Friday, September 17, 2010

File This One Under Random Regional Beer Fests that Would Be Really Cool to Attend.

Everyone should have a folder with that title. Anyway, the Augusta Bottoms Beer Festival is on October 2 in eastern Missouri.

The brewery lineup is a murderer's row of up-and-comers in the St. Louis area and surrounding hinterlands, where craft beer culture has been gaining traction after the sale of Anheuser-Busch. Nevermind the presence of A-B Michelob on the list. Pay more attention to those whose names you don't know. Yet.

Among those you've never heard of, yet, make a note of 2nd Shift. The New Haven-based micro is not officially open for business, but it will be soon. Brewer Steve Crider is making beers that--I suspect--will hit the sweet spot of aficionados.

I was lucky enough to visit his brewery, about 60 miles west-by-southwest of St. Louis, back in early August. A lot of things there impressed me--including a golf-cart ride to a field full of towering hop trellises, and the brewery's location amid a private, re-created Old West town complete with saloon--but what impressed me most was the beer. Among other things he is making some dryish, well-attenuated, hoppy pale ales that are very difficult to stop drinking.

Crider's immediate plan is to distribute kegs to some places in St. Louis. Once people start tasting his beers, I think, his reputation is going to fly farther abroad. That's the age we live in. When people find beers that combine big flavor and great drinkability with technical skill, it's hard to keep it a secret.

Crider has the tools. He's one to watch. The really nice problem we have is that there are a lot of ones to watch these days... and there are a lot of random regional festivals at which you can find them.

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