"First in booze, first in shoes and last in the American League" described St. Louis in the years before the hapless Browns left town and became the Baltimore Orioles. We still don't have an American League team, and shoe manufacturing has largely been outsourced to China, but we're making real progress on the booze front, enough to warrant a tasting tour.
StilL 630 takes its name from the height of the nearby Gateway Arch, built as a symbol of St. Louis' role as gateway to the West. Weekend tours start at noon, when you can discover the entire distilling process that produces award-winning spirits for owner/head-distiller David Weglarz, take a few sips of his delicious whiskey, bourbon or rum and buy a Barrel Master Home Whiskey Aging Kit. The tour is free; reservations required.
Drop in at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company for what they call "beer divergency," offering both their takes on traditional European beers and the best of modern artisanal American styles. Both locations deliver the suds; there are way more seats and a full menu at the gigantic Grove Brewery & Bierhall; the Midtown Brewery & Biergharten offers lighter fare like pretzels and meat and cheese samplers.
Square One Brewery & Distillery offers the best of both worlds—distilled spirits and beer—in its charming digs in historic Lafayette Square along with a full menu of upscale pub fare. Tours on the first Saturday of the month take you through the distilling process.
At a robust 22 years old, St. Louis Brewery/Schlafly Taproom was the first new brewpub to open in Missouri since Prohibition—in a building that served as one of the locations for the Kurt Russell movie, "Escape from New York," a chamber-of-commerce nightmare that made St. Louis look like a bombed-out urban wasteland. Well it's a thriving corner now, as is the Shlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood, where you can take a tour. Both locations serve pub fare seven days a week.
Morgan Street Brewery's rich, malty Golden Pilsner has won a truckload of awards, including the Gold Medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup, and is reason enough to stop in at this Laclede's Landing mainstay, but there's so much more: black and brown lagers, Dopplebock, unfiltered wheat beer, sour mash Belgian-style ale and many more accompanied by an ambitious menu that includes salads, pizza, pastas, sandwiches and entrées like bacon-wrapped meatloaf, pan-roasted salmon and medallions of beef tenderloin.