Back in St. Louis for the first time in perhaps 10 years?!? Hard to believe. I am visiting an old college friend for some serious catching up. We went to University Loop and had some St. Louis-style pizza at the venerable Cicero’s. Cracker thin crust, a mix of mozzarella and provel cheeses. Provel is a St. Louis thing: a processed, easily melted cheese made from cheddar, swiss and provolone. It was developed by a cheesemaker here and one in Wisconsin (which eventually became Kraft). Always a Wisconsin connection if I look hard enough.
The pizza will offend the die-hard Napolitana, New York or Chicago-style fans (and on any given day I might be any one of those) but I thought it was some great comfort food. At least more satisfying than the Lou Malnati’s pie I had last week in Chicago. (Butter crust?!? Are you nuts? Taking the word “pie” crust in the wrong direction). The beer selection at Cicero’s was quite nice, lots of draft beers from Missouri, other states and even some imports, and of course a wide selection of bottles. After sampling a couple of New Belgium brews (Mighty Arrow is really fine! This “Pale Ale provides lots of pleasurable sniffs from Amarillo and Cascade hops with a fetching honey malt base”) Jeff and I went with a UK sampler. Unfortunately, we weren’t around at 5:30-6:30 for the debut of a Bell’s seasonal.
I did get over to Schlafly’s, the big microbrewery (is that like jumbo shrimp??) here in STL. Now that Anheuser-Busch has downsized, the long shadow of the Bud brewer got a little shorter. AB is “The Brewery” and it seems the city is still trying to come to terms with the sale to the Belgian InBev. I’ve read 6% of the AB workforce was let go at the end of 2008. Happy New Year indeed… Doesn’t seem right that we sold out our breweries in this country. Miller/Coors of course is gone to SAB (South Africa). St. Louis was once referred to as “First in shoes, first in booze and last in the American League.” The shoes were the first thing to go overseas. Now the beer. And dang it, their baseball team keeps screwing things up for my Milwaukee Brewers. Come on St. Louis, yer killin’ me here.
Friday begins the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival. All the local brewers will be there right alongside AB. But everyone apparently serves as equals and no one even puts up their own posters, labels or even delivery trucks. It’s all about the beer, the styles of beer, not the labels. I’m anxious to see this.