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Blues and brews: Hockey beers the latest example of breweries teaming up

Blues and brews: Hockey beers the latest example of breweries teaming up

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New breweries in St. Louis area

Center Ice Brewing Company assistant general manager Alicia Lewis (left) serves customers in St. Louis Blues jerseys as a live Blues game plays on all the televisions on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in St. Louis. Photo by Chris Lee,

Normally, we here at Hip Hops don’t encourage consuming alcohol and fighting. But we’re willing to make an exception for O’Fallon Brewery’s latest offerings, which could appropriately be called brewser beers.

O’Fallon will soon begin selling Twister Knockout Golden Ale and Chase’r Left Hook Lager. Both are homages to legendary St. Louis Blues brawlers Tony Twist and Kelly Chase, who collectively spent more than 3,000 penalty minutes and 600 career fights, a few of them with each other. Another tough guy, Cam Janssen, an equally furious fighter (albeit less of a cult hero in St. Louis), also has his own beer, an amber ale called Round-House. And O’Fallon will add in Whistler Wheat, which features a label adorned with a referee, to form a 12-pack sampler called the Penalty Box.

Each of the beers clocks in at 5 percent alcohol by volume, and they’ll undoubtedly play well with the hockey crowd. O’Fallon, with its brewery and tasting room out in Maryland Heights near Westport Plaza, also sells a lager in conjunction with former Blues forward Keith Tkachuk, called Big Walt.

Closer to Enterprise Center, Center Ice Brewery in midtown has an entire brewery set to a hockey theme, with a bar made of reclaimed wood from the St. Louis Arena and a beer lineup full of hockey references. There’s Red Line Ale, Puck O’ the Irish Stout and the Hockey De Saison.

The brewery, founded two years ago by Steve Albers, has also formed a partnership with former St. Louis Blues basher Ryan Reaves called the Grim Reaver. Reaves now plays for the Las Vegas Golden Knights but spent his first seven seasons with the Blues and racked up nearly 700 penalty minutes in the process.

Without doing any research on the matter, I can’t imagine another city that has more hockey beers than St. Louis.

The hockey-inspired beers are just the tipping point when it comes to breweries big and small partnering with personalities, organizations or companies to more broadly market their product.

Anheuser-Busch InBev has for decades tied itself to the sports world to drive sales and in more recent years has issued cans with team logos on them. The St. Louis beer giant just a few weeks ago partnered with whiskey-maker Jim Beam to co-brand a Budweiser Copper Lager beer, which is aged in Jim Beam barrels.

Other partnerships aren’t so obvious.

Such as dogs and beer.

For the last two years, St. Louis-based Purina has lent its brand name to beer packaging for Urban Chestnut’s Urban Underdog American Lager, which sees a portion of its sales go to the Petfinder Foundation.

Schlafly this year followed suit and partnered with the Watering Bowl to brew Uncaged Ale, an American pale ale that will have some of its revenue go to benefit the Animal Protective Association of Missouri.

Schlafly has also made beers in collaboration with St. Louis FC, the professional soccer team that plays in Fenton, and Pi Pizzeria.

“The St. Louis FC was a partnership where it was a beer-drinking crowd already, so there was no question,” said Will Rodgers, Schlaly’s brand director. “With the APA, it was more about trying to align our two partners, craft beer drinkers and supporting local organizations and helping spread the word to those groups.”

Of St. Louis’ brewers, O’Fallon has been the most active, most recently launching its limited-edition Tribute golden ale to benefit Backstoppers, a nonprofit that financially supports families of first responders killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty.

O’Fallon has also partnered with radio station KSHE for a number of years on the I Am K-SHE Kolsch and with 105.7 The Point to make the Rizzuto Show Amber Ale.

“These aren’t necessarily money makers, but they are collaborations that really help connect you to the community,” said Jim Gorczyca, O’Fallon Brewery president and CEO. “You’re connecting people who normally aren’t working together and cooperating on a product that is better than what you can create alone. And it’s looking for a way to find customers who aren’t normally buying your product. It’s trying to find a way to make one and one equal three instead of two.”

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