6 drinking trends on the bar in St. Louis now
1. Shake It Off
Love ’em or hate ’em, milkshake IPAs made a splash this summer. These creamy, dreamsicle-like IPAs are brewed with fruit and lactose sugars commonly used in milk stouts that gives their signature thick, rich mouth feel. Pennsylvania’s Tired Hands and Sweden’s Omnipollo Brewing kicked off the trend in 2015 with the titular Milkshake IPA (with several variations to follow), and St. Louis brewers are also experimenting with the style. Jeff Hardesty at Narrow Gauge Brewing Co. released To the Yard (Peach), a rich, hazy IPA brewed with lactose sugar and aged on vanilla beans and peaches. Forthcoming Rockwell Beer Co. tried out the technique with a few versions of Meringue, a beer brewed with lactose, lemon and vanilla, including Coconut Meringue, Raspberry Meringue and Orange Meringue. A handful of milkshake IPAs were spotted at 2nd Shift Brewing’s annual Criderfest, including Nashville’s Southern Grist with its Guava Upside Down Cake (a double IPA brewed with guava, vanilla beans and lactose) and Windmill Brewing out of Indiana, which brought its Memes & Dreams, a lactose-fermented IPA with mangoes and vanilla.
2. To-Drink List
The wine list has always had top billing at fine dining eateries, but many area restaurants are giving craft brews a place in the spotlight. Places like Vicia, Olive & Oak and Sardella boast a healthy mix of local, regional and international options. Retreat Gastropub describes its beer list like its wines, categorizing brews with helpful key characteristics. The Libertine pays homage to beer’s heritage with large-format German bottles, and Cleveland-Heath appeases both the workaday drinker and the craft fan with a list including Stag and offerings only available in Illinois like Surly Brewing Co. Some fine dining establishments even partner with local breweries to create custom beers for the restaurant like Side Project Cup of Love previously at Sardella; look for Perennial Ollie Ollie Oxen Free at Olive & Oak, Perennial Brew for the Crew at Farmhaus and Perennial Single Barrel Stout at Juniper.
3. Hot New Pinots
German pinot noir, or Spätburgunder, is all the rage right now. In fact, it can prove difficult to find a bottle despite being the third-largest producer of pinot noir in the world. Why? Let’s just say German pinot noirs of the past didn’t taste good – thin and on the acidic side – because the weather was just not right for this grape. But due to recent rising temperatures and longer, sunnier days (thanks, global warming), the fruit now ripens better, making the resulting wine resemble an expensive Burgundy at an affordable price. Think light-bodied, refined reds with notes of red fruit that are delicate with a very dry, long finish. Find it on the shelf at Parker’s Table (a Koehler-Ruprecht 2013 Spätburgunder for $20), at the Wine Merchant (a 1 liter Heger 2014 Pinot Noir for $20) or order it off the wine list at Eleven Eleven Mississippi or 33 Wine Shop & Bar.
4. Brain Freeze
Frozen and blended drinks have experienced a resurgence of late, becoming a “thing” again at such highly regarded establishments as Diamond Reef in Brooklyn and Preux & Proper in Los Angeles. St. Louis has been getting in on the frosty action as well. Narwahl’s Crafted Urban Ice in Midtown has a dedicated menu of frozen delights that includes such concoctions as the Watermelon Frosé and the Rhubarb Paloma. The Preston has brought out the blender to create drinks like the absinthe watermelon colada, and Porano has had great success with its über-popular Negroni Slushie.
5. Powder Powered
Instead of using traditional hop pellets, some brewers are sprinkling their beer with a little magic dust. 4 Hands Brewing Co. brewery manager Martin Toft used hop powder – aka cryogenically processed hops – in Loose Particles, a juicy Northeast-style IPA with Simcoe and Mosaic. Toft said he can use significantly less product and get more aroma and flavor from the hops, and he’s already planning to hit more recipes with the powder next year. 2nd Shift Brewing also experimented with Cryo Hops in its Equanot Experimental IPA, a light, clean brew with equanot hops.
6. Can It
Canned wine sales are booming like never before as consumers shrug off the lowbrow stigma of popping a top to quaff their vino. In fact, Nielsen Company reported sales rose 125 percent from summer 2015 to summer 2016. The perks of canned wine are numerous. They’re eminently portable, perfect for the pool or float trips where glass is off-limits. No additional glassware – or a corkscrew – is required, and cans can be easier to recycle than bottles. Plus, more and more high-quality producers are now ensconcing their juice in aluminum, like Alloy Wine Works, which cans several of its wines, including Everyday Rose, (a Sauce office favorite), and Union Wine Co.’s Underwood line, which offers five canned varieties.
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