Friday, October 7, 2016

Even More Oktoberfest (And Another New Beer Fest!)

There are two new Oktoberfests in town that were just recently announced at Power & Light and in Lawrence, and a new beer fest at Grinders. And pay attention, because two of these events are tomorrow! Being new, I can't say whether these are going to be great events or not (as we've seen in the past, the devil is in the details with beer festivals), but they all sound like solid events based on their info so far. And all seem like a relatively good value as well. 

And since baseball is over and it's Chiefs & Sporting bye week, what else have you got to do! Of course, there's always K-State football (among other less important universities around here...), but they don't play until 7:00pm, so the beer fest & Oktoberfest tomorrow will just be a good warm up for the game! Details on the events are below.

Oktoberfest Live! @ Power & Light - Saturday, 10/8, 11am-11pm

Leinenkugel's KC opened in Power & Light a couple of months ago. And even though they're owned by InBev, I've always had a soft spot for Leinenkugel's and think they still do some good traditional American beers. They also have made a solid Oktoberfest beer for years before it got trendy for every brewery to put one out. So I was excited to see the Leinenkugel's restaurant open up downtown. I haven't yet made it down there, but since they're providing us a couple free passes for Oktoberfest, we'll be down there tomorrow to check it out!

The event they're hosting goes all day, with a more family friendly period from 11am-4pm, and then a 21+ drinker's Oktoberfest from 4pm-11pm. They're going to have various contests going on all day out in the central beer garden area including wiener dog races, pretzel and sauerkraut eating contests, stein holding contests & more. And as a bonus for those with kids, Power & Light also has their Family Fun Day going on out in the street that day with all kinds of kid shit.

The Oktoberfest is free to get in before 4pm. After 4pm, tickets are $15 (which covers any normal cover charge that PNL charges on weekend nights anyways). You can also buy a $35 VIP ticket that gets you two pints, access to the Leinenkugel's patio, a fish fry dinner, a pretzel, a mug, and some Leinenkugel's swag. You can find out more info about the event on their facebook page and website.

Bye Week Brew Fest @ Grinder's - Saturday, 10/8, 3pm-8pm

This is another new event for KC. Grinder's, in a service to all of us with some extra time this weekend because of the general lack of all sports events, is putting on their inaugural Bye Week Brew Fest. Grinder's knows how to do good beer and have done it for a long time. They also know how to put on a party and have a great space for it. So, I'm guessing this is going to be a great fest, even if the brewery selection is a little lighter than most. If anything, this should give you a little extra time to check out all the brews, rather than just ping-ponging from table to table.

They're going to have a Foo Fighters Tribute band, the Foo Crew, playing in the Crossroads KC venue, and the beerfest area will be just west of the venue in the parking lot. Tickets to the beerfest get you into both the beerfest and the concert. They're also going to have the regular food menu available from Grinders along with food trucks and pretzels for sale. You can go in and out of the fest with your wristband too, which will be nice for such a long fest time if you want to go out and get some food and come back later. This is just about unheard of with a typical beerfest.

Tickets are $29 in advance, and $35 at the door. You can find more info on their facebook page and website. Here are the brewers coming to the event:

Angry Orchard
Big Sky
Ballast Point
Boston Beer
Blue Moon
Martin City
Not Your Father’s Root Beer
Santa Fe

Lawrence Oktoberfest - Saturday, 10/15, 2pm-8pm

This is actually the second year that the Lawrence Oktoberfest has been held, but it was a little off my radar when I posted about all the other Oktoberfests in the area. And I haven't been to this one yet, but it looks solid based on the pictures & reviews from last year, especially if you live out that way. They're holding the event in the plaza between the fancy new library and the parking structure south of it.

They're going to have food and beer vendors on site for sale (not included in the entry price). They'll have "German-inspired" food from The Burger Stand, Fine Thyme Foods, Leeway Franks, Torched Goodness, Mr. Bacon BBQ, and Juice Stop. As far as beer is concerned, I'm a little unclear on who all will be there, but I see that Boulevard & Free State are sponsors along with Standard Bev & Crown Bev. So they'll definitely have to Boulevard & Free State beers, and I'm guess they'll also have a lot of the Munich brewery beers like Hofbräu, Spaten, Paulaner, and others. They also have a couple om-pah bands booked for the day.

Tickets are $10, or you can pay $20 and get a 1 liter Maß glass to go with. You can find more info on their facebook page

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It's Oktoberfest Time!

This is my favorite time of the year--time when it finally becomes enjoyable to be outside again with the weather, the harvests of hops & grapes come in, hunting season opens, and all sorts of Fall festivals kick off. This includes, of course, Oktoberfest celebrations. And if you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I'm in deep in the Oktoberfest scene. (Hm...gotta see if I can still squeeze into the lederhosen this year...)

As I've written in the past, there really is only one true Oktoberfest in Munich. But I've become less of a purist as I've aged so I've come to enjoy our local Oktoberfests almost as much as the real deal (even if nothing can really compare). These days, we actually have some great Oktoberfests around here that are truer to the original design than what we've had in the past. I've got a list of all the festival events at the bottom, but I'm going to highlight a few of my favorites here as well.

And if you need any more encouragement, now you can watch a live feed from the Hofbräu tent in Munich! Man...wish I was there. Eins, Zwei, G'suffa!

KC Bier Company Oktoberfest - 9/24 - 9/25

This is only the third year for KC Bier Co's Oktoberfest, but it's quickly become my favorite fest in town. They've got the perfect mix of music, dancing, kids activities, food, and, naturally, great beer. It seems like most of the Oktoberfests in town lack one or another of these critical elements, but KC Bier Co hits all of them right on. You'll find some of the best German beers around fresh out of their fermenters including their excellent Festbier (a true Oktoberfest-style beer that is what they actually serve in Munich, not the Märzen style that most Americans associate with Oktoberfest). And they make awesome radlers to order that can keep you drinking by the Maß all day without difficulty.

The fest runs on Saturday from 11am-10pm and Sunday from 12pm-9pm. There are activities going all day long both days. Check out more on their website. No admission tickets are necessary before this event.

Grünauer Oktoberfest - 9/30 - 10/1

Before KC Bier Co opened up, Grünauer's Oktoberfest was my favorite in town. Running for 7 years now, they do a great job. And if you're looking to get some authentic Oktoberfest food, then this is still the best festival to visit. I can honestly say that I believe Grünauer, in the middle of the Midwest, has the best German food in the entire world. Pair this up with the freshest Munich brewed beers (their imported lagers aren't skunked or stale tasting!) that I've ever had in the US, and you've got a solid Oktoberfest. They also do a great job with the music, with five different Volksmusik bands playing over the course of the fest.

The fest runs on Friday from 4pm-12am and Saturday from 1pm-12am. Check out more on their website. Also, check out their full music lineup here. There are admission tickets, so make sure you purchase before you show up. Cost is only ~$13, which gets you a drink token worth about $7.

Lee's Summit Oktoberfest - 9/23 - 9/25

Lee's Summit Oktoberfest is another great fest celebration held on the streets in downtown LS. If you're wondering, it's kind of a big deal with more than 70,000 visitors last year. This one probably mirrors the actual Oktoberfest best of any in the area minus the beer drinking (although their beer garden has come a long way from just serving up Bud Light). They've got all kinds of events, activities, and carnival rides in addition the main beer tent.

This fest is really geared more towards families rather than hardcore festbier drinking, but they do still have a beer tent, a wine tent, and their second annual homebrew tasting and competition sponsored by Grains & Taps. There will be traditional music and food throughout the fest as well. Also, completely random, there is a dog contest and a baby contest. I assume the baby who throws the beer keg farthest wins.

So, for the carnival atmosphere with a little beer and German food thrown in, the LS Oktoberfest is a good call especially for families. The fest runs on Friday from 5pm-11pm, Saturday from 10am-11pm. The fest continues with the carnival only (no beer!) on Sunday from 12pm-4pm. Check out more on their website.

Hermann Oktoberfest - Every Weekend in October (5 of them this year!)

The Oktoberfest celebration in Hermann is my favorite in the area for a full weekend excursion. If you haven't ever heard of Hermann, it's a little town in the "Missouri Rheinland", the heart of Missouri wine country. (Don't laugh! Most of the MO wineries are actually making some great wines these days, not just the super sweet alco-pop wines that they used to.)

The city has a strong German heritage and lots of wineries in and around the city. (And contrary to popular belief, there are wine tents at Oktoberfest in Munich in addition to the beer tents, so you don't have to feel guilty about drinking wine at Oktoberfest) They also have the Tin Mill Brewery downtown, and if for the real beer lovers, you can drive about 20 minutes down the road to visit 2nd Shift!

I'd also highly recommend checking out the Festhall. The entrance is a little hard to find and easy to miss--it's off of the west side of Gutenberg St, just north of 1st Street. It's obscured by trees and some other stuff on the sidewalk. But it's the best place in town for an authentic Oktoberfest experience with lots of lederhosen, dirnds, people actually speaking German, and dancing (and not just the damned Chicken Dance!). Plus, the festhall is an awesome building. Here's a streetview of the entrance:

There are things going on all over town, mainly on Saturdays, every weekend of October. For some extra fun, take the Amtrak down there and drink on the road (it's literally the only economical Amtrak ride you can take out of KC).

Holyfield Winery Oktoberfest - 10/8

Like Hermann, this Oktoberfest is focused on wine instead of beer. But Holyfield makes some of the best wine in the Metro and has some good German-style wines. I mainly love this fest because the setting is so idyllic, they have good music, and the weather is perennially excellent. The fest always makes for a solid day of outdoor day-drinking and chilling. Make sure you bring your own setup though as seating is limited. They've got plenty of space to set up portable chairs, tables, picnic blankets, and whatever else you want to bring. It's a bit of a drive, but well worth it if you can find a DD. "Dan the Bierock Man" will be back and the Alpen Spielers will be playing. The fest runs from 12pm-4pm on Saturday. Check out more details on their website.

And Even more Oktoberfests in KC:

Rheinland Restaurant Oktoberfest - Saturday 9/24, Saturday 10/1

St John’s Oktoberfest - Saturday 9/24

Shawnee Oktoberfest - Friday 9/30

Westport Oktoberfest Pub Crawl - Saturday 10/1

Westwood Oktoberfest - Saturday 10/1

Cider-Tobierfest Grain to Glass - Saturday 10/1

MOtoberfest presented by Urban Chestnut at Bier Station - Saturday 10/15

Friday, September 9, 2016

KC Beer Fest

KC Beer Fest is tomorrow! The weather forecast looks ridiculously good for an outdoor beer fest, and the beer list looks great. Tickets are still on sale for VIP and GA. VIP starts tomorrow at 2pm, and GA at 3pm. We've got some more details about the fest on our previous festival post.

A word to the wise--parking and traffic will suck as usual, so why not just park southwards and take the Streetcar in? Or better yet, walk, bike, or Uber over to one of the MAX bus lines that run all the way from 75th (Main MAX) or 95th Street (Troost MAX) up to downtown and are also super quick, easy, and nice. Or check out Bridj. Seriously, there's a bunch of ways to get there that don't involve you driving, parking, and then getting a DUI afterwards so check them out!

I can't say that I'm up on my WHALEZ enough to give you a full rundown of all the beers you need to get, but I can definitely say they've got some great breweries coming and a bunch of breweries I've never tried before. Lots of excellent out of market & rare breweries and a bunch of breweries that I've never even heard of before. Some of those I've never heard of look pretty excellent based on their Untappd reviews. Also looks like our locals are also bringing some great beers to the fest.

We've got the whole list below the fold for your pre-game planning. Have fun and be safe! Prost!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Beer Release Calendars and the Brewery Arms Race

Friar Tuck in St. Louis (Image Credit: STLHops)
I went off the grid for about a year in 2012-2013. Traveled around the country, camped out, and generally stayed off the beaten path and outside of KC. I was pretty well informed on the KC craft beer scene before I left, but I came back to KC bewildered by all the new beers on the market. It was a struggle to find the beers I once loved (if they even existed anymore), and it took me about a year to get my bearings again on what was out there.

This is something that's been bothering me for a long time, and the recent release of the Boulevard's beer calendar got me thinking about it all over again. In 2017, Boulevard is retiring 7 beers, and introducing 14 new ones. Of the 39 beers that Boulevard will release in 2017, only 9 of them will have been around for more than 10 years. This certainly isn't unique to Boulevard either.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Big Changes with Boulevard's 2017 Release Calendar

Boulevard has published their official 2017 beer release calendar and they are making some huge changes to the lineup this year. A few very long-time beers are being discontinued, and a bunch of new ones are coming online. Overall, Boulevard will be releasing 39 beers throughout the year, up from 36 last year. At any given time, you should be able to find more than 20 different Boulevard beers on the shelves next year.
Boulevard's 2017 Release Calendar (Click the image to see full size)

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.

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.