By Matt Osmundsen
St. Louis, MO — Schlafly can be a bit of a tongue twister. Think Shh-Laugh-Lee. But it’s more than worth the enunciation effort to be able to properly order one of their mouth-watering beers. Founded twenty years ago in the Midwestern metropolis of St. Louis, Missouri, Schlafly Brewery is one tour not to miss.
But first, any discussion of beer brewed in St. Louis must include mention of Anheuser-Busch. While still the undisputed “King of Beers” in St. Louis, local pride of and fervor toward Bud products has waned a bit since A-B’s sale to InBev, a Belgium-based company in 2008 for $52 billion.
That’s where Schlafly steps in. Tom Schlafly started the brewery with the modest intentions of brewing tasty beers for him and his friends. Production has since bloomed to tens of thousands of barrels of beer each year!
These beers are pumped out of two locations: the Tap Room (the original brewhouse) located in downtown St. Louis and the Bottleworks (where the vast majority of Schlafly beer is produced) located in the nearby suburb of Maplewood.
Before the Tour
Tours of Schlafly Brewery are only offered out of the larger Bottleworks facility. Our group decided to hit up the 12 o’clock tour on Saturday before a Cardinals baseball game (at Busch Stadium, no less).
Since you cannot make reservations, we arrived twenty minutes early to secure our spots, which turned out to be superfluous since the rains seemed to drive away the early crowds. The brewery’s large building is easy to spot from the road and parking in the front lot was plentiful.
When you arrive, make sure to head back to the gift shop register. Ask (nicely, of course) for passes for your desired tour time. The passes will be laminated ones that you have to relinquish to your tour guide when you begin your educational journey.
To kill time beforehand, feel free to wander through the gift shop or even grab a pre-tour pint in the bar/restaurant. Although, make sure to save room in your belly for free beer at the end of the tour.
As an added bonus, Schlafly has taken it upon itself to curate a mini-museum chronicling the beer history of St. Louis. They featured beer artifacts from former St. Louis breweries, such as the Lemp, Griesedieck Brothers, and Falstaff, which unfortunately no longer exist. The Schlafly Tap Room holds the distinction of being the first new brewpub in St. Louis since prohibition.
Touring the Facilities
At 12:00 sharp, our tour guide (an easygoing, bearded gentleman) called everyone over and began his beer monologue. He seemed well versed in the ways of brewing and possessed great knowledge of Schlafly, being a two-year veteran employee of the brewery.
He talked about the history of Schlafly, explained the basics of brewing, and introduced us to the production facilities at the Bottleworks. While he did this, he passed around several key ingredients of the brewing process for us to see, smell, and even taste. But he highly discouraged us from munching on the whole hop leaves. Apparently they would leave a nasty aftertaste of extreme bitterness that would stay with us all day. Mmm!
Next up was a firsthand look at the day-to-day operations of the brewery. While no production lines were running, we still were able to gain a good understanding of the process to take a Schlafly beer from its humble beginnings of hops, malt, yeast, and water to the finished product we all like to consume.
One distinguishing characteristic of Schlafly’s equipment compared to other craft breweries I’ve toured is the immense size of their stainless steel tanks. They seemed to reach three stories into the air. (A cool side note is that the front of the brewery is sheeted in glass, so these beautiful monstrosities are visible to all passersby.)
Our guide was very knowledgeable and patiently shuffled us around while adding in some well-timed (and seemingly well-rehearsed) humor. He encouraged questions from the tour participants, but also mentioned that the more questions that were asked, the less time we would have in the tasting room. After hearing that, everyone pretty much sat on their hands. Smart group.
Please feel free to bring your camera to document your tour through the facilities. I obviously did. But I would strongly advise against texting or answering your phone as you may find yourself on the wrong end of a deserving stink eye from a fellow brewery tourist.
Finally, we arrived in the tasting room. Able to host large parties, the room was quite large and featured a full bar. Our tour guide hopped behind the bar and proceeded to tell us about the beers we were about to taste.
Each person received a 5-ounce tasting glass. Then he filled up a pitcher with beer and passed it around for us to fill our glasses. We tried four different beers: American Pale Ale (basically, Schlafly’s signature beer), Hefeweizen, Summer Lager, and Citra Single Hop. I enjoyed all of them, but my judgment may have been comprised since the beer was free.
One person asked about the distribution of Schlafly beer and any expansion plans. According to our faithful leader, much to my chagrin, Schlafly will not be making its way up to the bars of Chicago, my hometown. Current demand in and around Missouri is all they can handle, for the time being at least. After answering some questions from the group, our guide wrapped up the tour and bid us adieu.
After the Tour
One of my favorite parts of any brewery tour is visiting the gift shop, post tour. Schlafly’s store did not disappoint. It featured plenty of great items including many different styles and colors of t-shirts.
My favorite had FDR (former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) plastered on its back proclaiming, “What America needs now is a drink.” For the non-history buffs, he was referring to the end of prohibition. But we’ve all said something very similar at the end of tough day at work.
I ended up buying a logo pint glass for my ever-expanding collection and a really cool set of locally printed coasters. After all, I needed something to rest my new glass on! Bottle opener keychains were also for sale at a very reasonable price of $1.25, so they offered souvenirs for even the thriftiest of beer lovers. (See potential source of said $1.25 shortly.)
All that walking, standing, and listening really wore us out, so we needed some sustenance and suds were needed to re-energize us.
Luckily, the fine folks at Schlafly anticipated this need and conveniently located a restaurant/pub in the very same building. After a short five-minute wait, we were seated and ready to select our favorite beers. I ordered to the Dry Hopped APA and the bratburger. I’m a sucker for anything served on a pretzel bun!
Both were scrumptious. The APA delivered just enough bite while maintaining its easy drinkability. The bratburger was very flavorful and not too greasy, which was a pleasant surprise.
Here’s an expert tip for all of you penny pinchers out there (like me)… Instead of buying one of the logo pint glasses in the gift shop for $3.50, go to the restaurant and buy a pint of beer paired with a logo glass that you can take home with you. This combo only costs $6.25. A normal pint there costs $4.25, so that makes the glass only $2.25. This is a whopping savings of $1.25, which can be put toward a second pint of beer in the pub.
The restaurant also has an attached beer garden, which looked like a lot of fun. Unfortunately for us, it was raining during our visit, so we couldn’t experience it firsthand. But it does give me a reason to come back and check it out.
Schlafly Brewery is a must visit for any St. Louis resident that even remotely enjoys beer. From its local roots to fine beers, it offers much to enjoy. I would also recommend it to beer lovers coming into town for a Cards game. (Side note: Busch Stadium does serve Schlafly APA, which is a nice nod to the hometown craft brewer.) Schlafly Brewery is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. With any luck, Schlafly will still be around (and better than ever) for many decades to come.
- Cost: Free
- Reservations: Not available (arrive at least 20 minutes early)
- Free Beer: 4 x 5oz. samples in the tasting room
- Extras: None provided (Hey! It’s free!)
- Official Website: Visit for tour times and contact info
- Google Page: Visit for directions and reviews
- Bonus Tip: Wear closed toed shoes (no flip-flops).
Read on! If you liked this write-up about Schlafly, you might also want to read about my tour of Fitz’s, another St. Louis treasure. For a list of all our write-ups, please check out the BREWERY TOURS page.
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