The Schlafly Beer Employee Blog

December 21, 2011

A Twenty-Year Perspective

stephenoldbottleI realized last weekend that we passed an important milestone in our company history: The first brew at The Saint Louis Brewery was December 10th, 1991; it was a Wheat Ale, which at the time was brewed to yield both the Hefeweizen as we know it, and the filtered version that we called Wheat Ale.
Here are some other brew dates of observance:

  • 12-14-91   Ebenezer’s Christmas Ale
    the predecessor to Winter ESB
  • 12-16-91   Oatmeal Stout
  •  12-21-91   Wheat Ale II
    we used Roman Numerals to identify the batches for many years

  • 12-27-91   Pale Ale
  • 1-3-92       Pilsner

…And on it went, more of these brews, only three unitanks, no brite tanks (we used Grundies) Scotch Ale, Irish Stout, Maibock, and one-hundred kegs of Boulevard Beer to see us through while we caught up on brewing. Tom Schlafly and I actually drove to the freight company to fill my pickup truck with Boulevard kegs one Saturday because we were nearly out. It was hard to catch up back then. As Tom Schlafly recalls: “Dan stood on the bar to announce that we had run out of beer, prompting the chant,  “We drank ‘em dry. We drank ‘em dry.”.”

boulevard3Then two years old, Boulevard Brewing Co. was the Schlafly Tap Room’s answer to serving local craft beer after we were quickly “drunk dry” in our opening days. Click on the image to see a photo gallery of archival Schalfly images.

Despite our annual observance of December 26th as the official anniversary of the birth of Schlafly Beer, the various opening dates and dry runs in 1991 actually happened like this, to the best of our recollection:

  • Friday, December 20th
    Open for the first dry-run for the restaurant, free dinner for family and friends; the beer lines and glycol were hooked up about fifteen minutes before opening time.

  • Saturday, December 21st
    Open for the second dry-run, lunch and dinner.
  • Sunday, December 22nd
    Closed for a needed day of rest and recovery.
  • Monday, December 23rd
    Open for business to the public, low key and not too busy, needed to re-stock the kitchen. This was unannounced and we had a few customers, but not too many.
  • Tuesday, December 24th
    Second day open to the public, also lunch and dinner.
  • Wednesday, December 25th
    Closed for Christmas.
  • Thursday, December 26th
    Open for beer and pretzels only. The guest list included a variety of local dignitaries; press; more friends; many politicos; folks from Peper Martin; lots and lots of folks.
  • Friday, December 27th  
    Open for business. Lines were out the front door, which was to the left of the biergarten gates. We had only the main dining room back then, the ramp entrance was through the biergarten, which was an open dock at the time. The restrooms were where the north half of the kitchen is now, with payphones along the wall that is now a prep area. We eventually cleaned up the Club Room (no name then), and the stairs were extremely steep and inside the main dining room, crossing where you enter the dining room now.

We had Wheat Ale and Hefeweizen only, pints and 10 oz., no POS system for ordering, servers just told the bartenders what they wanted. Great fun. One time Schlafly brewer and later, Art Director, Sara Hale recalls that hosts had to write down what people looked like so they could find them, or simply go around yelling names; on crowded nights. A bullhorn was even used once since the place was so packed; that was fun too.
Best to all,