Sauce Magazine – St. Louis is Lagertown, United States
St. Louis is Lagertown, United States
Saint-Louis has always been a lager town, but craft brewers have fallen in love with the classic style once again. We turned to local experts to find out what rekindled the spark.
In a city full of beer fanatics in search of the latest hazy New England IPAs and spicy-sweet Imperial stouts, it can be easy to forget about lager, a sweet and infinitely malleable ale built over centuries of tradition. Lagers play a central role in some of St. Louis’ favorite pastimes, like drinking iced Budweisers at Busch Stadium while watching the Cardinals – a team owned by the Anheuser-Busch beer masters from 1953 to 1996. In d Other parts of town, like South City, menus everywhere from dive bars to gourmet restaurants offer the sacred Busch; Born as Busch Bavarian Beer in 1955, it is appreciated by many as a sort of counter-cultural alternative to Budweiser, although both are lagers and produced by the same company.
But it’s not just because of Anheuser-Busch that Saint-Louis is known as one of the country’s greatest beer towns; it is our extensive portfolio of craft breweries that has earned us this distinction. And within that community, lagers have become something of a benchmark for quality as measured by brewers and customers. “It’s a completely different mindset and process than with beer fermentations,” said Kyle Kohlmorgen, head brewer at Wellspent Brewing Co. “We had to learn to think differently when brewing this style of beer. beer and become more detail oriented. When we change a little thing on the front end, we get a different result. ”
Part of the difficulty is planning and climate: Lagers take much longer than ales to brew and are fermented at a significantly cooler temperature. The word “lager” means “storage” in German, referring to the ice-filled cellars that 19th-century German brewers used for brewing when it got too hot. According to Kohlmorgen, his pale beers and IPAs take six weeks or less to ferment, while his unfiltered Keller Pils spend around 12 weeks fermenting. It is also its most popular beer. “We don’t have a filter, so it’s not very clear,” Kohlmorgen explained. “It was our bestseller in the tap room before Covid. Every time we had this on [draft], we would sell more than IPA or our other beers. “
Like most brewers, Kohlmorgen brews their lagers seasonally: Dark, a Czech-style brown lager, was released in winter 2018; in summer, it makes a lighter American-style corn lager; next fall he’s considering a smoked lager. “It takes a long time to get our pale lager process in place, and now we’re really focused on making sure the beer is really good and branches out from there,” he said.
At Civil Life Brewing Co., another brewery with a large portfolio of lagers, the lager process has become quite streamlined after a decade of developing them, said chief brewer Dylan Mosley. Much of the lager’s reputation for difficulty, he says, is that beer production has been optimized for ease and efficiency, making “slower” beers more difficult. But these measures are subjective, Mosley pointed out. The adjustments that Civil Life brewers have made over the years to their lager process include increasing their initial dosage rate of fresh yeast and allowing more time for the “first generation” of fermentation. “By keeping our exponential fermentation phase really active, we get great results,” he explained.
The list of Civil Life lagers produced throughout the year is long and the brewery has earned a reputation as one of the best style brewers in town. “We brew Vienna Lager, Dortmunder Lager, Black Lager, Carlbock Lager (a maibock), Czech Pilsner and end up with a few batches of our Oktoberfest Lager,” said owner and co-founder Jake Hafner. “Oktoberfest beer is hands down our most sought-after lager and has a legion of fans waiting for its release every year.” He added that most Civil Life lagers don’t come out of the brewery for retail (Oktoberfest being the exception), which means that to fully enjoy the brewery experience, you have to. go in person.
When asked about their favorite local beer, Hafner and Kohlmorgen both pointed out the award-winning town Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. – specifically, the Stammtisch brewery, a German-style pilsner. “To my palate, this is the best pilsner in the country,” said Kohlmorgen, who admitted to drinking more of it than any other local beer. Hafner echoed this sentiment. “It’s easy: Urban Chestnut Stammtisch Pilsner,” he said. “Every time I see the Stammtisch, I am really happy to know that it is made in our city.”
Stammtisch is not only popular with local pros; According to Florian Kuplent, co-founder and brewer of Urban Chestnut, he’s also a favorite among brewery staff. “We have a small keggerator [of it] in the brewers’ area, ”said Kuplent. Although the spicy herbal brew is the most beloved of local brewers, up to a dozen lagers can be found on Urban Chestnut taps at a time, including its two bestsellers: Zwickel (a Bavarian beer) and the American lager Urban Underdog. . Also, in the fall, we can taste the O-Katz, a malted Oktoberfest lager, while the summer brings beers like breezy, golden # 6, a classic American lager dedicated to Stan Musial whose recipe predates prohibition.
Side Project Brewing, Drew Durish, came to St. Louis with a wealth of beer knowledge, having brewed at various establishments in Texas, including Austin’s famous hotspot, The Brewer’s Table. “It’s a town that likes light, low ABV lagers,” Durish said of his old home. “You generally think of it as – I hate to use the word ‘crushable’ – summer beers to drink. For the heat of Texas, they work pretty well. It’s no wonder that this logic is also repeated in Saint-Louis, a city that likes to complain about its humidity.
Although Side Project is best known for its stouts and sour, Durish appreciates the complexity of brewing lagers. “I love the clean slate. It really allows you to focus and hone in on the basics of brewing, ”he said. “It’s the same thing over and over again, and it’s done in a very special way. Subtle changes can make or break a beer. Durish added that while lagers aren’t necessarily more difficult to make than other beers, their smaller flaws are clearly on display, as lagers rarely have the excess fruit, spices or hops that broaden the flavor profiles of the beers. beers like IPAs or stouts. “There isn’t much to hide behind,” he said.
According to Durish, content moderator, Side Project’s hugely popular corn lager produced by sister brewery Shared has had a long way to go to get to its current state. “Content Moderator was the culmination of several different things that I brewed at The Brewer’s Table,” said Durish. “This is the 30th iteration, I specify exactly what I want to drink. It is such a thirst-quenching effect, sweetness. He compared Content Moderator to a lager type Pilsner beer, with corn replacing German or Austrian malt as a supplement (an added component like barley, rye, oats or grain). “It can always be better, but it’s definitely the beer I’m most proud of when it comes to making it my own,” said Durish.
There are a seemingly endless number of great lagers in town, and everyone has their favorite, from Stammtisch and Zwickel to the content moderator. But despite all the craft offerings, even the best brewers toast OGs every now and then, with Bud Light and Busch cited by many local beer brewers and foodies (including this writer) as low-key favorites. On his trip from Texas, where Lone Star (another beer created by Anheuser-Busch co-founder Adolphus Busch) is king, to St. Louis, where the beer king rules everything, Durish also came to find the magnetic, Busch’s golden pull is a must. “It’s no surprise that this is a big deal here. I really converted to Busch when I moved here, ”he laughs. “It’s really good.”