My flight is just before one. No need to be up too early. After washing and other morning stuff, I roll on straight to the airport. No brekkie included in my room price. Pointless hanging around here.
I grab a cab and trundle along the sand-coloured highway to O’Hare.
Beige. That’s the colour suburban America. Beige highways, beige strip malls, beige flats. It’s like being trapped in a shit 1970’s British sitcom. Like Terry Scott on haemorrhoids.
Houston’s sprawl is so bland and infinite, you're almost glad to see the gun shops. At least they add a little spice to the boiled chicken. Sadly, it’s Scary Spice.
The TSA man is very friendly. "Heading to St. Louis? They have really good barbecue there."
"I know. I've been before."
All goes very smoothly. Just hand baggage today. I’m travelling very light. Without even a shirt for every day. Getting laundry done half way in is the key. As you’ll tire of hearing me say, I like to make my life as easy as possible while travelling. There’s enough stress without any unnecessary additional bother.
Breakfast at the airport is my plan. I drop by a Chilis, but I'm 30 minutes too late for breakfast. Why do they stop serving it at 10? I get some egg rolls instead. Not the greatest substitute, due to its low bacon content. Zero.
I spot a Goose Island tap handle. "What's the Goose Island beer?"
I'll have one of those. And a double Jack Daniels."
"I'm sorry sir, I can only serve you one drink at a time."
"OK, give me the IPA." At least he called me sir and not saddo pisshead.
I have the whiskey when I'm done with the IPA. Then order another couple.
There are several sailors in the restaurant. What's that all about? Chicago isn't on the coast. They're obviously snatching some time with their families, which implies they'll soon be heading back to sea.
The bill is a bit of a shock. The doubles gave cost $22 each. Ouch.
It's a pretty small plane, so they take my trolley bag at the door. Saves me hunking and stuffing it into an overhead locker.
I'm out of the airport, into a taxi in a flash and soon trundling along the highway. The route from airport to city is rarely scenic in the US. St. Louis is no exception.
After checking in, it's time to meet Stan. Not that it's much of a journey. We're meeting in Brew Hub which is only 10 metres from the hotel. He’s at the bar when I wander in just before 3 PM. With Florian Kuplent, owner of Urban Chestnut. Where tomorrow’s Lager festival will take place.
It's always good to meet up with Stan. He's a lovely bloke and good fun. Not sure why he wants to hang about with an idiot like me.
The exterior of Brew Hub is bland in a way that only American buildings can be. I like to call it the can’t really give a toss school of architecture. Purely functional. Inside it’s cosier, the brewing kit at one end behind a glass wall. Much like many other US brewpubs.
We have a couple of beers and then head over to Heavy Riff Brewing, which is only about half a mile away. In contrast to Brew Hub, it’s busy and bustling. There’s a music theme going on, with lots of electric guitars on display. The tap handles are shaped like guitar necks. How quaint.
We only stay an hour or so before moving on to Urban Chestnut for the brewers' reception, which kicks off at six. I was here last year and really liked the place. It’s big and loud, but the Lagers are excellent.
It's pretty cool. There's pork to eat and beer to drink. What else do you need? And lots of people to chat to.
I don't make it that late. Busy day tomorrow.
Brew Hub Taproom
5656 Oakland Ave,
St. Louis, MO 63110.
Tel: +1 314-833-5453
Heavy Riff Brewing Company
6413 Clayton Ave.
St. Louis, Missouri 63139
Urban Chestnut Grove Brewery and Bierhall
4465 Manchester Ave,
St. Louis, MO 63110.
Phone: +1 314-222-0143
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