Craft Beer Underground at 21st Street Brewers Bar
St. Louis, MO/February 15, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) 21st Street Brewers Bar – St. Louis has a rich beer making history. It dates back to the the city’s earliest days, with the first production brewery operating as early as 1810. The first craft brewers were making beer and selling it to their neighbors at least as long ago. John Coons was known to have a small batch brewery operating as early as 1809, and neighborhood breweries were commonplace throughout the 19th century. After Prohibition ended, the beer making began anew. There was the Griesedieck Brothers and Falstaff, and or course, the King of beers was born here. That’s a lot of beer making history! The 21st Street Brewers Bar at 2017 Chouteau Ave. just south of downtown St. Louis celebrates the city’s brewers, old and new. The Centennial Malt House, home to 21st Street Brewers Bar, is also home to St. Louis’ first beer festival each year, this week’s Centennial Beer Festival (Feb. 13 – 18, 2017). These folks are serious about beer.
The bar is a classic rathskeller—it really is a bar in the basement of a prominent building, in this case the old Schnaider Brewery (c.1876), at 21st and Chouteau in Lafayette Square. The decor is just what you’d expect in a rathskeller too: stone walls, natural wood, and cozy leather, lounge furniture. It’s upscale, but with a casual, comfortable vibe that make this bar a perfect place for celebrating with friends or just hanging out. Even the history of the space is all about beer. The bar occupies a basement that once served as catacombs for the Schnaider Brewery, one of St. Louis’ first and largest beer makers. In fact, when Paul and Wendy Hamilton first opened the bar in the basement beneath two of their restaurants, PW Pizza and Vin de Set, they called it 21st Amendment Brewers Bar, to pay homage to the city’s historic beer makers and the Constitutional Amendment that officially repealed Prohibition.
So what’s a brewer’s bar? In the case of 21st Street, it’s a bar with more than 50 draft beers available and more than 80 bottled varieties of mostly craft and artisan brews. In fact, they claim every local brewery is represented on tap or by bottle, along with having the best domestic and international craft selection available. And they just might. At the time of this writing, the draft list included products from Excel, Schlafly, Urban Chestnut, Cathedral Square, 4204 Main, Perennial Artisan Ales, Four Hands, Modern Brewery, Griesdieck Brothers, Public House (Rolla), Civil Live, Six Mile Bridge, Charleville (Ste. Genevieve), Log Boat (Columbia), Bur Oak (Columbia), Mark Twain (Hannibal), Boulevard (Kansas City), and Crane (Raytown), plus several others from brewers in Chicago and northern Illinois, Colorado, Washington, Kansas, Maryland, California, Michigan, and Ireland. There are literally dozens more available in cans and bottles: mass market domestics and imports; pilsners and pale lagers; amber and dark lagers; ciders and meads; wheat beers; blonde and pale ales; IPAs; amber, red, and brown ales; porters and stouts; strong ales; sour and fruit beers; and even NABs. Beers can be purchased in full pour or 6 oz. pours.
Chase that sampling by nibbling one of their brew snacks. They’ve got bar favorites like hard pretzels and spicy nuts, or you could get adventurous and try the Big White Fried Corn Nuts. This salty, crunchy treat was first served in South American bars back in the mid-1930s. Or go for a throwback option like the Cheddar Cheese Ball. Theirs is rolled in IPA poached walnuts and served with hard pretzels. If you want something more substantial, step up to the bar and order a pie from the upstairs neighbor, PW Pizza. The full PW menu is available in the basement bar. On the off chance that someone in your party prefers a cocktail or wine to beer, 21st Street’s bar is fully stocked to accommodate everyone.
In the three years it’s been open, this subterranean bar has earned accolades from critics and customers alike. Customers give them 4.5 stars in 57 reviews. They like the deep list of brews that really showcase the scope and skill of the craft brewers in this region and beyond. Others find it to be the perfect place to chill with friends. One reviewer called it the “ideal man cave (or woman cave)” It’s coziness is especially welcome in the depths of winter, and it’s basement cool makes it inviting during the heat of a St. Louis summer. But when the weather is nice, there’s also a patio. So 21st Street offers the best of both worlds—and on draft, the best of about 50 worlds.