Summer Food and Lager Pairings
Here at Civil Life, we’ve been riding out this intense St. Louis summer by brewing up some of the best heat-busting, thirst-quenching styles of beer we can think of, lagers! The yeast we use defines the difference between ales and lagers. Lagers are fermented cold so the yeast takes a longer time to work their beer making magic, producing a cleaner, less fruity, crisp final product. Lagers are often disregarded as a “lesser” style, mostly due to the proliferation of (and backlash against) macro lagers that have dominated the market for decades. However lagers are finally returning to the glory they deserve. Easy drinking and refreshing, these beers are versatile and actually quite hard to make. The basic malt profile, restrained hopping and cool fermentation make it much harder to mask any flaws in the brewing process. A well-made lager is a beautiful beer to enjoy on a hot summer day and I’ve got a few favorite food pairings for our current line-up of lager excellence.
I’m going to start with a personal favorite of mine, the Dortmunder. First brewed last year for our anniversary party this historical, rarely seen beer is a gem. It’s a little stronger than your traditional pilsner, with a strong malt backbone and crisp, dry finish, attributed to the mineral rich water from the area of Dortmund. Since we don’t have access to that water, we doctor our fine St. Louis water to give the beer the same effect. For this beer I’d pair it with one of my favorite summer foods, the Caprese salad. It is a simple mixture of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil (this year picked from my own garden, thanks Mrs. Hafner!), and simply spiced with salt and pepper. I like to drizzle balsamic vinegar on top of mine, but purists will tell you not to. This pairing plays with the slight tang the fresh mozzarella, allowing it to pull out the same minerality of the beer while the crisp finish helps cleanse the palate of the creaminess of the fresh cheese. The bright acid in the tomatoes and balsamic help balance some of the maltier, white toast notes from the beer. This is a bright, fresh pairing for any day of summer.
Before the Dortmunder came around my original favorite Civil Life beer was the Vienna Lager. Slightly toastier with a rounder finish than the Dortmunder, the style was resurrected and popularized by the Mexican beer Negro Modelo in the 20th century. With an abundance of delicious sweet corn here in Missouri, I am often found lighting up the grill to make a favorite of mine, Mexican Street Corn. Spicy, creamy, and a little sweet, the corn is slathered in mayonnaise and sour cream (I use Greek yogurt for a slightly healthy twist), dosed with chili powder, and sprinkled with Cotija cheese. Find resonance in the grilled toastiness of the corn and the lightly kilned Vienna malt in the beer. Use the beer’s clean finish to help wash away any spiciness and make you ready for a little bit more.
When I first moved to St. Louis, I had the pleasure of getting to know the magnificent Carl, famous for his Civil Life beer #carlbock. I’ve been lucky enough to brew this beer with Carl the past two years and as one of the biggest beers we brew here, it’s always a fun day. #carlbock sticks out in our lager series for being big, fruity, and just a touch boozy. It still has that beautiful crisp finish, but it’s huge malt backbone makes a much more complex beer. For something to eat with this, I’d turn to your kebab. Kebabs are as just as fun to make and eat as it is to hang out and grab a beer with Carl. Grilling your veggies will bring out some of their more juicy bright flavors; think peppered and charred tomatoes, onions, zucchini, and summer squash paired with the bright fruit esters and spicy, herbal noble hop characteristics of #carlbock. If you’re a meat eater, the slightly boozier mouthfeel of #carlbock will stand up perfectly to thick slices of beef or lamb.
Four our last pairing, I look to our Czech Pils, dignified by one of my favorite hops, Czech Saaz. Known for its spicy, floral characteristics, this hop defines the Czech Pils style. It’s a little more rounded and soft in the mouthfeel than it’s bitter, hoppier cousin, German Pils. This delicate beer requires a delicate food and so I present to you one of my more offbeat favorite summer foods, watermelon, basil, and feta salad. Like a weird cousin of the earlier mentioned Caprese, this is a light refreshing side packed with just the right amount of herbal tang. Look for the basil to help bring out those Saaz hops and the sweet watermelon to complement the gentle soft malt profile. The salty feta cheese just brings just the right amount of balance to an otherwise dessert like side.
As we sweat it out for the rest of the summer I hope these pairings help you find a bit of relief along with joyous barbeques with friends, lazy river floats, long evenings on the patio, and Taco Domingo right here at Civil Life.
Celebrate Independence Day by Supporting Independent Local Businesses
The Fourth of July is almost upon as, and across the country, people will celebrate with fireworks and backyard barbecues, as well as plenty of craft beer brewed in their own cities and neighborhoods.
After the colonies achieved independence, the United States grew rapidly through several periods of immigration. The settlers had brought their love for beer from England; brewing was established early. Often it was home brewing.
The nineteenth century saw large numbers of German immigrants bringing their traditions to the still-young United States. In the Midwest especially, German families built many breweries. Names like Frederick Pabst, Joseph Schlitz, and Adolphus Busch were soon known throughout the world.
But many smaller breweries dotted the major American cities. The dark chapter of American history known as Prohibition saw the end of many of these local, independent, family businesses.
Until the early days of craft beer, Americans had little choice in terms of beer styles. But the American spirit of innovation could not be suppressed. Anchor, Boston Beer, and Sierra Nevada were among the first microbreweries, though they have grown considerably. Regional breweries like Bell’s in Michigan and our own Schlafly followed.
Now, even many smaller cities and towns have one or more craft breweries, returning to the great traditional styles and putting new American spins on them. Drinking the fine products of your own city and even neighborhood is now a possibility for most Americans.
Celebrate your independence with your favorite local beers. No barbecue or outdoor summer party in Saint Louis is complete without German Wheat in cans! Don’t forget to stock up. We also have plenty of cans of American Brown Ale, but Angel and the Sword won’t be around for long. Best yet, it's hard to beat our to go can prices. You can take home a case of genuine Civil Life beer for $32.00 (tax included) or a 6 pack for $9 (tax included. We will be happy to fill your growlers as well with any of our twelve beers available on tap. Stop in and see what we have.
Remember, every order of Civil Life beer is a declaration of independence. Drink Civil and Be Civil … on the holiday and every day. Happy Independence Day from the Civil Life!
The Seasonal Drinking Debate … Whatever Side You’re on, You’re Right!
With Saint Louis summer already in full swing, many customers have commented on how great our menu is right now. Beers like German Wheat, Civil Lager, Pink Boots Table Beer, Czech Pilsner, Dortmunder, and Carlbock are refreshing staples for summer drinking.
A vocal minority of drinkers, however, has voiced the opinion that any day is the right day for a stout, regardless of the weather. These beer lovers enjoy full-bodied beers with rich, layered roast character.
Right now, in addition to our classic American Brown Ale, we have our popular Milk Stout as well as our Extra Stout. The Milk Stout’s lactose-derived silkiness and smoky roast notes have earned it a loyal following. Two Thursday regulars have nicknamed it “Milky” and order it whenever it is on the board.
The Extra Stout’s full mouth feel and deep, earthy roast character, coupled with an intriguing herbaceous note have made it a new favorite. Many converts to this great beer will order it on the hottest day, and their looks of satisfaction suggest that this beer remains refreshing despite its strong flavors and substantial body.
Unfortunately the supply of both Milk Stout and Extra Stout is getting low. Given the number of seasonal drinkers, sales have slowed with the hot weather, but their days are numbered nonetheless. Enjoy them while we have them!
When supplies run out, comfort yourself with an American Brown. Or experiment with a lighter style. Rest assured that no Civil Life beer—lager or ale—skimps on flavor. And rest assured, too, that our classic Porter will be returning by the start of fall. Stay tuned for news of other dark beers slated for brewing later this year.
And, seasonal drinkers, know that our lager yeast strain is going strong and plenty of great summer quaffers will be available this summer and into fall. And everyone can enjoy some truly refreshing styles that defy being associated with one time of year only. Styles like STL Best and Vienna Lager are lighter bodied but have great toasted malt complexity and clean finishes.
The Civil Life is your pub for every season. Drink what you like when you like it. Just be sure to Drink Civil and Be Civil.
#Carlbock Makes a Triumphant Return and an Old Favorite Will Soon Flow for the World Cup
Few beers in the world command as fanatical a following as #Carlbock, a complex strong golden lager styled like the classic Maibocks and Hellesbocks of Germany. It is on tap now at the Civil Life and available until Matt and Paul drink it all.
The origins of #Carlbock are shrouded in mystery and go back to the earliest days of our brewery … before we opened, in fact. In those days, a man of many talents called simply “Carl” volunteered his efforts to expedite the opening of the Civil Life.
Our three founders were busy building the Civil Life themselves. These three styled themselves “The Three Wise Men,” though they were commonly referred to as “The Three South City Drinkers.” Carl stepped in with his keen knowledge of paint and drywall and things really started happening.
He also boosted morale and reminded the founders that too much time playing ping pong and eating microwave burritos would only delay the realization of their dream. When the building was ready, Carl asked only that the Civil Life someday brew a bock beer, a style he greatly enjoys.
When the tasty golden lager was ready, it was named for Carl. #Carlbock (that is, “Hashtag Carlbock”), created a social media storm. Called by some, the beer that made Twitter famous, #Carlbock quickly became a legend. Come down and taste for yourself.
And soon, GOAL!den Ale returns to our taps. We brew it for our friends at Amsterdam Tavern in time for the World Cup Soccer Matches. They will start pouring it tomorrow. This crisp golden beer is a very refreshing blonde with subtle hop character. It will pair well with Dam Burgers and hand-cut fries.
As crisp as a lager, but an ale, its civilizing qualities are unmatched, turning even seasoned lager louts into gentlemen. After a couple of pints, Barcelona fans have embraced Real Madrid followers, and Manchester United stalwarts have begun dancing spontaneously with Liverpool diehards.
GOAL!den Ale comes soon to the taps at the Civil Life. Until then, head down to the Amsterdam on Morganford for a refreshing pint of this classic. Clink glasses with someone wearing a rival’s colors. Enjoy the coming matches and Be Civil!
Coming Soon to a Can Near You … German Wheat
We continue to use a mobile canning unit to offer you more choices for drinking civil in as many formats as possible until we have our own canning line as our long-planned expansion unfolds. Early regulars will have noticed that our canned offerings thus far have leaned heavily on the first beers we brewed: American Brown, British Bitter (a.k.a. “Craft Beer” in the generic can), and Rye Pale Ale. Now, one of our original beers from September 2011 will be available in cans … German Wheat.
From early on, German Wheat has been a crowd favorite. During the summer, it remains a best seller to this day. When we are out, certain of our German Wheat fans make their satisfaction known in no uncertain terms. Rest assured, we currently have it on draft, and now have it in cans, available to go from our pub.
Summer is a great time to enjoy this style, though it goes down smoothly any time of year. This unfiltered wheat ale combines pilsner malt with three types of wheat. We use the classic German Weihenstephan yeast strain, known for its subtle notes of banana and clove. Traditional noble hops add a hint of spice.
This beautiful opaque, pale yellow beer has a snow-white head and grainy malt character with a hint of sweetness. The notes of clove and banana are more subdued than in some examples of the style. It is a supremely refreshing choice.
And summer in Saint Louis requires refreshment. The season is also rich with outdoor activities that often discourage glass containers. Cans are your solution. Whether floating on one of our scenic rivers or meeting friends at an outdoor music event, have plenty of German Wheat cans on hand (and American Brown Ale and Angel and the Sword, while supplies last).
Trends in beer and beer packaging will come and go, but be certain in the knowledge that it’s always in style to be civil and to drink civil. Even in settings where civility is in short supply, raise your can and set the civil trend. Be an ambassador of the civil life (and the Civil Life). And be sure to join us June 7 for German Wheat in cans––civil refreshment just in time for summer!
June is here already and one of our most popular T-shirts is back in stock just in time for Pride Fest. Our “Be Civil” slogan is printed in rainbow colors on a stylish black T-shirt. Celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of the Tower Grove neighborhood and spread a message our society needs to hear: Be Civil!
This same message is printed in eye-catching red on our new tote bags. They’re perfect for trips to the Tower Grove Farmers Market. Take them to the store when you are supporting the local businesses in the area, like Local Harvest and Gustine Market. Use them to transport your growlers to the pub for refills. Or use them at the new Fresh Pour growler filling station at the Hampton Village Schnucks, proudly pouring local craft beers, including Civil Life.
Consider a growler koozee with our logo. It’s the perfect way to protect those glass growlers and insulate your beer so it’s kept deliciously cool. And if glass isn’t an option, stop by the pub for some cold six packs. American Brown and Angel and the Sword were joined this week by German Wheat, giving you three great options for occasions when glass isn’t ideal.
And while your beer is protected and staying cool, protect your dome with a classic Civil Life mesh-back ball cap. It’s the perfect match for your collection of Civil Life T-shirts. And it provides cool protection for German-Wheat-Fueled yard work.
Be careful while mowing around your new “Be Civil” yard sign. Let your home send our message of civility. These signs have been popping up all around town. Stop in and get one if you haven’t already done so. We have plenty, even though our regular Michael tried to buy all of them and plant them in his front yard.
Michael, as you know, is this year’s Pete and Justine Hafner Memorial (Even Though They’re Not Dead Yet) Customer of the Year Award winner. He is fanatical about spreading the message of civility (and reading obscure books about wood working). He recently moved just down the street and we have been struggling with the mixed emotions associated with his even more frequent visits to our pub. His award entitles him to ¾ of an ounce of FREE Civil Life Beer each day (served in a miniature lead chalice).
Join Michael and your friends at the Civil Life in spreading our message: Be Civil. And stop in soon for cold canned beer, growlers, tote bags, and your new summer wardrobe. See you soon!
We are hitting our stride in the steamy sauna we call our brewery, and lager season is upon us. You’ve all tried our crisp, simple but delicious Civil Lager. Just last week another lager went on tap and yet another is waiting in the wings.
It seems the perfect time to revisit these two Civil Life favorites. Fans of our Dortmunder and Czech Pilsner have reason to celebrate, and there is no better way of doing so than downing of few pints of these great, traditional European lager styles.
Dortmunder is related to Pilsner and Helles but has greater complexity than most examples of these styles. Named for the industrial German city of Dortmund where the style originated, these beers tend to be slightly darker, a little higher in gravity, and maltier.
While Dortmunders don’t have the sharp bitterness of German pilsners, they do have prominent hop character. The spicy notes of classic German noble hops really come through, without being masked by excessive bitterness.
Body is robust, with a full mouth feel. The rich biscuity malt character is unmistakable. At 4.9% alcohol and just 27 IBUs, this is a very drinkable beer. It’s clean but by no means lean.
Be sure to sample our Dortmunder while awaiting the much-anticipated return of our Czech Pilsner. This classic style has been a world favorite for hundreds of years, Pilsner Urquell being the oldest and best-known example.
Our Czech Pilsner is a little darker than a German pilsner with a different hop character. Classic Saaz hops impart beautiful herbal and floral characteristics. These hop notes are well balanced by bready malt.
Clean and dry, our Czech Pilsner is the perfect accompaniment for any occasion and the perfect refresher on hot summer days. Coming soon to our pub and many fine area bars and restaurants.
Come celebrate lager season with us! Raise a pint to the long and noble brewing traditions of Germany and the Czech Republic. Cheers!
After an irregularly long, cold winter, Saint Louisans are searching for signs of spring’s final arrival. There are many signs, and we regard them as irrefutable evidence of the final end of winter and the arrival of warm sunny days best spent among friends in a pleasant beer garden, preferably one on Holt Avenue.
We have seen the crocus, the daffodil, and the hyacinth. We have heard the varied songs of a round of robins, a murmuration of starlings, and a college of cardinals. We have sought refreshing beers and have been rewarded with Witbier, Pink Boots Hopped Table Beer, and Circle 7 American Wheat; yet these stellar beers, while refreshing, did not seem to constitute proof positive that spring was firmly established.
This year, the most potent evidence of spring is the arrival of the first round of lager yeast. Today our team of crack brewers was hard at work making a brand new beer, cleverly named “Civil Lager.” Behind a byzantine system of polished alembics and retorts, Seymour could be heard muttering things like “dead simple beer,” “all pilsner malt,” “German hops,” and “the perfect beer to pair with tacos.”
While laughing maniacally, he dumped a metal pail brimming with German Magnum hops into his cauldron. Spring, it seems, is here.
Civil Lager is the first of this year’s lagers beers, and you can expect it on tap in about a month or so. It should be clean, crisp, and dry, with pleasant hop spice and grainy malt goodness. If you come on a Sunday in a month or so, you can test Seymour’s hypothesis about this beer’s otherworldly ability to pair with tacos.
Next, our Dortmunder will return. This old favorite will no doubt be cheered by the thirsty regulars who enjoyed this delicious lager the first time we brewed it. Our Dortmunder drinks like a big pilsner. It has a grainy/bready malt intensity, but remains crisp and refreshing, with classic noble hop spice.
And then our classic Vienna Lager will return. This beautiful deep amber beer is dry and toasty with bready malt and noble hop spice. The last time we brewed this beer, almost 10% of it was consumed by the combined Saint Louis metro area, while the remaining 90% of it was consumed by Alex and Charlie. You’ll know supplies are low when you see them arm wrestling for the final pints.
Lagers are coming back, Civil friends! Spring is finally here. We have plenty of other tasty options to slake your thirst until the lagers hit the taps, but know they are on the way as surely as the return of yard work and sunburns. Welcome spring and welcome lagers!
“Bee Civil”: How Your Three Favorite Brewers (with the Help of 138,240 Honey Bees) Made the Most Exciting New Beer in Saint Louis
COMING SOON: FEB. 14, 2018 to be exact!
We are very excited to release a brand new beer here at the Civil Life. As some of you may know, Jake’s family has been keeping bees and making honey. His cousin Nick and his parents Justine and Pete have been hard at work managing about twenty hives spread around Saint Genevieve County, Missouri. With a lot of local honey available, a honey beer seemed like a great idea.
Our “Bee Civil” Honey Wheat is something of a hybrid. Essentially an American style wheat beer, it uses a Kölsch yeast strain and a new “noble” variety of Citra hops with reduced bitterness. Expect a beautiful bright yellow beer with snow-white foam. As honey is extremely fermentable, the beer is dry. Although honey accounts for a full 20% of the total mash, its sugars were easily transformed into alcohol, yet the delicate flavor and aroma of wild flower honey are evident.
We worked closely with a representative of the USDA’s National Honey Board in developing our recipe and brewing procedure. Though we did not boil the honey, we did carefully raise it to pasteurization temperature before cooling it and adding it to the fermenter. In this way, we preserved the delicate aromas and flavors that would be lost at higher temperatures.
In addition to 150 pounds of local honey, we used pilsner malt and three types of wheat. The bready character of the malt marries beautifully with the subtle honey notes. Kölsch yeast gives the beer a clean finish without the overpowering notes of fruit or spice common in some wheat beers. Noble Citra hops impart pleasant notes of citrus and tropical fruit without the harsh bitterness common in traditional American hop varieties.
Overall, this beer is crisp and refreshing with layered flavors and a dry finish. We couldn’t have done it without Jake’s family, though, and all those hard-working bees. Nick really does estimate the number of bees involved as 138,240. It’s rumored he has named each one of them. Nick claims that to make just one pound of honey, bees travel 55,000 miles total and visit 2,000,000 different flowers. And they don’t take as many coffee breaks as our brewers.
Come down and try our new beer. Celebrate its nuanced flavors and brilliant color. And don’t forget to lift a pint to the hardest workers around. It’s said that bee-pollination of flowering plants helps produce about a third of the food we eat. Without these under-appreciated, industrious creatures, we’d be in trouble. Be Civil, “Bee” Civil, and Drink Civil. Cheers!
Every winter, we have been kicking off the new year with three delicious beers. It all started with our famous Big Year Brown. These special beers have been (for us) a little higher in alcohol and packed with big flavor.
We’ve done special Belgian and Scottish styles, big stouts, and a doppelbock. This year, we are pleased to introduce three brand new beers. Each one is sure to satisfy the needs of every civil drinker in the area.
Oatmeal Brown Ale is a rich but drinkable dark ale with stylistic similarities to both brown ale and oatmeal stout. It’s a deep mahogany color with a dense beige head. Oats impart full body and a lush creamy mouth feel. Complex layers of deep roasted malt are balanced by an earthy hop note and subtle hints of fruit. Don’t miss our latest take on brown ale, one of out favorite styles. This one can stand up to the coldest nights.
Hop lovers rejoice! Our Dry Hop Red Ale has good clean bitterness with robust citrus hop character. It’s light bodied but still has some caramel malt structure. Dry and refreshing, Dry Hop Red Ale is finished with American Amarillo hops. This take on a classic style celebrates hops but keep them balanced, because balance is what we’re about at the Civil Life.
Our biggest, darkest stout yet will also be on draft soon. Extra Stout is a deep black ale with intense roast character a dry finish, with intriguing earthy notes of herbs and licorice (think Fernet or Underberg). This big complex beer will satisfy the most demanding stout lover.
Hurry in to sample these limited releases. Winter is a great time to enjoy a pint in our well-wooded pub, and all of these beers will be drinking great this season. Don’t miss out on our newest releases. And thanks for another year of support from the best regulars a pub could hope for. Cheers!
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.