Posted On: 09/01/2010
Christmas came about six months early this year for city-based fans of Chesterfield’s International Tap House. The beer-lover’s bar opened a second location in the heart of Soulard in June, and, in addition to being much more accessible to us city folk, the new incarnation of Itap is bigger, bolder and much easier to score a pint at.
The bar is huge – and I do mean huge. On a Saturday night, a half-dozen or so beertenders dart back and forth behind the long bar that stretches north from the Ninth Street entrance. Behind them, in massive glass-fronted coolers, are row after row after row of bottles: Belgian ales, Colorado IPAs, English stouts, German hefeweizens, New Zealand lagers, Wisconsin bocks – 480 beers in total, and that’s just the bottles. The Itap staff also expertly pulls pints from about 40 different taps into custom glasses for your drinking pleasure. As in Chesterfield, patrons are given a handy cheat sheet menu with brief descriptions of beer types, and an oversized chalkboard posted on the wall lists drafts, complete with alcohol volume (choose wisely; several selections hit 11 percent or more). Service is quick, even on busy weekends, and the bar staff is well-versed in beer language and ready to help out with a recommendation.
Itap has a slew of impressive weekly specials; the best probably being the Wednesday night Kill the Keg, when patrons can plop down $12 for a bottomless glass of a single brew. Itap passport cards are available for discounts on Thursdays, and on Monday nights, half of the draft selections are available at half-price – a nice deal considering the hefty price tag of some of these brews.
About four times as large as the original Itap, the Soulard location has a decidedly more urban, loft space feel: lots of exposed brick, black leather chairs, sparse décor. The simplicity is appreciated; you’re here for the beer. Adjacent to the main beer hall is a large brick patio with ample seating and a clever fountain made of beer taps (they spew out water, not beer) for patrons to lounge around. There’s no kitchen on-site, but the management encourages patrons to bring in carryout from nearby eateries.
Happily, the vibe is very much the same as the Chesterfield location. On weekends, Itap hosts local and touring acoustic bands to entertain the throng of casually dressed 20-, 30- and 40-somethings who regularly pack the place. It’s your typical beer hall crowd – supercasual, with lots of rugby shirts, flip flops and halter tops. Weekdays are relaxed, and seats are easy to score. But on weekends, the place can get crowded early with patrons meeting up for a nice pint or two before heading elsewhere in the neighborhood for dinner or music. In that sense, Itap is a great addition to the neighborhood, adding a slightly pricier, slightly smarter element to the mix. It’s a great bar to start your night.
And with a nice location, a simple concept, good beer and a solid fan base, Itap is poised to become a Soulard mainstay.
STL AFTER DARK
Check it: A serious biergarten.
Hipster or Hoosier: Preppy kids, beer snobs, acoustic music fans, ex-sorority girls.
Suds or ’Tinis: 480 bottles of beer on the wall … and 40 more on tap.
Where: International Tap House – Soulard, 1711
S. Ninth St., St. Louis, 314.621.4333
When: Mon. to Thu. – 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., Fri. – 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sat. – 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
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