Far from being beer flyover country, St. Louis stands among America’s oldest brewing towns. With Anheuser-Busch anchoring the city’s brewing scene since 1852, the area has long appreciated a locally made pint. Those deep roots equal a wealth of local brewing knowledge—all part of a formula for a well-supported beer scene that continues to grow.
Perennial Artisan Ales
The industrial riverfront neighborhood of Carondelet is home to one of St. Louis’ most award-winning craft breweries. Perennial added an extra 15 barrels worth of brewing capacity in 2016, meaning more brews to love this year and beyond. Plan to stop in on Thursdays if you’re all about trying seasonal favorites like 17—an imperial stout brewed with cacao nibs and mint—before they hit shelves at the taproom’s weekly new release night. 8125 Michigan Ave., perennialbeer.com
Side Project Cellar
Looking for a crash course on all things saison and wild ale? Turn to Side Project coowners Karen and Cory King, who share a serious love of oak-aged brews, and boast resumes that include stints at Perennial for him; Goose Island and Deschutes for her. At the brewery’s intimate cellar bar, offerings include small batch, barrel-aged house brews alongside an extensive bottle list with gems from Hanssens, Jester King, Mikkeller and more. Keep an eye out for Cory King’s new label, Shared, which features recipes from the entire staff. 7373 Marietta Ave., sideprojectbrewing.com
21st Street Brewers Bar
Located on an otherwise sleepy stretch just beyond downtown St. Louis, this bar—with an extensive patio—is quickly becoming a must for those looking to support the local beer scene. With a 50-tap draft list that features nearly all of the area players, you can check lesser-known regional breweries like Cathedral Square Brewery, Mark Twain Brewing Co. and Six Mile Bridge Brewery off your list without ever leaving your barstool. 2017 Chouteau Ave., 21stbrew.com
4 Hands Brewing Co.
Sharp ears can catch the sounds of a cheering crowd at nearby Busch Stadium from a seat on 4 Hands’ narrow sidewalk patio. The proximity (walkable, if you’re feeling adventurous) to the ballpark explains all the red and white jerseys, but don’t flake if you’re rooting for the away team—the brewery crowd is friendly enough to share a table, and maybe even a pint of the toasty Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown. 1220 S. 8th St., 4handsbrewery.com
2nd Shift Brewing
Originally based in New Haven, Missouri, 2nd Shift moved to St. Louis in late 2016, settling in one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods. 2nd Shift is the only brewery in an area dominated by longstanding Italian eateries, allowing visitors to stop by the tasting room for a Technical Ecstasy pilsner or a Brewcocky double IPA before going in search of a plate of toasted ravioli. 1601 Sublette Ave., 2ndshiftbrewing.com
Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.
Welcome warmer spring days with a pint in one of the city’s most expansive beer gardens. Urban Chestnut boasts three locations, but it’s the Midtown biergarten you’ll want to direct your Uber toward when the sun is out for a round of authentic German-style brews. Try the mellow Zwickel lager alongside bratwurst served with housemade sauerkraut and Dusseldorf mustard. 3229 Washington Ave., urbanchestnut.com
Narrow Gauge Brewing Co.
One of the city’s newest brewery additions is found in North St. Louis County and draws its name from the Narrow Gauge Railroad that used to extend from the city into neighboring Florissant. Blink and you’ll miss this place, where locals line up to buy Crowlers (and grab pizza to-go) at Narrow Gauge’s home that sits within Cugino’s Italian Restaurant. 1595 N. U.S. Hwy 67, narrowgaugestl.com
The Schlafly Tap Room
The grandmother of St. Louis craft breweries (pronounced sh-laughlee) has operated in a turn-of-the-century red brick building since production began in 1991. But rather than rest on their pale ale laurels, the brewery has worked to keep up with the ever-changing beer landscape, now using the former printing building’s dark corners to barrel-age sours while soliciting feedback from guests to inform new hop purchases. Join in by snagging a pint of their latest Hop Trial release, in which a single malt, single hop brew highlights a new hop variety. 2100 Locust St., schlafly.com
In a neighborhood beloved for its taquerias and quirky shops, Earthbound is known for pushing the envelope. Stouts brewed with ancho chiles and sarsaparilla? Saison fermented with blueberries? A Thai basil IPA? They’ve done it. A handful of experimental brews are on tap, ready to pair with a view of the Cherokee Street action at the new-in-2017 production brewery and taproom. 2710 Cherokee St., earthboundbeer.com
Civil Life Brewing Co.
Snag a glass of the GABF gold medal-winning rye pale ale and a board game from the library, then prepare to kill a few hours at this comfy cashonly brewery on St. Louis’ south side. The focus here is session beers, so you can hang out through that Jenga rematch. 3714 Holt Ave., thecivillife.com
HUNT THESE TAPS: Stout fans will want to head to The Hill to find the rich and chocolatey Liquid Spiritual Delight at 2nd Shift Brewing. Over at Schlafly, the focus is on fruit with an Apricot IPA, Watermelon Lager and Peach Saison coming to the brewery’s spring tap rotation. Throw some elbows to beat the crowd to the black pepper- and black tea-spiked Cardamom Pepper Tea Blonde at Earthbound, which also revives its Chicken and Waffles Blonde Ale, brewed with fenugreek and smoked paprika, at the end of April.
The Clydesdale in the Room
Whether Budweiser is your guilty pleasure beer or you eschew all things macro, it’s hard to deny the influence Anheuser-Busch has had on the St. Louis brewing scene. The historic Soulard brewery’s six-story brewery, Clydesdale stable and Old School House were designated national landmarks in 1967. Built in 1891, the red brick brewery is still operational, offering tours for history nerds, beer newbies and, yes, folks looking to get a selfie with those famous horses. Located at 12th and Lynch Street, brewery tours and hours vary depending on the season.