Baseball's playoffs are here, and the St. Louis Cardinals, as usual, are in them. One of the nation's great baseball cities also has become an increasingly admirable beer city in recent years. Though home to Anheuser-Busch, there are far more interesting options than Budweiser to quench your pre-game thirst. Here are three of them:
4 Hands Brewing Co.: In St. Louis' burgeoning brewing scene, 4 Hands has become one of the city's favorites. Less than a mile south of Busch Stadium, 4 Hands offers beers that can appeal both to beginners (Single Speed Session) and veterans (an array of one-off and barrel-aged beers).
If just wetting the whistle before a game, right in the middle (a beautifully balanced rye India pale ale) worked for me.
Bonus: The small but varied food menu includes barbecued chicken pizza and chicken and waffles. Beats a ballpark hot dog. (1220 S. 8th St., 314-436-1559, 4handsbrewery.com)
Flying Saucer Draught Emporium: Less than two blocks from the stadium, Flying Saucer is a regional chain that opened in St. Louis in March (just before baseball season — go figure). With 80 beers on draft and another 150 in bottles and cans, there is a slight emphasis on local beers among the draft options.
There also is a solid menu of burgers, sandwiches and the usual array of bar food. (900 Spruce St., 314-932-1456, beerknurd.com/stores/stlouis)
International Tap House: With more than 40 taps, many of them local, I-Tap (as locals call it) is in the old-school Soulard neighborhood, about 2 miles south of the ballpark. No food, but there's a pizza place next door, and the knowledgeable bartenders won't hesitate to share their opinions about what's worth drinking.
If you're looking for a scene that veers more toward craft-beer fans than sports fans, this is it. (1711 S. 9th St., 314-621-4333, internationaltaphouse.com/soulard)