Winston Churchill once said, "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." I believe, on average, human beings are more optimistic than not—it’s a survival strategy. I’ve always been optimistic and I’m always attracted to others who show a great amount of optimism.
So what is optimism in the first place? Optimism is the belief that the outcomes of events or experiences will generally be positive. Optimists view failure or negative experiences as only being temporary and ultimately surmountable. It’s this very perspective that enables optimists to identify possibilities for change and invention. To be successful in business, you need to be a dreamer and an innovator.
Recently, we were asked by the ever optimistic Visit Cape Girardeau Tourism to feature the rising microbrewery scene emerging in downtown Cape. So we went on a field trip to check things out. We were not disappointed—there’s something great brewing in Cape!
First up on our trip was Ebb and Flow Fermentations.
...back with a vengeance.
The idiom “ebb and flow” means “a recurrent pattern of coming and going or decline and regrowth.” Given recent events, this sure seems like a great name for a microbrewery and restaurant that is back with a vengeance.
...serving up complex culinary deliciousness...
The flavors offered at Ebb and Flow Fermentations are in constant flux. The establishment is devoted to serving up complex culinary deliciousness of historic and traditional sensibilities combined with a wide variety of modern beers. Every flavor profile is represented here: sour, dark and malty, bitter, hoppy, sweet, and exotic.
So come by and indulge in light gulping style beer paired with a savory side or meal. You might even break out one of the hundreds of board games that litter the shelves and end tables. I can think of no better way to repair one's soul than sinking into a soft sofa, sipping an unconventional but delicious brew, and munching on an over-the-top cream cheese stuffed pizza.
...what makes a great microbrewery.
With beers like Lupulin Psychedelia, an IPA brewed with Centennial, Cascade, and Amarillo hops; Sour Belly: Rosa, a sour ale fruited with local plums and cherries and dry hopped with Barbe Rouge hop; or Lil Sexy, a rice lager finished in barrels with our house sour cultures and a friendly staff...what could go wrong?
We asked DeWayne Schaaf, the owner of Ebb and Flow, to fill us in on what makes a great microbrewery.
573: Tell us about you and your family.
I'm from rural Ste. Genevieve and have been in the restaurant business for thirty years, twenty-three of which have been at Celebrations in Cape Girardeau. My wife April and I were married in 2000 and have four children: Josh, Amethyst, Abby, and Sebastian. While my work kept me busy and away from the house for many years, my family and I have become a team through our work at Celebrations. Working with my children is one of the most rewarding and gratifying things that I've ever done. Seeing them grow and learn is such an amazing feeling, and we get to interact as a family at the same time! After twenty years of marriage, April is finally joining the team full-time in July. I simply cannot wait!
573: Tell us about the origins of Ebb and Flow.
Ebb and Flow had been bouncing around in my mind for over a decade. I imagined a creative and casual spot centered around conversation and music for years. I paired this inspiration with my love of honest, homemade foods and innovative, locally sourced beverages that pay homage to my rural roots. In 2018, we finally opened Ebb and Flow as a beer bar while our brewery permits were being approved. Our brewing began in March 2019, and now in 2021, we will be rounding out Fermentations with wine, cider, mead, and more. We’re also looking forward to launching a line of Baltic-inspired lagers inspired by the local agrarian traditions of Southeast Missouri.
573: The meaning of Ebb and Flow certainly has great significance in your life. Can you elaborate?
Ebb and Flow does indeed have great significance. All victories are built from previous defeats—without defeats, there are no lessons learned. Ebb and Flow takes this sentiment to heart. It is built around a seasonal concept that puts the "victories" and "defeats" front and center.
We move differently than most.
Ebb and Flow is different. Ebb and Flow changes. Ebb and Flow is a long story that we love sharing with patrons and customers. Our food and beverages vary by seasonal conditions and available produce...and this is by our own decision. Some might see this as a limitation, but we believe it pushes us to embrace possibilities that other businesses don't consider. We move differently than most.
573: Tell us about your daughter's artwork.
Amethyst designed a number of our labels. Some of my favorites are those included in the line up for our "Ma Fille" piquettes. These piquettes begin as a light beer base fermented on the skins of our Crime Scene series of beer/wine hybrids. When finished, these beers are light, refreshing, and the perfect bridge between beer and wine. The Ma Fille labels playfully represent each grape through a dynamic personality. Amethyst has done such an amazing job on them!
573: Tell us why optimism is so important in life.
Life is full of peaks and valleys, and without those long, flat moments of contemplation and preparation, it is hard to scale the peaks that look out over the world. Even in the lowest part of the valley there is always, and I mean ALWAYS, a view of that peak.
Here's just a few of the amazing menu items in season now at Ebb & Flow.
The Smoked Pork Belly Sandwich is a real treat with chimichurri, arugula, feta cheese, and an enormous amount of thick tender smoked pork, all loaded on a homemade bun and drizzled with a pepper aioli that gives it just the right pop. Absolutely delicious!
The homemade bun itself is quite remarkable! Tasty, airy, and fluffy, yet still rich to create the perfect density. This superb texture is all wrapped up in a flaky, golden brown crust. But wait, it gets better…it’s diet friendly! Once again at the forefront of culinary innovation, Ebb and Flow has developed an amazing vegan version of Hokkaido, also known as Japanese milk bread.
The Apple Chickpea & Edamame Salad was energizing and refreshing. With apples, green onions, chickpeas, romaine lettuce, crunchy granola, and of course, edamame (young soybeans in the pod steamed in brine), it was a beautiful collision of color. To be honest, it kind of looked like potpourri—but super delicious! The sweetness of the apples and granola pairs well with the heartier chickpeas and edamame. It’s a filling and revitalizing meal.
...melts in your mouth!
Next up we tried the roasted sweet potatoes. With berbere spice, feta cheese, chimichurri, and candy-sweet spears of roasted sweet potato drizzled with mariachi chili aioli, this beautiful medley of sweet and heat had us coming back for more. It actually melts in your mouth!
Last but not least, was the Smoked Chicken Flatbread, which had the whole table making yum-yum noises. With its homemade flatbread crust smothered in a generous amount of herbed cream cheese, parmesan, arugula, chimichurri, and great big chunks of juicy, roasted chicken...it was a whole lot of cheesy, melty, tasty goodness. This dish had us all speechless!
Learn more about Ebb and Flow Fermentations at ebbandflowfermentations.com
Our next stop...
Optimism doesn’t mean engaging in wishful or fantastic thinking. And it surely doesn't mean you need to take unnecessary risks to be successful. Rather, optimism means approaching the world with energy and drive. Our next stop was at a Cape-favorite brewhouse where all the beer is made on-site: Stuart Matthews’ Minglewood Brewery.
Stuart Matthews realized that he wanted to be his own boss and invest in something a little riskier than the monotonous safety of an eight-to-five job. What better way to make a life changing, arguably insane decision than to open a brewpub?
...sheer determination, patience, personal sacrifices, and long hours...
He sold his house and relocated back to Southeast Missouri. Though the hurdles and roadblocks of opening a brewery became progressively larger, Stuart’s sheer determination, patience, personal sacrifices, and long hours paid off. He opened Minglewood in January 2015.
Minglewood Brewery is a brewpub, meaning that it is a restaurant that brews and sells its own beer on-site. They even distribute their beers to select restaurants and other venues.
Minglewood typically has about ten beers on tap at any given time. The biggest seller, a Kentucky common-style beer called "Common Sense,” is a beer that was popular in parts of the Midwest prior to prohibition. Minglewood also brews India Pale Ale, Pale Ale, Stout, and many other styles of beer.
To say the place is hopping is an understatement. The lunch crowd was a happy and laughing bunch. They called Stuart from table to table to talk about the beers and the food. Stuart responded cheerfully as he explained all that the brewpub had to offer. You could sense his optimism from a million miles away. When we asked him how Minglewood was holding up, Stuart, with his typically upbeat and dry humor, responded, “What are you talking about?”
573: The meaning of “dank” certainly has great significance. Can you elaborate?
I tend to use the word “dank” in the brewing community to help describe an aroma or flavor that’s typically pungent. However, it can mean different things to different people. It’s also used to describe pot, and since pot is a cousin to hops, it has been adopted in the brewing community.
573: Tell us why people love your place so much.
Haha. Not sure. I’d like to think it’s a combination of the beer, food, atmosphere, and awesome employees working at Minglewood!
573: You have a wonderful sense of dry humor and optimism. Can you tell us why optimism is so important in life and in business?
Running a business can be challenging at times. Having a positive outlook helps.
Minglewood offers year-round brews like DDH Satellite, a mix of pale ale and 2-row malt with flaked oats, flaked wheat, citra, El Dorado, mosaic, and amarillo hops; Hefeweizen, a wheat ale with sweet and fruity undertones from its banana and clove aromas; and 420 Pounds of Grain, a mix of pale ale, 2-row malt, and Carahell Malt with citra and mosaic hops. And should you ever develop a craving for something completely new, Stuart is always working on a new small batch special which he calls his “Dank Bank.”
Check out some of the menu items we were lucky enough to try at Minglewood Brewery during our visit!
The Garden Salad presented us with a bright purple and green bouquet of mixed spring greens, large chunks of deep red and juicy tomatoes, onions, and a light vinaigrette. It was crisp, refreshing, and exactly what we needed to re-prime our appetites.
...your palate will celebrate.
The Pastrami Minglewood Melt and Basil Tomato Bisque. The Pastrami Melt had multiple layers of thickly-sliced, tender pastrami stacked inside a homemade torta bun. For added flavor, the pastrami was topped with cabbage, onion, and carrot coleslaw; mozzarella cheese; and a wonderfully spicy brown beer mustard. The beer mustard really tied the whole thing together with its unique flavor. The whole thing seems to literally melt in your mouth, and the bisque compliments the sandwich perfectly. The bisque has such a hearty flavor on its own that it almost tastes like a pasta dish. The smells and the tastes of these two dishes combine to create a stunning aromatic experience. This is a meal your palate will celebrate.
...a brew-scursion fuel-up!
The Taco Pizza. This homemade flatbread crust is covered in a refried bean sauce and then sprinkled with chunks of hearty ground beef. Next, it’s layered with a savory mozzarella cheese, fresh lettuce, green bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, chives, and crunchy nacho chips. To top it all off, the pizza is smothered in a super thick layer of shredded cheddar and then drizzled with sour cream. It was a beautiful sight to see, and it was a real shame to break it apart—but you know, it had to be done. This is a delicious fusion for a casual business lunch or hot dinner date, but I think it really shines as a brew-scursion fuel-up! It gives you all the essential downtown pub-crawl food groups!
...beer and cheese heaven!
The final dish at Minglewood grabbed my attention from across the room. There’s something very ceremonial about having a Bavarian Pretzel delivered to your table at Minglewood Brewery. The grand display of the hanging pretzel on a breadboard almost makes you feel like you’ve won something! And really, the giant pretzel itself is the win: deep chestnut-colored and warmly glistening, this delicious monstrosity is sprinkled with sea salt crystals and then served with melted beer cheese made with Minglewood’s own house Kolsch Beer! It sends your taste buds to beer and cheese heaven!
Minglewood always has a line up of entertainment on tap as well. Check out their web page for updates on new beers and entertainment at minglewoodbrewery.com
...our last stop...
For our last stop we checked out a place that is currently brewing—well, fermenting, actually. This new microbrewery is slated to open its doors this coming July: Many Good Things, located on the riverfront.
...the optimistic duo!
We met up with Ray Perez and Andrew to talk about life, staying positive, and of course, their beer. These two entrepreneurs make quite the optimistic duo!
The first thing that caught my eye was the super high ceiling. Then I took note of the impressive stainless steel brewery in the back. The brewery is separated from the sitting area by a glass wall so patrons can watch the brewing process while they sip the finished products.
573: Ray, tell us about you and Andrew. Why did you decide to start a brewery?
We've been friends for fifteen years, and we're both actually employed outside of the beer industry: I work for Ameren and Andrew is a rep for Abbott medical. But we've always loved beer. On a trip to Maine in 2014, we discovered Heady Topper IPA at The Alchemist Brewery in Stowe, Vermont. We wanted to find beer like Heady Topper in Missouri, but there wasn’t anything like it here. Instead of despairing, we set out on a journey to homebrew something we would like even more. In the process of pursuing our perfect beer, we created a ton of new recipes and really perfected our process. We brewed all sorts of beers from blonde ales to stouts and seltzers. About two years ago, we brewed Juicy Juan IPA for the first time. It immediately became our favorite beer. That's when we decided to take our love of brewing and our catalog of recipes to a commercial level.
...a comfortable, friendly, and fun environment!
573: Tell us what to expect when you guys open!
Our goal is to find each patron’s perfect beer. We want to engage with our customers and really uncover their tastes and preferences to pair them with the menu item that will make them the happiest. And we want to provide a comfortable, friendly, and fun environment!
573: Tell us about the beers you will be offering.
There will be some menu variation given the popularity or seasonality of certain beers, but we'll typically have a seltzer, a blonde ale, an amber, a farmhouse ale, a stout or two, and, since Ray and I love them, three to five IPAs ranging from East to West Coast styles.
We're beyond thankful...
573: Tell us about the food.
We're very fortunate to be right next door to BonBon's, which supplies us with bar bites for our customers! Stephanie and her BonBon's team are bakery and cafe experts. They developed the perfect menu to compliment our beer. We're beyond thankful for this relationship!
Many Good Things is going to be a great addition to the growing microbrew scene in Cape Girardeau and I think there will be many others to follow. Or am I being too optimistic? Time will tell.
Visit www.VisitCape.com for more updates on these and many other restaurants and pubs in the area.