2nd Shift Brewing: 5 Essentials
About 75 miles west of St. Louis, on a 200-acre farm in Missouri wine country, Steve Crider and Libby Brown are making beer. Crider, a machinist, welder and mechanic turned brewer started 2nd Shift Brewing in 2010, debuting with Art of Neurosis, an American IPA crafted with generous additions of Simcoe and Columbus hops. Two years later, his wife Libby joined the business, which rents space from Cedar Creek, an upscale retreat and corporate conference center. To run a brewery of any size it takes a wide range of tools, equipment, ingredients and paraphernalia. Sometimes having a furry companion around can help, too. Here are the five things that Crider and Brown can’t live without.
One of the brewery’s most popular beers is Katy, an American Wild Ale that spends three months in oak with Brettanomyces lambicus. “Gotta have barrels for the little bastards to be happy making the beautiful beers,” explains Crider. And while the majority of the 35 barrels they have in their New Haven space hold this Brett Saison, others contain “some fun one-, two-, and three-year Lambics that we check every day,” says Brown.
2. Steve’s Microscope
For a small brewery, 2nd Shift’s range is anything but narrow, encompassing Saisons, Stouts, IPAs, a Belgian Wit, and a German-style Gose. With the help of his Variscope microscope, Crider hopes to broaden their lineup further. “He pulls apart strains of yeast, analyzes them, cultivates them into clones or new strains for us to brew with in our barrel-aged projects,” says Brown. “He’s also understanding, analyzing and utilizing the local wild yeast strains.”
2nd Shift’s trio of felines—including an orange newcomer named Amarillo—keep vermin away from their grain, but they’ve also inspired beer names: Albino Pygmy Puma, a hoppy Pale Ale, El Gato Grande, an IPA, and Cat Spit Stout. And they’ve become tourist attractions in their own right, as much as Crider still thinks of them as mousers. “The cats keep me company when Libby isn’t around,” he says, “and kill mice a lot better than she does.”
“We’re known for our hoppy beers,” says Brown, “and Steve loves playing chemist in mixing and matching hop combinations that complement and bring out the best of each variety.” Crider also grows 120 hop plants on a small plot of land nearby. “If I’m not relying on the yeast to make my beers perfect then I use the hops to make one of our seven IPAs,” he adds.
According to Brown, music is the “most essential need in the brewery. We listen to anything and everything, from the Andrews Sisters to Rob Zombie, the Beastie Boys to Stevie Wonder. It inspires the names of our beers, calms us when we’re anxious and boosts us when we’re feeling slow.” One of 2nd Shift’s Double IPAs, Ratsalad, takes its name from a song on Black Sabbath’s second album. ■