Saturday, August 7, 2010

Boring Old Dads Blamed for Long Slump in STL Beer Scene.

There have always been a bunch of good places to drink in St. Louis. Like baseball, diner food, and de facto segregation, drinking is just one of those things at which the city excels. It has a certain brewing history, as you might have heard. Its waves of immigrants over the years have included plenty of thirsty Germans, Irish and Czechs, among others. These days microbreweries are popping up like dandelions, and micro-distilleries are increasingly common.

So St. Louis has never lacked for drinking. It's just that, up until a few years ago let's say, it lacked for options. It was more or less a one-brewery town. And these days? Well, it's still pretty much a one-brewery town -- Schlafly is a popular alternative but still holds only a tiny fraction of the market compared to A-B Inbev.

But there are a growing handful of beer-geek haunts, not to mention craft beers creeping rapidly into what used to be Bud-only bars and restaurants.

"There's just a younger generation coming in, saying I don't want to drink what my father drank," said Mike Sweeney, who runs the popular and useful STL Hops website for local enthusiasts.

Meanwhile Dylan Mosley, longtime barman at the beer-savvy 33 Wine Bar, noted that St. Louis was littered with microbreweries more than 100 years ago. "There's kind of this mentality that your dad sucks but your grandpa's awesome."

Now I will stick up for dads. Obviously the lack of options for most of the 20th Century was not really our dads' fault. There are some fun and tasty cultural shifts taking place with food -- or with flavor, let's say -- and craft beer has come along for the ride. The latest numbers say that craft beer sales were up 12 percent the first six months of this year, compared to the same time last year.

And for the record, my dad now keeps a secret stash of Schneider Aventinus in his garage. That only started a few years ago.

Speaking of Aventinus, it was one of the 40 well-chosen beers on draft when we visited the new International Tap House in Soulard. Exactly the sort of place that didn't exist when I lived in that neighborhood 10 years ago. Stay tuned for posts on a few other must-visit spots in town.

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