Alton’s New Coffee House & Tap Room Opens – Bermania Brew Haus, Alton
Alton, IL/July 9, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – St. Louis diners and beer lovers are already well aware of the renaissance in artisan brewing that has taken hold in the metro area. There are dozens of craft brewers in the region, with new brewpubs and taprooms opening all the time. One of the newest to join this rebirth, is breathing new life into an old community with fresh beer and gourmet coffee on tap daily. Germania Brew Haus in the old Germania Bank building at 617 East Broadway is part of the rejuvenation of Alton’s Historic downtown. Although GBH has been serving coffee and beer since June, the official grand opening was Friday, July 7th. They offered $1 espresso drinks that day to celebrate.
This combination taproom and gourmet coffee house is the brainchild of Southern Illinois natives Jared and Carolyn Brynildsen. The husband-wife team are active-duty military officers. Jared is a medivac helicopter pilot for the Army, and Carolyn is an Air Force Intelligence officer. Jared grew up in Alton and Carolyn in Troy, Illinois. Both are currently stationed in Hawaii. Their families are handling day-to-day operations at GBH. Jared has said the couple wanted to be part of Alton’s commercial revitalization. “Alton is on the brink of a renaissance, and we believe that Germania Brew Haus will be a great addition to the city and its commercial growth,” he said. “We hope other new businesses will follow suit and take advantage of the potential East Broadway has.”
The Brynildsens originally set out to open a taproom that would showcase local and regional craft beers, but after seeing the space, Carolyn says it just beckoned to be a coffee house. She told the Alton Telegraph the place came with a coffee house vibe built in. “It was decorated and built like this, and with just a few paint touch ups, we didn’t have to do much,” she said. “The fact that it looked like this, really, we had to do a coffee shop too.” So the pair set out to create a setting in which patrons could learn more about their personal taste in both gourmet coffee and artisan beer. They also wanted to grow appreciation for local craft breweries, the local community, and the local makers surrounding their unique establishment. Besides showcasing local beer, they also source the coffee shop’s bakery items locally.
The coffee shop at Germania Brew Haus opened June 9th, offering hot, frozen, and iced espresso-based drinks as well as several non-coffee selections. Customers can customize their espresso drinks by substituting soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, or half & half. Additional flavor shots and extra espresso shots are also available. Drinks can also be made with decaf and skim milk by request. GBH offers the classic coffee house selections one would expect, including three excellent versions of a mocha. There’s the classic Cafe Mocha made with gourmet chocolate syrup, steamed milk, and espresso; the White Chocolate Mocha made with white chocolate syrup, steamed milk, and espresso; and the GBH Mocha with white chocolate, swirls of caramel, steamed milk, and espresso. Customers will also find two kinds of cappuccino on the menu—American and the less milky Italian. On the frozen (blended) side of the menu, there are the classic mochas and lattes along with some non-coffee choices like the Vanilla Creme, the Green Teazy Freezy, and the Hot Chocolate Freeze. They also make a terrific fruit smoothie, and kids sizes are available. GBH also offers iced lattes, including and iced chai tea latte that is a terrific summertime treat, and refreshing Italian sodas.
But Germania Brew Haus is also a self-service tap room offering locally produced craft and artisan beers. This is the second self-serve tap room to open in the St. Louis area this year (Tapped at 7278 Manchester Road in Maplewood was the first). At GBH, patrons receive an electronic device tied to their tab. They swipe it at the tap before a beer is poured and the computerized tap system keeps track of how much the customer owes. The Brynildsens chose the self-serve tap system so that patrons could explore as many of their craft beer offerings as they want to, since the system allows patrons to pour a small amount of as many beers as they’d like to try. The soft opening of GBH’s craft beer tap wall was June 29th.
The 16 taps feature a regularly rotating beer selection showcasing primarily local breweries, with the occasional regional or visiting label to keep things fresh. As of this writing, the taps offer a veritable tour of St. Louis’ craft breweries on both sides of the river. There are currently three pale ales: Farmhouse IPA (Schlafly, St. Louis), Gentle Giant IPA (The Old Bakery Beer Company, Alton), and Peloton Pale Ale (St. Nicholas Brewing Company, Du Quoin, IL). There are three “light” beers: Hopfentea Sour – Berliner Weisse (Perennial Artisan Ales, St. Louis), Wheach Fruit Beer (O’Fallon Brewery, Maryland Heights), and Schnickelfritz Hefeweizen (Urban Chestnut Brewing Co., St. Louis). There are five dark beers on tap: Pecan Brown Ale (4204 Main Street Brewing Co., Belleville), Dorfbier Lager (Urban Chestnut), Pedagogical Session Porter (Recess Brewing, Edwardsville), Vanilla Stout (Big Muddy Brewing, Murphysboro, IL), and Bona Fide Imperial Coffee Stout (4 Hands Brewing Co., St. Louis). The final tap is offering Pink Lemonade Cider Beer (Crown Valley Brewing, Ste. Genevieve), which may be one of the best summer beers made in the region.
The coffee shop at Germania Brew Haus is open every day (Monday – Friday and weekends) from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The tap room is open Thursday – Sunday until 11:00 p.m. The Brynildsens have said they want Germania Brew Haus to be a welcoming space where customers of all ages can gather and share in espresso-based drinks, craft beers on tap, and community events. They’re also hoping GBH is part of a renaissance in the old Alton business district, and more businesses will open up to fill the empty spaces around Jacoby Arts Center.
Germania Brew Haus
Owners: Jared and Carolyn Brynildsen
General Manager: Ben Brynildsen (Jared’s brother)
617 East Broadway
Alton, IL 62002