Helping St. Louis’ Craft Beer Industry Thrive – Kirkwood Station Brewing Company
KIRKWOOD, MO/February 1, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – As St. Louis beer drinkers’ loyalty to all things Anheuser Busch seems to be slipping away along with the storied breweries local ownership, the city’s craft brewing industry is gaining ground. In fact, it’s thriving. It seems every few months a new microbrewery opens or a new craft brewer taps another inventive creation. Our collective beer drinking attention has been drawn to St. Louis’ artisan and craft brewers in part because they are creating malty, hoppy, zesty ales, stouts, and lagers just for us. And in typical St. Louis style, the more established craft brewers are fanning the flames of this new beer making tradition by giving a leg up to the newer makers. That’s most evident in collaborations like the one that has Schwerpunkt Brewing Company making beer at Kirkwood Station Brewing Company.
Schwerpunkt is the brainchild of venerated home brewer Justin Bradbury and Howard Schroeder (founding members of the Jefferson County Home Brewing club). Bradbury’s award winning beers had become very popular on the home-brew competition circuit. So he teamed up with Schroeder in order to honor public requests and make the beer available for sale.
Enter Kirkwood Station Brewing Company at 105 E Jefferson Ave, in historic Kirkwood. Owner Mike Willerton and his team have already built a successful brewery, tap room and restaurant with a loyal clientele. They’ve brewed dozens of different beers over the years, and they brew a lot of beer. KSB can brew up to 30 barrels a day in two batches of 15 barrels each. They have to make a lot of beer since they sell a lot of beer. Kirkwood Station Brewing serves up several year round brews as well as a lengthy seasonal list. And they sell their beer in their restaurant and tap room along near the historic railway station, as well as in restaurants, bars, and brewpubs across town. KSB also began canning some of their beers in 2014, expanding sales to grocery and other retail stores.
Kirkwood Station’s best seller is its Blackberry Wheat, a light, refreshing, fruity beer with a crisp, clean flavor that goes really well with food. And the Ale Fleur One that was created for the St. Louis Football Club is another popular choice. The Ale Fleur One uses just one type of malt (Pale Ale Malt) and one hop variety (Citra) to showcase the 2 ingredients. According to Brian Ilg, KSB’s current brew-master, it has tropical fruit and citrus (lime and grapefruit) flavors, making it refreshing enough that you can enjoy more than one.
KSB brewmaster Brian Ilg learned the craft at Kirkwood Station when he moved from service in the front of house to the brewery operation. Ilg is continually working to develop new brews, because keeping it fresh is what keeps customers coming back.
Inviting new beer makers like Bradbury and Schroeder to brew in house and adding their signature brew to the tap is another way to keep things fresh at Kirkwood Station. Schwerpunkt’s Cinnamon Roast Brunch was added to the tap at Kirkwood Station on January 20. It’s a flavorful milk stout made with cinnamon sticks, cacao nibs, vanilla, and organic coffee (sustainable beans from Community Beans Coffee Roasters of St. Louis). Schwerpunkt produces eight beers so far, with names as intriguing as their profiles, like It’s A Blonde Thang, Juice Nuk’em, S’mores Imperial Stout, and I Fell Off My Unicorn, to name a few. Right now, KSB is the only place you can get Cinnamon Roast Brunch on tap. But starting next month, they’ll be available at the Russell House Restaurant, Inn & brewery in Hillsboro.
The award winning craft beers by Kirkwood Station Brewing Company are available on draft, in growlers, kegs, and four-packs (at local grocers). KSB also offers an extensive menu of classic American fare designed to go particularly well with their craft beers. You’ll find a nice selection of apps on the menu, including sliders, hand crafted Italian meatballs, and Beer Battered Train Tracks (fried pickles). One of the highlights of the app menu is the fresh baked braided pretzel & brew-master’s beer cheese soup. It’s a warm, soft, chewy pretzel braid, oven-baked to a golden brown perfection and perfectly salted. It’s served with stone ground mustard, honey mustard, and their delicious homemade beer cheese soup that is just the right consistency for dipping. They’re also a dab hand at pizza making, offering both flat breads and New York style hand tossed, with seven meats and eight veggie toppings to choose from. There are burgers, including a turkey burger and a vegetarian black bean, as well as the Railroad Patty Melt. It’s their Angus beef patty, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, and their house-made Thousand Island dressing all toasted together on marbled rye bread to melty, cheesy perfection. Dessert choices include chocolate cake, apple tarte, crème brûlée, which are all quite good. But the house specialty is the Warm White Chocolate Bread Pudding. It’s a decadent slice of homemade bread pudding drizzled with KSB’s Brown Ale caramel sauce and served with a flight of Midnight Train!
Kirkwood Station Brewing is open Sunday – Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Friday – Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Happy Hour is Monday – Friday from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. They also have live music every Friday and Saturday night, and most Sundays too. Their patio is nice in warmer weather. And you should ask about their free guided brewery tours. It’s a chance to learn about the brewing process from people who love brewing beer.
Giving Schwerpunkt a little brewing space and a tap isn’t the first time KSB has helped another brewer out. It’s just the latest. But that’s the way it is in the St. Louis craft beer community. That collaboration among craft brewers has been integral to growing the industry here. The folks at KSB know that in a city like St. Louis, what goes around comes around and sowing the seeds of artisan collaboration helps the entire industry grow. KSB may have Schwerpunkt on tap in their house today, but their own beers are on draught in more than 50 bars, restaurants, wineries, and yes—other brew houses across the metro area. Kirkwood Station Brewing Company is still growing, still crafting new brews and new followers too.