Monday, May 2, 2011

Shootout at the 2nd Shift Corral.

New Haven, Mo., has a population of about 2,000. My wife, son and I are three of those people; we live abroad but keep a home address, vote, and pay taxes there. Most Missourians wouldn't know where New Haven is, but if you said "between Washington and Hermann" they might get the idea. A tiny Missouri River town between two small ones.

It would be an unlikely place for either (a) one of Missouri's better up-and-coming micros or (b) a promising new craft beer festival. But since (b) follows naturally from (a), it's not an amazing coincidence.

Steve Crider and his 2nd Shift Brewing in New Haven are planning to host a regional beer fest on Saturday, July 9, from noon to 5 p.m. Crider says there will be 400 tickets available: only 100 to be sold at the event, and the rest via Brown Paper Tickets. Several breweries from the St. Louis area and its surroundings have received invitations, though there's no list of participants yet. Should be a hoot, regardless.

More about 2nd Shift: Its beers went on sale in St. Louis in November. The brewhouse is inside a replica Old West town, which is on the sprawling grounds of a conference center complete with golf course, pool, walking trails and hop trellises. Cool spot for a party.

Yeah, hop trellises. Crider grows a lot of his own, though not nearly enough for his obscenely hoppy yet drinkable brews. When I visited last summer his pride-and-joy IPA, Art of Neurosis, was still named Hopfuck. Among friends, anyway. As a journalist who appreciates accuracy and brevity, I prefer the old name.

Art of Neurosis is in the neighborhood of 7% abv, but last summer Crider was already talking about making beers of lower strength. "I'd like to have all session beers that are big on everything," he said. With regard to session beers, he said, "there's a tide turning. ... Even though everyone's trying to come out with the most bad-ass, super-high alcohol, squirrel-lined bottle whatever."

("Squirrel-lined bottle?" Yes, my handwriting is very clear on that. What the hell was he talking about? The End of History, I think. In case your memory of publicity stunts is as foggy as mine.)

Anyways: Crider now makes a 4% pale ale called Little Big Hop. Can't wait to try it. That won't happen for me on July 9, though. That's the week after our daughter is due to arrive. By the time this fest rolls around it ought to be New Haven, populaton 2,001.

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