You’ve got to love the little guy.
Deep in the heart of Bud country, Schlafly is sticking it to The Man one all-American ale at a time. Launched in 1991 and bearing a subtly audacious tagline, “The Saint Louis Brewery,” the microbrew mecca turns out six no-nonsense beers year round (a pale ale, a pilsner—almost as if the brewmasters were trying to prove simple beer can still taste good), as well as a lengthy roster of more adventurous seasonals, including March’s Nitro Irish Stout and December’s Barrel-Aged Barleywine.
I got tipped off to Schlafly a few weeks back by Mark, a former Chicago mag intern who makes regular beer-runs-slash-parental-visits to St. Louis. (Schlafly only distributes within a three-or-so-hour radius of the brewery, the closest to Chicago being Charleston, Illinois—but if you’re going that far, you might as well continue straight to the source.) In a twist of fate, my good friend Gen was hoofing it to Missouri that very weekend. Coincidence? Or a favor from the beer gods? You decide.
Thanks to the miracle of the multipack, I’ve now sampled several Schlafly varieties, but the one I want to talk about here is the No. 15, an unfiltered wheat ale for folks, like me, who aren’t unfailingly keen on wheats (how Blue Moon was named large-brewery champ at this year’s World Beer Cup is one for the ages). Brewed and christened for Schlafly’s 15th anniversary, this beer pours up amber-colored, with an aroma reminiscent of spiced baked apples. The predominant flavor is cold apple cider, but there’s enough warm nuttiness to keep things from taking a wrong turn to Woodchuckville. More than an aftertaste, No. 15’s most notable takeaway is a pleasant bounce on the tongue, an effervescent reaction that takes place mid-way back.
For those journeying to Missouri for Memorial Day, Schlafly’s is hosting its annual Brew & Q amateur barbecue competition tonight, Friday the 23rd. I won’t make it. I’m heading to Wisconsin for a quarterly restocking of my beloved New Glarus. More on that next week.
Photography: Jennifer Wehunt