The craft of craft sodas, beers
New flavors inspire craft offerings
During a first-time visit to St. Louis in late August, my family and I had the opportunity to sample many beverages. We tried Bitt’s Cold Press, a cold-brew coffee that is brewed and bottled at St. Louis-based Arthouse Coffees, cooled off at an old-fashioned soda shop, and attended “beer school.”
St. Charles, Mo.-based Little O’s Soda Shop served up 14 “Pokémon GO”-inspired sodas, including the Pikachu, which blends pineapple and raspberry dessert sauce with water and seltzer water; the Moltres, which features cherry, banana, strawberry and marshmallow; and the Charmander, a sweet soda with marshmallow, red cream and orange.
Shop co-owners Christina Beach and Brett Thomason serve up nostalgia along with root beers and old-fashioned egg cream sodas made with milk and cream. The shop also offers several varieties of bottled craft soda and candy. Another top seller is its made-from-scratch Ozenkoski gooey butter cakes that are emblematic of St. Louis, Beach says.
Our visit to Schlafly’s Bottleworks “beer school” in Maplewood also was interesting and educational thanks to teacher AJ Ganim’s expertise on the “beer capital of America.” Co-founded by Tom Schlafly and Dan Kopman in 1989, Schlafly produces more than 64,000 barrels of beer annually, but only five of the brewery’s 70-plus offerings, including its Pale Ale, Hefeweizen and award-winning Kölsch, are offered year-round, Ganim notes.
Additionally, Ganim described beer’s four traditional ingredients: barley malts, hops, water and yeast, and how non-traditional flavors, like chocolate, mango, cinnamon and pumpkin, increasingly are used to flavor its craft beers.
Between the downtown St. Louis Taproom and its Bottleworks location, 100 percent of Schlafly’s production and bottling is done on-site. Its craft beers are distributed to 15 states and Washington, D.C., he adds.
Whether you are traveling or just hanging out in your neighborhood, be sure to try a new craft beverage this fall.