Thursdays at the pub tend to be pretty busy from opening on. The bar is packed with regulars, and the tables both inside and outside gradually fill with cheerful beer lovers.
The Civil Hour group generally arrives early. Among them you’ll find the Count of Monte Carlo, English professor and world traveler. He has lived in almost every city on the planet and perhaps even in cities on planets yet to be discovered. His group engages in lively conversation fuelled by good drink, snacks, and, of course, civility.
One regular couple takes a break from a hectic week of work and family to restore with pints and sandwiches. Another couple plots their strategies for the next Pennsic War (held annually by the Society for Creative Anachronism) over pints of cask beer.
By seven pm, a group of traveling minstrels arrives (twice a month) with fiddles, mandolins, banjos, and other instruments in tow. They are led by two of the metro areas most talented beer drinkers.
One of these men hosts the wildly popular KDHX program “Down Yonder” (Saturdays 11–1). Over the course of the evening he showers the staff of Civil Life with an inexhaustible supply of coins, like some benevolent numismatic deity.
The other man is a tall bearded fellow, bearing a striking resemblance to his ancestor, who famously painted a panoramic depiction of the entire Mississippi River Valley on a canvas over half a mile wide. These artistic talents were translated in musical skill in our regular, who saws madly at his fiddle, while dipping whatever is handy into horseradish sauce. So powerful is his addiction to this savory root (the densest concentration of which grows just south of Collinsville), we have to dole it out to him like methadone.
Together these gentlemen lead an old time jam band, playing plenty of bluegrass music out on our patio. We supply the musicians with some pints in order to support the arts and promote civility.
Outdoor drinkers and diners listen and sometimes even dance while enjoying pints of great beer and tasty snacks lovingly prepared by Tony and Dave.
When you head back to the bar, just be careful not to get roped into a lengthy conversation about Estonian woodworking with a regular having a crazed look in his eye and his hand clamped in a death grip around his dry cider (or Czech Pilsner, when it’s available). You’ll remember this regular as the young man who was almost Civil Life Customer of the Year last year!
Good beer, good food, good music, friendly regulars, and conversation. That’s Thursday at the Civil Life. See you then!
Civil Life June Updates
The month of June is already almost half over and we are already feeling summer in Saint Louis. We’ve been busy making great beers to keep you hydrated all summer long. Great new things are afoot here at the Civil Life.
We released a new T-shirt with our mantra “Be Civil” spelled out in rainbow letters. It’s a celebration of diversity and civility. Wear it with pride!
We also canned a huge batch of refreshing German Pilsner, a crisp golden lager that can stand up to the punishing heat and humidity that mark our summers here in south Saint Louis. It’s the perfect restorative for any outdoor activity.
Like Pride Fest, for example. The first Pride Fest events in Saint Louis date back to 1980. Organizers representing the local LGBT community planned events, including a parade, which originally centered around the Central West End and Forest Park. By the nineties, Pride events had moved to our own Tower Grove neighborhood, with a parade down South Grand to Tower Grove Park.
You could say the core values of this annual celebration are diversity and civility, and Tower Grove was the perfect venue. As it attracted more people, it moved downtown, with a parade down Market Street. Last year’s Pride Fest events attracted a quarter of a million people. That’s a lot of people braving the heat and humidity to celebrate. If you go this year, remember to drink Civil!
Though the parade moved from Tower Grove, the area is still filled with outdoor opportunities to drink cold cans of Civil Life beer. The Whitaker Music Festival (formerly Jazz in June) brings neighbors and music lovers to Shaw’s Garden (a.k.a. The Missouri Botanical Garden). They bring picnics and coolers and enjoy music in a beautiful outdoor setting. Just don’t bring glass bottles. Cans of Civil Life German Pilsner are the perfect option.
Tower Grove Park itself will be hosting many parties and reunions all summer. When you find yourself at one of these events, be sure to enjoy a cool Civil Life beer under the shade of one of the park’s almost 7,000 trees.
Civil Life cans travel well, so pack them up for your camping and float trips. Even when you venture out, take a little of Tower Grove with you. Summer in Saint Louis is the perfect time to enjoy great beer and to celebrate diversity and civility. And you can always do so at our pub and beer garden. Wherever you drink Civil Life this summer, thanks. We’re proud to have you as our customers.
Civil Wednesdays––A Day to Honor Craftsmen and Craftsmanship
Like Tuesday, Wednesday is a day when our pub is a little slower, with many regulars lining the bar. But among those regulars, you’ll find two unsung heroes of the Civil Life. Let’s call them “Ray” and “Jim.”
Way back before our bar opened, the unassuming structure that would house the Civil Life was in need of distinction and character. Plans were drawn up with our friend Shamus, Saint Louis’s tallest architect. The founders turned their eyes to the details that would make our pub special. Lots of wood was critical, but any bar in Saint Louis should have some brick, too. And so the founders reached out to two legends in their fields, Jim the Carpenter and Ray the Bricklayer.
Jim constructed our beautiful ash bar. Its clean lines and simple beauty evoke the designs of the arts and crafts movement of the early twentieth century. Every inch of the elegant ash expanse was lovingly cut, sanded, and assembled by the skilled hands of Jim. The bar’s solidity and aesthetic perfection tell the story of Jim’s supreme artisanship. When the work was done, Jim sipped a beer and lovingly inspected his handiwork.
Meanwhile, sparing no expense, Jake enlisted his mother and some of her retired friends to stain the new bar. They then applied hundreds of layers of nautical-grade polyurethane. This thousand-year bar was built to withstand anything, even a long ocean voyage. We have broken open millions of rolls of gold dollar coins on its uncomplaining surface. Every time we do, you can see Jim the Carpenter wince, as if that solid roll of gold was brought down upon his very soul.
Even gallons of spilled beer and copious sprays of natural cleaning compounds have left our bar in beautiful shape, showing just the warm patina imbued by the sustained use of our thirsty patrons.
But before you even enter our bar, you’ll see fine craftsmanship adorning our pub. The brick façade of the east exterior wall of the tasting room was constructed by a local legend, Ray the Bricklayer.
He built so many buildings in Saint Louis, he can no longer remember them all. If you ask him about those historic buildings, he will get a faraway look in his eyes, before saying, “Hell, those places all fell down.”
Like the Roman Forum and Coliseum, those ruins are a crumbling testament to a powerful vision, one man’s monochrome vision of a red-brick city rising up beside the nation’s greatest river.
Ray’s self-deprecating jokes aside, our brick wall still stands almost six years after its construction. With luck, Ray’s handiwork will last another six years. Rumor has it, Ray mortared a beer can on top of the wall, after quenching his thirst as the work neared completion. Thousands of years from now, archeologists will stare in awe at that can and wonder who put it there.
Ray and Jim like to come inspect their work on Wednesdays. You’ll find them at the bar drinking from special gemstone encrusted goblets (actually small mugs with handles to keep Ray and Jim from dropping them).
Lewis and Clark, Laclede and Chouteau, Ray and Jim––visionaries who built Saint Louis. Come in some Wednesday and raise a pint to them in the best-built pub in town.
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.