St. Louis hockey fans will soon have a new go-to craft beer bar.
In 2017, Center Ice Brewery plans to open its doors at 3120 Olive St. in Midtown.
As first reported by the St. Louis Business Journal, the new brewery comes from St. Louis entrepreneur Steve Albers, who founded The Frozen Cup and The Melted Cup hockey tournaments, which benefit families affected by autism spectrum disorders.
Albers, who has a background in banking, began homebrewing in 2010; from 2010 to 2013, he brewed locally with a few friends under the Hat Trick Brewing name. In 2013, he branched out on his own and came up with the idea for Center Ice Brewery, installing a 10-gallon system in his basement and developing a new roster of recipes.
"I've been playing hockey all my life, so the theme is a craft brewery started by a hockey player," Albers tells Feast.
Besides playing the game, Albers founded The Frozen Cup in 2012, a winter classic hockey tournament, and The Melted Cup, a summer tournament, which raise money for Shutout Autism. The inspiration for the fundraising event came after Albers' wife, an occupational therapist, shared the story of Chase, a boy diagnosed with autism at age 2 who passed away from a severe complication from the E. coli virus.
"Seeing what the family went through and how they rebounded from it was super impressive," Albers says. "What we decided to do is turn the tournament into a fundraiser and honor Chase by raising money for kids with autism. We really wanted to bring Chase's story to fruition so that his legacy can live on and help other kids and families affected by autism."
The tournament has grown substantially each year; The Frozen Cup received its official 5013c status in December, and this year, the event raised more than $22,000.
Once Center Ice Brewery is up and running, Albers sees it as a way to present the ideas of The Frozen Cup to a new audience. The 2,000-square-foot space will feature a 7-barrel system in addition to a tasting room featuring 12 to 18 taps and 60 to 80 seats. With the brewery's prime location right next door to Pappy's Smokehouse and Southern, Albers plans to use a model similar to International Tap House, where guests to the brewery can have food – say, ribs or hot chicken – ordered in from neighboring restaurants. For now, Albers plans to sell Center Ice's beers primarily at the tasting room.
Center Ice's core beers will include Center Ice American Golden, zested with fresh oranges; a dry-hopped Hop Shelf IPA with grapefruit, passion fruit, pine and tangerine; Puck o' the Irish Stout with fresh dark chocolate nibs and sweet caramel; and Raspberry Picker with fresh raspberries and whole vanilla beans.
"There’s such good beer in St. Louis, and in order to differentiate ourselves, we have to brew the best beer that we can and push the envelope of creativity," Albers says. "My 2-year-old was born on New Year’s Eve, so I brewed a Belgian pilsner, and then I referment it with white grape juice and Champagne yeast, and that gives it a Champagne-esque note. So it looks and drinks like Champagne, but it’s beer."
The space itself will also feature a hockey theme, including memorabilia and repurposed wood salvaged from the St. Louis Arena, the former home of the Blues.
"I’m a huge hockey nut, and I think there’s an opportunity to jump on that," Albers says. "I see an opportunity for St. Louis to have another great place to watch hockey games and grab a great craft beer on tap. How I came up with The Frozen Cup is I wanted to do it – I wanted to play in an outdoor-hockey tournament with no roof. It's the same thing here – I want to go to a brewery with hockey-themed beers on tap that are very high quality."
Center Ice Brewery, 3120 Olive St., Midtown, St. Louis, Missouri, centericebrewery.com