Thursday, April 16

KC Homebrew Happenings

Kansas City has a lot happening in the homebrew community. Things get started next weekend, April 25th, at the Parkville Microbrew Festival. This year will feature 6 local clubs which means there will probably be between 50-60 unique beers to try at this year's festival on top of all the great commercial beers that are always represented at the festival. For Tickets and more info:

The following weekend is Big Brew Day, May 2nd. Big Brew Day is an annual event sponsored by the American Homebrewers Association to celebrate National Homebrew Day. Every year the AHA puts out Big Brew Day recipes and encourages homebrewers and groups to brew during the day with a Nation Wide Toast at Noon. Last year over 8000 homebrewers across the country participated. There are a few events scheduled around town you should go check it out if you are interested in participating or just want to learn more about homebrewing. Missouri Mashers with Grain to Glass will be having a brew session in the parking lot next to the shop in North Kansas City. Bacchus and Barleycorn will also be having a brew session behind their shop in Shawnee, KS. Both events start at 10am. If you can't make an event I encourage you to participate on your own and brew up one of this year's recipe.

HopFest Homebrew Competition will once again be happening as part of the annual festival. Entries are due May 1st with the awards being announced at the festival. Entry Fee is a ticket to the festival. To enter register here. . This year's festival will feature last year's winner and also several of the local clubs.

KC Nanobrew Festival was recently announced and will be June 27th in the West Bottoms where the new Stockyards Brewing Company will be located. It will be in the large parking lot of the former Golden Ox. This year they are working with some local food trucks to provide this years food options and expect to have more homebrewers than ever. Homebrewers if you are interested in participating there is still time to sign up. The festival will change your homebrewing life. Don't wait to get tickets either. The festival always sells out in advanced. For tickets and more info

National Homebrew Competition Results

The 1st rounds of the National Homebrew Competition recently took place and the Kansas City homebrew community has 8 homebrewers moving on to the final round! The final round takes place, June 11, at the AHA National Homebrewers Conference in San Diego, CA. Good Luck to the following: Amanda Burkemper, Matt Corwin, Brian Rooney, Michael Fagan, Sean Mccambridge, Andrew Dial, Steve Cook, and David Schumacher.

Local Club Meetings and Announcements 

Kansas City Bier Meisters have changed their monthly meeting for April to this coming Tuesday, April 21st at KC Bier Company. Meeting will take place at 7pm. Presentation topic on using different priming sugars for bottle conditioning. KCBM is in the process of moving locations so please check their website and Facebook page for updates.

Missouri Mashers next meeting is next Thursday, April 23rd at Grain to Glass. Meeting will take place at 7pm. Presentation on ways to clear your beer and also will be judging the 1st round of their Iron Brewer Tournament. 

Johnson County Brewing Society next meeting is next Thursday, April 23rd at BrewLab KC. Meeting will take place at 7pm. Presentation on DIY gadgets and gizmos.

ZZ Hops next meeting is this coming Tuesday, April 21st, at the Lake Lotawana Sportsmans Club. Meeting takes place at 7:30pm

For more infomation on Clubs please use the Homebrewing Resources Tab.

Monday, April 13

Short Pours Week of 4/13

Boulevard Brewing New Releases

At the beginning of the year, I made a somewhat half-hearted resolution to cut back on my spending towards beer.  I say half-hearted because in my mind I know that there is always going to be a new release expected soon that I couldn’t pass up.  Overall I feel I have done pretty well budgeting so far this year.  My girlfriend will probably roll her eyes at that statement but compared to years past, it is an improvement.  Boulevard Brewing Co., however, is really going to test me and anyone else with a similar resolution this week. 

Starting Tuesday 4/14, Boulevard will release the 2015 version of Saison-Brett and Love Child No. 5, along with Ginger Lemon Radler, Pop-Up IPA and Unfiltered Wheat in cans for the first time.  Saison-Brett is one of my favorite releases each year, not just from Boulevard, but from any brewery.  It pairs well with just about any meal and is a perfect beer to sit outside and enjoy as the days get warmer and longer.  The release of Saison-Brett alone has me excited for the week but Boulevard decided to spoil us with the release of Love Child No. 5 and a perfectly timed release of three of their beers in cans as summer quickly approaches. 

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales Keep the Glass Night – Bier Station

If you haven’t tried a beer from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in awhile, this may be a good week to revisit them.  With sour beer being all the rave these days, Jolly Pumpkin is still criminally overlooked in my opinion.  Their year round, and majority of seasonal, beers are easy to find and are fantastic examples of farmhouse and wild ales.  

On Tuesday April 14th at 5:00pm, Bier Station will be tapping some beers from Jolly Pumpkin and with the purchase of one of the beers you get to walk out of Bier Station the new owner of the glass pictured to the left.  The Jolly Pumpkin beers available for the evening are:

Bam Biere – Saison
Oro de Calabaza - Belgian-style strong golden ale
Madrugada Obscura – Belgian-style stout

The glasses are one per person and there is a limited supply so be sure to get there early.

New Belgium Lips of Faith Tap Takeover – Rock and Run Brewery

I don’t get up North that often.  Since I live within a couple minutes of Westport and Downtown, I typically stay around this area when going out for a couple beers.  I have nothing against any places up North but if I can save some money by taking a short cab ride or walking somewhere, it is worth it in my mind.  One place I always try to visit when I am in Liberty though is Rock and Run Brewery.  I think they make some great beers there on-site and have one of the best draft lists in the area.  They definitely know beer there.  

On Tuesday April 14th from 6:00pm-8:00pm, they are hosting a tap takeover that will feature five New Belgium Brewing beers, including four from their Lips of Faith series.  The featured beers include:

Lips of Faith Yuzu
Lips of Faith Coconut Curry
Lips of Faith La Folie 2014
Lips of Faith Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout
New Belgium Hop Kitchen

Kansas City Pet Project Night – Cinder Block Brewery

On Wednesday April 15th from 5:00pm-8:00pm, Cinder Block Brewery will be hosting an event at their brewery to benefit Kansas City Pet Project.  There is a $5 cover at the door that will allow you to purchase any of Cinder Block’s year round beers for $3 during the event.  Cinder Block’s year round beers include Weathered Wit, Paver Porter, Prime Extra Pale Ale, Northtown Native and Block IPA.  In addition to being able to purchase $3 beers, you will also receive a raffle ticket for an entry to win a prize package from Cinder Block and KC Pet Project.  Additional raffle tickets can be purchased for $5.  Back Rack BBQ will also be in attendance for the event with BBQ options and vegetarian choices available for purchase during the event.  All proceeds from the cover charge and raffle tickets will go to benefit KC Pet Project. 

Wednesday, April 8

Is Kansas City Having a Brewery Boom?

It's an exciting time in the KC brewing scene. We've already had two new breweries open in 2015, Torn Label and Border Brewing, and there's a few more planning to open in KC this year. It's great news for all craft beer drinkers in KC to have these new breweries open up. It's been a long road of hard work and late nights for the folks behind these breweries and it's a testament of will that they got this far. (Also, they are making great beer, so if you haven't had any yet, go get some!)

Torn Label and Border are the seventh and eighth breweries to open in the area in the last three years, with no closings. As of 2010, we only had 10 breweries total. Now with 18 breweries in KC, it really seems like we're having a brewing boom. Even the traditional news outlets are picking up on the story about the new breweries, with articles like "Business is booming for craft beer in KC," and "KC's Booming Craft Beer Scene."

While I love the mainstream exposure that craft beer is getting, the KC brewing scene has problems. Even if it doesn't feel like it right now, we're falling far behind other beer cities. Our brewery boom has had a great start, but it's nowhere near where we could be right now. Over the coming weeks in a three part series, I'm going to explore our current situation, why we don't have more breweries, why it matters that we don't have more breweries.

Part 1 - Where We Stand Today

For all the talk of KC being a great beer city with a brewery boom happening right now, we're falling behind other noted craft beer cities in terms of local breweries. In fact, we don't even measure up to the national average. Right now, there are about 3400 breweries officially operating in the US. This means that nationally there is one brewery for every 94,000 people. With 18 breweries in the metro, we only have one brewery for every 115,000 people. This means KC has 20% fewer breweries than the average rate across the US. Considering this average accounts for a lot of places with almost no breweries (like the entire State of Mississippi), we are falling much further behind other true craft beer centers.

Courtesy of the Brewer's Association. 

Consider our nearest and most prestigious beer neighbor--Denver. The Denver metro area has 87 breweries as of writing this, which means there is one brewery for every 30,000 people. It's not just Denver, either. Many other beer centers have similar rates. San Diego County is at 36,000 people/brewery and the Portland Metro is at 28,000 people/brewery. These places have 3 to 4 times more breweries per capita than KC. If you think that the brewery market in KC is close to saturation, think again.

Denver isn't just an island in Colorado either--state-wide there are 227 breweries, which means there's one brewery for every 24,000 Coloradans. This seems pretty extreme, but Colorado only places 4th in the nation for per capita breweries. Oregon, Vermont, and Montana all have more breweries per capita than Colorado. These states have 4 to 6 times more breweries per capita than Kansas and Missouri. Where do we sit on the list? Missouri is 27th and Kansas is 32nd.

So what gives? We've got a large, enthusiastic, and supportive community of craft beer drinkers and brewers. We also have a very active homebrewing community. KC has been one of 12 cities to host first round judging for the National Homebrew Competition in the past, and the annual KC Bier Meisters competition is one of the biggest BJCP sanctioned competitions in the country. We were recently one of 12 cities in the country to host the Sam Adam's KMF tour, and one of 24 cities to host a Zwanze Day celebration. And, of course, you can't go without mentioning the fact that Boulevard is the 12th largest craft brewery in the US.

The Bohemian Hall out in the Middle of Nowhere
All of this current evidence of KC as a beer town doesn't even account for the fact that our region has a strong brewing history dating back 150 years. A large percentage of people in KC, and statewide, have ancestry that goes back to the brewing centers of Germany, Czech Republic, and Ireland.

Before Prohibition, we had a strong brewing presence, and even during prohibition people kept right on homebrewing. My Grandma tells stories about the Bohemian Hall near Minneapolis, KS. Apparently untouched by Prohibition, all the Czech immigrants in the county would go there every weekend for dancing and drinking homebrews. Even my great granddad got in on the act, making homebrew during Prohibition using potatoes as the starch in place of malt.

KC also just feels like a great beer town. People here are into beer, and we love our local stuff. You can hardly find a place in KC where there isn't at least one local craft-tap or bottle on the menu. So if KC feels like it should be a city with a vibrant brewing scene and lots of breweries, why isn't it? I'll delve into the reasons for why we don't have more breweries in KC in Part 2.

Sunday, April 5

Short Pours - Week of 4/6

Something tells me this Monday may be one of the least productive days of the year in Kansas City.  If you don’t have tickets to the Royals home opener, you’re probably putting the final touches on that excuse to lay onto your boss to get out of work early and go watch the game.   If you’re boss doesn’t happen to buy it though, there’s still plenty of beer events to look forward to this week. 

Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project Launch – Flying Saucer

Last week brought the debut of a new brewery to the Kansas City area.  Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, based in Somerville, MA, starting hitting shelves here and to celebrate the arrival of Pretty Things, Flying Saucer will be hosting a launch party Monday April 6th starting at 7:00pm.  Flying Saucer will be tapping the following beers from Pretty Things:

Jack D’Or - Saison
Baby Tree - Quadruple
St. Botolph’s Town – Yorkshire dark brown ale
Lovely Saint Winefride – “Brown” lager
Fluffy White Rabbits – Triple

A couple years ago while vacationing in the Northeast, I was able to try some beers from Pretty Things and they were outstanding.  This is an exciting brewery to have available in the Kansas City area and definitely worth seeking out their beers.

Wednesday, April 1

Simplified BJCP Scoresheet for Beer Competitions

The Beer Judge Certification Progream (the association that certifies homebrew compeition judges and sanctions homebrew competitions among other things) has been working for more than a year to come up with new style and competition guidelines for homebrew competitions. They've had a draft of their guidelines up for some time on the website, which has a number of new styles, eliminated styles, and other changes. The draft guidelines haven't yet been officially approved, but some competitions, like the Missouri Masher's Hot Summer Brew Off, are already slated to start using the new guidelines this year. (And by the way, the competition entry window for the Hot Summer Brew Off is open now through April 7.)

Thankfully, as of this morning, the BJCP has also provided an updated and simplified scoresheet to go along with the new guidelines. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten copies of the old scoresheet back that just had way too much unnecessary analysis and a far to specific point allocation. I mean, who actually decided that the appearance of a beer should be worth 3 points out of 50?? Also, isn't aroma nearly as important as flavor? So why does aroma get 12 points out of 50, and flavor gets 20 points out of the total 50? It was really just too complicated and unnecessary. So because of all this, I'm very excited about the new scoresheet.

Here's a copy of the new scoresheet to check out:

(By the way, if you haven't figured it out by now, look at the date. But please do note, that the info on the Missouri Mashers competition is real! Go sign up your brews!)

Sunday, March 29

Short Pours Week of 3/30

Boulevard Brewing Co – Heavy Lifting IPA Release

A couple months back we highlighted Boulevard’s 2015 release schedule and discussed some of the new beers that would be available this year.  We have already seen The Calling IPA hit store shelves and get bought up quicker than Boulevard can brew it.

Starting Monday March 30th, we will see the debut of another new IPA from Boulevard, Heavy Lifting IPA.  This release is not only exciting because it is a new addition to Boulevard’s core year round beers but this is the first canned beer Boulevard has ever released.

Boulevard’s Ambassador Brewer, Jeremy Danner, describes Heavy Lifting IPA as, “a close cousin to Mid-Coast IPA. Coming in at 6.2% ABV and 80+ IBUs, Heavy Lifting features massive end of boil hop additions of Topaz, Bravo and Centennial and is dry-hopped with Centennial, Amarillo, Citra and Topaz. This hop assault creates a huge citrusy/piney flavor and aroma that leaps from a simple malt base composed of pale malt and a touch of Munich malt. Heavy Lifting finishes quite dry with lingering hop bitterness.”

Heavy Lifting IPA will initially be released in 6 packs of 12-ounce cans with draft expected in April.

Wednesday, March 25

Founders KBS Week and Barley's Brewhaus Founders Uber Stout Flight Night

I can’t stand Spring.  It’s probably my least favorite season of the year.  I get why people like it though.  It starts to get warmer out, they can do more things outdoors and the days get longer.  All of that sounds great unless every time you walk outside your eyes start itching and you start sneezing uncontrollably or you just really aren’t that interested in doing things outside in general.

There are a couple things that I do look forward to each Spring though.  First, it signals the beginning of a new baseball season and secondly, I know that with each Spring comes the release of one of my favorite beers, Founders Brewing Co. Kentucky Breakfast Stout. 

Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout Week

Starting next week Founders will release their wildly popular and extremely limited Kentucky Breakfast Stout across their distribution footprint.  If you’re unfamiliar with Kentucky Breakfast Stout or KBS as it is more commonly called, it is an imperial stout brewed with chocolate and coffee then aged in oak bourbon barrels in underground caves in Grand Rapids, MI for over a year.  It is also a beer that causes beer geeks to hyperventilate and sends them into a frenzy each Spring trying to hunt down at least one 12 ounce bottle.

I have to admit though the excitement is justified.