By Joe Stange
Among the things that characterize our age: (1) People talk through tech instead of face to face. (2) TV screens have invaded public spaces. (3) High alcohol content in beer and wine has led to a boozy arms race. Conversation killers, all three. The Civil Life, then, is an anachronism. This neighborhood-oriented brewery and pub not far south of Tower Grove Park in St. Louis has its stools, tables, and nooks arranged to encourage chatter among friends and strangers. Most of its beers are below five-percent strength, facilitating what British drinkers would call a “proper session.” The ales arrive in mugs and each customer’s tab is scrawled in chalk directly on the bar. There is exactly one TV set in the corner, and it switches on only when the Cardinals are deep into post-season baseball. Smartphones are welcome here, but why be rude?