Saturday, August 17, 2013

Local Tour: St. Arnold Brewery

I finally made it to the new St. Arnold brewery.  I had visited the old one (on 290, where Karbach is now) several years ago under somewhat disastrous circumstances.  My husband and I decided we would take a group of friends on the Saturday brewery tour for his birthday.  However, the St. Arnold website neglected to warn us that the brewery was not air conditioned.  Did I mention my husband’s birthday is in July?  It was so hot and crowded that most of us didn’t even use all our beer tasting tokens – we just left.  Not the best visit.

But now St. Arnold has a great new facility just north of downtown.  It’s large enough to accommodate big groups, with lots of seating, a large tasting bar, huge windows overlooking the tanks, and best of all – air conditioning!! 

Tours are offered 6 days a week.  They cost $8 and include a souvenir glass and 4 beer tasting tokens.  Each token gets you an 8-ounce sample of any of St. Arnold’s standard brews (the year-round selections plus the current seasonal offering).  Special, limited edition beers may require an additional token or only be available for purchase. 

For instance, we tasted the newly released Icon Gold (Bière de Saison) for 2 tokens.  Icon Gold has a beautiful amber color and a rich, smooth, complex taste, and a serious alcohol content – around 9%.  If you’re a fan of Belgian ales (like I am!), this is for you.  Delicious.  We also paid $8 to try the brand new Bishop’s Barrel 2 (with Brettanomyces yeast).  If you like sours, you will like this.  It has a strong cherry flavor and the tartness of a sour (from the Brett).

These 2 beers were well worth the trip on their own.  If you’ve ever tried to track down one of these limited edition beers around town, you know they can be hard to come by.  My plan for the future:  just go taste it at the brewery!  The tour page tells you what special beers are currently available.

The taps open 30 minutes before the tour starts.  Get there early so you can start tasting.  You’re welcome to take your beer on the tour.  It only lasts about 20 minutes, but it’s informative and fun.  The second half requires closed-toed shoes.

P.S.  We approached the brewery from 59, exiting Lyons, and got stopped by a very long, very slow train on the way in and out.  I recommend you follow the directions from I-45 or I-10 instead!

Update:  I've now tasted Bishop's Barrel #4!  If you think bourbon + chocolate sounds like a good idea, you in a for a treat!  

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