After several days of cold temperatures and a couple big holidays around the corner, many of us forgot that winter wasn’t even here yet. The winter season is now officially underway. There is no better way for beer lovers to survive cold temperatures than by downing imperial pints of malty goodness. Malt-rich beers nourish body and soul, and your friends here at the Civil Life are unabashed in our love of malt.
Somewhere back in prehistory, an anonymous hero remembered that bowl of porridge he or perhaps she left out in the rain. It looked O.K. and smelled … kind of interesting, certainly not bad. Hunger drove that soul to consume it. It provided satiety, but also a feeling of pure contentment. Naturally occurring yeasts had triggered the mysterious process of fermentation, and the first beer was “brewed.”
Naturally abundant water (generally a source of microbes if not boiled) was finally good for something besides bathing and irrigating crops. Later, hops would be used to bitter and balance a drink made from malted barley, which was somewhat sweet even after most of its natural sugars were converted to alcohol by yeast. Malted barely was and is the very heart of beer.
Here at the Civil Life, we celebrate malt in our beers, sourcing the finest traditionally malted and roasted barley and using it as the base of your favorite drink. You’ll never be served a glass of thin hop-water here. But in the cold months especially, we’ll offer you plenty of beers characterized by layered malt richness. All of the flavors you love in our beers—bread, biscuit, caramel, toffee, chocolate, and coffee—are from a variety of excellent malted grains.
The weather’s perfect for a pint of our holiday brew, Burton on Holt. Or enjoy a traditional ESB or premium bitter. Soon, our old favorite the Angel and the Sword will return (and we should have it in cans next spring). No matter which of our beers you choose this winter, you’ll be treated to layers of tasty, nourishing malt.
Wrap your Civil Life scarf around your neck and head to Tower Grove’s friendliest pub. Our warm and woody bar space is waiting. Malty beers, the most civilized regulars in town, and a variety of nourishing victuals are all you need this season. And when you can’t make it to the pub, visit many of the fine establishments in the area serving Civil Life beer.
This season, we invite you to join us in toasting how fortunate we are to have friends, family, and good beer. In good cheer and fellowship, raise a pint of ale and recall how human ingenuity turned an accident into an institution, a most civil one at that. Cheers!
More News from the Canning Department …
The United States of America may be preparing for a regime change next month, but at the Civil Life Brewing Company, we’re still saying, “Yes We Can!” We released our beloved American Brown Ale and our “Craft Beer” in cans (both are still available at the pub with a special holiday price of just $36.00 a case). Next week, we are canning our GABF-gold-medal-award winning Rye Pale Ale (Best Rye Beer in America 2014).
We were pretty pleased with how are brown and bitter turned out in cans. If you haven’t tried them, you’re missing out. Did I mention our $36 case holiday special? We have every reason to believe the Rye Pale Ale will be excellent in cans. It should be bright and crisp with some beautiful pine and citrus and loads of tasty rye spice (think earthy peppercorn).
Our previous plans to get the ESB and Porter in cans were derailed by technical difficulties to the disappointment of many (especially us!), but rest assured, cans of delicious Rye Pale Ale will be available at the pub next Tuesday December 20th. That’s just in time for Christmas. Who on your list wouldn’t want a six-pack of rye? Or better still, a case. Don’t forget to leave some out for the man in the red suit; save the milk and cookies for the children.
And when you stop in for canned beer, don’t forget coozies. We’ve got plenty of shirts, hats, scarves, and other great gifts (including gift certificates), so The Civil Life is the obvious stop for last minute gifts.
We don’t mind repeating ourselves: we’re really excited about these cans! Just remember, for now our cans are only available at the pub. After we complete our planned expansion, we hope to see Civil Life cans gracing the shelves of our city’s finest grocery and liquor stores.
For now, stop by the pub and load up on the best canned beer around. It’s just another excuse to stop by the pub and have a pint. We’re always glad to see you.
Civil Reads 2017
Saint Louis native T.S. Eliot famously said, “Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them: there is no third.” While most people are still exposed to Shakespeare, even if only a couple of plays in school and a handful of pithy quotes wrenched from context, few Americans have read Dante. This is a crime (or perhaps a sin).
Having not read Dante since I studied him in the mid-nineties, I have decided to make 2017 the “Year of Dante” for me. Next year, I will primarily be reading Dante’s Divine Comedy in several translations, as well as lots of relevant background material by Virgil, Augustine, Ovid, Aristotle, and many others.
I would like to invite Civil Readers to join me on this rare journey. Next year we will meet just three times (April, August, and December) to discuss the Inferno, the Purgatorio, and the Paradiso. If you’ve ever thought you should read Dante but haven’t had the gumption to sit down and actually do it, now is the time.
Most modern editions come in three fairly inexpensive paperbacks consisting of the one hundred cantos of poetry making up the three parts of the Divine Comedy, as well as notes putting the work in its late-thirteenth-century Florentine context. There are prose as well as poetry translations. I hope we will read many different translations, so we can compare how different poets render various passages.
I am currently finishing rereading the Mark Musa translation I studied many years ago and getting ready to tackle Singleton’s six-volume Dante with thick commentaries. There are excellent translations by Dorothy Sayers, John Ciardi, Allen Mandelbaum, Charles Hollander, Robert Pinsky, and many others. Ideally you might read excerpts from several translations and pick one that speaks to you.
And speak to you Dante will. The Divine Comedy would not still be translated, read, and discussed today if it did not remain deeply relevant. To distill this work down to its essence, the Divine Comedy is about love (in all of its forms). It is widely considered one of the greatest works of literature written in any language at any time. And with it and Dante’s decision to write in his vernacular instead of Latin, he essentially created modern Italian. Soon writers throughout Europe turned to their native languages as suitable vehicles for art, changing the face of European literature.
Despite the Divine Comedy’s “importance,” sometimes abstruse subject matter, and elaborate structure, don’t let this very readable work intimidate you. There is something for everyone to enjoy. Oxford University Press has a good post on why we should still read Dante: http://blog.oup.com/2015/02/enjoying-dante-vsi/
Pick out a translation of this excellent work and join me in reading it next year. There probably aren’t too many reading groups tackling Dante. Then again, there aren’t too many breweries focusing on malt-forward session beers. See you in 2017 if not before. Until then, drink civil and be civil … and keep reading!
WANT TO JOIN: CLICK HERE GO TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE AND ENTER YOUR NAME
~Patrick Hurley, Barman Civil Life
Extra Special Bitter
Now that our ESB is back on tap (and cask) old regulars and new customers alike are downing one pint after another. It’s so balanced and delicious. It’s also an iconic English ale, making it just right for us here at the Civil Life.
This venerable style dates all the way back to … 1969. Crikey, that’s the same age as your humble barman, Old Man Hurley! But really, 1969? Well, sort of.
According to the Oxford Companion to Beer, Fuller’s ESB, brewed in Chiswick near London, was the original ESB and dates to just 1969. Martyn Cornell claims that Fuller’s Old Burton Extra lost popularity some time after WWII. It was replaced in 1969 by a beer called Winter Bitter, which was quickly renamed Extra Special Bitter. At the time, it was the strongest Bitter in England (5.5% on draft and 5.9% in the bottle).
Of course before 1969, there were many strong or premium bitters that were close stylistically to ESB. Many styles had the strength designated on the bottle with Xs, X being the hypothetical standard strength variety, with XX and XXX being increasingly stronger. In the case of bitter, this meant both maltier and hoppier.
Our take on this newish classic is balanced and traditionally English. The base malt is Maris Otter. Coincidentally, this very “traditional” English base malt was developed on Maris Lane in Cambridge in the 1960s. We use the “London ESB” yeast strain and finish the beer with a nice dose of good old fuggles hops. Fuggles imparts a delightfully woodsy hop note that is classically English and marries very well with the intense malt richness of the beer. The full, layered malt profile of our ESB has notes of bread, biscuit, and caramel.
Civil Life ESB is 5.8% alcohol and around 60 IBUs. It is an excellent winter choice, guaranteed to keep you as warm as English tweed and twice as civilized. Our ESB is just one more element in our plan to make the world a more civil place, one pint at a time. Be civil; drink civil!
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.