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Schlafly Beer - Investing in the past to forge a future

Aug 03, 2023 12:12PM ● By Jessica Wilmes

Schlafly beer has been crafting beer and the beer culture in St. Louis since 1991. Inspired by an English ale-fueledOxford summer, Tom Schlafly returned to St. Louis, longing for the beer she tasted abroad. He later ran into Dan Kopman, who happened to be working for an English brewery, and introduced Tom to the concept of “local microbrewery beers.” Dan convincedTom that small-batch brews could work in St. Louis, and 31 years after opening, the Schlafly microbrewery has successfully paved the way for St. Louis to be a craft beer hub.

With more than 60 beers on tap and an annual production of 30,000 barrels, Schlafly has expanded into four different neighborhoods throughout the city. Each site, including the original taproom, occupies a pre-existing building with a unique history and design. Initially, the guys just wanted to brew good beer, but the benefits of renovating old buildings have been an exciting offshoot.


“While the adaptive reuse of old buildings was not necessarily part of our plan, it turned out that every one of our four locations is in a building originally used for something other than brewing beer,” writes Tom on the Schlafly blog.For example, the Tap Room had been a printing company, Maplewood’s Bottleworks was a supermarket (twice),Bankside’s former life was as a grist mill 250 years ago in St. Charles, andHighland Square was a bank in Highland,Illinois. By restoring these old buildings and establishing a committed presence, Schlafly has helped bolster once crumbling areas and strengthen the surrounding communities. “Our brewpubs have helped in varying degrees to the revitalization of four neighborhoods,” said Tom.

Schlafly’s impact doesn’t only touch old structures and neighborhoods, however.The brewery has also had a significant role in shaping the identity of St. Louis as a place for a thriving craft beer scene.According to Tom, “Thirty years ago, there was a feeling among some young adults that St. Louis wasn’t cool enough to have a craft beer scene. That was something limited to places like the Pacific Northwest or the Bay Area in California. By proving that craft breweries can, in fact, thrive in St. Louis, we’ve shown that our city is able to offer the lifestyle amenities that this population wants."


And just as Schlafly looks to the past to renovate the present, they are equally invested in looking ahead by pursuing a plethora of sustainability initiatives to lower the brewery’s environmental impact. The company is committed to things like renewable energy, solar power, composting, recycling, limited beer distribution channels to reduce the overall carbon footprint, and donating spent grain to local farms for livestock feed.

Schlafly recently invested $1,000,000 in a new canning line. Their goal is to have 50% of the packaged beer in cans instead of the 20% today. “This is not only a response to consumer demand, said Tom, “but will also have major environmental benefits as cans are much lighter than bottles, and shipping the muses a lot less energy.”


Schlafly’s commitment to St. Louis’s his-tory and future stems from Tom and his team’s adoration for its humble beginnings and the flourishing contemporary society that exists. “St. Louis as a community has had to adapt and improvise as we evolve from the smokestack economy on which the city was built to the knowledge-based economy that’s a key to our future in the 21st century,” said Tom.
“We have maintained a delicate balance. We have a respect for the past, which is represented in our magnificent historic architecture, and we also have a tremendous creative energy that’s reflected in the arts, sciences, and entrepreneurship.” With so much involvement throughout the region, Schlafly is sure to continue being an industry leader, and inspiration to other businesses as St. Louis leans on its past to forge a new future

Schlafly Beer Tap Room
2100 Locust St.
St. Louis, MO 63103
(314) 241-BEER (2337) x1

Schlafly Bottleworks
7260 Southwest Ave.
Maplewood, MO 63143
(314) 241-BEER (2337) x2

The Historic Schlafly Bankside
920 South Main St.
St. Charles, MO 63301
(314) 241-BEER (2337) x3

Schlafly Beer Highland Square
907 Main St.
Highland, IL 62249
(314) 241-BEER (2337) x4