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Craft Brewers Alliance Chairman to Help Kickstart Brands in St. Louis

Kurt Widmer, co-founder of Oregon's Widmer Brothers Brewing and chairman of the Craft Brewers Alliance, is visiting St. Louis next week for two events aimed at relaunching the CBA's brands here.

Widmer and local distributor Grey Eagle will host a meet-and-greet at Three Kings Public House (6307 Delmar Boulevard) from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Sept. 20. There will be specials on three Redhook Brewery beers -- Pilsner, Wit and Long Hammer IPA -- as well as Widmer Brothers' Hefeweizen.

The next evening, Sept. 21, Widmer will head to Llywelyn's (17 West Moody Avenue) in Webster Groves at 6:30 p.m. to chat with patrons and hoist beers from his brewery's portfolio, including Hefeweizen, Drifter Pale Ale, Pitch Black IPA and Rotator IPA X-114.

Widmer and his brother Rob are credited with bringing the first American-style hefeweizen to the marketplace when they introduced their Hefeweizen in 1986. Twenty-five years later, Widmer says it's important to him that he lets people know his company brews more than hefe.

"Not too many breweries can claim to have created a style, a standard by which other beers like it are measured, and I like that reputation," Widmer says. "But for a lot of people, they think Hefeweizen is the only beer we make. So we're taking this opportunity to show people that we make a lot of other exciting, innovative beers."

Widmer points to the Rotator Series of special-release India pale ales that his brewery launched this year. The first beer from that series, named X-114 for the experimental hop variety now known commercially as Citra, will be available at the Llywelyn's event next Wednesday.

"We've always had the philosophy: If we're going to do a known style, we're going to put our own interpretation on it," he says, explaining the Rotator Series. "There are a lot of great IPAs out there, but we wanted to differentiate ours by introducing new and exciting hop varieties. We're not caught up in just doing the same old, same old."

Craft Brewers Alliance formed in 2008 from the merger of Redhook and Widmer Brothers. In addition to those breweries, the publicly traded CBA has owned Hawaii-based Kona Brewing Co. since 2010. Kona's beers are not distributed in Missouri.

Next week's St. Louis relaunch is the latest in a series of moves to reinvigorate customers' interest in Redhook and Widmer Brothers brands. Redhook rolled out new label designs and packaging this year, its 30th birthday, and Widmer Brothers also gave its packaging a recent makeover along with announcing new beers and other initiatives.