Monday, August 25

Thou Mayest

This may be old news to most, as sometimes life gets you all caught up and somehow writing about beer falls to the back burner - but there is a new venue in The Crossroads that goes by the name of Thou Mayest. What originally began as a simple roasting operation has grown into a two-story shop that serves not only it's coffee but a solid selection of craft beer and cocktails as well.

Most people know how excited I get when new things come to Kansas City - be a brewery or a bar - so of course I jumped at the opportunity to check out Thou Mayest during it's first few weeks with the doors open. I talked with Tyler Price and Bo Nelson about their plans for Thou Mayest and more specifically where craft beer fit into the picture.

With Torn Label opening just down the street it seemed only natural that a partnership would come about. The guys of Torn Label have already brought some of their beers into the shop for tasting and Thou Mayest is furnishing the roast for their coffee stout. Tyler is also very excited to explore what Thou Mayest can do for local and home brewers in the future.

Who knew that Grandpa was a mixologist?
I won't go too deep into character and atmosphere in the shop, because many outlets have already covered that part of their story - simply put, it feels like you Grandpa's fishing cabin, but with fewer AARP magazines sitting around. I'm also a big fan of the attached patio areas that back up to the KC Crossroads concert venue.

In the future Tyler hopes to be able to pull some special beers in their doors, like barrel-aged stuff from Firestone and more - in the meantime there is already a well curated selection that's worth hanging around for. I highly recommend you get down to Thou Mayest the next chance you get. The people, coffee, and beer are all fantastic.

419 E. 18th Street // Facebook // Website

Wednesday, August 20

High Plains Brewhoff - New Beer Event in Downtown OP

I really hope this has something to do with the Hasselhoff.

There's a new beer event in town and it's the first of its kind in Kansas. The High Plains Brewhoff, hosted by Brew Lab in Downtown OP, is officially a homebrew competition, but will feature brews made by both amateur and professional brewers and be laid back like a beer festival.

"Just like our store, this will be fun and informal," says Kevin Combs from Brew Lab.

All of you attending will act as the judges for the competition, with each attendee getting three tokens to distribute as they see fit. And thanks to the event sponsors, the tickets are free!

The Brewhoff will be held along Foster Street just in front of Brew Lab's store on Sept. 20, from 1p-5p. There will be 22 brewery booths total. Food will be available from Papa Keno's pizza (who will also be serving their own beer brewed at Brew Lab), and there will be live music as well. In order to help offset some of the costs of hosting the event, Brew Lab will have commemorative tulip tasting glasses and t-shirts available for sale at the event as well (although you don't have to purchase them).

Torn Label will be one of several
breweries-in-planning at the event. 
About half of the beer booths will be homebrewers. There will be quite a few from the Johnson County Brewing Society and the KC Nanobrew Fest crowd, among others. The rest of the booths will be breweries-in-planning and homebrews made by professional brewers.

Right now, four breweries-in-planning are confirmed and include Crane Brewing, Torn Label, Red Crow, and Double Shift. The only professional brewer confirmed at this point is Bryce from Cinder Block. There will likely be a few more breweries-in-planning and professional brewers attending, but haven't yet been confirmed.

Because of the new Kansas law, there are some peculiarities about how you can get tickets. Kevin Combs and Clay Johnston at Brew Lab and Mike McVey at MKL Law (who was pivotal in getting the law passed in the first place) worked closely with the KS ABC to bring this event to fruition and make sure everything is compliant with the new laws. 

The result of the new laws is that the event has to be by invitation only. However, it's not a super exclusive invite list (no singing telegrams are being sent out, unfortunately). Basically, you just need to fill out the invitation request form and provide a referral. Let them know who referred you to the event, whether it's a friend, someone who works at Brew Lab you know, a homebrew club you're involved with, another brewer, or a friend of a friend of Kevin Bacon. Just don't list your referral as "The Internet."

I was referred by the buffalo. 
Once the organizers have approved your invitation, you will get an email with a link in it. It may take a couple days before you get the email, so don't fret if it doesn't come right away. You can then use this link to go to the ticketing site where you can order your tickets. This process needs to be done for every attendee. As of writing this, about two-thirds of the 500 invites are already spoken for. 

The organizers and volunteers have gone a long way towards helping the JoCo homebrew and craft brew scenes with their extensive work with Overland Park, KS ABC, and the neighborhood and business associations in the area. Kevin also helped found the new Johnson County Brewing Society.

They're pretty humble about it all though. As Kevin puts it, "As much as people think we are political activists, we are simply wanting to put on a fun event for our customers and the local brewing community."

Friday, August 15

We Topped 3,000 Breweries and Some Aren't Happy

You're getting sleeeeeepy...
Earlier this month, the Brewers Association announced that we surpassed 3,000 breweries in the US. This seemed like pretty awesome news to me. So I was a little intrigued when I saw this article on Bon Appétit the other day with the title "America Now Has Over 3,000 Craft Breweries—and That's Not Necessarily Great for Beer Drinkers." I figured it was just going to be some sort of ironic hipster article about how PBR is the only beer that America really needed. Instead, to my dismay, it was a serious post about how America really has too many breweries for it's own good.

The basic premise of the article is that there will be too much competition in the craft beer industry. Sam Calagione is quoted saying, "We're heading into an incredibly competitive era of craft brewing. There’s a bloodbath coming." (Their emphasis.) I wasn't aware that competition was a bad thing for consumers. I actually thought that competition was the basic premise of why we have the craft beer industry to start with.

Wickedly disappointing. 
The article points this out nicely for us later on. Discussing the "fickleness" of the American beer-drinker the author writes, "When I was in high school, Red Wolf and Pete's Wicked Ale were the rage. Remember them? Probably not." You know why no one remembers them? Because they sucked.

I also remember around that same time when Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Anchor Steam were all the rage. Remember them? Oh wait--they're still two of the bestselling craft beers in the country. And it's because they're great beers. American craft beer drinkers aren't fickle--they're ruthlessly discerning. Tastes do change slowly over time, but the bottom line is that if your beer isn't good, it's going to get eaten by the competition. I fail to see how this is a bad thing.

The only other evidence given for having too many breweries is that the craft drinkers will be confused by all the new brews. This makes some pretty big assumptions about American craft beer drinkers. First, it assumes that craft beer drinkers are uneducated about their choices. Second, it assumes that all of these 3,000 breweries are on the tap list when you're trying to order your beer.

If there's a bloodbath coming, Colorado is on
the front lines. Better call Jed and his buddies.
With 3,000 breweries, America is sitting at about one brewery per 106,000 people. For a little frame of reference, Colorado has one brewery per 24,000 people. When was the last time you heard someone from Colorado complaining about having too many breweries?

If you have a wealth of great local and regional breweries, you don't have to rely on hard to find specialty beers from far-flung breweries. Instead, you can pop down to the local brew pub on a Tuesday night to drink that fantastic beer while shooting the shit with the brewer at the bar. More breweries means more good local breweries to choose from.

I think other bars should take a cue from Green Room and put a greater focus on local and regional beers. Mike has over 100 beers there, and 90% or more are from Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, or Nebraska. There's no need to be an expert in beers from the east and west coast when you know where to find the fantastic local beers.

Here's one more thing that Bon Appétit seems to have missed: in 1871, there was one brewery per 9,300 people in America. That corresponds to 34,000 breweries with today's population. Too many breweries? Not by a long shot.

Monday, August 11

Short Pours - 8/11/14

Grinders at Stonewall

(photo: Recommended Daily)
The new installment of Grinders opens tomorrow in Lenexa. They've taken over the old Stonewall Inn at 103rd & Pflumm that closed down in 2012. They've completely renovated the interior, but plan to keep the exterior of the buildings and site close to the original. Recommended Daily has a good article and interview with Stretch on the new restaurant that's worth a read. It's great to see more beer-focused, locally-owned places opening up out in the 'burbs. There's a huge underserved population of beer lovers out there that I'm sure will be going out to Grinders at Stonewall in droves.

Border Brewing Co

One of the newer arrivals to the brewery-in-planning roster in KC, the Border Brewing Company, has an official location. They announced today that they're working on renovating 406 E 18th Street, KCMO, right across the street from Grinders in the Crossroads. The Star first reported on the brewery back on May. They're still planning on opening this Fall, but it looks like they've got a ton of work ahead of them to make that happen. Then again, the owner, Eric Martins, is an engineer who graduated from K-State, which basically means that if anyone can get it done, it's him. (Yea, I'm biased.) In any case, we wish them the best for a speedy build-out and easy licensing process!

Big Rip Cool Bus Tour

The guys at Big Rip are putting together the awesome event you thought of but never got around to--renting a school bus and party busing around town to all the new breweries. The tour is on Saturday, Sept. 20, from 11am to 6p. They're planning on visiting Martin City, KC Bier Co., Rock and Run, and Cinder Block. The tickets are $40 per person ($35 for mug club members), which includes all you can drink beers at Big Rip, but not for the other breweries. You'll be on the hook at the other breweries for your own beer.

Cinetopia 18 OP Abita Beer Dinner

This event has been canceled!

The shiny new Cinetopia 18 in Overland Park (part of the Prairie Fire development), is hosting a beer dinner with Abita next Thursday, August 21st at 6pm. I haven't been out to Cinetopia yet, but I've heard some mixed reviews. Even so, the beer menu for this event sounds pretty fantastic, and something close to home for all the south JoCo'ers out there. I'll be interested to see what you all think of it. You can call the theater for more information and tickets at (913) 402-9300. (On a side note, I hope that the first food course on the menu is supposed to be lobster croquettes, and not lobster crochet.)

Also, while looking into this beer dinner, I found their badass lineup of Sci Fi movies that they're showing on Wednesday nights starting Aug. 20th and running for the next 4 months. Pretty much every movie the Millennial Nerd (i.e., ME) could ever want to see on a 75' movie screen. I digress, apologies.

Edit: Crawford has confirmed that is not, in fact, going to be lobster crochet. That would have been an epic prank though.

Tuesday, August 5

Short Pours - 8/5/2014


The newest Founder's Backstage release hit the shelves in MO last Friday, and should be on the shelves in KS starting today. Their Dissenter IPL (that is, Imperial Pale Lager) is the first lager that Founder's has put out in over a decade. And Imperial it is--the beer is 8.7% ABV with 70 IBU. If you can't smash and grab your way to a bottle of the stuff, Burg & Barrel will have it available at their Founders Beer School on Monday, Aug 11. That also just happens to be the event where you can get your hands on (probably) the last KBS in town. They're also going to have Rubeaus and Devil Dancer available, all of which are pretty fantastic. 

Even More Festivals!

We reported on all the upcoming beer festivals last week, and made some very grievous omissions. . Last week we listed all the big dogs in town, but missed some of the little guys. So in case you're not looking forward to fighting crowds of ravenous beer geeks to get a tiny pour from an exasperated volunteer only to find they've run out, you should check out these two festivals. Both have very limited tickets for sale, so they should be a little more laid back than your typical fest. 

Screenland Armour Arts & Crafts Festival - Aug. 22 & 23

(image: Screenland Armour)
The Screenland Armour Arts & Crafts Festival is coming up on August 22 & 23. They've got a great beer lineup with 19 breweries attending. There are some real standouts attending including Mikkeller, Crooked Stave, Prairie Artisan Ales, and Jolly Pumpkin. 

Unlike most of the beer festivals around town, there will actually be things to do at this one besides get completely hammered and forget the last 12 amazing beers you're pretty sure you had. (Yea, I know you made up those Untappd reviews.) The festival features eight local bands, six films, fifteen local artists' works, and a Q&A session with brewers and owners from Tallgrass, Mothers, New Belgium, and Cinderblock. There's even a shortfilm competition sponsored by Tallgrass.

The event is primarily on Saturday, but there are a few things going on Friday night as well. Tickets for the Friday session are only $20, and tickets for the all-day Saturday session are $45. You can also get a pass for both days for $60. And guess, what it's all for a good cause!

75th Street Summer Beer Fest - Aug. 16

75th Street Brewery is celebrating their 21st birthday with 9 of their best brew friends at their Summer Beer Fest on August 16th from 2p-6p. It's going to feature all local breweries, including the (hopefully) soon-to-be local brewery Crane Brewing Co. Tickets will be $30 at the door ($25 for mug club members) and $40 for early VIP tasting. You can get tickets by calling the brewery at 816-523-4677, or stopping by. The proceeds benefit the Big Brothers & Big Sisters of KC.

Boulevard's Hibiscus Gose - Aug. 18

The newest of the Backroads Series from Boulevard, Hibiscus Gose, is slated to hit the shelves in KC on August 18th. Unless they've significantly changed the recipe from their test batches, I can personally report that it's excellent. In any case, I'm sure it will be much better than the first Backroads beer--the unbelievably average Entwined Ale. And damn if it doesn't just look good in the glass.

(photo: Boulevard Brewing Co.)

Vote in The Pitch's Best of KC 2014 Survey Now

It's that time of year again--hipster Prom season in KC. And as usual, you get to pick out your own Prom Kings and Queens in the Pitch Best of KC 2014 survey! Who doesn't like a good popularity contest?

Since you're on the KC Beer Blog and not the KC Karaoke Blog, the KC Massage Blog, or the KC Hair Removal Blog, we figured you might be interested in the beer-related categories up for grabs this year.

The bar categories have stayed pretty similar to last year, but they've shaken up the brewery categories quite a bit. They eliminated the Best Craft Brewer, Best Microbrewery, and Best Nanobrewery categories. For 2014 they've replaced these with Best Locally Owned Brewery and Best New Brewery. The Best Brew Pub category carries over from 2013, and they're also adding a category called Best Local Beer (Maker + Type). 

I'm not sure if the changes this year were meant as an intentional dig against Boulevard, but the new categories essentially mean that Boulevard can't win anything as a brewery. Then again, they do get a whole category to themselves (as they did last year) for Best Boulevard Release, and one of their brews could also win as the Best Local Beer.

Oddly enough, what I thought was a mistake last year of having two duplicate Best Food Blog categories has carried over to this year again. One is in the People & Places section and the other in the Food section. They've also kept the Best Local Blog category as well. (Hint, hint!)

The open write-in voting runs through next Friday, August 15th. After that, there will be a runoff vote for the top three write-ins for each category from August 20 - September 17. Make your voice heard and vote for your favorites!

Here's a listing of the beer & brewery categories for this year:

Best Beer Crawl
Best Beer Festival
Best Beer Selection (Bottles)
Best Beer Selection (Taps)
Best Boulevard Release
Best Brew Pub
Best Liquor Store
Best Local Beer (Maker + Type)
Best Locally Owned Brewery
Best New Brewery

Sunday, August 3

Beer Travel - Fort Collins

Thinking about heading out to Fort Collins for a weekend get-away? Here are some ideas to help with planning. I’ve included brewery pictures to give you an idea of what you’ll see at each place.

A Few Notes on Travel Prep
First, we went on a holiday weekend so rooms were in the $200/night range with little vacancy so we decided to try AirBnB for the first time. We had a great stay and would use it again. Be selective in your choice of where to stay and your host.  You’ll want to be close to downtown and a good host can give you recommendations to enhance your activity plans from an insider’s perspective. Our hosts liked craft beer and recommended some beer-centric establishments that we may not have found on our own.  This will sound strange to a Kansas Citian, but if you’re going in the Summer ask if they have air conditioning (don’t assume as we did).  Also, a general theme across the board is the beer was very reasonable but the food is on the expensive side.

Play it Safe, Rent a Bike
Consider biking form brewery to brewery. The Fort Collins Bike Library lets you check out a bike, helmet and lock for a $10 fee per day. The bikes were much better than most of the cities with bike sharing programs. We were thankful that we decided to go this route as when we were driving around the evening before we were stopped at a DUI checkpoint located between two breweries. To rent a bike, go to FortCollins Bike Library  > online bike reservation > become a member > fill out their waiver > pay $10 > pick it up (along with a helmet and lock) and get a brewery map > bring the bike back (you’ll be charged an extra day for after-hours returns but the cost is minimal).

Oskar Blues/Left Hand
On your way up to Fort Collins, consider stopping by Oskar Blues and Left Hand Brewing Company both in Longmont, CO which is about 45 minutes North of Denver International on I-25.  We made it to 'Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids' for lunch which had Cajun-style food and a good selection of beer.  We then stopped at Left Hand for a flight on their patio and this is where it starts to feel like you’re on vacation. The brewery is huge, great staff and, again, nice selection of beer.

New Belgium Brewing
The whole idea of the brewery was conceived by a guy riding his bike around Belgium and falling in love with their beer. This is the 3rd largest micro-brewery in the nation (behind Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada) and as you guessed the scale of the brewery is huge so you’ll want to get a tour.  Their tour is rated five stars by TripAdvisor and books up two months in advance but our hosts coached us to get there early and get on the list as inevitably there would be no-shows. We waited at the bar (drinking $2 tasters of their Lips of Faith series) for about an hour and got on a tour where there would be MANY more tastings ahead.  The tour includes the typical history of the brewery, being dwarfed by 64 foeders made from 100% French oak wine barrels  and seeing the rock climbing wall created by the ‘Director of Fun’. Even if you can’t make the tour, drink at the tasting room and take their self-guided tour which includes quirky art.

Odell Brewing Company
From New Belgium, head .6 miles down the road and you’ll get to Odell. A recent expansion created a huge tasting room as well as an expanded patio with stage outside. Be prepared for long lines in the afternoon… at least that’s what we found. It’s beautiful inside, the selection was decent and their flight included Double Pils, St. Lupulin, FOCOllaboration, Trellis, Myrcenary and Dr. Acula (nod to Mitch Hedberg, perhaps?)

From Odell, head 1.2 miles down the bike lane to Funkwerks.  It’s a much smaller tap room than the rest but a nice patio in which to escape. Funkwerks brews saisons with a yeast strain that gives it a very distinct, funky flavor from other saisons. Their flight included their flagship Saison, Deceit, Sorachi, Tropical Kind and Raspberry Provincial. You’ll be in the company of experts as each taproom employee is a certified Cicerone Beer Server.

Beer Detour: Feisty Spirits Distillery
We got only .3 miles down the road and came upon Feisty Spirits Distillery where they make small batch American whiskey, some of which was made with hops. A perfect detour.

Horse & Dragon Brewing Company
Just .7 miles down the road from Funkwerks, you’ll find Horse & Dragon, a fun brewery with some great beer. They had a decent size taproom and, once again, a patio. The flight consisted of a decent selection of 6 tasters for $8. The red building stands out so you can’t miss it… even if you've been drinking this whole time.

Equinox Brewing
The last leg is 2.6 miles and brings you back into downtown to Equinox Brewing. Admittedly, I needed this longer bike ride at this point in the day. Equinox, around for about 4 years, is named for the perfect balance of light and dark in the seasons. They apply the dichotomy of their name to the creation of their beers (traditional vs. innovative styles, ingredients vs. technique, work vs. play). It’s a pretty popular place that is exclusively local as they keep all of their beers within a 2 mile radius and deliver their kegs on a trike. They are under an expansion to double their bar space but with no plans to expand their brewing capacity, bottle or distribute in order to keep it small and family run. The bartender mentioned that on Saturdays you’ll usually see more children than adults in the bar (treat that news as you’d like). You’ll find this place down-to-Earth welcoming and a good spot to end the day.

High Hops Brewery
About 15 miles outside of the city on CO 392 in Windsor, CO, you’ll find High Hops Brewery. It’s a 10 barrel brewery, a tasting room, a home brew store and a garden store. The patio has a stage and looks out on what seems likes acres of hops growing on trellises… as well as a great view of the mountains. Unfortunately, they weren’t open when we stopped by so I have no beer report to share.

Detour to Rocky Mountain National Park
Since you’re so close, consider spending some time in Rocky Mountain National Park. The East side of the park is easily accessible and has a lot of hiking options.  Remember that you’ll be at altitude which can be pretty rough if you’re not use to it. Think hydration, sunscreen, and breaks to catch your breath.  As I’m sure you know, you’re going to feel the effects of alcohol much more than at home. I think my quote was something on the order of “If I lived around here, I’d be drunk all the time!” Cheers!

Thursday, July 31

Short Pours - 7/31/14

Festival Season Round Two

KC Beer Fest Scheduled for Sept. 27
Now that we've all had a little bit of a breather since the Spring festival season, it's time to start prepping your livers and kidneys for the next round. The Great American Beer Fest, possibly the best beer festival on the planet (except Oktoberfest, of course), is right around the corner. Tickets went on sale yesterday...and were sold out in 10 minutes. (Want some Boulevardia deja vu? Just go to the GABF Facebook page and check out the comments about ticketing!)

But, wait! There's another chance! Oskar Blues is holding a sweepstakes to win two-day tickets to GABF, round trip airfare, lodging, and a bunch of other stuff for you and a guest. You should all probably refrain from entering to boost my odds, though.

Of course we've got some great festivals coming up a little closer to home too. The UNICO Microbrew Festival at Zona Rosa is on August 16th and KC Beer Fest at Power & Light for September 27th. Both have tickets on sale now, $25 for UNICO and $35 for KC Beer Fest (or $60 for VIP). Both fests still need volunteers as well. Click here for instructions on volunteering for UNICO, and here to email KC Beer Fest your info.

UNICO has announced about a third of the breweries attending so far, but KC Beer Fest is yet to announce who will be attending. I've got a list of the breweries that UNICO has announced so far at the bottom of this post.

Martin City Brewing Co Around Town

Martin City Brewing Co announced on twitter that they're sending out their first batches of beer to area bars. I, for one, am super excited about this because I never find myself in Martin City, well, ever. I imagine there's a few others out there like me that would like to be able to drink their beers more regularly without having to drive 30 minutes. On a related note, KC Bier Co is pretty much everywhere in town now if you hadn't noticed. Hopefully we can convince Big Rip and Cinder Block to start distributing too...

Seriously. Go buy some Defiance now. 

Defiance Makes it to KC

Defiance Brewing Co has officially landed in KC (Kansas side only). If you haven't heard of them, they're the new brewery out in Hays, KS. The brewery was founded by a couple former Liquid Bread brewers, which should give you an indication of how awesome Defiance beers are going to be. I was super impressed when I had their beer at the Big Rip festival and have been eagerly awaiting their arrival ever since.

They've got two beers out now--Gutch and Thrasher. Gutch is an English mild, and Thrasher a session IPA (aka pale ale). Both are solid session beers, but I think the Gutch is one of the best milds I've ever had. It's probably going to become my new go-to beer this fall. They should be pretty widely available, so if you haven't had a chance to try them you should pick some up when you can't find any of the Deschutes releases below.

Deschutes Special Releases

Deschutes Black Butte XXVI and Conflux No.3 are out now in KC. The Black Butte XXVI is their regular Black Butte Porter (already awesome) spiced with cocoa nibs, pomegranate molasses (what??), and cranberries, then aged for 6 months in bourbon barrels (dial the awesome up to 11).

Conflux #3 is a Collaboration with Distelhauser Brewery from Germany. They're calling it a doppel weissbock and it's made with spelt. I'm assuming it will taste a lot like the Schneider Aventinus, which would be awesome. Apparently it also pairs well with "Moroccan Spiced Scallops with Lentils" according to the Deschutes pairing advice. Sure!

Black Butte XXVI should be relatively easy to find around town, but you'll have to get lucky to find some of the Conflux #3.

UNICO Microbrew Festival Lineup as of 7/31:

Ameristar Brew Pub
Bip Rip
Boulevard Brewing Co.
Broadway Brewery
Cinder Block Brewery
Dark Horse Distillery
Empyrean Brewing Co. 
Exit Six Brewery
Flying Monkey
Free State
Goose Island
Granite City
High Noon Saloon
KC Bier Co. 
Kona Brewing
Missouri Mashers (Homebrew club)
Mother's Brewing Company
Summit Brewing
Tallgrass Brewing Company
Weston Brewing Company