4 Hands Brewing: Sustainability is the Mission

Kevin Lemp, the owner and founder of 4 Hands Brewing Company, practices what he preaches, and a lot of his sermons revolve around sustainability.  At his new brewery he took old sprinkler heads and recycled them into clothing racks (makes me want to buy a shirt already); he transformed an enormous wooden door into a table that serves as the centerpiece of his tasting room; he even dismantled an 107 year old barn and used the wood to create furniture for the pub.  But now he has done the impossible, something that humans have attempted to do since the dawn of time (or at least the start of the modern day work week)…Kevin Lemp repurposed Monday!  I know it is hard to believe, but he has taken the most dreaded and most loathed day of the week and turned into a holiday of sorts.  I actually looked forward to a Monday for the first time in my memory because I knew Monday would be the day I would sample beers from 4 Hands Brewery and learn the story behind the newest brewery in St. Louis.

 The Brewery

4 Hands Brewing Company is the brainchild of Kevin Lemp.  Kevin spent 11 years on the sales/marketing side of the craft beer and wine industry before deciding that he would like to take the plunge and open his own brewery.  Lemp revealed that he is learning on the fly and luckily his biggest problem right now is keeping up with demand…that’s a good problem to have.

When opening a brewery there’s a huge to-do list, but let’s look at 3 major items that 4 Hands tackled:

1.  Finding a location:  Let’s see, where do thousands of people gather on a regular basis in St. Louis?  Busch Stadium is a good guess, so how about putting the brewery and tap room within walking distance.  4 Hands found an excellent spot on 8th Street about 2 blocks from the stadium.  Check mark on this task.

2.  Logo and Name:  The name 4 Hands represents the Lemp family of Kevin, his wife and two children.  As for the logo, it’s pure genius.  Four hands are artfully intertwined with a hop cone and it begs you take a second look or third or fourth.  Big check mark next to this one.

3.  Brewmaster: Oh by the way, you need someone to brew the beer, so maybe this should have been #1 on the list, my bad.  Just like every modern day human looking for a partner, Kevin turned to the internet and met his brewer through “online dating,” his words not mine.  I should have known there was an e-Harmony for beer peeps.  WillJohnston must have had similar hobbies or the most compatible hop/malt profile and got the call from Kevin to become the headbrewer at 4 Hands.  Will brings 13 years of experience and most recently spent 5 years withGooseIsland inChicago.  I’m guessing it was his profile picture that caught Kevin’s eye…he looks like a brewer, and that’s half the battle right?  Check this off the to-do list and let’s talk about the beers.

The Beers

Single Speed – 5%, 22 IBU

He says – This American blonde ale grabbed my attention as soon as I laid eyes on the label.  The old penny-farthing bicycle reminds me of the 4th of July parades inSilverton,Colorado when the town photographer, Professor Shutterbug, would pull out his “hi-wheel” for a yearly ride.  Watching him mount the bike was half the fun.  This brew is much easier to ride with shallow notes of floral and lemon zest.  We need more of these beers to offset the hop monsters and imperial everything.  I applaud 4 Hands for this session offering.

She says – The 1 pound of elder flower gives it a unique characteristic, but does not overpower.  This is the lightest beer they brew, and would be a good gateway beer.  It can pair with a wide range of food and is very easy drinking. I would recommend it to new craft drinkers and anyone looking for a change of pace.

Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown Ale – 5.5%, 28 IBU

He says – The nose says heavy, but the brew actually drinks light with a nice dry finish.  I smell oatmeal stout with roasted coffee and chocolate aromas emitting from a deep dark brown ale.  But the mouthfeel is thinner than the nose implies. This is not your normal run-of-the-mill brown ale, and I like it for being bold.

She says – This robust brown has a somewhat smoky flavor. I pick up leathery, earthy, roasty notes along the way.  I would call it a very good hayride beer! I will definitely look forward to this one in the fall.

Divided Sky Rye IPA – 6.5%, 58 IBU


He says – Light in color, but strong in hops.  The catty nose lets me know I am in for a hop monster.  Very piney and resiney with a sticky finish.  I would like my IPA with a little more malt backbone, but hop heads will definitely enjoy this one.

She says – Excellent IPA.  All my favorite hops Centennial,Columbus and Cascade. Honey colored and a slight honey helps cut through the hops with a touch of sweetness. Nice dry finish keeps me going back for more.  I would buy again and again.

Bonus Beers (not tasted during class)

Bona Fide Imperial Stout9% ABV with Goshen Coffee


She says – Lovely dark almost black in color with a dark mocha color head.  Scent of dark chocolate.  Lovely mouth feel and not too bitter but roasty.  Reminds me of a Bissingers dark chocolate molasses puff.  Served in a small snifter and I would buy if it was bottled.  I wish it had been on tap longer.

Reprise Centennial Red Ale6%, 40 IBU


He says – Either the beer is very red or the red stage lights are in my eyes.  Hoppier than a regular red ale which makes it lighter and brighter in the mouth.  Thin on the finish with a touch of fruit.  Nice long linger and good hop burps.  All Centennial hops so if you like Bell’s Two Hearted Ale you should give this a try when you have the chance.

The Last Sip

If you haven’t noticed the 4 Hands tap handles at your favorite beer bar, let them know that you want to support local breweries and make a request.  Cicero’s has several of the brews for you to try and special release bottles will begin showing throughout the summer.  We took a tour of the brewery this spring and found a nice stash of barrels that should yield some creative takes on classic styles very soon.  Thank you Kevin.  Thank you for making Monday fresh and exciting.


The video link below is a day in the life of 4 Hands tasting room with some special Cicero’s Beer School stars.

Veteran’s Day 2011 at 4 Hands


Click on the link below to watch a video with Kevin Lemp.

Interview with Kevin Lemp from 4 Hands


About the Authors: Husband and wife Eric and Mimi have been attending beer school for about 3 years now and love every minute of it. Mimi was born and raised in St. Louis. Besides sitting down with a fabulous pint of beer, she enjoys gardening and spending time with her horse. Eric was born and raised in Texas. He enjoys sports, homebrewing and searching for the next great beer. A search he says he has been on for nearly a decade and one that will certainly never end. Mimi, on the other hand, has more recently discovered flavorful beer and is now proud to be called a hop-head. After having moved away for a few years, in 2007 this happy couple moved back to St. Louis and is enjoying all the St. Louis beer scene has to offer, especially Cicero’s Beer School. Cicero’s is lucky to have such an enthusiastic couple writing the beer school blog!



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