First, a piece of advice. Do not speed as you travel the picturesque country roads of southern Illinois. The first reason is, of course, the cops. The speed limits drop quickly from 55 to 35 as you near and enter the small farming towns along Highway 158. The second reason is the simple beauty of the drive. Country roads are to be cherished, and now with the debut of Lieferbräu Brewing as one reward for heading in this direction, you’ll be driving with a smile the whole time.
When you pull in to Red Bud, you’ll be reminded of the charm of Main Street America, as the brewery is located in the small four way downtown intersection of historic old buildings. Each building tells a story, but now are home to a redevelopment of new restaurants, merchants and finally, its first craft brewery.
Nestled within the redevelopment of downtown is the storefront of Lieferbräu Brewery, which opened and poured its first beers this past Saturday following two years of planning and construction.
Walking into Lieferbräu you’ll be instantly drawn to the taps, as the bar is immediately in front of you, with additional seating to the left. The layout reminds me of a bistro, laid out more like a restaurant than a brewery. That perhaps is part of the plan. You will not be squeezed here, there is additional seating on the second floor, which is where the brewing takes place, but the jewel is the full patio backyard with additional second-floor seating, complete with outdoor couches, a modern outdoor fireplace. The patio will soon be recognized as one of the tops in our region, trust me.
We found a perfect seat right at the bar, and there we were quickly greeted with a full beer and cocktail menu. Aside from the beer, Lieferbräu has a full bar, with some of my favorite whiskeys on the wall. But I was here for the beer.
As we like to do with new breweries, we decided to try a flight, or in our case two flights, each featuring 4 beer samplers. Lieferbräu debuted with 12 full taps featuring a well-rounded beer menu featuring lighter fare from pilsners and a cream to heavier IPAs and stouts.
In our first flight, we selected Lieferbräu Pilsner, Split Nail Pale Ale, Seven 70 IPA, and the Altbier
Lieferbräu Pilsner | 5.0% ABV
Just what you want from a solid German pilsner. Clean, refreshing, crisp. I found this one a bit heavier on the malt side, which I like.
Split Nail Pale Ale | 6.5 ABV
Very smooth and balanced pale ale. Don’t know the IBU, but there is just enough bitterness to keep it interesting and keep you drinking.
Altbier | 5% ABV
I’m still learning my way around Altbier. This beer, on its surface, was balanced and delightful, but I’m still not at the point where I see myself ordering Altbier regularly. But that is the fun of learning.
Seven 70 IPA | 7.0% ABV
This is Lieferbräu’s biggest beer so far, and my favorite of the eight I sampled. For a rookie brewery, there is some maturity in this beer. Perfectly balanced, not over hoppy and not too bitter.
In our second flight, we went with Zwolf Kolsch, Larak Blonde, Golden Grain Hefeweizen, Golden Grain Hefeweizen.
Zwolf Kolsch | 5% ABV
I’ve had many strong Kolsch beers in my life, and this one stands up very nicely. Zwolf delivers a balance of dryness and sweetness that I look for in any Kolsch, but it also serves up a nice, yet slight bready flavoring that you usually find in European versions.
Another style I’m trying to learn more about. This citrusy ale is light, but the flavor isn’t, and I even get a hint of some bitterness in the back of my mouth.
Golden Grain Hefeweizen
This, my friends, is the closest version of a classic German Hefeweizen I have found in years. Now, I’m not a big fan of weissbier, it’s just not for me, but if you’re into the ‘Hefe’ and enjoy the burst of banana and clove, then step right up. This beer is intense, but the flavor’s come together beautifully.
Daniberry Wheat | 5%
Brewed for the head brewer’s wife Danielle’s love for fruity beers, if you too share the love, then you’ll enjoy this. The raspberry bursts on the nose and on the draw and lingers nicely. Extremely swiggable and sessionable. It is my prediction that if Liefbrau ever decides to go to cans, this will be among there top two sellers.
The name Lieferbräu sound regal and historic. You almost can’t believe there hasn’t been a brewery with the name before. The name comes from a multi-generational family of southern Illinois farmers, who apparently love to begin most of their first names with the letter K. Kirk, Kent, Karen, Kara and Kris and their spouses have all joined together, to make Lieferbräu a reality.
Kris Liefer, a long time home brewer, will run the day to day brewing operation using a five-barrel system on the second floor.
Lieferbräu continuing beer boom in Southern Illinois
Adding Red Bud to our local brewing map is exciting for many reasons. First, the explosion of beer in Southern Illinois is exciting as these brewers are working to emerge from the shadow of the brewers up north in Chicago and have found a home among their kin in the St. Louis region.
On the drive to Red Bud, we passed another new addition to the Southern Illinois scene, the enormous Hofbräuhaus St. Louis. Another route to Red Bud could take you through Waterloo, where you’ll find two more breweries, Hopskeller and Stubborn German.
So, while Red Bud may not be on the ‘beaten path’ it is a journey worth taking. Make a day trip of it, see some beautiful parts of our region, celebrate life, and drink great beer. Let us know how it goes.