It was way back, even before 2011, before the birth of the Civil Life Brewing Company. The long gestation process had begun. The first order of business was to craft some excellent beers, and the very first of these beers was to be the beloved Civil Life American Brown Ale.
Dylan Mosley and Mike Bianco were working like mad scientists at a heavily fortified compound somewhere near Lindenwood Park. Actually, it was Dylan’s basement. In between marathon ping-pong sessions, the two brewers poured batch after batch of brown ale wort through an elaborate system of mash tuns, brew kettles, carboys, alembics, retorts, and genie bottles.
What they were attempting to make (when not barbecuing or playing ping pong) was the most perfect beer ever created. Such a beer would have to have an appeal strong enough to be classed obsession, if not addiction.
The perfect brown ale would have to be roasty, without being too sharp, malty without being sweet, medium to full bodied without being heavy, and it would need a most judicious dose of American hops to balance the malt and provide some subtle citrus and floral notes.
After many batches sampled and tweaked by Dylan and Mike, the first Civil Life beer was perfected. And there was never a shortage of guinea pigs when it came to taste tests.
If the golden mean were a beer, it would be the Civil Life American Brown Ale. It appeals to novice craft beer drinkers as well as seasoned professionals and avid home brewers. It is regularly enjoyed by drinkers who claim not to like dark beers; one taste is generally all it takes to convert these drinkers.
In many ways, the American Brown embodies the brewing values at the Civil Life. It’s balanced and accessible, yet layered and complex. It’s malt forward without being sweet. And the malts it’s made from are very traditional, maris otter and brown malt especially.
This beer has irresistible coffee and cocoa roast notes. After four and a half years of brewing and selling the best beers we can make, the American Brown remains our best seller, accounting for over half of all the beer we sell in the market. We often hear, “I had one of your beers at X restaurant or Y bar, but I can’t remember which one it was.” Chances are good it was the American Brown.
A lot has changed over the past few years. We keep Dylan and Mike locked behind a tall fence so they don’t wander off to play ping pong, and we brought Brandon Stern on to help fill those forty and sixty barrel fermenters with double and triple batches of American Brown.
One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the quality of that brown ale. It’s still a great favorite among Saint Louis craft-beer drinkers. And it’s also the first beer we plan to can. Stay tuned!
-Dr. Patrick Hurley, Barman and Civility Expert
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.