Best Micro Breweries in St. Charles 2021
Make no mistake, St. Louis is a beer city. In addition to being the headquarters of Anheuser-Busch, the city is also known nationwide (and in some cases, worldwide) for its craft beer scene. So for the highbrow hipster who would rather toast with high-priced Wild Ale than a Budlight, St. Louis has something to offer you, too. The following are some of our favorite picks for breweries in St. Louis and the surrounding areas.
4 Hands was started only 9 years ago (as of this writing) but has quickly grown into one of the most popular brands in the city. Their two-story taproom is also impressive, with its industrial design, long tables, free skeeball and old school arcades, and full bar experience (just in case you want more than the beer). Their most well-known beers are the Incarnation IPA, Divided Sky Rye IPA, and the City Wide Pale: each of these is popular enough that you will even find them in most St. Louis gas stations. Their best beer, according to Untapped, is the Chocolate Milk Stout, which is brewed with three pounds of cocoa nips per barrel: the perfect, dark-chocolatey dessert beer.
Urban Chestnut is another big name in the world of St. Louis beer. They refer to their philosophy as “Beer Divergency” —a ‘new world meets old world’ approach to brewing in which Urban Chestnut forwards the ‘revolution’ of craft beer through their own artisanal creations of modern American beers, all while paying ‘reverence’ to the heritage of beer with offerings of timeless, European beer styles. If that all sounds confusing, don’t worry; it tastes good. We should also note that Urban Chestnut has three locations, The Grove Bierhall, with its classic industrial-style interior and long, communal tables, the Midtown Biergarten, which focuses more on an outdoor experience, and the U.R.B., where you can taste Urban Chestnuts experimental brews and participate in their surveys.
Alpha Brewing Company
Alpha is among the most unique breweries you will find in St. Louis. Their team purportedly has a background in chemistry, and their tap selection is that of a mad scientist— and we mean that as a compliment. To give you an idea, one of their most popular beers, the Apocrypha, is a malty brown Saison sour. You might be tempted to say, “What the hell?” at first, but later you’ll be throwing up your hands and saying “What the hell, why not?” because their rare concoction, bizarre as they sound (and often taste), are no less pleasing to the pallet.
Schlafly began operations in 1991 at the corner of 21st and Locust streets on the western edge of downtown. The first new brewery in more than 50 years started making and selling a line of Schlafly beers named after its founder, Tom Schlafly. What began as a simple brewpub with limited distribution to a few local restaurants has continued to grow and evolve into a popular local beer-maker that features a second brewery, Schlafly Bottleworks, in nearby Maplewood, and now even a third, called Schlafly Bankside, in old town St. Charles. They are a distribution network that includes more than 1,200 restaurants, bars, grocery and convenience stores across the region.
If you consider yourself a beer connoisseur, you probably know about Side Project already. It consistently ranks near the top of breweries worldwide (yes, worldwide, not just nationwide). Paste writer Jim Vorel noted, “Even at a festival filled with absolute titans of the industry, people are still making a beeline for Side Project when the doors open, which marks them as elite among the elite.” That said, you should expect to pay more than you would at a typical brewery. The best quality comes with a higher price tag.
Civil Life, in Tower Grove South of St. Louis, is the closest thing you’ll get to an English pub in this area. The long tables and its traditional wood paneling will strike as the perfect place for C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien to trade manuscripts. Civil Life specializes in malt-driven session beers, with almost every selection falling between four and six percent alcohol. The beer and food have won this spot a loyal following of regulars, especially from the neighborhood.
Exit 6 is St. Charles County’s first nanobrewery, and is proud to serve craft beer and only craft beer. From their initial opening, they’ve proudly displayed a sign that says, ‘If you’ve seen it in a commercial, we don’t have it!” That might be an exaggeration, but it certainly reflects the contrarian spirit of Exit 6. The brewery’s founder, Jeff, briefly found himself in the spotlight after his snarky reply to a cease-and-desist letter from Starbucks for naming his beer ‘Frappuccino’. (After the incident, Jeff fittingly called the beer ‘The F Word,’ but we digress.)
Friendship is located about 40 miles west of St. Louis in the small, downtown area of Wentzville Missouri, but it’s worth the drive. We love the cozy and wonderfully decorative atmosphere, which includes a parked truck on the inside, along with roadsigns, beer signs, barrel chairs, and other fun sights. The inside also feels seamlessly connected to its outdoor terrace, where you’ll often find groups of friends laughing and enjoying their drinks under the ambient lighting. They tap list includes at least 25 rotating taps, many of which are house beers. Our memorable picks include the Wentzville Brown, Bignose IPA, and Friendzy IPA. If you’re up for something daring and different, try the Rasmanian Devil, a Raspberry and Jalapeños Red Ale with a big kick.
You won’t find Second Shift off a busy, hipster-approved street neighbored by coffee shops and cafes. No, Second Shift will require a GPS to be found, as it is located in an industrial area north of the Hill, close to the train tracks. This is a great place to stop after a long day’s work (or perhaps before your second shift). We recommend their flagship, Art of Neurosis, a delightfully-hoppy IPA.
Two Plumbers Brewery + Arcade is the epitome of fun in St. Charles. The founders clearly know their stuff: the not-so-subtle nod to Mario and Luigi, along with their more-subtle nods, like the names of beers like “Pauline” and “Healing Potion Red,” reflects a deep appreciation of video game history. If the arcades, the pinball machines, and the tasty brews aren’t fun enough, Two Plumbers also boasts a massive collection of free-to-play board games and card games, and on any given night you’ll inevitably find a group friends table playing Cards Against Humanity.