8 Craft Brewery Destinations Worth a Mini Road Trip

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The grounds at Charleville Brewing Company. | Tait Russell
  • The grounds at Charleville Brewing Company. | Tait Russell

All week long we're rolling out content from our Summer Guide 2014. In it you'll find all the best ways to enjoy the season in and around St. Louis. Click here to read the rest of the guide or pick it up in print at the red Riverfront Times box nearest you.

While the craft-beer culture has blossomed in St. Louis city, we're not alone: New breweries are opening up across the bistate region all the time. Though many of them are a bit too far away for a spur-of-the-moment visit, with a little planning it's easy to make a day out of it. Build a playlist, grab a beer stein and hit the open road — these destinations are so lovely that even the designated driver will be happy he volunteered.

See also: 7 Outdoor Dinners You Can't Miss This Summer

Destination: Ste. Genevieve

Crown Valley Brewery - COURTESY CROWN VALLEY
  • Courtesy Crown Valley
  • Crown Valley Brewery

Crown Valley Brewing: Ste. Genevieve has long been known for its wineries, and that's how Crown Valley (23589 State Route WW, Ste. Genevieve; 866-207-9463 or www.crownvalleybrewery.com) got its start before expanding into brewing in 2008. Its core beers include the "Big Bison Ale" and "Gunslinger Double India Pale Ale." In addition to wine and beer, a visit to Crown Country also features a distillery, an antique mall, a tiger sanctuary and more.

"Hairy Cow Wee Heavy" on the bottling line at Charleville. | Tait Russell
  • "Hairy Cow Wee Heavy" on the bottling line at Charleville. | Tait Russell

Charleville Brewing Company: Charleville (16937 Boyd Road, Ste. Genevieve; 573-756-4537 or www.charlevillevineyard.com) also began as a winery, and today it's known for beers like the "Hoptimistic IPA" and "Half-Wit Wheat." Be sure to call ahead to find out what's currently available from its seasonal brews, such as "Box of Chocolate" or the "Ale Mucho Hoppo." For those looking to make an overnight trip, Charleville has a refurbished 1860s log cabin on the vineyard that serves as a two-room bed and breakfast. One insider tip: GPS directions to this destination are unreliable. Co-owner Joal Russell advises that would-be visitors use the directions on CBC's website instead.

Destination: New Haven

2nd Shift Brewing: Located within the grounds of Cedar Creek Conference Center in New Haven, 2nd Shift Brewing (1401 Olive Road, New Haven; 573-237-3421 or www.2ndshiftbrewing.com) makes many highly regarded beers, including "Art of Neurosis," "Katy" and "Hibiscus Wit." The tasting room is run by Cedar Creek, which offers lots of amenities, including a salt-water swimming pool, a golf course and hiking trails. The brewery is happy to give tours to anybody who calls ahead. Look forward to 2nd Shift's annual beer festival; this year it's held on Saturday, July 5.

Kyle Butusov, assistant brewer at Flat Branch Brewing. | L.G. Patterson
  • Kyle Butusov, assistant brewer at Flat Branch Brewing. | L.G. Patterson

Destination: Columbia

Flat Branch Pub & Brewing: It wouldn't be out of the question to do a brewery crawl in downtown Columbia (with DD behind the wheel, of course) — the city is home to three breweries located within minutes of each other. Flat Branch Pub & Brewing (115 South Fifth Street, Columbia; 573-499-0400 or www.flatbranch.com) opened in 1994, making it older than many St. Louis breweries. In addition to beers such "Oil Change Oatmeal Stout," "Katy Trail Pale Ale" and "Green Chili Beer," it also has an excellent restaurant to help lay a base beforehand.

Broadway Brewery: Located just around the corner from Flat Branch is Broadway Brewery (816 East Broadway, Columbia; 573-443-5054 or www.broadwaybrewery.com). Be sure to check out its black IPA and "Wee Heavy." It also has a restaurant, which showcases meats and produce sourced from organic and local farmers.

Logboat Brewing: From Broadway Brewery, meander the few blocks to Logboat Brewing (504 Fay Street, Columbia; 573-397-6786 or www.logboatbrewing.com), the newest of the trio. Even though it just opened in April, Logboat Brewing has already made waves: It was well-received at 4 Hands Brewing Co.'s Lupulin Carnival and Microfest 2014, where it offered beers such as the "Snapper" American IPA and "Mamoot" English mild ale. There's also croquet and bocce ball in the yard — perfect for whiling away a lazy weekend afternoon.

Sundries at Scratch Brewing. | Aaron Kleidon
  • Sundries at Scratch Brewing. | Aaron Kleidon

Destination: Southern Illinois

Big Muddy Brewing: Hop across the river and discover the breweries of Southern Illinois. Big Muddy Brewing (1430 North Seventh Street, Murphysboro, Illinois; 618-684-8833 or www.bigmuddybrewing.com) opened just a few miles west of Carbondale in 2009. It doesn't have a regular pub, but it does offer tours that include samples on Saturday and Sunday. It's a small space, so call ahead and schedule a time to come by.

Scratch Brewing: Located in Ava, Illinois, Scratch (264 Thompson Road, Ava, Illinois; 618-426-1415 or www.scratchbeer.com) brews beer with locally farmed and foraged ingredients. It grows hops and other ingredients on-site, and it uses goats to keep invasive species of plants at bay. Co-owner Marika Josephson says she's expanding the outdoor seating this spring, so there will be tons of space for people to relax in the beer garden. She also recommends trying Scratch's wet-hopped beers after the harvest in mid-summer.

Follow Richard Haegele on Twitter at @RtodaizH. E-mail the author at stlouisbeergeek@gmail.com.


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