Local beer fans converged on the Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue, Maplewood; 314-241-2337) last Saturday to enjoy good beer and gorgeous weather at the brewery's annual Repeal of Prohibition Festival. Each year, Schlafly commemorates the enactment of the Cullen-Harrison Act on April 7, 1933. The act raised the definition of prohibited "intoxicating liquors" from 0.5 to 3.2 percent alcohol by weight, and set the stage for eventual full-on repeal of Prohibition in December of that year.
Besides offering a large selection of its own, Schlafly picks another state's beers to highlight -- usually one that has a limited presence in the St. Louis area. This year's festival highlighted the beers of Washington State with No-Li Brewhouse (Spokane), Elysian Brewing (Seattle), Epic Ales (Seattle) and Bale Breaker Brewing Company (Yakima).
No-Li Brewhouse, founded in 1993 as Northern Lights Brewing Company, brought a large selection of mostly hop-forward styles. Even its imperial stout, "Wrecking Ball," clocked in with 100 International Bittering Units (IBUs) -- that's quite a large number for the style. Standout beers we tried from No-Li included "Sky Rail" IPA and "Jet Star" Imperial IPA. "Sky Rail," a single-hopped IPA made to showcase the Amarillo hop, had an amazing citrus aroma. "Jet Star" really wowed us with a heavy punch of Washington-grown hops.
Elysian Brewing opened up its doors in 1995 in Seattle. It brought a few great IPAs, but also a good pumpkin stout named "Dark O' the Moon" and excellent espresso milk stout named "Split Shot." Elysian beers were so popular at event that all four taps ran out before the festival ended (the only brewery to do so).
Epic Ales brought the most eclectic selection of beers to the festival. These included "Tart Miso," a Gose-style beer brewed with miso; "Sandy Beaches," a Scottish ale brewed with oysters; and no IPAs -- a rather surprising move for a West Coast brewery located in state known for growing hops. Epic's brewer, Cody Morris, told Gut Check that he didn't even offer an IPA for the first three years of business. Our favorite Epic beer of the festival was "Red Roses," a red Belgian-style ale brewed with Szechuan peppercorns and rose petals. It had a spicy, fruity smell -- almost like cinnamon -- and clean, floral taste.
Newcomers Bale Breaker Brewing Company barely opened a year ago in Yakima, Washington, but the family behind the business has been growing hops in the area for over 80 years. Given their pedigree, it's perhaps no surprise that all of their beers prominently featured hops. The "Field 41" pale ale was a fantastic, sessionable American pale ale with an amazing hop profile. Its flagship IPA, "Top Cutter," also impressed us with its bold citrus aroma and sweet, resiny taste.
Schlafly had a dozen or so styles, including the return of its excellent Yakima Wheat ale (now available in cans!) and the debut of a fantastic black IPA that may find its way into their IPA special release schedule. Schlafly also poured one of its hop-trial beers, featuring the Apollo hop. We're not sure how Schlafly evaluates these hop-trial beers, but we're hoping Apollo shows up in an IPA or APA soon.
View a whole slideshow of the day's festivities here. Follow Richard Haegele on Twitter at @RtodaizH. E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.