Located about an hour west of BeerRantsandBooks headquarters, River Styx Brewing opened up a little over a year ago in summer 2017. With Halloween now in the air and a pressing need to break up a long car ride, the family and I made a stop here the weekend before last on the way home from visiting some friends so ifinaI fi had a chance to check this place out.
The first thing I noticed upon our arrival was that the brewery’s aesthetics were cool as, um, hell. Visitors are directed to the front doors by the sign of Charon above, beckoning thirsty travellers to step inside. The doors open up to reveal a large open space (think function hall) with a number of small black tables spread about. This part of the brewery was dark (at least in the evening) and lit almost exclusively by a sea of small hanging lanterns that gave off a flickering effect. Adding to the scene were walls covered with artwork and murals inspired by the mythical river. The bar area was in the back right of the building and was more traditionally lit. It had a decent number of stools for those who like to stay close to the taps and a small TV unobtrusively tuned into the featured sportsball broadcast of the day. The music was a touch on the loud side, but otherwise a thoroughly enjoyable mix of classic and late-90s radio rock with a little bit of Coolio thrown in for good measure. One of the biggest draws for us in visiting, however, was the brewery’s policy of explicitly welcoming families (read kids) and well-behaved dogs. People definitely seemed to take advantage of this and my son had himself a great time playing with some giant wooden blocks and oversized checkers with another toddler that happened to be there. It’s at this point that I need to give another shout-out to my amazing (and non-beer drinking) wife for not only supporting this crazy hobby of mine, but for also keeping an eye on playtime while I took notes for this post.
To make the most of my visit, I ordered a flight of 6 samples. It cost $15 and was served in a nifty little iron boat carrier that really added to the ambiance. There was a pretty good mix of styles available, so I tried to mix it up as best I could while hitting some of personal interest as well. I started off on the lighter end of things with Nectar of Aristaeus – Blueberry Glazed Donut, a 6.0% “milkshake-style” IPA brewed with blueberries, lactose, and vanilla beans that in the dark lighting had a bloody looking deep reddish-purple body. It had a light, juicy taste with an edge of tart blueberries and creaminess that flowed into a mild mix of earthy hops and malt on the finish that made a strong first impression. Up next was Helios the Sun God, a 5.3% Farmhouse Ale conditioned with peaches that poured to a clear, golden body. It had a refreshing, lightly funky and peppery taste highlighted by peach notes that peaked upon the brew’s bubbly finish. Rounding out the first half of my flight was another 5.3% offering, this one a Sour Ale named Dawn of Hyperion. It had a glowing amber body and a taste that featured tart strawberries with a lemon rind sourness atop a roasty tasting malt base. I was not a fan of this one and am going to call it a miss for me.
At this point I switched over to the other side of the boat where the bigger beers were lurking. First up was HOP, a cask conditioned West Coast-style double IPA brewed with pomegranate. Checking in at 9.0%, it poured a deep reddish-brown body and had a very nice base of both caramel and ever-so-slightly toasted malts underneath an aggressively dank and resinous haze of piney hops. It finished with a lingering blend of caramel malt, raw brown sugar, and hop resin that put this in the running for my favorite beer of the flight. In close contention, however, was the next beer named Ares God of War. A big, bold 12% imperial stout it brought on huge notes of chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. My nitpick is that I wish it had a slightly thicker body, but on the whole I was pretty impressed with this one as well. The final sample of the day was an 11.0% port barrel aged imperial stout named Rhea Darkness. Super smooth with a big, creamy dark malt profile I was amazed at how easy drinking this was for such a large beer.
Put all that together and I am happy to report that my visit here was a success and good time was had by all! The novelty of the really cool decor and mythological themes were backed up by some good beer, making this a place I am definitely interested in revisiting this winter, especially since it was so welcoming to everyone in my crew. Definitely check this place out if you get a chance.