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4 Hands Brewing Company is located across the street from Anheuser-Busch. The whole operation captures the essence of craft beer and shows that the little guy can literally survive in the shadows of the largest beer producer in the world. Since opening in 2011, I probably shouldn’t call them the little guy anymore. In a 20,000 square-foot space, 4 Hands devotes over 3,000 of it to their barrel-aging program.
With the motto “Ales Without Borders,” it’s not surprising to find some unorthodox beers on the tap list. I tried a Dakine Tropical IPA, brewed with honey, pineapple, and zest on my visit. Other unique offerings include On Cue, a cucumber-Hibiscus Gose and Blueberry First Impressions, a nitro blueberry and vanilla witbier made with lactose sugar! Needless to say, you’ll find something new every time you visit the brewery.
The year-round beers may be even more popular than the name of the brewery itself. City Wide Pale Ale cans are only available in the Saint Louis area. This beer represents a deeply rooted gratitude for the city that 4 Hands is trying to pay forward. With each case of the cans that are sold, the brewery donates a percentage of the proceeds to a local nonprofit organization. One (outdated) poster still showed the year-to-date donations totaling nearly $70,000.
Additionally, with each sale of the City Wide Pils, 4 Hands donates some of those proceeds to a local startup company. This program is also expanding to Kansas City as well as STL, so 4 Hands is seeking to play a role in the communities on both sides of Missouri. Even the freaking bar stools are locally made in St. Louis.
If you know much about Saint Louis, you probably know that there is a rich food history. Toasted raviolis and a pork steak are a couple of the local staples. When I was drinking a City Wide in a restaurant a few days ago, I noticed that the suggested food pairings made sure to communicate some Saint Louis pride. 4 Hands embodies city pride in a way that few other breweries have shown me. Most of the reason why seems to be coming from the owner, Kevin Lemp.
Kevin Lemp worked for many years in the beverage industry. His understanding of the small rhythms of the business have helped him get where he is today. On my visit to the brewery, a bartender described him as a savvy businessman. He told me Kevin is the best boss he’s ever had, and went on to say Kevin is also the “humblest motherf****r he’s ever met.” The 4 Hands name comes from his family. Him, his wife, and his two children are each one of the symbolic hands. Though I have never met Kevin, his family-first spirit of teamwork shines through his products and employees.
I’ve also been a patron at 4 Hands before, and I have spent entire evenings trying to beat my personal high score at Skee-Ball. Obviously the beer is great. The free-play arcade games round out my love for 4 Hands.
When you walk into the brewery, the brewing facility is right behind the first floor bar. Up the stairs you can find the larger tasting room with arcade games and the massive projector screens for cheering on the Cardinals, etc.
4 Hands is blessed with a solid following and a committed team working around the clock. Just south of downtown, I visited on the night of a Kenny Chesney concert in Busch Stadium. His voice could still be heard on the patio outside the bar. While it maintains a commitment to its local community, the location is still very much in reach for other major events happening around the city. Find them before or after the next game and share in your passion for St. Louis beer.