ST. LOUIS — Since the Wednesday Beer Club members know that there are a lot of great craft breweries in the St. Louis area, they have made it a monthly practice to rank the best places for beer, food, and atmosphere.

Marie and John Eash have been friends with Jim and Ruthie Martin for over 40 years. They met them when they both worked at McDonnell Douglas. In February 2019, Jim reached out to them and asked them to join him at Civil Life Brewery for a chill evening.

“We made it a point to meet at 3 p.m., so it was not overly crowded. Since it was February, we were limited to the inside tasting area, which is set up nicely with large picnic style tables,” said John Eash. “We had all been there before and knew the beers were good – their brown ale is a favorite. We also enjoyed a few games of ring toss while there. We wanted to try other brewery beers, so we decided we would pick a different place each month.” 

They decided to get together on Wednesday because it worked out well. After their first trip to a brewery, they decided to plan more trips to other brewers. The group carefully rates the beer, food, and location using a standard scoring system.

Top 5 St. Louis area breweries, according to Wednesday Beer Club:

  • Schlafly Bankside – 4.8
  • O’Fallon Brewery – 4.75
  • Crafty Chameleon – 4.7
  • Square One – 4.6
  • Modern Brewery – 4.4

Beers are rated based on how good they taste and how many different kinds are available. As the club grew, people came to like different kinds of beer, like IPA, lager, stout, etc. Each of the three groups gets a score between 1 and 5, with 5 being the best. To get the total number for the brewery, the group takes the average of each category and gets rid of the highest and lowest scores.

“Ratings are subjective and left up to each member to rate as they see fit,” said Eash. “I would say most of the ratings are based on personal preference of beer, food and venue.” 

After deciding on the name “Wednesday Beer Club,” the members started to think about whether they needed T-shirts and caps with the name on them. Martin and Eash thought of ideas for a logo on a napkin at a bar. The main ideas were based on two things: craft beer, which was symbolized by a pint glass, and Wednesday, which was the first day of the club.

“As we started our research, the number of craft breweries in the St. Louis area was much greater than we expected. The manager at one establishment visited with us several times to talk and even got in our group picture,” said Eash. “Another brewery offered our group a tour of their brewing facility. We have also heard many stories from bartenders about their clientele. On the downside, hours of operation can be challenging at times – we try to meet at 3 p.m. and some breweries don’t open until later.” 

Eash said that everyone in the group likes different types of beer. He thinks that IPAs have become more popular with their group because so many breweries make them.

Bitterness is going down a bit in IPA brews, which Eash says makes it taste better. He says that it seemed for a while that brewers were trying to “outbitter” each other.

Some people like more classic beers like lagers. The number of pilsner and lager-style beers seems to be growing. In the past, you may have only had one pilsner or lager to choose from, but now there may be several of each. More and more people are drinking sour beers, but Eash said that no one in their group is a big fan.

“We have discussed exploring outside the immediate St. Louis area. We have had small events in Rolla and plan to continue,” said Eash. “There are many craft breweries in Illinois that we have yet to visit.”