Sarah has been a friend for many years. She is one of those thoughtful peeps you like to have in your corner. The kind of friend that will know you need help and offer before you realized it and had the chance to ask.
She was part of a group of friends that pitched in to make the grand opening a whole lot of fun and without her and many more that day it would have made for a much more hectic event for me.
Sarah showed up last week with this gift for the bar. A series of mugs of the most unfortunate kind. It begins in the top left with two chaps obviously enjoying each other’s company and toasting each other. The series ends with the two chaps being thrown out from the bar.
My buddy Joe came in the other day to have some beers. He told me how many and we worked him through the scenes until the mug directly to the right came up on his last one. It’s a sort of drinking choose your own adventure that always ends up the same way. Well, maybe it’s not but regardless it was closing time and everyone was going and Joe’s last beer was the closing time clock for that day.
A special thanks to Sarah for this addition. Cheers!
That’s Fred on the far right playing the spoons with the Tommy Halloran and friends band at our Grand Opening.
Fred lives close the the brewery and he has popped in from time to time. He was there on our grand opening and jumped in with Tommy Halloran and friends to play the spoons. He and Kathleen come down for a pint on occasion and sometimes bring their dog. He also has a kick ass show on KDHX called Fishin’ with Dynamite and it is definitely worth a listen. It’s on Thursday’s at 10 am and you can catch the last few shows athttp://kdhx.org/play/radio-shows/fishin-with-dynamite
Fred and Kathleen gifted us a little martini shaker man which looks circa 1950 or there abouts on our grand opening and it now sits above the back glass racks next to our chalk board sign listing our beers on tap.
It’s one of those things, I’d find in a pub sitting high on a shelf as my eyes wandered around when I was traveling. I would sit there and wonder why it was there as I drank my beer. Almost everything entered into a great pub has a story behind it or at least I believe it should.
Fred is what South City is about to me. He’s a guy who lives in the music scene and promotes our local artists. He’s quick to strike up a conversation with a bartender and can jump in with any band. He’s got a way about him that makes you realize he is playing his life out to his own song. Some day, I hope you will find him behind the bar serving drinks here.
It has been a great pleasure of late to introduce on this blog some of the things people have brought to us and helped us fill our walls with. It has also helped me a bit because it means I haven’t had to purchase a new item or dig something out of my life to put on the walls. Most importantly, it has allowed the place to become as much yours as it is mine, Dylan’s, Mike’s, Patrick’s, Irene’s and Chris’s.
Cheers to that and I look forward to pouring you a pint or two soon.
Bell...bottom right. Compliments of Adam.
Oh to be a regular. Regulars are the kind of person we try to cultivate at this one and a half month ole pub. In fact, the great thing about regulars is that they notice things.
We had a constant debate in the pub as to how to allow people on the entrance walkway patio the opportunity to signify us they were waiting. The window is in a position that unless I have a bartender standing next to it or someone in the massive kitchen, a patron may be missed for a few moments (sometimes much longer) while they are waiting for a beer. So we debated a bell and I kept coming back that it may be a bit annoying to those sitting inside if the bell kept ringing. But then, I thought if it kept ringing we would then just staff the window (on the entrance side) and a bartender could service the window thus eliminating the ringing. We also thought about putting a string that could pull a flag up inside notifying the bartender. And we came up with a little button to press that would light up the underside of the bar. This is actually the best option but it means I would have to have electricity wired again and I feel I have enough electric in the building. My favorite idea though, was putting a live donkey inside the window. The customer waiting could pet the donkey and then the donkey would kick with the closest bartender with his hind legs. This was all set to happen until I asked the health department about it and well I guess it’s against the law. My insurance agent wasn’t so thrilled with it either...something about workmans comp? So we were back to doing nothing about it.
That is until. Adam stopped by stuck his hand in the window, placed the bell down and rang it. We then poured Adam a beer and saw how the simplest plan was also the best. It is a bit of a shame though, as I like all normal educated people really want a donkey.
Cheers to Adam and thanks!
My uncle Tom gave me this years ago and as with everything so far on this blog. There is a bit of a story with it.
Before I graduated from Truman College in the Spring of 1996, I came up with a grand idea to head off to Culinary school after graduation. I planned a trip to NYC to look at the culinary schools and my Uncle Tom was able to meet me up there. My Uncle John (who absolutely loves eminem) lived in Long Island at the time. So we stayed with my Uncle John and were able to take a train in to hang out in the city.
We ended up on the upper East side that night and met up with my Uncle Tom’s friend who was at one point head security for Henry Kissinger. My Uncle Tom has been a beer truck driver in Detroit City for as long as I can remember. Anyone on his route is glad as they can be to have him as a driver. He’s conscientious, quick with a hello and as seems to be a characteristic in my family he’s a hard worker. My Uncle Tom can ease into a conversation with anyone and whether you have known him your whole life or just a few minutes, he talks in a way that makes you believe you are old friends. I grew up looking up to my Uncle not just because he was taller and always craved his attention. When he was around, there always seemed to be a party going. It’s still like that today. My Uncle has been down twice already to check on the Brewery and I look forward to serving him a pint across the bar.
So back to NY, My Uncle Tom and I that night met up with his friends (and the guy that took this picture) on the upper East Side and found ourselves drinking at a bar with 100 beers on tap. This was 1996 and 100 beers on tap was a rarity at the time. I was new to the beer scene and having grown up with AB my palate was limited to say the least. Natural Light was in my budget and that’s what I drank. Sometimes I drank a lot but I never really drank for the enjoyment of tasting as I do now. But I was in NY and when I ordered from the beer list the word Guinness came out. I don’t know how it happened. Guinness was all around and everyone drinking it was someone I wanted to talk to. So I began to drink it and heard the lore of drinking in Ireland at the traditional Irish pubs. The chaps at this place were all Irish lads working in the States for a bit.
How many drinks should it take to get to the bottom of a Guinness? Truth is the fewer the better. You should be able to see your mouth imprint in the head of a well poured pint of Guinness.
When should you order your second Guinness? When you are halfway done with your first.
When should you order your third Guinness? Order as you feel the need.
There were bar rules and they had been passed on through generations and now they were being passed to me. I obliged and that first night, over the course of the evening. I downed so many dark beers that I never looked back.
It changed me forever.
I later moved to NYC. Got an apartment on the Upper West Side. By apartment I mean a large shoebox 8 ft by 12 ft. I would escape my luxurious home to a nearby Irish pub and wander through the streets at night. It was the time of my life. Searching for pubs to grab a chair at and making friends along the way.
Now because this isn’t supposed to be a book, I will skip ahead to when I landed a job. Employment affords one the opportunity to continue drinking in pubs.
I later landed a job at the World Trade center in Tower 1. I worked for Andrea Immer-Robinson who now is one of the most recognizable Master Sommeliers in the United States. I worked at the trade center from April 1997 to June 1998. Sometimes full time sometimes part-time.
I used to get to work around 8 in the morning. I knew the stairs in the Trade center like I knew the stairs in my parents house. We had a cellar on the 106th the floor and the restaurant was on the 107th floor. Throughout the night as we were manning the cellar we would take the back stairs down a flight and avoid the elevator to restock the wines.
On Sept. 11, Tower 1 was the first tower that was hit. There were three people that worked in my department that died that day and two of them had the same title I did when I worked there. Cellarmaster. My friends that worked there at the time I did, had all left but I did know a few guys that passed away and would have recognized many more.
Carlos passed away that day he was the king of the shipping and receiving area. He didn’t like everyone but he liked me. I respected him tremendously because he ran a tight ship and after I earned his respect I was able to go in and get a real honest hello out of him.
Jupiter passed away that day as well. He was an immensely kind restaurant manager and I was lucky enough to sit by him twice during two of Kevin Zraly’s wine classes. I was just a young shy kid at times trying to make my way into the wine world and Jupiter was this superbly nice chap that treated me as if I had made my way into the wine world.
So this picture hangs on the second floor deck area overlooking the brewery. It’s taken from under the Brooklyn Bridge and shows both of the Trade Center Towers but every time I look at it I see so much more.
This license plate is from my Grandpa’s car. It will hang in a section of license plates from the 1930’s in the Civil Life Pub. I also have a license plate of his from 1976. Story below.
So my Grandpa Basler worked for Ford Motor company as a car salesman for over 60 years and I wish I had license plates from every car he drove. His first car was a Model T and I remember him telling stories about how they would constantly be fixing their Model T’s with practically anything they could find. Mechanics back then were much more resourceful and the Great Depression of the 1930’s meant if you had a car, you pretty much had to fix it without spending a lot.
My grandpa was quite the likable chap and spent a good portion of his life serving as Mayor of the great town of Bloomsdale, MO. During this time he made $1.00 a year for his services. He grew up in a house on the main road through Bloomsdale and when he married my grandmother he built a house next door. So for 94 years he lived within 100 yards. He met Harry Truman once, had a possible meeting with some guy named scarface and spoke about driving car loads of sugar up from Bloomsdale to Missouri during Prohibition.
He was one of the kindest men I have known and he would have loved to come to the Civil Life. He and my grandma lived a simple life in the country...canning their vegetables, living off the land and believed in the reduce and reuse long before it was common place. In many ways, my business is named after the way he led his life. He was one of my greatest cheerleaders when I owned 33 and there wasn’t a time we were together that he didn’t stop trying to introduce me to someone if people were around. But my favorite times with my grandpa were always after we had finished some chore and would walk back into his basement and he would head to the refrigerator and grab a beer. He didn’t drink much but he definitely understood that there are times a beer just feels right.
The first drink at 33 was poured to him and my grandma. It is with great pride I put his license plate up on our wall. Right now it is hanging behind the bar. It will be joined by a license plate of his and several others I collected from the 1930’s and 40’s.
Here’s to my Grandpa and to one of America’s greatest generations.
This is a TV. It is in the pub on the second floor. It is not going to be there long. Best see it now.
Once the Cardinals finish the World Series it will disappear. Magically...
So last night we set up the TV’s. Which is one thing, I am normally completely at odds with in a pub setting. TV’s are conversations killers and it is my honest to goodness opinion that they have no place in a pub. Pub’s are about drinking and conversation and putting on a TV is the best way to deter conversation. Now having said that, I put a TV in the pub on both floors for the Cardinals games. Let’s face it, when a new business is faced with two options.
A person, such as myself, who had to move in with his parents to open the brewery and owes lots of money to a small local bank has little choice but to put the TV on. If you can’t beat them, join them. Now this isn’t the only reason. I actually really do like the Cardinals and having them in the World Series is immensely great national exposure for our city and great for our city’s residents. So it is with great City pride that we pump up the volume and let our great customers enjoy the game inside of their favorite brewery or maybe their second favorite brewery or even third.... doesn’t matter much to me as long as we are in there somewhere.
So this week, come on by and watch the games. Sunday and Monday included if needed. We will have some tasty eats and if you can’t stay for the game we will definitely fill a growler for you.
Now some of you may take issue with putting an item on this blog termed the 100 days in a shameless sort of caving to capitalism mantra but I did open a business and not a tumbleweed farm as experienced during the NLCS.
Urzig in the Mosel
If you are looking for something a bit more beer related, you best go to Dylan’s Blog (Brewer’s Blog) for a little information. Dylan is on a literary quest to steal some of the attention from this blog by posting for 3 consecutive days. Little does he know, I can’t really tell if anyone is actually reading this but I can tell by looking around the brewery that the place is starting to take shape.
Saturday’s entry was a picture I took in 2005 while wandering through Germany with my girlfriend at the time. I lost the girlfriend years ago but kept the picture. Not bad, I suppose. There is a little town by the name of Urzig that sits on the banks of the world’s greatest Riesling growing region (the Mosel) and we were guests of Monchoff Winery. The wine business had a few nice perks but nothing is as good as owning a brewery. Wait... actually I take that back traveling is as good as owning a brewery but beyond that nothing is as good as owning a brewery.
This was a shudder clasp found on a small house in the town of Urzig. It always seems to be the little details that catch my eye.
Stay tuned and keep checking in because we sure do like that counter on the front page going up. Over 20,000 people have wasted time here.
A long, long time ago, I can still remember when I had an idea to kick off our grand-opening with this painting and the tag-line, “Now available on Earth.” I thought and thought about it for months and I thought so long about it that I realized I no longer had enough time to learn how to paint it. Because, surely anyone can pick up painting in a few months. It’s like riding a bike right? But I did have pencils, so I started working on it. After about a month, I realized that stick figures again seemed to be unable to do this painting justice. I was disheartened. I was at a loss. I never will be an accomplished artist. But I had known that since, I was about 8 so I got over it quickly.
Then about a month before we opened, Chris Vallier, whom I have known for many years from my days at the ole wine bar, stopped by and we began talking about the potential of him picking up a few shifts behind the bar and maybe even helping us some day in the brewery. Chris is quite the admirable chap and getting him on our staff is like getting Albert Pujols to play on your t-ball team or getting Shakespeare to write copy for your Holiday cards... which brings up another ridiculous thing.. Home Depot put out its Holiday Decorations last week. That’s Crapitalism if you ask me. But I digress, or regress. But I do make a good point.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Chris and I were discussing a few things and he mentioned about painting a sign on the building (yes we will soon have one of those identifier things) . And it struck me, Chris is an excellent painter. I had come across a piece he had done at a friends’ house and knew this idea in my head would be easy peasy for him. Best of all, he started right away and was able to bring to life this idea that stuck in my head a long time ago and it is now hanging on our second floor and finally out of my mind.
I think often about how my friend Art has been a confidant in my life. Art and I went to grade school together, we had a few classes in high school and then in college Art and I had a little appreciation class. Seems Art and I did best when I was just appreciating Art. Art appreciation taught me that some guy named Michaelangelo painted the original version of this on some ceiling in some building in a country that is not known for making great beer. He was some Rennaissance man of sorts. Apparently he is responsible for a few of those things they carve out of stone and one he named David. Let it be noted that originally I was going to have Chris carve another David holding a Civil Life beer but the marble was too expensive.
But Art is definitely in my mind’s eye and I can envision a great painting but I just can’t make my hands do it. In fact, when my hands do attempt it, I am quickly transported back to the 3rd grade when I reached the apex of my Art Career. Never would I move past the ability I had in the 2nd grade when I out shined my classmates under the tutelage of my art instructor by tracing my hand and making it into a Turkey.
Which makes me appreciate what Chris can do in so many ways. Chris has natural talent but he also has worked at his craft for many years and we both I am sure started at the same turkey hand masterpiece. I find it very unfortunate when so many artists, I know are unable to make a living at doing what they love. In this case, I am a huge beneficiary of societies inability to consistently employ artists as if Chris was painting all the time he wouldn’t be able to tend bar on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday day for me. But it makes me a bit upset, because people like Chris should be painting. And if they were painting more, our city would have more and more artists adding to the great culture of our city. But artists have found their way into many professions and we all benefit from their perspective in many ways and at many times when we don’t even realize it.
So when your kid, says he or she wants to pursue a degree in the arts and you think, “Hey, how are you going to make a living in that?” Well, your probably right and they are probably going to take on some debt as well. ( I will discuss the current college educational debacle in another post...probably not) But the truth is, they will learn that on their own. But what they will learn along the way is that sometime noble pursuits don’t have pots of gold at the end and sometimes perfecting a craft and honing a skill is a beautiful life lesson. And that life lesson, may just lead you into a field that allows you to do something really great with your life.
(Note: nice tie in about to occur in 3, 2, 1 seconds.
Like being the lead carpenter (Jim Wohlrabe, Webster graduate) at a kick ass brewery, or having a good friend (Dylan we are good friends right?) pick you as a brewer (Dylan Mosley, Masters in painting) for his crazy idea or maybe you (Chris Valier) will just help out a friend pouring pints while he tries to get a business of the ground.
Now having said all of that, if you child sucks at art and in second grade brings home a pumpkin that he turned upside down and made it into an ET look alike... you best tell him to go to college get a business degree and open a brewery.
Also, just in case...this painting is not meant to offend anyone who may have religious issues with converting an obvious God to Adam piece of Art. But honestly, just realize the church (Belgian Monks) have benefited greatly from the brewing industry which allowed them for many years to support their monasteries and their many good works. This painting is a tip of the hat to the Belgian Monks who have brought us Chimay, Orval, Westvleteren, Rochefort, Westmalle, Achel, Koningshoeven, Mariawald). In addition, no one knows what God looks like (as far as I know) and let’s just throw a little of that science in there with the fact we were once all apes. Sometimes, we still act like that. So it’s quite nice actually that maybe God if he looked like that would send us a little Civility in the form of a beer. ( Double tie in points)
Thanks for wasting 20 minutes here reading this laborious verbal wandering.
Now hanging over our front service window.
For our Parade we had to borrow Steven Smith’s flag from the now St. Louis institution “Royale.” A bar that I had frequented a lot during my hiatus from the Bartender world.
We now have our own St. Louis flag and it is now proudly hanging in our bar. If you haven’t stop by lately it may be worth a visit as the place is slowly starting to take shape.
If you haven’t been taking advantage of the many great things about our city, it’s about time. We have come a long way in the past 5 years and I am quite proud to tell people I am from this town, I live in this town and I am staying in this town.
10 years ago when I returned, the St. Louis food scene was barely emerging. But we still have a long way to go and hopefully the Civil Life is doing it’s part to help continue our city’s move forward.
Cheers or whatever they say in your part of the world.
When I was traveling (Bar hopping) a few years back, I found myself in Toledo in Spain at a bar called Lupelo. I was tasting my way through their beers and enjoying the tapas when I found my way to the restroom. Note: I did not ask the question, “Do you have a restroom?” This is the number one consistently asked question in any bar/restaurant.
I always secretly answer, “No, we just use the tree in the front by the street.” or “Man, I guess we didn’t think of everything?” or “Is that a new thing to have restrooms in bars?” But in actuality, I always just point to the bathroom because it is the polite thing to do and if I am anything it is polite.
I took a series of photographs of bathroom doors as I travelled and from time to time I will change this one out. But in all honesty, this was my favorite bathroom sign during 7 months of research I undertook in order to open this brewery.
Hello earthlings. I have been sent here to open a brewery. I hope you have time over the next year to check in from time to time and see our progress (or lack there of at times).
Morning beer delivery at Tynan’s Bridge House Bar in Kilkenny, Ireland.