Sunday, August 21, 2011

MBT- Stop Number 4- Prison Brews


This weekend we went with Charlie and Karen to Jefferson City to do the Ghost Tour at the former State Penitentiary

While we were in town, and keeping with the theme, we thought we would stop by Prison Brews on Ash Street and have a few (and some dinner) before the tour.

Located in a an old (circa 1895) building, most commonly known as the Landwehr Dairy, the brewery is about half a mile from the prison.  This is somewhat misleading, as the website says “two blocks from the old Missouri State Penitentiary”.  While roughly right, that is basing off of coming through the “hole in the wall gate” on Chestnut, whereas – if you are going for the tours, you need to be across for the  United States Courthouse on Lafayette Street, which is a bit more than two blocks.

The interior of the bar was brightly lit and inviting.  If you park in the back and come up the stairs, you see  Bocce  courts on your left and nice outside patio. 

SAM_0655Coming through the door, you are immediately met by some of the kettles from the brewing process.  I love it when a brewery puts it’s “Workings” out in plain view.


Both seating is setup like little prison cells, and the bar is totally encaged.  Is this kitschy, yeah…a little, but it works.  SAM_0657SAM_0671 

The only thing I didn’t like was the T-shirts hanging from the bars, even though we bought one.  If you are going for a certain style of ambiance, don’t clutter it up with marketing.

I won’t go to much into the food, unless others from the party want to throw their two cents in the comments section.  I will say that I had the Spicy Pub Pickles for an appetizer and the Ruben Sandwich for dinner.  Both were excellent and I would highly recommend.   Also, there was a severe mistake in Charlie’s entre, but it was rectified fairly quickly (which pointed to where the problem was). 

Now, on to the beer.

They do have a sampler that they bring out in 6 ounce glasses.  What I particularly liked was the flighting of the beers in accordance of “Light to Dark” that matched their beer menu.  This is a nice touch, and is often missed by other breweries. 

To keep in that theme, I’ve done a light review (since I was their with friends and not in an official capacity) and you can follow along with the beers – Staring with the lower right hand corner, working left, then go to the upper left and work right….ending in the dark stout.   There is one gap due to them being out of Prison Town Brown, to which I was able to sub out later (for another Stout).


  • Go to Jail Ale – A crisp clean beer, with light head and little carbonation.  Creamy in texture, but light in flavor, this definitely is the light beer of the bunch.There is a bit of roasted malts, but the hoppyness in the finish is the main flavor profile (saving grace) for this beer. 
  • I aint your Honey Wheat- I’m not much of a wheat fan, but I thought this pulled off rather well.  The honey adds a sweetness that was fairly refreshing, but not overpowering.  On par with the “Boulevard Wheats” of the world, I think this is a good offering and will satisfy most Wheat fans.  I liken this to a German styled Weissbier, so if you are looking for a Belgium style wheat however, you might come away disappointed.
  • American Pale Ale- A fruity caught taste definitely caught me off guard with this one, especially since the fruit was Grapefruit. I honestly thought I had picked up the Pretty Boy Floyd Peach Wheat first, but Debi corrected me end Charlie had the same beer too. My least favorite of the bunch.
  • Prison Town Brown – Out of this beer at this time
  • Pretty Boy Floyd Peach Wheat- This is an example of setting expectations.  As I said before, I am not a Wheat fan, but I understood before I drank that this had a fruitiness of Peach.  I could brace myself and take the flavor in stride.  Unlike the APA, with it’s “unadvertised” Grapefruit flavor, by expecting the fruit- I was able to enjoy it.  The peach flavor was actually quite nice, although not something I would drink on a regular basis.  Blending well with the wheat, the peach tends to give a smoother (creamy) finish a bit unusual to a Wheat.  Whereas I said the Honey Wheat was more like a German style, I would say this is a light attempt at a Belgium and would be where I would steer friends who prefer that style. 
  • Hard Time IPA- Your typical IPA, but not overpoweringly so.  The hops is a nice blend of three style hops, I think they have found the perfect combination that could appeal to “Hop Heads” and the average drinker alike.  I particularly liked the color on this one as well, as you attack a beer with your senses.  It was very inviting as that first glimpse into what you were getting.
  • Reformatory Rye Stout- Was there any doubt that I would like the stout best?  Actually, the way my tastes have been going lately (towards the high IBU Scale), I was surprised how much I liked this beer. I attribute that to the great flavor combinations of Heavy roasted malts (but not burnt), underlying sweetness (coco and honey) with a slight hint that I associate with the Rye.  There is just a little something different about this beer, and I really liked it.  Best of the bunch.  Since they were out of the Prison Town Brown, this was the one beer (other than what Debi gave me from hers) that I had two of.

SAM_0668Overall, I think the food was excellent (I know others will disagree) and the beer was above average – with the Rye Stout really shining above everything else.  Once thing I did notice, that all of the beers in the flight seemed lightly carbonated when we got them.  Later, when the waitress brought me another stout, it was perfect.  This tells me that that the the beer orders sat, that the flights were pre-poured and brought over as needed.  While note a major issue, the least the bartender could have done was top each off as it is somewhat detracting. 

Prison Brews was a nice diversion in Jeff City, and one I would return to if I were looking for Micro-brew styled beer.  It’s not to the level of Flatbranch, but I would definitely put it above Bull Rock and Broadway Brew.  

Stay tuned for the actual Prison Tour (Yes, even I can find S&B related material there)- and in the meantime, you can visit the Smokes and Booze FB Page for more picture of the Pub.

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