Friday, August 12, 2016

Fall Festival Season is Here!

Ok, so it's still like 100 degrees outside, but the pumpkin beers and Oktoberfest beers have started showing up in droves, so I'm calling this the beginning of "craft beer fall." And now that people actually want to stand around outside and drink beer again, we're into the fall craft beer festival season! And it's all sorts of non-stop craft beer from here to the end of the year with the fall festivals, Oktoberfest, football season, porch drinking season, firepit drinking seasone, and the best drinking holidays of the year: Thanksgiving & Christmas. (And Hanukkah I'm guessing is a great drinking holiday too but I don't know. Please someone confirm this for me.)

With that, I give you the list. You're going to need to clear out your calendar for the next couple months because we're going to be busy. Looks like we've got 5 big beer fests between now and mid-October. It all starts off tomorrow with the Microbrew Fest at Zona Rosa! We'll have more event details as the time comes closer for the festivals a little further out.

UNICO Microbrew Festival at Zona Rosa

When: Saturday, Aug. 13, 4pm-9pm
Where: Zona Rosa (KC Northland)
Tickets: $25 GA (no VIP)
Web: Site, Facebook, Facebook Event Page

The Zona Rosa fest is in it's 8th year running now, which makes it one of the oldest in town. It's way up in the northland, which means I haven't ever been to it, but it's great for those of you living up that way--there isn't much else in the northland craft beer desert! I've always heard good things about the fest, and they were the first in town to include homebrewers as part of the beer served, which they're continuing this year.

All the typicals apply--food vendors are on hand, you get a tasting class (I need another one of those...), and the proceeds go to charity. They're going to have over 50 breweries on hand to serve beer.  I haven't seen a full beer list, but from what I've seen, it looks like they'll have a pretty solid local / regional focus with lots of our in-town breweries and KS, MO, and NE breweries. Also, DDs get in for free! Why all beerfests don't do this is a mystery to me, so bravo to UNICO for doing it.

Some more info from the organizers:
Only 2000 tickets will be sold
We accept cash or credit cards
Must have ID
Rain or Shine
Designated drivers may attend at no charge. The event is open to the public and only festival participants will pay for entry.

KC Beer Fest

When: Saturday, Sept. 10, 3pm-6pm (VIP 2pm-6pm)
Where: Power & Light Beer Garden (Downtown)
Tickets: $35 GA, $60 VIP
Web: Site, Facebook, Twitter, Facebook Event Page

KC Beer Fest, also in it's 8th permutation, with a bunch of changes here and there over the years. I remember back in the day when they held this thing on the top of the parking garage at the Legends and half the beers were Bud / Miller / Coors products. Boy has this festival come a long way since then!

With Flying Saucer presenting the beer fest, you know it'll be a good time with excellent beer. And they have a great venue for it at the Power & Light beer garden. (As much as I detest Power & Light and the typical clientele down there, it's an excellent place for a beer fest.) In contrast to most beer fests, you're not out in the sticks relying on porta-potties and food trucks. They usually have a very solid beer list, although they haven't released the lineup yet. They have said that they're going to have more than 200 brews on tap (which probably means around 50-75 breweries). They're going to be hosting rare beer tappings throughout the duration of the event as well. We'll post the beer list as soon as it's out.

$35 isn't a bad price at all for the GA tickets and the $60 VIP tickets look like a solid value as well. For the extra $25, you get into the event an hour early, get access to a food buffet, private bathrooms, and a festival t-shirt. Even without knowing the full beer lineup, I'd buy my ticket early for this one!

Festival of the Lost Township

When: Saturday, Sept. 17, 1pm-5pm (VIP 12pm-5pm)
Where: 62nd & Raytown Road (Downtown Raytown)
Tickets: $35 GA, $100 VIP
Web: SiteFacebook, Facebook Event Page

This is the second year that Crane Brewing Co has hosted this beer fest in their neighborhood. The event went over really well last year, and I'm sure it will only be better this year. Hell, paying $35 to sample all of Crane's beers as much as you want is worth it anyways. Then you also get all the other brewers, distillers, and vintners thrown in as well! And it looks like they've got one hell of a beer lineup. Again, $35 is an absolute steal for a festival of this caliber, and the $100 VIP pass looks like a solid deal too considering what you get with it.

Also included with the event is a BJCP-sanctioned homebrew competition with the prize as a scale-up brew at Crane's brewery. Doesn't get much better than that!

Some details from the organizers:

Local brewers attending: Crane Brewing Company (debuting their Beet Weiss for the first time), Martin City Brewing, Red Crow Brewing, Cinder Block Brewery, Longboat Brewing, Public House Brewing, Stockyards Brewing Company, Free State Beer, Torn Label Brewing Company, Tall Grass Brewing, Central Standard Brewing, Miami Creek Brewing, Green Room Burgers and Beer, Colony Espresso and Beer, Bur Oak Brewing,Boulevard, KC Bier Company, 23rd Street Brewing and Callibration Brewing to name a few.

Out of state brewers attending: Urban Chestnut Brewing, Mark Twain Brewing, Third Base Sports Bar and Beer, Exit Six, Earthbound, Zipline, Core, Ozark Beer, Roughtail Fine Ales,Nebraska Brewing, Destihl Brewing, Stone Brewing, Toolbox Brewing, Fossil Core, Marto Brewing, Kohlibri Brewing,Six Mile Bridge, Pinney River, Mikerphone, Infusion, Wages, LaGuinitas, 2nd Shift, Perrenial, Brickstone, Ripperian,Oskar Blues, Odell, Blue Blood, Schlafly, Modern Brewery, Defiance, Farnam, Anthem, Founders, OFallon, Avery, and Summit.

Distilleries and Winery: Amigoni Winery,Tom's Town, Union Horse, Leaky Roof,and J. Rieger.

Artisans: The Brewkery, Hugo Tea, Bennetti Coffee,Kanbucha, and Alchemy.

Our VIP tent:
Unique beer pairings with eight of the finest chefs in Kansas City including Celina Tio, Howard Hanna, Raquel Kramer, Ryan Brazeal, and Dolce Bakery. An hour of pre-tasting.

Brewtopia Homebrewers will be holding a beer judge certification program and taste a wide variety of beers from over 40 home brewers. Winners will get a chance to have Crane produce their beer at their brewery.

We'll have music, food trucks and a merchandise tent.

High Plains Brewhoff

When: Saturday, Sept. 24, 2pm-7pm
Where: Brew Lab (Downtown Overland Park)
Tickets: GA - Free!, $20 to skip the line (Buy at Brew Lab)
Web: Site, Facebook, Facebook Event Page

High Plains Brewhoff is one of the most unique festivals in town. Officially billed as a homebrew competition, most all of the entrants to this fest are homebrewers. And they've had some illustrious homebrewers attend in the past that you may have heard of--Crane, Torn Label, Red Crow, and Double Shift all served at the Brewhoff prior to going pro. This year they've got over 100 homebrews on sample for the fest.

The festival has had it's fair share of ticketing issues in the past. Considering it's FREE, you can understand having issues. They have fixed these issues this year by simply having people come to the shop to pick up tickets. The event has sold out early in the past, so I'd recommend heading over to Brew Lab to pick up your tickets early. You can also buy a $20 tasting glass at Brew Lab so that you can skip the entry line on the day of the festival. If you've ever stood in line to get into Brewhoff, you know that this is $20 well spent!

They're also going to have food vendors and live music from KC's punk bluegrass band Whiskey for the Lady.

Brew at the Zoo & Wine Too

When: Saturday, Oct. 15, 6:30pm-9:30pm
Where: Kansas City Zoo
Tickets: $45 GA (no VIP); $35 GA for Friends of the Zoo
Web: Site

Tentative details from the organizers (we'll have more to come later):
On Saturday, October 15 join us for the fourth annual,  Brew at the Zoo & Wine Too! From 6 to 9 p.m. enjoy an evening of live music, delicious bites, and a variety of beer and wine from local breweries and vineyards. 

This event is 21 and over. Food, music, beer and wine samples as well as two drink tickets are included with your ticket.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

AB Inbev - SABMiller Merger a Win for Craft Beer

It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since I first wrote about the Anheuser-Busch InBev takeover of SAB Miller. Well, it's finally official--the Department of Justice has approved the purchase of SABMiller by ABI. I was understandably pretty uneasy about the merger from the start considering the it would put together every macro beer brand in the US into a single company--Miller, Coors, Anheuser-Busch among about 75 other brands--that would control over 70% of the US beer market.

The ABI-SABMiller conglomerate would have controlled over 70% of the US beer market. 
Even more troubling was the implications that this ownership could have had with distribution of our beloved independent craft beer brands because of our three-tiered distribution system. The vast majority of the beer distributors in the US are tied to either Anheuser-Busch or Miller--some are even owned outright by the big breweries (thankfully, this is illegal in KS and MO). If ABI and SABMiller were allowed to merge in the US outright, they would have either owned or wielded enormous influence over the distribution of nearly every beer sold in the country.

But it now appears that my fears will not come true. First and foremost--the Department of Justice negotiated that AB InBev must divest all interest in the MillerCoors holdings of SABMiller in the US. This means that the Miller & Coors will operate completely independently from Anheuser-Busch in the US. This will keep ABI at less than 50% of the market share in the US for the time being (and probably forever considering they're continually losing ground to craft brewers).

Even more important than this are the excellent concessions the DOJ got from ABI in the beer distribution realm. ABI has agreed to end their program that gave incentives to distributors who dropped independent craft beer brands. ABI has also had restriction put on it for distributor ownership. ABI is now unable to purchase further beer distributors if that would lead to them selling more than 10% of their volume through wholly owned distributors. The DOJ further gets to review every purchase of a distributor by ABI regardless of sales volumes to analyze any anti-competitive effects that the purchase may have to the national or local market.

So all things considered, I think this is about as good of a settlement that we craft beer lovers could have hoped for. It should minimize the affect of the merger on the craft market and the US beer market in general.

I still cant get over how awesome this ad is.
But it still rings true today! Right??
My suspicion of why ABI agreed to such hefty concessions is that they don't really give a shit about the US market anymore. From the beginning, the merger with SABMiller was about ABI getting more access to the huge and fast growing African and Asian beer markets. I think that ABI rightly realizes that they are no longer capable of growing in the US market.

People are drinking more liquor and wine, and craft brewers are winning over macro beer drinkers in huge numbers in America. In addition to this, the Millennials are coming of age--the largest generation ever in American is also the least likely in living memory to want beer (or other products for that matter) made by multi-national conglomerates. All ABI can hope for is to keep their investors happy by making up for market losses in the US through overseas growth. So raise a glass of craft beer and toast ABI's long, drawn out demise.

Monday, July 25, 2016

2016 KC Nanobrew Festival

KC Nanobrew Festival is next on the list of beer festivals in Kansas City. It is truly the most unique festival you will ever attend. This will be the 7th year for the festival. It started at as a small gathering in a Brookside backyard to over 1000 expected people at Berkley Riverfront Park this year. The best part of the festival it highlights homebrewers and gives homebrewers a chance at showcasing their talents and ultimately inspires them to go legit.

My first Nanobrew Festival was in 2012, which was the first year they had a public location. At the time I was a brand new homebrewer and had two very basic beers there and so were many of the participants that year. There was this guy named Bryce who had trash cans full of beer with a stack of Cinderblocks behind it. Some dudes named Kipp and Josh had some unique beers including a gluten free beer calling themselves Big Rip Brewing. Gene was there with his friend Jeremy showing off this crazy hopped IPA called the Saminator, He hadn't even thought of Rock and Run yet. I was sharing a spot with this guy named Chris under the name Red Crow Brewing. None of us had ever heard of Michael Crane. Breweries such as KC Bier CO, Doubleshift, Borders, and Torn Label were non existent . Its amazing to see how far the KC beer scene has come in such a short time and we have the KC Nanobrew Festival to thank for being a big reason why.

Friday, June 24, 2016

I-35 Road Trip!

For a long time, I-70 has been the only road worth beer tripping on from KC in the State of Kansas. With Free State, Blind Tiger, Tallgrass, Liquid Bread, and Defiance all within a couple of miles off the route, you can't go wrong. Also, at the end of it you end up in Denver, which is obviously awesome for a number of reasons. Well, I-70 finally has some competition for a trip out of KC with a lot of great new breweries popping up along I-35 in the last couple of year. So here's the full report on my recent I-35 roadtrip...

First Stop: Emporia

Full disclosure: I grew up in Emporia. My opinion from after high school until about a year ago was that Emporia was a shit town. But, I've had a change of heart after my last trip down there. There are a number of reasons why it seems like Emporia is getting (kind of) cool these days, but the primary reason is Radius Brewing Co. (Untappd). 

Radius Brewing Co makes a trip to Emporia well worth it.
Great beer, and the coolest beer flights ever. 
Radius opened up a little over 2 years ago and let me tell you--I was skeptical. I never thought they would survive. Mostly this stemmed from me thinking that Emporia was a shit town, but also because downtown Emporia hadn't been able to keep a nice restaruant/pub open downtown for more than about a year my entire life. It was the downtown where restaurants went to die.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

HomebrewCon : Diary of a First timer

I haven't made a post in a long time but felt compelled to give a summary of my awesome experience at this year's National Homebrew Conference, er, HomebrewCon. I have been wanting to go the last couple of years but have always been busy with other things. This year another one of my club members showed interest and we made a pact to go.

HomebrewCon is the annual get together of AHA members to celebrate all things homebrew. Over several days there are numerous seminars, demos, meetings, special events, and social parties.

Decided to keep a diary of my experience.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Goose Island Migration Week Comes Back to KC! Bourbon County Brand Stout Abounds...

After missing us last year, Goose Island is coming back to KC with their Migration Week! In the past the Migration Week events have been little more than tastings and special tappings of Bourbon County Brand beers, but this time they've got all kinds of different and unique events scheduled. There will be Bourbon County Brand Stout galore along with other Bourbon County Brand beers at a lot of the events along with vertical vintages. There isn't a definite listing of everything available, but whatever is at the events, it's sure to please! And even if all you get is BCBS...well that's pretty much great in and of itself.

Of the events, I'm sure the Human Foosball tournament on Tuesday will be awesome, but what really caught my eye for the hardcore beer nerd is the BCBS deconstruction at Grain to Glass on Wednesday. Brewer Bill Savage will be there with the raw ingredients, liquid samples of BCBS as it goes through the brewing process (i.e. pre-fermentation), fresh/un-aged BCBS, and 2015 and earlier vintages of BCBS.

Also, if you didn't notice...the event at the Foundry on Wednesday is free by RSVP and includes a complimentary pour of BCBS. Free BCBS! Can't get any better than that...

Monday, May 16, 2016

Our Big Fat American Craft Beer Week List 2016

It's American Craft Beer Week right now! In the past, I've written out a whole big fat list of events, but since I'm "dad lazy" these days, and since smart phones and google calendar actually don't suck anymore, I'm just keeping the majority of the events to the calendar. So go over there to check out all the events. We've got over 50 events listed for the ACBW in KC this year! Most of them are special tappings and happy hour type specials along with a few beer pairing and meet-the-brewer events.

There are a couple of standout events that you should definitely try to make it out to: