Just off I-70 at St. Charles' 5th Street exit, at Main and Riverside, is Trailhead Brewing. The now trendy shopping district gets it parking spaces filled to capacity with spill-over crowds from the nearby riverboat casino. The impressive looking 1769 structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The expansive three-level building features a large rectangular bar with two six-tap stainless steel towers. Red brick and stone tile cover the walls, dotted with framed beer label posters. Silent TVs are scatters throughout with numerous rooms upstairs and down containing wooden tables. The high ceilings with their light-wood beams and drop-down fans keep the atmosphere very breathable. The loft seating offers great views from an airy setting. Seven shiny stainless steel serving vessels stand above the 10 barrel (310 gallon) Mash Tun and Boil Kettle. The Bohemian Brewery Importers Brewhouse feeds 12 10-barrel fermenters that supply the two brewpub's two bars and a small three-place bottle filler. The downstairs bars offers a dozen stools and a close-up view of the unitank fermenters. Upstairs, a prominent sign displays each beer's label along with its brew date and pour date. Cigars are allowed at the bar only, while cigarettes are permitted only at designated areas, of which there seemed to be plenty.
A sampler of six four-ounce tastes runs $8.50 while pints are $3.25. The Missouri Brown Dark Ale is indeed a dark amber color with a thick cream-colored head. Its "5 malts" do an excellent job creating a rice malty flavor with a mellow, dry/sweet flavor balance. The Old Courthouse Stout also features a dark creamy head but on a light body with a creamy mouthfeel and very dry, chocolatey flavor. The Trail Blazer Blonde Ale is a clear gold color with a slight sweetness, light body and crisp hoppy flavor and aftertaste. The Riverboat Raspberry is a hazy straw color with a pronounced raspberry aroma and flavor. The medium-bodied brew yields a tangy and full mouthfeel along with a lingering sweet flavor. The Trailhead Amber Ale is a dark amber with a mellow, even malt/hop flavor balance where a light caramel is matched to subtle hops that carry well into the finish.. The seasonal special is the Smoked Scottish has a medium body with a malty sweet flavor where just a hint of smokiness comes through in this very smooth brew.
The sign reads "Drink responsibly" and Trailhead give you the opportunity. The kitchen opens at 11 AM daily and goes until 10 pm, 11 pm on Friday and Saturday. The bar stays open until 1:30 am except for Sunday when it's shut by 12:30. 64 ounce growlers are available for $11 with refills $8. Happy Hour runs Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 pm and features half-price pizzas and appetizers along with $1 off beer. When the weather is accommodating check out the creek-side outdoor patio. Souvenir merchandise includes pint glasses, tasting glasses, T-shirts, ball caps, growler holders and gift certificates. Stop by Trailhead and enjoy the good beers in a relaxed setting. Your money will go a lot farther than in the nearby slots and your guaranteed to leave with fond memories.
921 So. Riverside Dr.
Saint Charles, Missouri 63301
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - December, 1998
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