Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fest Report: Kansas City Microbrews and BBQ Festival

I go to a lot of beer festivals so I’m starting this series to recap some of those experiences.  First stop, Kansas City Microbrews and BBQ Festival.  This festival was held a couple of weekends ago on May 30th at the Kansas City Museum grounds in Northeast Kansas City.  Organized by the Tour of Kansas City, this festival coincided with all day bike races happening on Cliff Drive.

Not Beer
As the inaugural year for this festival, the organizers limited it to 400 people.  I applaud their decision to start small, as the sold-out festival was anything but overcrowded.  Plenty of porta potties were on site and covered seating was available as well.  Water jugs were spread through the booths of easy access.  The space was well thought out for a first year beer festival.  Each admission included food tickets redeemable for $5 from the KC BBQ Truck and a sandwich from The Local Pig.  Overall, the non-beer amenities as this festival were great.

Lines were manageable for the entire time I was there, and I don’t think I was ever more than 3-deep waiting for a beer.  With only 9 breweries in attendance, the number of beers available was not huge, but the focus was on local breweries.  All except for Empyrean (hailing from Lincoln, Nebraska) were from the Kansas City area.  While this festival was likely not targeted to your standard craft beer geek, there were some nice surprises to be found.

Best in Show
The best beer at the festival was from growler tucked to the side of Cinder Block’s booth.  Lusus Naturea is Cinder Block’s Peach and Apricot sour.  I’d had this only once before at their taproom, and I was delighted to get to try it again.  I’ll gladly drink this any time I can get my hands on it.  Runner up: Martin City’s Quid Feci, a farmhouse aged in barrels with cherries.

Check out pictures from the festival on our Facebook page.  I was given free access to this festival by the organizers, but that did not impact my review.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Perfect Video to Get You Psyched for KCCBW

As if you needed any further reason to get pumped up for all the events and festivals coming up for KC Craft Beer Week next week, Visit KC just put out a new video highlighting our awesome local brewers, their beers, and the beer bars in the city. Visit KC produced the video as part of their KC on KC series, which is a collaboration with local filmmakers covering all the awesome stuff going on in Kansas City. It's a really well done video--check it out!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kansas City Craft Beer Week 2015

KC Craft Beer Week 2015 is June 13-21
Get your drinking caps on because we've got another big week ahead of us, KC! The Kansas City Craft Beer Week is back for the second year--running from June 13-June 21. Like last year, the week is book-ended by two of the biggest beer events of the year--the Westport Beer Fest on June 13 and Boulevardia Taps & Tastes on June 20. Of course, these are far from the only great events scheduled for the week.

As of today, I count over 50 events for next week. It's not all just tap takeovers and beer dinners either--our local watering holes are pulling out all the stops with unique events including a Giant Jenga tournament, brewers reading mean tweets about themselves, and a yoga & beer detox at the end. I'm going to highlight just some of the standout events in this post, but as usual, we've got all of the events listed with details on our KC Beer Calendar.

KCCBW Standout Events


Westport Beer Festival
Saturday 6/13 - 5p-9p

The Westport Beer Festival is back again for its 5th year. This is one of the best beer fests in KC and probably the best value. If you buy your tickets online, they're only $30. They're $35 at the door the day of. Considering the beer lineup, and the low cost, this is one event that you can't afford to miss.

The event lineup includes most of the KC area breweries, along with some great regional and national breweries. This includes some amazing breweries like Jolly Pumpkin, Perennial, Prairie, and Pretty Things among many others. I've got a full listing of breweries and the beers they're bringing at the bottom of this post.

The event is held on the streets at the heart of Westport. I really can't imagine a better setting for a beer festival. Seriously, go buy your tickets now! 

Worlds of Fun All-American BBQ & Brew Festival
June 13/14 & June 20/21 - 1p-7p

This is a shiny new mini-festival for Kansas City. The festival costs $25 (not including the Worlds of Fun entry cost) and the cost gets you 12-4oz beer samples from 6 breweries along with BBQ samples at each brewery table. Breweries that will be there are KC Bier Co, Tallgrass, New Belgium, Summit, Public House (Rolla), and Torn Label. All of the BBQ samples are paired with the beers available by the parks Executive Chef Kevin Williams. They're also going to have two bands playing at the fest from Noon-4p on June 13.

Considering this fest would set you back about $60 if you combine the park entry fee with the beer festival tickets, I wouldn't say it's one to go out of your way specifically for. But, if you were looking for an excuse to go out to Worlds of Fun (and let's be honest, who isn't look for an excuse to go out there?) then get out there and get yourself some craft beers and BBQ while you're there! Pro-tip: Oceans of Fun & Worlds of Fun are one park now (i.e., a ticket for Worlds of Fun gets you into Oceans of Fun now). Craft beer--BBQ--Lazy River--Win. 

Boulevardia Taps & Tastes
Saturday 6/20 - 4p-7p

This festival needs no introduction being the most sought after fest in the city. The tickets sold out within 15 minutes of going on sale again this year back in February. If you managed to actually get your hands on some tickets, I'm fairly certain you don't need any updates from me on what's happening at the fest! 

Special Events, Tastings & Dinners

Founder's KBS Brunch @ Grinders Stonewall - Sunday 6/14 - 10a
Grinder's Stonewall is tapping a keg of KBS at 10a during their Sunday brunch time. What's better than eggs benedict, a waffle station, and 11% ABV Imperial Stout for breakfast? Not much, my friend, not much. First come, first serve until the keg runs out. 

Left Hand Pictionary Tournament @ Tapcade - Sunday 6/14 - 1p
Tapcade is hosting a couple of fun events during KCCBW including this Pictionary tournament sponsored by Left Hand Brewing Co. They'll be tapping Good JuJu, Twin Sisters, and Introvert from Left Hand. If you buy a Left Hand beer, you also get to keep the glass! 

Stone Craft Beer Tasting Class w/ Nate Sellegren @ Bier Station - Sunday 6/14 - 3p
Nate from Stone is coming in to Bier Station to lead a tasting class. The event is free, but you have to RSVP to the Bier Station Facebook event ahead of time. There are limited spots available, so go sign up right now if you want to attend. This should be an excellent learning opportunity along with a fun time. Nate never disappoints. 

This is going to be an epic beer dinner. Stephen Beaumont is one of the World's premier beer writers, and he's coming to KC to team up with the Flying Saucer and Chef Matt Arnold of the Webster House to craft a five course beer dinner. Stephen will be talking at the dinner and leading the group through all of the pairings. The food and beer parings are going to be kept under wraps until the event, but I'm sure they'll be amazing given who's putting the dinner together.

Tickets for the dinner must be purchased in advance and will be $65 for the general public and $55 for UFO Beerknurds. Call (816) 221-1900 to reserve your tickets. 

Sours & Stouts Tappings @ Westport Ale House - Monday & Tuesday - 6/15-6/16 - 6p
Ale House has got some outstanding beers lined up for KCCBW. They're going to be tapping half the beers on Monday and half on Tuesday. The beer tapping will start at 6p, and consist of the following:

Boulevard Love Child 5
Jolly Pumpkin 10 Saison
Petrus Aged Pale Ale
Martin City Big Boy
Stone IRS '14

Founders KBS
Sierra Nevada Narwhal '14
Perennial Hopfentea
Prairie Ales Elizabeth
2nd Shift LSD

Ursa Minor Imperial Brown Release Party @ McCoy's - Tuesday 6/16 - 4p
I'm sure you're all familiar with McCoy's Imperial Stout Ursa Major that they release every year on the Winter Solstice. Well this year, to mark the start of summer, McCoy's is also brewing Ursa Minor--an Imperial Brown Ale. If Ursa Major is any indication, this new brew will be excellent. Go check it out, and get yourself a specialty Ursa Minor glass while you're at it. 

Founder's Skee-Ball Tournament @ Up-Down KC - Tuesday 6/16 - 5p
Skee-Ball Tournament while drinking KBS and Centennial IPA? Yes, please! Get to Up-Down by 4:30 the day of to get registered for the tournament.

Two Brothers Giant Jenga Tournament & Wobble Glass Night @ Tapcade - Wednesday 6/17 - 6p
Another fun event from Tapcade. Two Brother's will be in with their Wobble IPA that will come in a special wobble glass that you get to keep. To top off the wobbling, they're going to have Giant Jenga matches going on! Might I venture a suggestion--wear closed-toed shoes. Those 2x4s hurt when they land on your feet. 

Brewers Read Mean Tweets @ Bier Station - Wednesday 7p
If the people reading mean tweets about themselves on Jimmy Kimmel is any indication, this event should be hilarious. Bier Station is bringing in brewers from around town to read off mean tweets and terrible Untappd reviews about their breweries for our pleasure!

Rafi from Torn Label and Danner from Boulevard loving the Internet.
Sierra Nevada Beer Masterclass @ Tapcade - Thursday 6/18 - 6p
Another awesome event at Tapcade with Brewmasters Steve Dresler & Scott Jennings from Sierra Nevada's California and North Carolina breweries. $10 gets you a tasting of 6 beers that the brewmasters will talk you through. You also get a Sierra Nevada a pint glass, and a taster glass to keep. You have to get tickets in advance for this event--you can buy them here.

Beat the Brewmasters @ Char Bar - Saturday 11a
If you missed tickets to the Sierra Nevada Masterclass at Tapcade, you can catch the brewmasters at Char Bar again on Sunday so you can challenge them in games and shoot the shit with them. They'll have Sierra Nevada Nooner, Pale Ale, Kellerweiss, Hop Hunter and Torpedo on tap. 

KCCBW Detox with Torn Label and the Yogi Beer Project @ Liberty Memorial - Sunday 6/21 - 10a
If you've had enough of KCCBW by Sunday morning and need a detox, how about some free yoga and beer on the Liberty Memorial lawn? (Yes--the best way to detox from drinking beer all week is to drink beer while doing yoga. Don't question, we're professionals!) This is a free event hosted by Torn Label and the Yogi Beer Project. Not sure what could be better after a week like this one is going to be.

Complete Westport Beer Fest Brewery & Beer Lineup

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Weekend Planner - 6/5/2015

Just wanted to highlight a few standout events this weekend! As usual, we've got a full list of everything going on over on our KC Beer Calendar page!

Flying Saucer 20th Anniversary Party - Tonight

Flying Saucer is hosting their 20th Anniversary party tonight starting at 5p! Now if you're counting back 20 years on your fingers right now, I'm gonna go ahead and help you: no, they haven't been in PNL for 20 years. They're going way back to when they opened their first location in Fort Worth in 1995. They'll be toasting some Sierra Nevada beer at 7p to mark the first beer tapped at the original restaurant location.

Throughout the night, they're going to have throwback pricing specials on Boulevard, Sierra Nevada, Breckenridge & Sam Adam's beers. They're also going to have special tappings throughout the night, rare beers available, and giveaways.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Is Kansas City Having a Brewery Boom? - Part 3

If you remember way back when I posted the first part of this series, I wrote about just how far behind KC is than other beer centers in terms of breweries. As much as we might want to have a love fest for how great KC is because of all the new breweries, we've got about 1/4 of the breweries of most other true brewing cities. Of course, this lack of breweries isn't for lack of beer geek enthusiasm, a grass-roots brewing community, or local brewing history. So in Part 2, I explained some of the less than exciting legal reasons for our predicament.

Now that we're all armed with the facts and some of the reasons for the situation, we have to ask the question: what's the point? Looking at the rows of taps at places like Bier Station, Flying Saucer, and Barley's, and the endless shelves of craft beer at Lukas, Royal, MDL, and others, one has to wonder why on earth we need more breweries?

The Local Option

Nano-brewery circa 1830.
I don't know how many more nationally distributed craft breweries the country can handle. There's limited room at bars and liquor stores--when a new tap handle comes on, another comes off. I don't worry a lot about that problem though as I don't see brewing as something that should be a nationwide or worldwide scale business. Widely distributing beer only started on a large scale a little over 100 years ago. For the previous 4,900 years, it was almost exclusively a locally made and locally consumed product.

We've come a long way to address the issues related to beer spoilage, oxidation, and logistics that forced beer to be a local product, but as great as our technology it's still hard to get fresh beer very far from the source. And fresh beer is always best. I'd put a fresh average fresh beer up against a stale world class beer any day.

More local breweries means more fresh beer to choose from. It also means more local competition and thus better local products. If we've got two dozen great IPAs being made in KC, we won't ever have to concern ourselves with whether or not that IPA brewed 1000 miles away is stale or skunked.

It's interesting to note that the advent of nationally distributed beer brands coincides with the beginning of the end for American brewing. Many people think that Prohibition killed American brewing. The reality is that from the high over 4,000 breweries in the early 1870's, the number of independent breweries had dropped to a little over 1,000 before Prohibition even began. This timeline correlates directly to the rise of Anheuser-Busch, Pabst, and Schlitz.

Local, small-scale, artisanal brewing is what started the craft beer renaissance in America in the 1980's and it's what is going to sustain craft brewing for perpetuity. It's simply a return to the norm of what brewing has always been, and what it always should be.

Local beer is awesome. 

Dollars and Sense

Aside from the quality of the beer, why should your average non-craft beer geek care? Put another way: why should our elected officials care? As usual--it's all about the money (and jobs). You might not believe it, but craft brewing has an estimated annual economic impact of $257 million in Kansas and $612 million in Missouri. These are big numbers, but they pale in comparison to Colorado's $1.62 billion in annual economic impact.

I noted San Diego as being one of the true brewing centers in the US in the first post of this series with one of the highest number of breweries per capita in the country. They recently released some economic data about their brewing industry. Last year, the economic impact of brewing in San Diego alone was nearly $600 million, and the brewing industry directly employed 6,200 workers in the city.

Not only does craft brewing have the potential to be a big business sector, but craft breweries are the kinds of businesses that politicians fantasize about. They source local products, they employ people locally and they sell their products locally. Every point of the process benefits their community. Most craft brewers are also focused on being socially and environmentally conscious--supporting local charities while finding ways to use renewable energy and keep byproducts out of landfills. They're also tourist destinations that create a sense of community pride and cohesion.

With all the animosity around the enormous tax-incentives that our cities and states regularly dole out attract new businesses, it seems like the changes needed to boost brewing in our area are a no-brainer. Eliminate the overly restrictive regulations, and the jobs and tax dollars will come without the need for other incentives. There is pent up demand for these small businesses, and people chomping at the bit to open them.

What We Can Do About It

The impediments to opening a small brewery in the KC area are all related to laws at various levels of government. It's going to take people like you and me to get involved with our elected officials to make change happen. Take for example the recent zoning changes in KCMO that will allow small nano-taproom breweries to open up outside of industrial areas.

Brian and Mary Rooney are two regular folks that wanted to open a part-time neighborhood nano-brewery in the Waldo/Brookside area, but discovered that it wasn't possible with the KCMO zoning codes. Outside of brewpubs, breweries could only be opened in industrial zoned areas (for example, the Crossroads and West Bottoms). So they got in touch with Councilman Taylor, the chair of the small-business committee, who got right on board with the cause.

They worked together with the city council to write an amendment that would allow taproom breweries to open up in commercial areas like Westport, Waldo, or the Plaza. They put their effort into working with the council, and the council recognized a common-sense solution that would lead to more business and job growth in KCMO. (No details on the brewery yet if you're curious--the Rooney's are working on securing a location now that the zoning ordinance has been amended.)

It's involvement like this that we will need to address the right to self-distribute. The 3-Tier System framework is set up at the state level, and any reform would have to come from our state legislatures. Just like in the Rooney's case, individuals can make a big difference. Your local state legislators represent far fewer people than you might think. Emails and phone calls make a big difference, especially since most representatives probably aren't even aware of the issues.

The JoCo Food Rule is a bit of a different animal. When Kansas ended statewide prohibition in 1949, each county was given the option to either maintain prohibition (yes, there are still dry counties in Kansas), open up drinking in taverns regardless of food sales, or go the middle route with the 30% food sales rule. Johnson County voted to go the middle route, giving us our current issues with opening a brewery. Because Johnson Co residents voted to enact this law, the residents have to vote to change it.

There has been an effort underway for some time now to get this matter on the election ballot, and it may happen in the near future. Of course, we'll be spreading the word when the issue does come up for a vote, and we will all need to do our part to vote and inform others of why they should vote to update the prohibition-era laws.

Monday, May 18, 2015

New Belgium’s 2015 Clips Beer and Film Tour

Like most kids, movies had a major influence on my childhood.  Whether I was in the backyard trying to destroy the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, chasing my sister around the house while sporting a fake green nose and orange bandana armed with nun chucks or battling Big Boy Caprice and his mob with a fake tommy gun, movies helped shape my imagination and probably had my parents asking themselves if something was wrong with me on a few occasions.

While I may not have pursued a career in film making, thousands of other people find inspiration when they see these adventures unfold on the silver screen and use film as an outlet to tell their own stories.   In an effort to continue to promote and encourage people to pursue film, New Belgium Brewing will be taking their Clips Beer and Film Tour on the road for the sixth consecutive year.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Short Pours - 5/14/15

What a week! ACBW is just rolling on, with plenty of events still happening in the next couple days. Had to get some other quick updates and exciting news coming out to you in the meantime!

Torn Label & Crane Brewing Omega Saison Collaboration

Torn Label is quickly becoming my favorite new brewery in town. It seems like every style they touch they turn to gold, especially their hopped up beers. Likewise for Crane and their Belgians and sours. So I was very excited to here that they're doing a hopped up American saison collaboration. I'm fairly certain that this beer is going to be amazing. Right now they're waiting on label approval from the State (Jeff City is about 2 months behind in their pointless rubber stamping process right now), but they should have the beer out sometime this summer. We'll definitely be letting you know when this one is out.