This past weekend, my wife and I were walking around downtown St. Louis when I realized we were close to the 4 Hands Brewery. We decided to stop in, take the tour, and sample a couple of beers.
The tours are free and they recommend you grab a pint when walking through the brewery.
Our tour guide was Jordan, one of the bartenders. There are 22 employees in the brewery and some serve multiple functions; Jordan did point out that since they are up to 22, the additional roles have been cut down. At one point, the bar employees would help with the canning process.
The brewery was started by Kevin Lemp, a former beer distributor, in 2011; the name 4 Hands comes from Kevin, his wife, and 2 sons, who all have a “hand” in the business (although his sons are below drinking age and really have nothing to do with the brewery). From the sounds of it, Kevin doesn’t get involved in the brewing much, as there are 3 dedicated brewers on the staff.
The brewing process is pretty standard, but I was intrigued about their testing process. They use home brewing kits when they try new beers. Jordan said that when they started to test a new Chocolate Milk/Peanut Butter Stout, they made a few different batches in 5 gallon intervals that tested different brands of peanut butter. They wanted to make sure that they used the right ingredients before making a full batch.
It was also pointed out that their fermenters are slightly different than most breweries; they use shorter but wider fermenters due to the size of their facility. The 60-gallon fermenters are specially made for the facility.
To prevent over-carbonation, the brewery has added a centerfuge to remove the yeast from their beer prior to bottling. A lot of breweries employ filters to remove yeast, but that can also filter out some of the taste.
The bottling process is also interesting, as it’s all done by hand. They manually load the bottles into the machine; the machine fills them and caps them, then they are put into the standard six pack box and boxed up. They also do canning in this facility (although we didn’t get to see either process in action).
Right now, the brewery distributes their beer to all of Missouri and Illinois, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.
Jordan also let us know that the next few beers to be released are their Chocolate Milk Stout, the already mentioned Chocolate Milk/Peanut Butter Stout, and an Imperial IPA. I’ve had the Chocolate Milk Stout and recommend it; I’m looking forward to trying the other 2.
While their, I was able to try the Cuvee Ange and Resurrected IPA. This was my first Cuvee Ange, which was really good; unfortunately this is near impossible to find in the stores right now. I’ve had Resurrected before, and this was just as good as I remembered. I’ll try to get reviews of both up soon.