Can you think of a better way to celebrate St. Louis’ birthday than drinking a beer brewed in St. Louis? How about 4 different beers brewed in St. Louis by a new brewery with an eye on the past? Sounds good to me too.
Often you are told to study the past so you don’t repeat the same mistakes, but sometimes you need to study the past because frankly some things were better back then. For example, in 1860 the St. Louis brewery scene was thriving with 40+ breweries. That number tumbled to 1 about 30 years ago, but history is repeating itself in a good way and we are now once again approaching 25 breweries in the St. Louis area. One of the newcomers did such at good job at repeating history they actually opened in a former brewery.
Six Row Brewing Company was founded in 2009 by 6 partners with a passion for craft beer. It took them 6 months to overhaul the Falstaff Building No. 1 (circa 1911) and the first beer was served on December 5, 2009. The brewery name also refers to six row barley which is used in the majority of their beers. Mimi and I had the pleasure of visiting Six Row last February during the beer school field trip. Mimi’s uncle was a brewer for Falstaff so it was extra special to take a trip down memory lane. We even found that the Falstaff stained-glass sign was still above the front door. Nice touch, and thanks for the preservation effort.
Evan Hiatt, Partner and Head Brewer, was kind enough to step away from his fermentation tanks and share his suds with the beer school crowd. He even brought along his wife for support and to help with trivia at the end of class.
Pre-Prohibition Pilsner – 7% ABV; 37 IBU
Last year Ken Burns released his latest documentary called “Prohibition,” and coincidentally it was about the Prohibition Era in the United States. If you haven’t seen the series I highly suggest looking for it on PBS or finding it on DVD. Anyway Evan knew of the project early on and found out that Burns would be premiering the show here in St. Louis. Wheels started turning and the result was Pre-Prohibition Pilsner. After reading “Last Call” by Daniel Okrent, Evan came up with a turn of the century beer recipe. Imagine sitting down with your great grandfather and enjoying his favorite beer.
Falstaff had the first brewing permit after prohibition ended in St. Louis, so I find it highly appropriate to find this beer at Six Row. Formulated as it would have been prior to prohibition this pils uses high protein 6 row barley, corn for a base, and noble hops.
He says- Nice golden color with strong carbonation. I get bread notes throughout with a taste of corn. Heavier than the pilsners of today and also a little chewy grain feel. The ABV is well hidden, but it does linger with a very wet feeling on the finish.
Whale Ale – 6% ABV; 32 IBU
This “American Wheat Pale Ale” is the top earner for Six Row, and it was the first beer they brewed on their new equipment. When the brewery was first installed they needed to run a test batch so the home brewers in the partnership put together a recipe using leftover ingredients and the result was Whale. The most difficult step was reproducing it once they found out how tasty it was. After 2 years, they have it down and you can find Whale in bottles and on draft in the St. Louis area.
He says- Cloudy in appearance with a faint nose of fruit and wheat. This beer is basic and complex at the same time which makes it very drinkable, but interesting enough to keep you from getting bored. It is a little gritty on the tongue and has a nice dry finish. The fruit notes start to sing as it warms up.
She says- I can understand why this is their biggest seller. Golden in color with a hint of wheat in the nose. Using 10 malts and 3 hops creates a nice balance. Slightly acidic on the back end. Dry finish.
Vanilla Porter — 6.5% ABV; 38 IBU
Over a half pound of whole fresh vanilla beans are added during fermentation. UK malt and English hops work together in creating an authentic porter for the base beer.
He says- Vanilla leaps from the glass to meet your nose. Let this one warm up to get the maximum experience. Looks extremely appealing with a short, cream colored head topping a dark beer with brown tinges. The original sweet flavor is wiped away with a bitter dry finish. Take a deep breath as you sip to get the full intention of this brew.
She says- For a porter I thought this was light on the tongue yet robust in flavor. It had a very roasty, malty, and chocolate/coffee finish. You can taste the vanilla on the finish. This is a wonderful after dinner beer to sip by the fire or with dessert. I want to try it with a good crème brule.
Double IPA — 8.5 ABV; 70 IBU
How do you embarrass a brewer during beer class? Yell out “dry-humped” while he is reaching for the term “dry-hopped.” Evan turned three shades of Irish red ale and nearly hopped off the stage before shaking it off and introducing his DIPA. Nothing to be embarrassed about with this brew, it will punch you in the face with hops until you cry “uncle.”
He says- The alcohol is well hidden and the hop burp is excellent. My nose had an accident today so it is not receiving the hop aromas as I expected, but with the list of hops in this baby it has to smell good. Very sweet and full of resin notes. Thin body and tart finish. I lean more toward balanced IPA’s so this one gets a little too hop-sided for me.
She says- Brewed with 2 pounds of hops per barrel and left unfiltered to save as much flavor as possible. Columbus, Centennial, Cascade and Chinook hops…all my favorites. Being the hophead that I am, the next time I’m at Six Row the DIPA is my first choice.
The Last Sip
No more excuses! We don’t want to hear any more lousy reasons why you haven’t tried a beer from Six Row. They are popping up on taps around the city and county. They have bottles in all your favorite bottle shops. And we just told you about their historic digs on Forest Park Avenue so we expect many comments and reviews of their beers below. Cheers!
About the Authors: Husband and wife Eric and Mimi have been attending beer school for about 2 years now and love every minute of it. Mimi was born and raised in St. Louis. Besides sitting down with a fabulous pint of beer, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her horse. Eric was born and raised in Texas. He enjoys sports, homebrewing and searching for the next great beer. A search he says he has been on for nearly a decade and one that will certainly never end. Mimi, on the other hand, has more recently discovered flavorful beer and is now proud to be called a hop-head. After having moved away for a few years, in 2007, this happy couple moved back to St. Louis and is enjoying all the St. Louis beer scene has to offer, especially Cicero’s Beer School. Cicero’s is lucky to have such an enthusiastic couple writing the beer school blog!