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March 16, 2012

Urban Chestnut Brewing Company



Craft beer is in and it’s no secret that St. Louis is a hotbed for local craft breweries.  Recently some friends and I had the opportunity to tour Urban Chestnut in the Midtown Alley area on Washington Avenue and it was easy to see a piece of the spirit that has hopheads grabbing growlers all over the Gateway City.  

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon so the table was set for fun.  Add to that the beautiful look of the renovated 1920’s garage setting, a nice sized beer garden in front, the growing crowd of young and old, hipster and non-hipsters alike, friendly laid back service with a menu including locally sourced specialties and a great time was a guarantee.  Oh and did I mention they have a nice list of great beers they brew?


They're tiny now but one day those chestnut trees will provide some traditional beer garden shade.


The original ceiling curves high above the brewery floor.


I really like the local specialties included on the menu like sausages from G&W Sausage, bread from Companion, charcuterie from Salume Beddu, and Billy Goat Chips.  I went with my favorite selection on the menu the Bier & Brat.  It includes a glass of the Winged Nut, a weisswurst from G&W with Bavarian mustard on a Companion pretzel, Billy Goat Chips and some pickles and radishes.  Not only is all of it great but it’s only $8!


I like their boards branded with their logo. Eat to reveal!


So I already knew most of the above info as I have consumed many of UCBC’s beers around town and have been to their location a few times.  I also knew a little bit about co-founder and Brewmaster Florian Kuplent from the UCBC web site as well as reports in the media.  When your brewing heritage begins in Munich around the Bavarian culture of artisan brewers and you go on to achieve a Degree in Brewing Science, a Brewer and Maltster Certificate, and an MS in Malting and Brewing Science from various prestigious institutions in Germany, you tend to get some attention in the brewing community.  When that background takes you to positions in famous breweries around the world before leading you to become a brewer in St. Louis at the iconic Anheuser Busch Brewery and you eventually decide to leave to pursue your dream of creating an urban craft brewery in the same town during the craft beer explosion, let’s just say you get some press.  What I didn’t know yet about Florian but would soon find out was that he is very down to earth, he gives a great tour and he pours a very generous “taste”.


Brewmaster Florian Kuplent


The tour takes you right to the floor of the brewery where you get up close and personal with all of the big, bright, shinny machinery that transforms the water and various malts, barley, hops and yeast into a multitude of beautiful colors and complex flavors like biological magic.  Florian gives you the rundown of their ingredients and brewing process and takes plenty of time to answer any questions.


So to brew a 600 gallon batch of beer......


Tim's going in!


Did you wonder what it looked like in there?


A really neat part of the tour was when Florian poured each of us a taste right from the vat totally unfiltered.


Now that's service!


You can see the sediment that has yet to be removed from this Zwickel.


Our ring leader Tricia approves.


Excuse me Florian I did bring my resume.


After Florian takes you around the brewing area it’s time to sit down to have a taste in front of a great backdrop of barrels.  I think I see our table.


Empty glasses begging to be filled.


Tim, Krisha and Eric in front of barrels filled with beer.

Beer can be aged in old whiskey or bourbon barrels to add complex flavors.


Florain started the taste off with some of the Winged Nut and the Zwickel before we moved on to some of the bigger, more complex beers.  Right now the Winged Nut is still my favorite but I also really enjoyed the STLIPA.  In all I think we tried 7 or 8 different beers.


Yep, I think we did good!


We sat for almost two hours and talked about everything beer.  We covered what beers Florian liked, how he goes about brewing a new recipe, what it was like leaving AB to pursue his dream and there was even a discussion about local school choices for the kids.  It was a great day and everyone got their fill.  Well, maybe not everyone.


The birthday girl grabs herself a gift for the road.


I want to say a special thanks to my friends Tricia and Eric.  We recently attended a trivia night together to benefit the Shaw Avenue Children’s Center and they purchased this tour in the silent auction.  It was a fun way to help out a good cause and have a great time celebrating Tricia’s birthday.  (It was her 21st.  Really.)  We had such a great time at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company.  Florian and his staff went above and beyond to make us feel at home and when you show up for a pint and a bite I’m sure they’ll do the same for you.


Cheers from Amy, Matt, Tricia, Tim, Eric, Krisha and Tony!


Have you tried any of Urban Chestnut’s beers?  What do you think of the local craft breweries in St. Louis?

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