Review: 2nd Shift Brewing in The Hill
Though it’s tucked behind train tracks in an industrial, decidedly unhip section of The Hill, 2nd Shift Brewing’s location shouldn’t scare you away. It may be in the last place you’d expect to find a buzzing beer scene, but that’s what 2nd Shift delivers.
To the rejoicing of local beer fanatics, the brewery moved from New Haven to the city in late 2016. The new warehouse-sized space has a casual vibe – like hanging out in a friend’s garage, in the best way. Beer drinkers commune at tables scattered around the tasting room, separated from the brewery by a wall of stacked barrels, and spill outdoors to picnic tables in front when the weather’s nice. A record player spins everything from James Brown to Black Sabbath off to one side, and a shelf stocked with board games invites patrons to settle in. Oh, and there are cats – two very comfortable felines who make themselves at home among patrons. The crowd incorporates all ages (including some children earlier in the night), but skews slightly toward the young professional crowd.
The beer, of course, is the big draw. With an intimidating national reputation, 2nd Shift doesn’t take itself too seriously – offering a wide-ranging mix of styles and menus equipped with a glossary of beer terms to keep novices up to speed. And you can always just ask the friendly staff your questions. They clearly love beer and seemed eager to help customers love it, too, with ready recommendations and samples.
On-trend for sour and barrel-aged beer lovers, 2nd Shift’s Katy is one of the brewery’s best and most popular. An American wild ale brewed with the yeast strain Brettanomyces, Katy balanced sour citrus notes with a bit of funk and undertone of oak from its time in wine barrels. For something heavier, try the Liquid Spiritual Delight with Vanilla, a smooth stout that beautifully balanced sweet vanilla with a hint of smoke.
On my visit, there were several pale ales on tap. The Brewcocky, a double IPA, had notes of grapefruit and pine. True to style standards, it was indeed bitter, but subtle and didn’t simply punch me with hoppy bitterness. There were also the earthy and hoppy Art of Neurosis APA and the Sub-Mission IPA, which hit heavy with citrus.
The food was tasty enough, although probably not worth a trip in and of itself. The small menu by the Tilford Restaurant Group of Mission Taco Joint and Milagro Modern Mexican included hearty crowd-pleasers begging to be washed down with a few beers, as well as a few lighter options for the more health conscious. But the offerings may change soon, since the brewery is planning to bring in a new food vendor in the near future.
On my visit, the nachos – a pile of tortilla chips smothered in mild cheese sauce and crowned with flavorful beef brisket, salsa fresca and sliced jalapenos – were hardly groundbreaking, but crave-worthy nonetheless. The duck quesadilla sounded uber-flavorful with ancho barbecue sauce and sides of chipotle mayo and salsa verde, but ultimately just tasted greasy with the duck and ancho sauce lost in the shuffle. The toasted ravioli was a miss, too – pockets of limp pasta rather than crispy squares. But the two paninis hit the right notes. Straight-up comfort food, the pimento panini was upstaged by the beef brisket option, which included onions, pepper jack, chipotle mayo and ancho barbecue sauce.
The bottom line: 2nd Shift is a good time, perfect for meeting up with some friends, throwing back a (fantastic) beer or two and grabbing a snack.
2nd Shift Brewing
1601 Sublette Ave., St. Louis, 314.669.9013, 2ndshiftbrewing.com
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