On Tap: 3 Seasonal Brews To Try This Winter
The brewers of St. Louis have been busy this holiday whipping up unique batches to celebrate the season. Festive flavors, difficult techniques and local collaborations make each of these beers worth toasting.
Schlafly–Niche: Chestnut Ale
This Monday will be the debut of Gerard Craft’s newest project, a custom ale made with the award-winning brewers at Schlafly. Dipping into his heritage, Craft wanted to make a beer in the English Mild style, meaning it would have a delicate malt flavor and relatively low alcohol content of only 4-5 percent. To put a seasonal spin on the brew the staff at Niche spent weeks roasting and hand peeling 200 pounds of chestnuts, which were then run through a grinder and added to the kettle by head brewer Brennan Greene at the Schlafly Tap Room. All that hard work gave the finish of the Schlafly–Niche chestnut ale a sweet nuttiness that pairs wonderfully with food.
It should come as no surprise that to celebrate his first collaboration with Schlafly, Craft is hosting a special 3-course supper at Niche to honor the brew. Glazed chestnuts will sit atop a frisée salad with grapefruit, tarragon and a bright lemon-dijon vinaigrette. In one entrée, chestnut jus will be featured in a roasted pork bread soup, while the other will be duck ragu tossed with tagliatelle made from chestnuts powdered into a flour.
Call for reservations. 7734 Forsyth Blvd, Clayton. 314.773.7755.
4 Hands Brewing Company: Cuvee Ange
Tucked away in LaSalle Park, 4 Hands Brewing Company has been patiently waiting for one of their newest projects to finish. The thing is, you can’t rush aging–and 10 months for a brew to sit in a barrel is a long time for an eager brewmaster. Yet, Will Johnston was confident his patience would pay off when he tapped the Cuvee Ange earlier this month.
The French term “cuvee” can be applied to beer or wine that is aged in a vessel meant to impart specific flavors. For Cuvee Ange, Johnston began with Zinfandel barrels from Calif. to which he added an American-style sour ale fermented with wild yeast, raspberries and blackberries. The delicate aging process has given the Cuvee Ange an opaque, ruby red color and a nose dominated by notes of berry and the pleasant “funk” of wild yeast. On the palate, this ale is fruit-forward but rounds out in the finish from the wood barrel aging—perfect for drinking on its own or paired with a holiday turkey. Available on draft and bottled at the 4 Hand Brewing Company.
S. 8th Street, LaSalle Park, 314.436.1559.
Heavy Riff Brewing Company: Candy Floss Pomegranate Wheat Beer
Curiosity was the goal of Heavy Riff owners Jerid and Justin Saffell when they named their pomegranate wheat beer with a little help from the band, Wilco. A song from their second album entitled “Candyfloss” nods to a British term for cotton candy, which is also a clever way to describe the sweet-smelling nose of the brothers’ pomegranate wheat beer.
Kegged by Excel Bottling Company out in Breese, Ill., this wheat beer can be found on tap at Heavy Riff only on occasion. In the glass, the strawberry blond color looks quite festive capped with a thin white head. Brewed with actual pomegranate juice, this beer brings a bright acidity to the palate that livens up the soft wheat undertones. Despite its name, the candy floss pomegranate wheat does not become cloyingly sweet, but rather is an enjoyable treat for the holiday season. Available on draft at Heavy Riff Brewing Company.
6413 Clayton Ave., Dogtown.