By Brad Kovach
Sharper minds than ours have asserted that beer and bikes are two of the greatest things mankind has ever invented. Who are we to argue with such wisdom?
In a totally, 100-percent altruistic effort to make two great things even better, the Terrain staff has put together a self-guided bikes and brews tour combining the best of both worlds. When followed west to east, our route winds 15 miles from the eclectic Maplewood, The Hill, and The Grove neighborhoods, through Tower Grove and Soulard, then into the heart of downtown St. Louis, with attractive scenery and quality beer options along the way.
Give the route a try on two wheels — or on two feet if you’re really feeling ambitious — but be sure to arrange a pickup for the drive home. Beer and bikes only go great together when enjoyed responsibly.
We start at St. Louis’ first new production brewery to open since the end of Prohibition: Schlafly Bottleworks. Before you even put the pedal down, order a pre-outing meal from its delicious and diverse menu. Then, take a tour of the brewery and enjoy some free samples. The large outdoor biergarten makes an ideal place to quaff a pint before donning your helmet and setting out.
2nd Shift Brewing
Head east on Bellevue and Manchester to Sublette in the historic The Hill neighborhood. This is where 2nd Shift Brewing moved from New Haven, Mo., in 2016. Try the Katy, Brewcocky, or Art of Neurosis, three of its most popular year-round beers.
Hop back on Manchester and pedal a half-mile to Modern Brewery, which is open Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. It employs American Craft Beer styles (try the zesty Citrapolis IPA) as well as quintessential Belgian flavors (Mon Precieux and Clandestine).
Urban Chestnut Grove Brewery & Bierhall
Another quick hop down Manchester sits Urban Chestnut Grove Brewery & Bierhall. Modern American and classic European craft beers meet in an industrial bierhall with German-inspired cuisine. Stop in across the street at its U.R.B. (Urban Research Brewery) for small batches of test beers and New York-style pizza.
Civil Life Brewing Company
Three miles south, through beautiful Tower Grove Park, Civil Life Brewing Company offers a relaxed, no-frills vibe with plenty of nooks upstairs for quiet(ish) conversation and sampling of its 10+ English and European-inspired brews. Or hit the outside patio, which has two ordering windows, so you don’t have to trudge in and out for refills.
Next stop: Earthbound Beer on Cherokee. This revitalized neighborhood features kitschy shops and terrific food, which is fitting, because Earthbound isn’t afraid of bold flavors. Try the Rhubarb Gruit (made with rhubarb and sumac) or Dead Druid King (a black wheat beer brewed with oak leaves and based on tomb findings from 800 BC Bavaria).
4 Hands Brewing Co.
From there, 4 Hands Brewing Co. lands you in downtown St. Louis. The 20,000-square-foot facility offers six year-round beers along with a slew of seasonals, plus select fare from Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. and Sidney Street Café. Look for a sour program to take center stage this summer.
Square One Brewery & Distillery
This unique establishment, just 1 mile away, opened as a brewery and restaurant in 2006 and became Missouri’s first mico-distillery and restaurant when it added a master distiller and fine tasting spirits in 2008. Square One currently features 12 beers, 14 spirits and a full dining menu, with on-tap selections always changing.
Alpha Brewing Company
Alpha Brewing Company in the Tower Grove neighborhood presents a range of unconventional ales with creative and punchy flavors including apricot, cinnamon, bourbon, white grapes, acorn squash, cocoa and more — but not all in one brew, that would probably be horrible.
Morgan Street Brewery
Founded in 1995, Morgan Street Brewery resides in one of the oldest buildings on Laclede’s Landing. Refuel with a bite to eat — there’s a full and ever-changing food menu — and toast your ride with one of six year-round beers, ranging from Virgin Territory (Morgan Street’s first commercial IPA) to Black Bear (a classic Schawartz beer with clean and sweet malt flavors).