The Business of Beer Is Booming!

The business of beer is brewing up many success stories in the St. Louis area. There are nearly 50 craft breweries currently, according to Troika Brodsky, Executive Director of the St. Louis Brewers Guild. Brodsky points out the growth in just the past two years by bullet pointing this beer boom.

  • 2nd Shift Brewery is opening a new brewery on the Hill.
  • 4 Hands is expanding their footprint.
  • Bastard Brothers in High Ridge opened.
  • Deslogetown in Park Hills, MO opened.
  • Earthbound Brewery celebrated their one year anniversary and is in the process of rehabbing, building out and moving into the historic Cherokee Brewing building.
  • Modern Brewery opened a tasting room on Manchester.
  • Narrow Gauge opened in Florissant.
  • O’Fallon Brewery opened a new brewery in Maryland Heights.
  • Papas opened in midtown in the former Six Row space in the historic Fallstaff building.
  • Peel Brewing opened in O’Fallon.
  • Perennial is expanding their footprint.
  • Six Mile Bridge opened in Maryland Heights.
  • Standard Brewing opened in Maryland Heights.
  • Stubborn German opened in Waterloo, IL.
  • Civil Life is expanding their footprint.
  • Old Bakery in Alton celebrated their first anniversary.
  • Templar in Alton grew.
  • Urban Chestnut announced the U.R.B. pilot brewery and bar opening this year in the Grove.
  • Hopskeller is coming to Waterloo.
  • Friendship brewing opened in Wentzville.
  • Side Project is building a new brewery in Maplewood and their tasting room was nominated for the James Beard award.
  • Schlafly Bottleworks brewery and packaging line has been completely rebuilt to drastically step up capacity.
  • Rockwell is coming soon to the Vandeventer/Kingshighway area.
  • Senn Bierwerks is opening in University City this year.

So as you can see, things are booming in the beer industry. St. Louis’ two largest Craft Brewers, St. Louis Brewing (Schlafly) and Urban Chestnut, continue to grow and are dedicated to using sustainable business practices.

“UCBC works to reduce our carbon footprint by recycling all qualifying materials, composting all biodegradable waste, and donating all of our spent grain to local farmers.” Explained Co-owner David Wolfe. “Our brewing equipment allows us to reuse water that is normally lost in the brewing process to chill hot wort and to heat up brewing water, which also conserves energy. Finally, at both our St. Louis locations, we feature solar power arrays, large windows to provide natural lighting, and LED lighting to reduce our energy needs. We are proud to say all of these efforts allowed our Grove Brewery & Bierhall to be awarded Missouri’s first and only LEED Certified Brewery!”

Schlafly has also created an eco-friendly footprint in our community. Their website states, “Schlafly Beer’s sustainability initiatives include the following:

  • Installing 25 kW photovoltaic solar array panels on the Bottleworks roof to help power the brewery.
  • Purchasing yearly energy offsets for 100% of the brewery’s operation, including Bottleworks, the Tap Room, and offsite warehousing; for 2016, Schlafly purchased 2,036 RECS (renewable energy certificates), the equivalent of more than 2 million kilowatt-hours and 28% of the city’s overall green energy contribution.
  • Donating spent grain from brewing to local farmers to utilize for livestock.
  • Growing four tons of produce for its restaurants at the half of an acre garden, or Schlafly Gardenworks, at our Bottleworks location.
  • In addition to the garden, purchasing a large amount of locally produced food for its restaurants to be considered a member of the Green Dining Alliance.
  • Hosting the weekly Schlafly Farmers Markets on Wednesday evenings from 4- 7 p.m.
  • Diverting solid waste from the landfill, as well as receiving grants for a pilot composting project for post-consumer food waste at both the Tap Room and Bottleworks.
  • Using ultra-high efficiency heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning units.
  • Making an effort to do business with local companies from bottles to packaging, which reduces the brewery’s carbon footprint.
  • Supporting Ameren’s Pure Power renewable energy program, as well as hosting and supporting local sustainability organizations Slow Food St. Louis, St. Louis Originals, and St. Louis Earth Day.
  • Schlafly Beer is the only beer sponsor of St. Louis Earth Day with the largest commitment to date this year, including donating $1 for every pint of Schlafly Beer purchased in the month of April to St. Louis Earth Day, among other initiatives.”

Perhaps the most sustainable brewing practice in our area can be found at the certified organic Old Bakery Beer Company in Alton, Illinois. “Sustainability has been on our minds since the brewery was just a glimmer in our eyes, which is why we decided to become certified organic & use strictly American malts & hops,” said Lauren Pattan, Restaurant Manager & Co-Founder. “We also focus on sustainability in our restaurant by composting & recycling everything we can, purchasing post-consumer recycled products & earth-friendly cleaning products, locally sourcing ingredients, & raising money for local charities as frequently as possible.” Old Bakery Beer’s newest seasonals are Hibiscus Tart (a lightly tart wheat ale brewed with Hibiscus & Lemon Verbena) & Timor Coffee Red Ale (A Red Ale brewed with Kaldis Coffee & a bit of Raspberry to bring out the light, fruity notes in the coffee). “Both are in limited distribution in Illinois & available at our pub,” said Pattan. “We have recently started canning our beer, and our first seasonal flavor to be released will be our Oktoberfest! Look for it on shelves in both Missouri & Illinois in early September!”

Beer brewing has become so popular that even area wineries have taken up the hops challenge. Edg-Clif Farms & Vineyard is now brewing craft beers and is now Edg-Clif Vineyard, Winery & Brewery. Co-Owner Steffie Littlefield explained why they got into the craft beer business. “Community interest in craft beer, availability of a brewery partner who is our Brewmaster and the positive response from our winery guests and club members,” she said. “We have many styles of beer on our list. For summer we have focused on cream ale and pale ale, IPA, smokey Pecan and Amber ale. We also have the dark beers like oatmeal cream stout, vanilla porter and a hazelnut brown ale.” Edg-Clif is also interested in a sustainable business practice. “All of our waste products are recycled with area farmers and on site composting. We also limit our product packaging to draft kegs which are 100% recycled. Our beer is also sold in growlers which are refillable & reusable,” Littlefield said. Right now Edg-Clif’s brews are available solely at the winery and at the St Louis County Food Truck events. “In the future we hope to have the beer at all off site events. Check our website www.edg-clif.com for events.”

The business of beer is a big deal for area restaurants and pubs. Llywelyns Pubs have found the increase in popularity of craft and specialty beers a boom to their bottom line. “Beer sales have a huge role in a pub such as Llywelyn’s,” said Tom Behen, President of Llywelyn’s. About 25-30% of our total sales are beer related. I was lucky enough to be into “Craft Beer” before it truly went mainstream. If you look back 7-8 years ago, we were one of the few places in town to have a wide selection of local, regional and national craft beers as well as the imports we were known for. These selections helped with our growth because people knew we were the place to grab some great beers! In today’s restaurant world, it is almost a given that your favorite place has craft beer in place.” Behen sees a movement toward sour beers. “St. Louis is getting to be known as a great sour beer city due to the success of Cory King over at Side Project Brewing. Other breweries in the city make some quality sour styles as well. I would like to see the malt in the beer be a highlight again. IPAs have been so dominant over the past 8-9 years; the hop bill of a beer has overtaken the malt. Malts are the backbone of the beer and can influence a beer just as much as the hop. It will be nice to see more easy drinking milds and pales,” said Behen.

The history of beer in St. Louis in no richer than the name of Griesedieck. During the 1930s, 40s and early 50s, Griesedieck Brothers Beer was St. Louis’ number one brew. Both Anheuser-Busch and Falstaff wanted to purchase the brewery. Griesedieck got the rights to sponsor the St. Louis Cardinals baseball games and gave Harry Carry his first break. In 1952 when the Cardinals were up for sale, the Griesediecks had the right of first refusal but it was Anheuser-Busch who ended up buying the team and benched Griesedieck and its masterful marketing. After deaths in the family and the hiring away of Griesedieck’s brewmaster by AB, the Griesediecks were ready to sell. They sold to Falstaff and soon the Griesedieck name was retired. Then in 2002, 8th generation brewmaster Raymond Griesedieck, revived the brand and today now brews a traditional German Golden Pilsener, an Unfltered Bavarian-Style Wheat and a Mild Pale Ale. Griesedieck Brothers beers are available in pubs, restaurants and stores areawide.

The St. Louis Brewers Guild’s Troika Brodsky is trying to organize and promote this tremendous boom in beer. “When I came on board as Executive Director in February of 2015, the plan was to get more organized and efficient in how we planned our largest fundraiser, Heritage Festival, so that it would actually start making money for the Guild. I am happy to announce that we just had our most successful Heritage Festival yet under our tenure as stewards with a complete sell out down on the riverfront. These funds are allowing us to create and launch a beautiful new website and campaign celebrating STL Beer! We are also currently looking for a brick and mortar home for the Guild that will house not only our offices, but a brewers bar and welcome center, a museum, and classrooms for a brewing school. We are incredibly excited about this project and not only what it means for our local brewing community, but for the city as well,” said Brodsky.

For more information, visit the various brewery websites and the St. Louis Brewers Guild at www.stlbg.org. Visit your local pub and enjoy a cold one, cheers! — J.B. Lester