COURTESY OF SIX MILE BRIDGE
Ryan Sherring, brewmaster
Ryan Sherring has never been to Sixmilebridge, Ireland, the town that inspired the name of his brewery, but he is a world traveler nonetheless. "My family is spread out all over the world," says the brewmaster of Six Mile Bridge
(11841 Dorsett Road, Maryland Heights; 314-942-2211
). "I brewed my first beer in Australia in 2004 from a kit my cousin got for Christmas. When I got home, I got into the home brewing scene as a hobby.
Home for Sherring was Cape Town, South Africa, where he worked in management consulting. It was a full-time job that paid the bills, but he could not deny the spark that his first home brew had lit. He became more and more serious about his hobby over the next several years until an encounter at a dinner party pushed him to think about brewing as a profession. "A business associate who came to a party happened to own a craft beer distributor," Sherring recalls. "He tasted mine and said it was good. Of course, you can't take people seriously when they are drinking your stuff for free. But then he asked me if I wanted to start brewing commercially."
Sherring took him up on his offer, setting up shop in another small craft brewery. Every Saturday, he would use their equipment, but eventually was able to build his own small brewery from the ground up. "I lived in an industrial part of town, so I was able to get all of these industrial parts. I built my entire brewery from scratch by reading books and looking online."
That small brewery would become 021 Brewing Company, named after Cape Town's area code. It enjoyed a good amount of success, but Sherring and his wife felt the pull back to her native St. Louis. They moved back with plans to open up a production brewery, settling upon their current Maryland Heights location in 2015.
Sherring admits that he misses Cape Town, but says he is thrilled to be a part of St. Louis' exploding craft beer scene, especially in unlikely Maryland Heights. "When we were looking around for a place, Maryland Heights just ticked a lot of boxes," Sherring says. "We thought we were going to have a captive audience, but now, with all of the other breweries moving in here, it's becoming a little beer tourism part of town."
Sherring took a break from brewing his favorite of Six Mile Bridge's beers, the Bavarian Hefeweizen, to share his thoughts on hockey, beer trends, and his not-so secret crush on his assistant brewer.
What is one thing people don’t know about you that you wish they did?
Well, I’m South African and I played hockey growing up. That’s pretty rare. Big Blues fan.
What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you?
Morning coffee. I can’t do anything without a cup of coffee in the morning.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I wish I could stop time. I’d even take slowing down time. That would be great.
What is the most positive trend in food, beer, wine or cocktails that you’ve noticed in St. Louis over the past year?
There’s a sour beer trend that’s been happening for the last few years which a few breweries in St. Louis have picked up on. They are really producing some of the best sour beers in the U.S.
Who is your St. Louis food or drink crush?
I don’t typically associate brewers with someone I’d have a crush on, but I definitely have a crush on my assistant brewer — my wife.
Who’s the one person to watch right now in the St. Louis food and beverage scene?
On the beverage scene I would watch out for Ronnie Fink at Modern Brewery. He’s doing some excellent work over there.
Which ingredient is most representative of your personality?
Possibly yeast. It gives you the sense it has a lot of energy and is full of life. My wife jokes that I have two speeds – 150 mph or sleeping. Also yeast operates behind the scenes, and if you know me at all I don’t like to have attention focused on me.
If someone asked you to describe the current state of St. Louis’ food and beverage climate, what would you say?
I really think St. Louis is quickly becoming one of the most recognized cities in the craft beer world. There are so many fantastic craft breweries here that produce some of the best beers in the U.S. The growth in craft breweries since 2008 has been phenomenal and the fact that St. Louis was ready to adopt them is a testament unto itself. St. Louis is a craft beer town.
Name an ingredient never allowed in your brewery.
That’s a tough one. We never stop running out of ideas to try new things. We do however pride ourselves on using best available ingredients so we’d balk at the idea of using an inferior ingredient in our beer. It’s a little more expensive to make but we believe it shows. Our motto is "Made With Integrity."
What is your after-work hangout?
Since we opened we haven’t had much time to hang out as it were. We spend most of our time at the brewery. However when we do get to go out we like supporting other local breweries and restaurants, pubs and bars who support us. Places close to where we live that we can easily hang out at — Bailey’s Range, Three Kings, Basso, Salt + Smoke, to name a few.
What’s your edible or quaffable guilty pleasure?
Wine. Sometimes I just need to break away from the usual drink at hand and have something that reminds me of home.
What would be your last meal on earth?
Ribs or lasagna. And more ribs. Plus cheesecake for dessert.
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