Narrow gauge is inside an Italian restaurant and bar slightly north of the St. Louis airport. When you drive up, it is easy to expect that the brewery should have its own space and entrance, although it is inside the Italian restaurant. When I stopped by they only had four hazy beers on tap that they brewed although thankfully they also had quite an extensive guest tap list.
In essence, they really only had two beers on tap because two of them were variances of others. For example, I had both the standard cloud city and the DDH cloud city. All of the beers were generally excellent hazy with creamy bodies and soft mouth feel. The standard cloud city was a nice mix of citrus and tropical fruit with mild hop acidity. The DDH version was stronger with flavors of tropical fruit and overripe fruit typical from the use of galaxy hops. I preferred the standard version but both were excellent.
Similarly, the next two beers were both variances on a beer they call flag. The Queen flag is different because of the addition of honey. It had a slightly boozy bite with bright citrus hops and mild honey sweetness at the finish. Comparatively, the DDH flag was equally acidic and grassy with notes of grape. After having four tasters of their Hoppy hazy beers, I decided to order more traditional styles to finish off the visit. If you are already staying in down town St. Louis, I recommend stopping by narrow gauge before you go to the airport rather than making a separate trip because of how far North they are from everything.
While the hazy IPAs I had were all a bit green at the time I visited, I expect they will mellow out nicely like most proper examples of the style. They were so good that I am a bit sad that I was unable to get some cans to bring home.
Come for hazy IPAs and an extensive guest tap list.
I will admit that I typically do not seek out breweries that are known for excellent versions of traditional styles, including traditional English ales. Primarily this has to do with my generally disappointing experiences with these styles in the United States. So I was pleasantly surprised when I visited the civil life brewery and walking inside felt like visiting an English pub. The beers were equally impressive as well.
Sticking with the English pub theme, you are not able to order tasters but instead can choose between 10 and 20 ounce pours of beer. Thankfully, this was my first stop of the day so I was able to order four different beers in 10 ounce pours. Those beers were also fairly low alcohol, all under 5%.
I started with their English mild on cask. It was creamy and smooth with low bitterness and mild biscuit character and light hops. The STL best, was more full in body and better at the finish with light floral hop character and mild caramel malt. After the first two, I decided to try two versions of English brown ales that they had on tap.
The Great Hencini, a southern English brown style was nice and easy drinking with character of toffee and caramel. I preferred the hearty bite of this beer over the northern English brown. The northern English brown was lighter in color and overall thiinner with less dark malt roast.
I enjoyed the beers I had at the brewery so much that I tried to more beers later that day while I was at narrow gauge brewery after my hazy flight. They had both the American Brown ale and the amber ale on tap. Both were excellent examples of the styles. The American Brown was so good that I had wished at that point I had purchased some cans before I left the brewery. The amber was good and roasty with low hops and light notes of cherries. The American Brown was roasty with light character of coffee and medium body.
If you are at all interested in experiencing traditional English beers without having to go across the pond, I suggest stopping by the civil life to see how they are supposed to taste. I also read elsewhere that they make excellent versions of German beers, although they did not have very many choices in that variety when I stopped by. And if you live in the surrounding areas and can’t make it to the brewery directly, I suggest picking up some cans to enjoy.
I recommend visiting the brewery directly both for the fantastic atmosphere and for the great food options. We stopped by on a Sunday when they highlighted various examples of soups and we both enjoyed their butternut squash soup quite a bit.
Great Hencini Southern English Brown
Paradox Brewing has developed a reputation for delicious and reasonably priced sours. Though we get the bottles in San Diego I wanted to visit the brewery directly to see how different it was at the source. Thought he building is quite large from the outside there is fairly limited seating in the tasting room. They serve food and offer flights that can be either sour or clean beer. Though at one time they rarely had clean beers they now had five different clean beers to choose from. They are about an hour outside of Colorado Springs but worth the trip at least once.
I stuck to the sours and did the sour flight and followed it up with a bottle of the mango habanero sour that they weren’t selling in bottles. The Passion of the Fruit sour was nicely balanced with tart passion fruit character and hints of apricot. This was one of my two favorites of the day. The hibiscus sour was funky and floral but overall a bit thin and super dry and lacking in intense hibiscus flavors.
The Salty Melon sour was mildly tart and lightly salty with mild melon character and lightly sweet finish. Though i enjoyed that it wasn’t particularly tart or acidic on tap it was lacking in flavor compared to a few others I tried on the same flight. The Alchemy Stone had a nice herbal funk with a light earthy base and subtle notes of peach. This beer tasted like it had mellowed out quite a bit since when it was first released. It was also fairly low in tartness and acidity.
The future knowledge tart saison was thin and dry with mild funk and light grape notes. I didn’t care for it that much mostly because compared to the other beers on the flight it was very subtle. The mango habanero sour was poured into a decanter and had notes of candied mango and mild chili that burned at the back of the throat. It had a nice mix of funk and tart and paired nicely with their fermented mango. As it warmed up the heat came through more strongly at the finish. Compared to some others, it was a good beer.
Passion of the Fruit
Alchemy Stone – Peach Sour
Cerberus Brewing was recommended to me by most of the people at Paradox. They have a full restaurant and serve a wide variety of beers from lighter stuff to IPAs and saisons. While the beers were good the most impressive part to me was the food. I had a flight of five beers and then finished with a full pour of one of the lagers.
The brett IPA was bitter and funky with an earthy malt base. Though the brett didn’t overpower the beer it was quite bitter and dry and not really my thing. The coffee saison had a light saison base but the coffee flavor was on the acidic side for me and I didn’t care for the choice of coffee variety they used.
The Elysium IPA was bursting with flavor including tons of citrus and tropical fruit. It had a soft body and a light haze with a mild mineral taste at the finish. This was my favorite IPA of the night. The Caught in Thought IPA was more papaya forward with a medium bitterness and an acidic finish. It wasn’t as much my thing compared to the Elysium.
They had three versions of a beer called Tiny Umbrella. One was an IPA, then a double IPA and a triple IPA, each with the same malts and hops. I got a taster of the double IPA version and it had a thick creamy body with a mix of dank hop notes, some herbal hop character and bitter grapefruit on the finish. It wasn’t my preferred hop flavoring.
I finished with the vienna lager, which was crisp and tasty with light dark fruit and caramel notes with hints of toast. It was a solid example of the style. I visited the brewery with three other people and we ordered quite a few things between us and I was impressed by most of it. My seasonal vegetable soup was a creamy squash soup that tasted great especially paired with the vienna lager.
Though I wouldn’t recommend making a trip just for the beer, if you are in Colorado Springs it is worth stopping by for the food and having some beer with it. All of the beers were solid even though a few of them weren’t my preferred flavor profile.
Engine House Number 9 recently started brewing sours to add to their other lineup of house beers. I visited them during a trip out to Olympic National Park because we decided to start our trip in Tacoma. I had a flight of a few of their house beers and then simply ordered a full pour of the one sour they had on tap.
Their lager was fruity and delicious with a crisp biscuit malt finish. Their two IPAs were both lovely. The house IPA was juicy and soft with notes of mango and melon. It has a light bitterness and nice creamy mouthfeel. The Donna IPA was good but a bit more acidic with notes of grass and herb hops and light caramel on the finish. The Berry Manilow sour was jammy and had tons of berry notes with a light tart finish. It was super drinkable and not particularly acidic, making it approachable to even someone who isn’t into sours.
I left with a bottle of their rhubarb sour, Flanders style red and brett saison. The rhubarb was tart and funky and quite delicious. The Flanders style is bright and fruity with a tart finish that balances nicely with biscuit malts and notes of oak. If you see Engine House Number 9 sours around they are worth picking up in bottles if you would rather not make it down to Tacoma. They are a brewpub so expect it to get quite noisy inside.
You could order food to go with your beers here as well. I got a hummus appetizer the second time I visited when I was preparing to leave the area. If you like IPAs or sours, you will find quite a bit to enjoy at Engine House No. 9 though I did not see any house brewed stouts on tap when I visited.
On a Sunday in mid-August 2017 I visited four Chicago area breweries. I focused on some that were more highly recommended than others. My first post in the series will focus on Forbidden Root and Corridor while the next post will feature Half Acre and Un Annee. Both Forbidden Root and Corridor serve brunch and Corridor was quite crowded when I visited fairly early on a Sunday.
Forbidden Root was my first visit of the day and one of the most impressive in the IPA front. When you walk in to their brewery restaurant space it is striking how beautiful the decor is. They focus heavily on beers with botanical ingredients added. I didn’t try many of those but their hazy IPAs were fantastic and I immediately see why the releases sell out as fast as they do. I only had four tasters when I visited.
Radio Swan IPA is their hazy rye IPA. It was soft and creamy with a hazy yellow appearance. The beer has notes of peach and mango with a light grassy finish. I was very impressed with this and wish they had cans available. If I was to do the day over again I would have ordered more of this beer before leaving. The Ghost Tropic IIPA was a bit thicker giving it a milkshake quality. It was creamy and thick with notes of melon and peach with mild alcohol notes on the finish and minimal acidity. If I hadn’t had Radio Swan in the same visit I would have been very impressed by Ghost Tropic. Though ghost tropic didn’t have the super soft mouthfeel that makes Monkish so popular.
The King Hell cherry beer had tons of jammy cherry character combined combined with tons of winter spices and light caramel that reminded me of a Christmas beer. It wasn’t for me. The imperial stout had some light coconut and vanilla notes with tons of dark cherry and spices. In this one as well the holiday spices seemed a bit too prominent for my tastes and I would have preferred a bit less cherry malt notes, though it was well done.
Forbidden Root is a restaurant as well and has a solid menu. They do limited can releases that sell out fairly quickly. They also offer growler fills of most of their beers that they fill using a counter pressure system that keeps the growlers fresher longer.
Radio Swan Hazy IPA
Ghost Tropic Hazy IIPA
Corridor is one of the other breweries popular for hazy IPAs in Chicago. They are also a restaurant like Forbidden Root and in their case you can’t order taster size unless you get one of their pre-designed flights. This meant I only tried two beers because I had to order either 10 or 16oz pours. The Pulp Hogan was the only hazy beer I got to try, and at 5% it is a bit lighter than I generally prefer for a hazy beer.
Pulp hogan had notes of pine and candied fruit with a mild bitterness. It was lacking in both the soft mouthfeel and intense hop character I expect from the style. This is also quite common with lower alcohol hazy beers even from the bigger breweries so it may be more my preferences than bad beer. Their year round IPA was an excellent modern west-coast style IPA with fruit notes and pine, tons of hop character, and a mild bitterness.
In my limited tastes I preferred Forbidden Root to Corridor but both are worth visiting for IPAs. Corridor has the benefit of offering crowelrs to go as well.