rockwell beer co. brews yellowbelly for the central west end restaurant of the same name. photo courtesy of jake huber

St. Louis breweries, restaurants partner for custom local beer

Sometimes you just want a beer to go smoothly with what you’re about to eat, whether it’s a cheeseburger, a green salad or a complex seafood dish. Fortunately, some St. Louis breweries have made the ordering process easier by working directly with local restaurants to create beers that beautifully complement the food they’re served alongside.

Perennial Artisan Ales does a number of custom brews, including one for Olive + Oak, a restaurant that serves everything from prime steak tartare to carrot-dill soup to fried green tomatoes and dover sole. The beer is a heavily dry-hopped, hazy pale ale called Ollie.

“[Perennial co-founder] Emily [Wymore] and I have been good friends with [Olive + Oak owner] Mark Hinkle since his days at Annie Gunn’s, and he wanted a beer from us that paid remembrance to their late son, Ollie,” explained Phil Wymore, Perennial co-owner and brewmaster. “This style is versatile and light enough to be food friendly with enough substance to stand on its own.”

Perennial also does a festbier lager called Brew for the Crew for Farmhaus, as well as a Belgian-style Dubbel called Dubbel Block for The Block. In addition to having a full-service meat counter, The Block offers a meat-forward menu, making it a good candidate for a more aggressive beer. Wymore and his team were up to the challenge.

“[Co-chef] Brian Doherty wanted a beer that would really stand up to the heartiness of some of their dishes, as well as their desserts,” Wymore said. “This beer is fermented on dates to give it an extra-rich mouthfeel.”

2nd Shift Brewing has long partnered with Mission Taco Joint to create Sub-Mission IPA. “We wanted to create a beer that represented the West Coast,” said 2nd Shift operations manager Michael Sweeney, adding that Mission owners Adam and Jason Tilford grew up in California. “We used a hop blend in that one. It’s really nice, really citrusy, really reminiscent of the old-school West Coast IPAs. The malt base is very clean.”

Naturally, the beer is best paired with tacos. Back when they were still bottling the beer in-house, Sweeney said, they actually had the recommendation on the bottle. “IPAs typically do really well with spicy foods. They tend to cut through the spiciness, so having that little bit of bitterness actually helps,” he said. “I recommend it with any kind of dish that has a kick to it. It definitely goes great with the ancho sauce.”

Rockwell Beer Co.’s Yellowbelly, a dry-hopped lager, is made for the eponymous, colorful Central West End seafood restaurant. Hoppy and floral, but still crisp and light, the Yellowbelly beer goes with basically anything on the restaurant’s menu – and that’s by design.

“It’s a pale lager that we hopped with Wakatu and Motueka hops from New Zealand,” said Jonathan Moxey, Rockwell’s head brewer. “What’s cool about those hops is that they’ve got some German lineage, so you get a bit of the traditional floral, spicy aroma that you’d expect with a German hop.”

Why does it work so well? “The New Zealand hops give a vibrant, citrusy flavor,” Moxey said. “It’s just really bright. It’s something I would think about drinking with the food they’re serving there, whether grilled or raw fish. [We brewed] something versatile that would go really well with that type of food.”

Moxey said Yellowbelly owners Travis Howard and Tim Wiggins have been big supporters of the brewery since its early days, so the partnership just made sense. Full disclosure: This beer is hard to find because it runs out quickly, but Moxey promises it’ll be back.

Adam Rothbarth is a staff writer at Sauce Magazine.