One of my best memories from the trip to Elk Mountain Hop Farm this past harvest season, was encountering this odd little beer from Anheuser-Busch's research and development lab. Next to Goose Island's IPAs, Matilda, Sophie, and even BCS, a humble chalkboard with a simple black-letter typeface read: Faust.
Medium bodied, with some toasted caramel, toffee, and a good bit of noble hop spice from Hallertau, this beer quickly became the gap-filler, the late-nighter, the all-day walking-around beer for the group. It smelled great, and had just enough malt sweetness to keep us from raking our palates dry throughout the day. "Faust" was a name on everyones lips — but nobody knew what it was.
Turns out, Roderick Read, the brewer at AB's Research and Pilot Brewery in St. Louis, had been working with Head Brewmaster, Pete Kraemer to bring back a 130-year-old recipe, mostly for the hell of it. Faust, a sort of amber-colored pilsner, was originally brewed in 1884 for Tony Faust's St. Louis Oyster House and Restaurant. For a restauranteur, it's easy to see what he was looking for — something that did the double-duty of palate-cleansing, and palate-pleasing. And if you're going to look to Anheuser-Busch for one thing, it's their technical ability to provide just enough. It's currently on draft in St. Louis only.
AB's Research Pilot Brewery is a 10,000 barrel per year, state-of-the-art facility that produces new brands, revitalizes old ones, researches hopping rates and formulations, but also makes weekly batches of Budweiser just to prove their technical skill with internal tasting panels. There's little room for error. Rod has exactly the personality you look for in a technically-driven, yet passionate brewer — he's curious first, naturally analytical, and never impressed until he understands the "how." He makes about 400-500 batches of beer each year, and in celebration of St. Louis' 250th anniversary, he went digging into the archives for something meaningful. And that's what the "Unrated" stories are all about.
Here's Rod's take on why this beer matters to him.
What I love about Faust is its reflection of our history and demonstration of a robust lager. Brewing Faust required the art and science of brewing and, in this case, some ‘recipe archaeology’ that ultimately resulted in a quality beer with an interesting story. This particular beer was originally made for humble reasons: a brewer’s friend had a great restaurant. What a way to celebrate not only delicious food, but also friendship and camaraderie. More than a century later, the brewing industry carries on that same passion for community.