Review: 4 Hands Brewing Co. in Downtown
Comfortably nestled between downtown and Soulard is 4 Hands Brewing Co. Swing open the formidable wood door to reveal the brewery’s base of operations with fermenters looming behind glass, keeping watch over the downstairs bar. Soaring warehouse ceilings and wood tables give off a country-industrial vibe, emphasized by the bicycle seats paired with handlebars to look like hunting trophies mounted on the walls. Not a bad place to sit with a beer and a friend.
But the real draw is the new large upstairs bar featuring – and I’ll regret saying this when I can never beat the high score on “Tapper” again – free-to-play vintage arcade cabinets. Good beer casts a wide net, and 4 Hands is no exception – the crowd is eclectic and spans all ages. The big, open room decorated with looming City Wide can prints and local artist Peat Wollaeger’s Eyez artwork is both a great event space and hangout spot. On any given night there may be a bachelorette party, a birthday, a first date, a last date or a coloring book release. However, as with most craft beer bars, there’s little in the way of diversity (except when it comes to beard styles).
On tap you’ll find 4 Hands classics along with seasonal offerings. Menus scattered among the Mwanzi tables come with helpful descriptions to assist with that hard decision. Guava King has been my recent go-to for a refreshing glass that’s lightly sweet, tart and fun without being overwhelmingly fruity. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the rich and chocolaty Absence of Light – dangerously drinkable despite its opacity. But nothing beats City Wide Pils for drinkability, and once you’ve tasted all of the specials, this is the clean beer you can drink all night.
And by all night, I mean ending promptly at midnight on weekends and 10 p.m. on school nights. You’ll have to find another watering hole for late night. There is little mercy for the weary drinker once the lights come up. I can’t blame staff for wanting to get home, but I felt eyes on the back of my head by 9:45 p.m. with half of a Single Speed to chug. The crew will all but lead you out by the scruff of your drunken neck at closing time – which is fair enough.
Speaking of time limits, the kitchen closes before the bar, so you’ll want to get there a bit early if you want to eat. (And you’ll want to eat.) The menu of elevated bar food was developed in collaboration with James Beard award-winner Kevin Nashan, co-owner of Peacemaker Lobster and Crab and Sidney Street Cafe. If you’re like me, hearing the word peacemaker brings two things to mind: shrimp and po’boys. Both cravings can be sated – one with a pile of bright, fresh peel-and-eat shrimp, the other with a carryover brisket po’boy, which I consider the best brisket in town. Getting a fix at 4 Hands relieves the guilt of not having seafood when at Peacemaker.
The chopped salad is also worth mentioning. More than a throwaway menu convention, this came fully realized on its own terms, completely loaded with bacon, avocado and pickled green tomatoes. It’s easily the most satisfying salad I’ve had at a bar – excuse me – tasting room.
While you won’t find a cocktail list, the hard liquor selection at 4 Hands is a perk you won’t find at most craft breweries. It feels just right to get a shot of rye to go with your Divided Sky Rye IPA. There’s nothing quite like a pour of Templeton and a beer back of the citrusy Contact High American pale wheat ale to get in the zone for another round of “Donkey Kong.”
4 Hands Brewing Co.
1220 S. Eighth St., St. Louis, 314.436.1559, 4handsbrewery.com
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