This story is part of our special Craft Beer Guide, publishing Sunday in the Post-Dispatch.
Title: Co-owner and brewmaster, Stubborn German Brewing Co.
Family: Rahn co-owns the brewery with his wife, Tammy
What is the first beer you tried? Anheuser-Busch beers when he turned 21. “After 6 months, I was already bored.”
What is the first beer you loved? Shiner Bock and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Where do you drink on your day off? Civil Life Brewing Co. “You can’t go wrong. You can throw a dart at the menu, and the beer will be great.”
What do you drink that isn’t beer? “If it’s not beer, it’s usually bourbon.”
When the Stubborn German Brewing Co. opened in April, it was the culmination of a journey that had begun for Chris Rahn as it had for many other brewers: with a love for beer and a Mr. Beer brand homebrewing kit.
Rahn remembers brewing three batches at a time. “I’d pour two down the drain and drink one,” he says. And the batch he deemed a success? “It still wasn’t good.”
Rahn persisted. He joined the St. Louis Brews homebrewing club. He became a certified beer judge for national homebrewing competitions.
Meanwhile, as a full-time occupation, Rahn and his wife, Tammy, operated (and continue to operate) Rahn’s Hometown Auto Repair. The couple faced a dilemma. Should they grow this business? Or would everything that growth entails — more garage bays, more employees, more and bigger headaches — undercut their philosophy?
“We want to be a diamond in the rough,” Rahn says.
Instead of expanding the auto-repair business, they decided to turn Rahn’s homebrewing hobby into Waterloo’s first entry into the region’s craft-beer boom, which over the past couple of years especially has been expanding from St. Louis proper into its Metro East suburbs and exurbs.
Hahn remembers their thought process at the time: “Why hasn’t anyone ever done this? I guess we’ll do it.”
With the help of family and friends, the Rahns renovated a building on Waterloo’s South Main Street into Stubborn German Brewing Co. The space features light wood fixtures, exposed brick and numerous Edison bulbs. The brewhouse itself certainly fits the diamond-in-the-rough ethos. A three-barrel operation, it occupies only a modest corner of the tasting room. (The tasting room, in turn, doesn’t include a kitchen; visitors are welcome to bring in food from area restaurants.)
Stubborn German is an obvious nod to Rahn’s and Waterloo’s German heritage. The beers, too, draw on Germany’s brewing tradition: a kolsch, an Oktoberfest, a hefeweizen, a Munich dunkel cheekily named Schitzengiggles. (In an evitable nod to America’s craft-beer renaissance, there’s also an IPA.) The emphasis on German styles reflects Rahn’s preferences. He wants to brew beers with “good, clean, malty profiles.”
For the time being, trying Stubborn German beers will require a visit to Waterloo. Any short-term plans for distribution will probably be restricted to other venues in town, Rahn says. As it is, he’s worked to make his brewing process even more efficient to keep pace with pent-up demand from his fellow Waterloo residents.
“It was to the point I was going to run out of beer if I didn’t do something,” he says.
What Stubborn German Brewing Co. • Where 119 South Main Street, Waterloo • More info 618-504-2444; stubborngermanbrewing.com