Du Quoin’s beloved brewpub and eatery is turning two.
St. Nicholas Brewing Company, located in the historic St. Nicholas Hotel building on Oak St., will celebrate two years in business this Saturday with a host of birthday festivities starting at 1 p.m., including the release of a handful of small-batch special beers.
Brewmaster James McCoy chose to mark the occasion with a single-batch, German-style brown ale called “St. Muddy Alt,” produced as a collaboration with Big Muddy Brewing. The beer has a dark, rich toasted malt character, and it will be available on tap and in 22-oz. bomber bottles.
Altbier is German for “old beer” and refers to an older method of fermentation than the technique employed for most lagers.
“I just kind of looked historically at how alt beer was made,” McCoy said. “Chuck (Stuhrenberg, Big Muddy brewmaster) uses a German ale yeast for one of his beers, one of his strains in his brewery, so he actually brought the strain of yeast over and used it in the alt beer that we brewed here.”
McCoy also prepared three small-batch variations on the brewery’s Belgian Witbier: blackberry, cucumber and melon.
Manager Katie Ancell describes the specialty fruit beers as “light and refreshing.”
“If we have a nice hot, sunny day, those fruit beers are going to be great,” Ancell said.
$25 buys 10 tasting tickets and a glass, and the brewery will offer beer and food pairings, some yet-to-be-determined special appetizers, and a 3D cake made by Du Quoin-based Baked on Division. Live music will be provided by Chad Harris from 4-6 p.m. and the Storm Crows from 8-11 p.m.
In addition to its extensive tap list of seasonal, flagship and small-batch beers, St. Nick’s peddles hearty, flavorful fare. Standout menu items include St. Nick’s Fries, smothered in beer cheese and buffalo sauce, and the St. Nick’s Sweet and Spicy hamburger, which features jalapenos, pineapples and BBQ sauce on a pretzel bun.
Ancell said St. Nick's brand of upscale pub food has been a smash hit with customers.
“I feel like we’re doing things that other restaurants aren’t doing. I live in Carbondale, so I go out to eat lots of places, and it just seems like we’ve kind of filled a niche that wasn’t being filled before,” Ancell said.
St. Nicholas currently distributes beer all over the Southern Illinois region, and the company hopes to extend its reach to other markets later this year.
“I think we’re just going to continue evolving the vision we have for St. Nick and continuing to expand, both with reaching other markets with our beer distribution, or trying to do other collaborations — whether it be other restaurants or other breweries, things like that — it’s just kind of helping to build the brewery culture in Southern Illinois,” Ancell said.
NOTE: Reporter Janis Esch is a member of the Storm Crows.