Brewery Showcase | Alpha Brewing Company (St. Louis)
The first thought I had when I Google-mapped Alpha Brewing Company in downtown St. Louis was, “Where the heck is 1409 Washington Ave?” Because that is the address Google gives you, but take a stroll down Washington Avenue and you’ll quickly realize it isn’t there.
Like any good speakeasy from my grandfather’s era, you need the password. And the password you’ll need to find Alpha Brewing’s tasting room is ‘rear.’ That’s right, because Alpha’s front door is in the rear of the building, actually facing Lucas which is one block north of Washington. Tucked behind metal garage doors lies the brewing complex and tasting room.
The tasting room has an industrial feel with concrete floors, pillars, steel accents and a mural. The bar is L shaped and covered with coins collected from around the world and backed by a draft system containing 14 beers on draught, half of which are more traditional styles such as IPA, Pale Ale, and Belgian Blonde. The other half are more esoteric brews that have all been aged in barrels of one sort or another.
Behind the tasting room is a 1000 square foot brewing space where Alpha’s Head Brewer Derrick Langeneckert is realizing his brewing dreams. Like many local brewers, Langeneckert’s dream comes from his exposure to home brewing and early tutelage at one of the town’s first craft breweries.
“I dreamt up the idea for Alpha Brewing Company while sitting around drinking homebrew with one of my friends in the spring of 2012,” said Langeneckert. “I had only been brewing for about a year at the time and I was also employed as brewer’s help at Square One Brewery.”
The brewery has a 2.5 bbl system with 25 bbls of fermentation space as well as 56 oak casks which are stacked in the tasting room.
What they are creating is a well-balanced, well-rounded beer menu that does not lack any traditional styles, while focusing on a unique barrel program called BETA and two interesting series of beers.
“The Indoctrination series takes a fun poke at religion,” said Langeneckert. “Most of the brews we released were highly successful and we’ll brew them again, like Atheist Ale, Wicca Brett Wheat, Satanic Saison and Pope Mobale.”
Alpha’s other series of beers is their Brett Series. They brew a 100% brett beer and age it on a certain fruit for a period of 6 to 9 months. “In this series we’ve done plums, jackfruit, cantaloupe, cherry, pomegranate, blackberry, honeydew melon, cranberry, and have raspberry and papaya in barrels right now,” said Langeneckert.
From its inception, Alpha Brewing always intended to create a barrel-aged beer program. The program is known as Beta.
“Beta stands for Barrel Aged, Esoteric, Tart and Abstract,” says Langeneckert. “We wanted to set our barreled beer apart from the more traditional styles. We’ve brewed older styles of beers that we frankly, couldn’t find anywhere.”
“Adambier” is a whiskey barrel-aged sour, smoked brown ale. “I Do Belgian Tripel” is aged in Red Zin barrels. “We are most proud of our regular barrel-aged brews, Rosé Saison (Saison aged in Pisoni Rosé barrels), Braun (Flemmish Red aged in Merlot barrels), Apocrypha (Black Saison aged in La Pitchoune Pinot Noir barrels), Sunkn Treasure (Gosé aged in Gin barrels), Delphian (dry-hopped Saison aged in White Wine barrels),” said Langeneckert.
On our visit we found the tasting room busy but the bar open. Our introduction to the beers came via the Alpha draught set. We tried the Belgian Blonde – easy drinking and light. Atheist Ale, a delicious take on an IPA brewed with a Belgian house strain of yeast. Delphian, which bounces off your tongue like a dry-hopped sour ale should. Muscovy, every brewery needs a big black barrel-aged brew and this is Alpha’s. Apocrypha, a sour black ale. And Sunkn Treasure, a sour-fermented Gosé that Langeneckert says he learned to brew from the Destihl Brewery in Normal, Illinois.
Alpha Brewing Company has found a home in downtown St. Louis and appears the locals are continuing to find it as well. 2016 will be a year dedicated to improving on what they’ve built and looking for new ways to get their beers in new hands.
Address: 1409 Washington Ave Rear
Phone: 314-621-BEER (2337)
Email: [email protected]
Mon: 4pm to 10pm
Wed: 4pm to 10pm
Thu: 3pm to 11pm
Fri: 3pm to 1am
Sat: 1pm to 1am
Sun: 2pm to 8pm