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St. Louis' Perennial Artisan Ales Makes A Splash In Chicago

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jul 24, 2012 9:00PM

Chuck Sudo/Chicagoist

One of the more interesting aspects about the craft beer explosion in the Chicago area has been the embracing of newer breweries from the Midwest. Chicago has always had a love for Three Floyds, Bell’s and that brewery from New Glarus that does brisk business in Illinois beer geeks crossing state lines for cases of Spotted Cow. But newer breweries like Greenbush and Tyranena have joined the ranks, making Midwestern craft beer one of the more exciting scenes in the country.

Beer drinkers may have noticed tap handles and bottles from Perennial Artisan ales around town. The roots of this St. Louis, MO brewery go back to the early growth of Goose Island. Owner Phil Wymore entered brewing after graduating from the University of Missouri with a degree in archaeology. “I traveled to Peru for an archaeological dig and when I returned I wondered if that would be the highlight of my life.”

Wymore took a job with a local brewpub and, when it closed, began sending out his resume to St. Louis area brewpubs and breweries. “I didn’t receive any responses, so I decided to cast a wider net,” Wymore said. Eventually he sent resumes to Goose Island and was hired by the company in 2006, just as Anheuser-Busch purchased a 40 percent stake in the brewer through Widmer Brothers Brewing. More important, Wymore came aboard as Goose Island began to shift its focus to Belgian-style ales and barrel-aged beers. Wymore’s experience bringing the Matilda, Sofie, Juliet and other Belgian-style ales to life had a major impact on how Wymore wanted for his own brewery. “Hoppy beers are everywhere,” he said. “I wanted to make beers that I like and, hopefully, people who discover our beers will also like.”

After leaving Goose Island, Wymore spent some time at Half Acre. “I liked that I could impart some of the attention to detail I learned at Goose Island on to (Half Acre’s) Gabe (Magliaro) and Matt (Gallagher),” he said. Wymore also picked up pointers on his future business model at Half Acre. Perennial is located in the southern section of St. Louis, and brews approximately 100 barrels a month. Wymore has a small tap room and serves some light snacks to go with the beers.

The beers from Perennial reflect Wymore’s belief in brewing while staying true to him. Hommel is a dry-hopped Belgian-style ale. Saison de Lis is brewed with chamomile flowers. Southside Blonde is a 5.5 percent alcohol by volume Belgian blonde ale. For the Chicago market (one of two markets outside of St. Louis where Perennial ships their beer), Wymore also brews a different beer every month that’s available in 750 ml bottles and limited drafts. One beer, Fantastic Voyage, is a milk stout brewed with coconut. Another, Violet, is a Belgian-style ale brewed with pluots. Wymore said he likes the idea of keeping accounts excited about what his brewery is doing and may revisit some of these beers down the road.