Two recent additions to the local craft brewing and distilling scenes are blazing new beverage trails.
David Weglarz is a renaissance man of sorts. An English major in college who has spent time as a white water rafting instructor in North Carolina and a futures trader in Chicago, he’s the type of person who finds his passion and runs with it. “I’m always trying to follow my own dream and build something,” he says.
Such is the case with his current project, StilL 630, the newest distilling operation in St. Louis. Weglarz toyed with the idea of brewing beer, but thought the craft beer market was getting a little bit crowded, so he decided to try his hand at making spirits. Weglarz started working full-time on the project in June 2011, and the StilL 630 doors officially opened at 1000 S. Fourth Street in January. Currently, the operation is cooking up whiskey and rum and working on some custom, one-off concoctions as well. The name reflects Weglarz’s commitment to St. Louis—the caps in the name help emphasize STL, while the 630 refers to the height and the widest point of the Gateway Arch. It also pays homage to June 30, the date the adventure began.
Not too far from its distilling cousin is Alpha Brewing Company on Washington Avenue. It’s an area known primarily for its clubs, but that’s about to change if Derrick Langeneckert has anything to say about it. He’s the founder and head brewer of the latest microbrewery to join the local craft beer revolution, located at 14th Street and Washington Avenue. Langeneckert got into craft beer just three years ago after sampling some Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. This led to a passion for home-brewing and eventually to the idea of doing it for a living. Langeneckert is putting his recent masters degree in biology from UMSL to use producing a rotating roster of 10 different beers. His focus is on hoppy American ales, with a weekly production of around five barrels—just enough to keep the taps running at the brewery’s bar. Alpha also offers tastings, brewery tours and beer education classes for those who would rather have a pint and talk hops than hit the clubs.
Photo credit: by Christopher Gibbons