Hermann’s Tin Mill Brewing Company Offers Beer-Lovers a Pure Taste of Oktoberfest
Every fall, St. Louis’ German heritage and brewing history take center stage as restaurants, brewpubs and bars alike break out the lederhosen and steins to celebrate Oktoberfest.
But there’s one brewery in Hermann, Missouri, that takes its Bavarian-style beer so seriously that everything, from the ingredients it’s made with to the brewhouse it’s produced in, hails directly from Deutschland. For those die-hard beer fans who can’t make it to Munich’s breweries for Oktoberfest, Tin Mill Brewing Company’s dedication to tradition has secured its place as the closet runner-up in Missouri.
A brewing history born in Germany, raised in the Heartland
Nestled alongside the Missouri River, Hermann was settled by German immigrants who transformed the countryside into a burgeoning boom town, with two breweries pumping out the beer that filled the pint glasses in a sea of packed taverns.
Once prohibition settled in, commercial brewing in town came to a halt until Tin Mill Brewing Company set up shop in a historic grain processing plant in 2005. Today, it remains the only craft brewery in the Hermann area and one of the few in the country that adheres to Reinheitsgebot, the German Purity Law of 1516, when producing its core beers.
Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria introduced Reinheitsgebot to protect beer drinkers against low-quality, and in some cases, even toxic, mass-produced beer, proclaiming only barley, hops and water were to be used in the brewing process (though yeast and malted grains eventually found their way in over the centuries to follow). Five hundred years later, Tin Mill uses Reinheitsgebot as a cultural blueprint to brew its line of German lagers.
“There are some other breweries that follow Reinheitsgebot, but we take it a step further by using all German ingredients,” says Tin Mill brewmaster Derek LeRoy. “Our grain all comes from Weyermann, which is a fantastic malting company out of Baumberg, and we get the rest of our hops from the Hallertau region. We focus on quality ingredients that are easily available to us in the U.S. so we can make a good representative German lager here in the States.”
Even Tin Mill’s authentic copper brewhouse comes from Germany, having previously served as a training brewhouse at one of the country’s brewing institutes.
The result of Tin Mill’s commitment to the Reinheitsgebot are four year-round brews, including its Skyscraper pilsner, First Street Wheat hefeweizen, Reb Caboose amber lager and Midnight Whistle dopplebock, which are served up in authentic Isar tankards from Munich in Tin Mill’s Lager House. Many of these brews also wind up in dishes on Tin Mill’s pub menu—for instance, brats are soaked in hefeweizen before hitting the grill and can be topped with a Maibock-based beer-cheese sauce. Beer-battered onion rings or fries round out a meal that appeals to even non-drinkers.
Prepping for the biggest party of the year
As the sole brewery surrounded by seven wineries, Tin Mill has become the gathering spot for those beer-lovers among the thousands of visitors who stream into Hermann for Oktoberfest every year.
“Oktoberfest is a huge animal for us,” LeRoy remarks. “We usually do a third of our sales in the month of October. That means we’ve been prepping for fall since May, ramping up production to be sure we have enough beer for the entire event.”
According to LeRoy, many beer fans return every fall to get their hands on Tin Mill’s highly-anticipated Oktoberfest brew, a malty, yet medium-bodied, German Märzen offering that perfect sweet and bitter balance.
“We also do a pumpkin beer and a pecan brown ale that both go over really well during Oktoberfest,” he adds. “And while it isn’t ‘super fall,’ we’ll be releasing a blueberry sour in September that should be pretty popular.”
During Oktoberfest, guests can try out different brews at Tin Mill while listening to live music every Friday and Saturday in the Brewery Biergarten. For those who want to make it a long weekend, they’re also welcome to stop in to any of Tin Mill’s sister destinations in Hermann, including Black Shire Distillery, Hermanhoff Winery and the Tin Mill Steakhouse, which all are run by the Jim and Mary Dierberg family.
Tin Mill Brewery is open Monday, Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Self-guided brewery tours are available during operating hours.
Tin Mill Brewery
114 Gutenberg St., Hermann
Featured image courtesy of Attilio D’Agostino.