If the pending Anheuser-Busch InBev merger with SABMiller has you terrified you'll be forced to drink nothing but Bud Light, worry not. Craft beer is alive, well and flowing this week in St. Louis.
Tonight marks the official start of St. Louis Craft Beer Week (or STLCBW)
, an annual festival celebrating the region's growing craft beer scene. Tonight's official kick-off party, the St. Louis Brewer's Picnic, marks the beginning of a nine-day, multi-venue party, which has grown from a simple grassroots event eight years ago into one of the region's largest craft beer festivals.
"I started working with St. Louis Craft Beer week about four years ago and we had 70 events," says Carl Niermann, STLCBW's secretary. "Now, we are up to over 150 — everything from beer dinners to athletic events involving beer."
Our beer week was started eight years ago by Mike Sweeney, craft beer champion and founder of the blog STL Hops
. Sweeney took note of craft beer festivals in cities like Philadelphia, Austin and San Francisco and decided it was high time for a beer city such as St. Louis to celebrate its vibrant scene.
"I wish I had a better story, but that's how I came up with it," laughs Sweeney. "I looked at other cities and thought to myself, 'There's no reason St. Louis can't be doing this too.' That first year it was me running around at 25 to 30 events trying to do everything. The next year it was the same. We've grown up a little bit since then."
The week's venues, sponsors and participants read like a who's who in the St. Louis food and beverage scene, with some of the town's top restaurants — Brasserie, Olive + Oak, Olio — hosting beer-themed events. Though they hesitate to pick favorites, both Niermann and Sweeney admit there are a few must-hit events.
"The Midwest Belgian Beer Festival is one of the best in the region," Sweeney says. "We draw people from all over — Memphis, Kansas City. I'm also really looking forward to the St. Louis Brewers Picnic. They are blocking off an entire city block, so a lot of people can go to it. It just feels very inclusive."
For the entire schedule of events, as well as ticket information, visit the event site
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