ST. LOUIS, MO
DETOUR: St. Louis, MO – Side Project Brewing
"DETOURS" is a travel series by The Hop Review. Being a weary traveler almost always calls for a reward in the form of a pint at the end of the day. Here, we will document those beer breaks–as we travel the U.S. and beyond–with quips, photographs and Q&As. Cheers, to the adventurous beer trekker.
7458 Manchester Road, Maplewood, Saint Louis, Missouri 63143
In St. Louis' west side Maplewood neighborhood, you'll find a pair of block-apart outposts serving up one some of the city's most acclaimed beer: Side Project Brewing. One is the Side Project taproom and brewery, the other, just around the corner and sandwiched between their nearby brewery neighbors Schlafly, is the Side Project Cellar (a smaller tasting room with bottle sales).
The brewery is 100% barrel-aged beers (most of which are barrel fermented) showcases saisons, wild ales and various spirits barrel-aged ales. The operation is named so, because it was once solely a side project to Founder Cory King's full-time gig at St. Louis' Perennial Artisan Ales. After initial aspirations for a career in winemaking, his homebrewing led him to exploring the beer side further and further–until he and his wife, Karen King, founded Side Project in 2013. Between them, they have resume experience at Goose Island, Deschutes and of course, Perennial.
The space offers a calm respite to the busy traffic of Manchester Road just outside its doors. The tasting room is very clearly a beer destination not just for locals, but plenty of out of towners looking to squeeze in a visit during their limited Saturday and Sunday-only hours. We paid a visit on our way a cool Sunday afternoon on our way toward the Amtrak station. Met with an almost completely unmarked brick building upon pulling up, we were met with a bright, airy clean space inside with no shortage of white subway tile and reclaimed wood finishes throughout.
As soon as you step inside, the bar exists as an L-shaped beacon directly in front of you, past a handful of communal tables. The menu hangs, largely, over the corner of the bar and makes it clear that your opportunity to order is just steps away.
A full list of saisons, grisettes, fruited ales and numbered blends (#2, #3, and so on...), boozy stouts, and even a number of pale ales (thanks to their recent 'Shared' series – the side project to Side Project). So many items on the list pique our small group's interest, so we gawk up and down the menu a bit longer than we likely should. The decision isn't made any easier, knowing all the hardware hanging behind the bar is directly due to their various brewing style successes. The staff friendlily offers up suggestions, and we land on a few small pours–a peach wild ale, Saison du Fermier (Blend #3), and one of their barrel-aged stouts.
After plenty of ooing and awing, and a bevy of snapping beer writer/nerds' cameras–we're finally ready to sample. The patience pays off, as we are treated to some incredibly well-executed Brett beers and barrel-aged sours. It's easy to see why the buzz exists, and why Side Project sat on just about every recommenders' short list for where to visit 'if you can', while in St. Louis.
What We Drank
Fuzzy – An 8.0%, FOBAB-Gold-Medal-winning wild ale that utilizes Missouri peaches. It's a beer that's concocted from a blend of base ales, aged up to four years in French oak foedres and fermented in Chardonnay barrels. Fuzzy is a nuanced beer with an unmistakeable fruit showcase, and a tingly, prickly dry finish. You might think twice about the 375ml bottle's $20.00+ price tag, but snag a few friends and share it around – it's worth the trip.