Black Friday? Or Civil Friday …
This is a busy week for all of us here at the Civil Life. Our warm and woody pub will be packed with friendly faces celebrating friends and family with the finest ales and lagers available at any price (bonus: we only charge $5 for an Imperial pint!). We are thankful for our great regulars and all of you who choose to bring visiting relatives and friends to see us during the holidays. Cheers!
Some of you may be planning to get a head start on holiday shopping, by taking advantage of sales and special promotions. After braving the crowds and traffic and lines and (let’s face it) unseasonal incivility, you will probably want to stop by the Civil Life for a restorative pint. That’s a wise strategy.
Allow us to suggest an even wiser approach to the madness and chaos of Black Friday shopping. Sleep in … you have the day off, why get up at the crack of dawn to stand in line? Enjoy coffee and snacks in the comfort of your own home. Around noon, get your friends and family and head down to the Civil Life for lunch … and ALL of your holiday shopping needs!
Enjoy a pint of porter or ESB and one of Tony and Dave’s award-winning sandwiches. Contemplate the many fine gift options available. We have growlers and six-packs of cans. We have plenty of T-shirts. We have giant soccer scarves and tweed caps. You can kit out your favorite sport enthusiasts with Civil Life Rugby shirts, cycling jerseys, and soccer shirts. Don’t forget mesh-back trucker caps. A decorative “Be Civil” tin sign will brighten any room. We have pint glasses, patches, and stickers. Get a limited edition print featuring our logo characters from 2011-2016, drawn by Saint Louis’s most talented tattoo artist, the great Joe Allhoff.
Can’t decide … have Jake write a gift certificate for you. The promise of a visit to the Civil Life will bring joy to the heart of anyone on Christmas morning.
The important thing is to skip the mall and the big box stores and come where you really want to be. Call it a gift to yourself. You deserve it. Happy Thanksgiving from the Civil Life. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. We hope you can find time to stop in for a pint and a case of beer to go!
This is a most opportune time to return to one of our favorite subjects … Bitter. We recently released our beloved British Bitter in a can as “Craft Beer.” And today (after meticulously cleaning the lines) we put our Premium Bitter and Extra Special Bitter on line. Be sure to look for them in cask as well.
In England, most real ales served today are some type of “bitter.” The style ranges chromatically from golden through amber to light brown. Though generally balanced, they range from pleasantly sharp and hoppy to rich and malty. Beers in this family go by many names: ordinary bitter, best bitter, special bitter, strong bitter, premium bitter, and extra special bitter.
Many of the above names will be recognizable to longtime regulars as styles brewed by your friendly traditional-English-beer fanatics at the Civil Life. These excellent beers have a rich history that we try to honor with every pint we brew.
What we now think of as bitter or pale ale seems to have originated during the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign (c. 1840s). According to Martyn Cornell (one of our favorite English beer historians), drinkers at the time typically ordered “ale” (mild) or “beer” (porter). Drinkers needed a term to differentiate this new option from the dominant styles. Compared to the popular mild ales, bitters were less sweet and more assertively hopped, thus “bitter” became the term of choice for drinkers of this new style (though breweries, for the most part, used the term pale ale).
This little bit of history could clear up some confusion. Traditional English “bitters” are nowhere near as hoppy as the typical American craft IPA. That style is hugely popular, while many American drinkers continue to steer clear of the suspicious word bitter.
Perhaps we in the former colonies just need a little more time. After all, it took over a hundred years for bitter to become the dominant beer style in England. And all of the very many types of bitter remain hugely popular there. Stylistic differences are hard to pin down, but there are some regional variations in sweetness and bitterness as well as color, most a product of water hardness and varying production techniques.
We try to offer a range of bitters with different colors and degrees of maltiness and hoppiness. We think you’ll like them all. From the modest “British Bitter” all the way up to our majestic Extra Special Bitter, with its layered malt complexity and subtle woodsy hop note. Stay tuned for individual posts on these beers, but in the meantime, stop in for a pint.
The Great Hencini (pronounced "Hen-see-nee")—Southern English Brown Ale
Here at the Civil Life Brewing Company, we love brown ale, as you know. Our American Brown is our biggest seller out in the market, and you’re sure to see it wherever better beers are served. So much do we love this classic style we’ve made a “Big Year” commemorative version, a Northern English Brown, and a Southern English Brown.
Those who’ve been following us over the years know that we renamed the Southern English Brown “The Great Hencini” in honor of our friend Brian Hencil, one of the most civil individuals ever to grace this planet. He is gone, but every time we raise a pint of The Great Hencini, we celebrate his legacy. Cheers to you Brian … may Valhalla’s taps flow eternally for you!
With a name (and a namesake) like The Great Hencini, this beer has a lot to live up to. You won’t be disappointed with this tasty brown beer. It’s part of a long tradition of English brewing and is as balanced and flavorful as anything we brew.
Various types of “brown ales” have been brewed in England since at least the fourteenth century. It was widely drunk, but apparently somewhat thick and cloudy. According to English beer historian Martyn Cornell, in the eighteenth century, brown ales were supplanted by porters. What we now think of as brown ale, according to Cornell, dates from the late nineteenth century, when brewer Thomas Wells Thorpe moved to London and started bottling lots of brown ale.
What Thorpe brewed, we would now call a Southern English Brown Ale. Some people dispute that this is a recognizable style, thinking of it more as a BJCP invention, but The Oxford Companion to Beer clearly identifies a Northern and a Southern style. You will recognize that distinction from those two varieties as we brew them here at the Civil Life.
Northern browns are dryer with an earthier roast character, while the lower-alcohol southern varieties tend to be sweeter with notes of caramel and subtle estery fruit, as well as a soft, round chocolate roast character.
The Great Hencini is made from traditional English malts and hops, as well as a classic English ale yeast strain. It’s dark, but not heavy. We currently have it on cask as well as draft. Come in and sample this excellent beer. Raise your pints and join us in honoring a great man who loved great beer. Here’s to The Great Hencini!
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.