Settling into an old machine shop, 4 Hands Brewing Company is one of the newest craft beer endeavors to call St. Louis home. We sat down with co-owner, Kevin Lemp, to chat about the brewery, from conception to execution.
Tell us about 4 Hands Brewing Company…
Well, the name 4 Hands represents my family. Myself, my wife and our two sons. I can’t have a Lemp Brewing Company, so 4 Hands is our version. I’ve always wanted to own my own business, and thought that there was still a niche in St. Louis for craft beer. It’s just a category that’s really exploding and I don’t ever see it going anywhere.
It’s an affordable luxury, people want to spend money on things they really enjoy.
What makes the 4 Hands beers different from other craft beers in St. Louis?
Our whole focus is aggressive American craft. So, not just a brown ale, but a brown ale with a bunch of coffee and chocolate notes in it. An IPA that’s got rye and a lot of hops in it. Or a red ale with a lot of hops. And not just a blonde ale, but a blonde ale with elderflower in it.
Our thing is that we didn’t want to do anything like anyone else. We want to expand the portfolio into something more niche-y.
So the current brews on tap are…
Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown, Reprise Centennial Red, Divided Sky Rye IPA, and the Single Speed Session Blonde Ale.
You don’t do the brewing yourself… who is the man behind the beer?
Will Johnston is our brew master. With 12 years experience in the industry, he spent time in Colorado, Chicago, and Munich perfecting his craft. I always joke to people that we found each other through Internet dating; I posted the type of brewer I was looking for, the beers I was looking to brew, and Will really stuck out as the best.
What can we expect for future beers?
Barrel-aged beers are a big thing I am interested in. Will had a lot of experience with doing that, so we’ve got three whiskey barrels for our Imperial Stout ready to go. We’ve also got 12 wine barrels including; granache, cabernet, merlot, and chardonnay. We want to have a well-rounded portfolio that someone who is just getting into craft beer can appreciate or somebody who is really into it can also enjoy.
The building the brewery and the tasting room are in used to be an old machine shop?
Yes. We basically started with four white walls. The barn pictured on our wall was made into all the tables and chairs in the tasting room. The bar is also faced with it. The big table in the middle of the room is the original dock door for this building. We’re really dedicated to being sustainable.
And you’ve got giant glass windows in the tasting room that show the brewery…
We want the customer to come in and feel part of the project, to see it all through the glass windows.
[While touring the brewery itself, we bumped into the brew master, Will.]
We hear you’re the man behind the curtain, in charge of making the beer?
The yeast makes the beer, but I dictate how that happens.
Which is your favorite?
I really love the red, but I also like the IPA … and I like the blonde … and the brown.
So, you love all the 4 Hands beers?
Yes. I think it’s a really great starting point for us. I’m really looking forward to stepping outside of my comfort zone and making something really neat. I don’t know everything about beer — it’d be boring if I did. I’m just looking to have a bunch of fun. I get to make people happy for a living.
This post originally appeared on City in a Jar.