipsters abounded here.  We actually had the place nearly to ourselves late on a Monday night, and bowled several frames getting ready for our JAB homebrew club bowling coming up later in the month.  I beat Sj two games and came so close to catching up in the third.  She really hates losing.  And wearing skanky bowling shoes.  But we had a great time and I'd highly recommend the place.  A quick wander back and we were at the hotel...up early in the morning to visit Anheiser Busch Brewery!

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