Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Beer Trip 6.5-Schlafly Tap Room
After a great visit to Urban Chestnut, it was time to move on to our second stop of the day, the Schlafly Tap Room. It is the original location located near downtown STL. We arrived a bit early for our scheduled tour. We were lucky enough to get a special VIP tour that they don’t do very often, but Dan using his network of friends and associates was able to score one for us. We had a beer at the bar while we waited for the tour to start. Troika, who had taken us around the Bottleworks location the previous day joined us again.
Our tour guide James met us at the bar and took us back into the brew area. It was very small and we were told that they use that area now for test batches and some limited release beers. James talked some about the history of the building and how it was originally housed printing presses. Another interesting fact was the neighborhood was so bad before urban renewal, that “Lost in New York” was filmed there because it looked like a wasteland. They even have a picture of Snake walking in front of the building that would someday house Schlafly.
From there we went down to the basement of the building. Part of the building was destroyed by fire before they moved in, and it was obvious what area was rebuilt once you got down there just from the wood floor joists. The tap cooler is housed in this area as well as a bottler for their special beers. Here we were lucky enough to try their barleywine.
Off the side from the bottler was a dark, un-used room. This room at one time housed a boiler for the building. They’ve been trying to remove it, but it hasn’t been an easy task. Off that room was another, funky, smaller room that literally goes underneath the street in front of the building where they had some of their beers aging in barrels. The biggest surprise to me came at the end of the tour. They set up tables with cheeses and bread and pitchers of their beers for us to sample, along with two bottles of their 750ml bottles, including their Imperial Stout. We hung out for quite a while talking to James and Troika. They even gave us each a special glass that only those on the VIP your get. It was really cool, to say the least.
After awhile, another VIP group of possible investors was making their way to where we were, so it was time to go back upstairs and eat some of their amazing food, along with drink more of their beers. Unfortunately they had already ran out of the vanilla stout that they had just tapped the day before (which we were lucky enough to have at Bottleworks), but they had many more amazing brews which I happily drank. The food is almost completely opposite from what they offer at the Bottleworks. While there, the menu is more modern, lighter, and often organic, at the Tap Works, as one person there put it, they have a deep fryer and aren’t afraid to use it. I ended up ordering turkey, cheese, and cranberry coated in funnel cake batter and then, of course, deep fried. It was deliciously artery-clogging and I could only finish half of it. I got up at one point to check out the pictures they have around (including the Snake pic) and when I came back, there was the man himself, Tom Schlafly, standing at the end of our table. I unfortunately didn’t get to talk to him personally, but he spent a few minutes talking to the group.
We ended up spending about two hours longer than we had planned, but it was well worth it (sorry Tin Mill. We’ll stop there another time). We even took a while leaving the parking lot because we got to talking with James about Beer Trip and him checking out the EM-50 and our collection of stickers. Troika even bought us some bottles of their beer for us to take back home, which was extremely generous, and one was a beer brewed by our friend Drew who had worked for Schlafly until the day before Beer Trip 6.5. Schlafly was the beginning of the beer renaissance in St. Louis, home of the AB InBev Empire, and they still have proven themselves to be a leader. More importantly, Bottleworks and especially the Tap Room have become two of the best Beer Trip stops of all time.