Tuesday, September 16

Zwanze Day 2014 at Bier Station - Win Tickets Here!

Zwanze Day is this Saturday--huzzah! What the hell is Zwanze Day, you ask? Well, if you like sour beers (which, who doesn't these days?), then Zwanze Day is your new favorite holiday. The Cantillon Brewery is the premier sour beer brewer in the world. Since 1900, they have been one of the few surviving lambic breweries that has continued to brew in the traditional way. They are arguably the single most influential brewery in the sour beer movement.

Every year since 2011, Cantillon has brewed a super special one-off beer and released it simultaneously all over the world. This is Zwanze Day. This year, 56 locations around the world get to serve the beer on September 20, and our very own Bier Station is one of those locations.

The Zwanze Beer this year is named Cuvée Florian, and was brewed as an 18th birthday present for brewery owner and head brewer Jean-Pierre van Roy's son, Florian. There's a great explanation of the beer over on Cantillon's website. And while you're there, read all of their stories about their beer. If you ever wanted a bedtime story from the greatest sour beer brewer of our time, you'll appreciate them.

The Event

In a bid to make the Zwanze Day tasting a little bit more equitable and manageable, Bier Station has made it a ticketed event. There will be two VIP tasting sessions, one at 2pm and one at 3pm, and a GA tasting session at 4pm. Everything will be served in 4 oz. pours so that everyone has a chance at a sample. The event will be held indoors and outdoors at Bier Station. And don't fear the weather forecast--there will be tents set up in case of rain.

The Zwanze Beer is not the only amazing beer available at these tasting sessions either. There will be six (SIX!!) different Cantillon beers available, along with a handful of other great rare beers.

Here is a list of the beers that will be tapped for the 2pm and 3pm VIP tasting sessions:

Cantillon Cuvée De Florian (2014 Zwanze Beer)
Cantillon Mamouche
Cantillon Gueuze
Cantillon Iris
Prairie Cherry Funk
Prairie Funky Gold Mosaic
Jolly Pumpkin Maracaibo Especial
Ritterguts Gose
Blaugies La Moneuse Saison
Mikkeller Årh Hvad?! Aged St. Émilion

In addition to these, three more kegs will be tapped specially for the 4pm GA tasting session, including:

Cantillon Cuvée Saint-Gilloise
Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus
One surprise keg!


Here's the good news--you can buy tickets for the GA tasting session online, and they're only $4 (plus fees). And the bad news? All of the VIP tasting session tickets are already sold out. But wait! Because you're one of our amazing readers, and because Bier Station loves you all so much, they're going to allow us to give away 1 pair of 3pm VIP tasting tickets and 2 pairs of 4pm GA tickets!

You're not going to get off easy though. If you want to win the tickets, go over to our Facebook page and post your best haiku about sour beers as a comment on the link to this post. The sour beer haiku with the most likes from your fellow beer geeks at Noon on Thursday will win the pair of VIP tickets, and the two runners up will get the pairs of GA tickets.* So go get yourself some lambic and get your poetry on!

*The fine print--you've got to be 21 to enter and you can't enter if you or your guest already have VIP tickets. No purchase or payment is necessary to enter or win.

Friday, September 12

Oktoberfest Refresher Course

Yea, I get pretty excited about this shit.
September is the best month of the year. We finally get a break from stifling humidity and blast-furnace breezes, the vegetables are producing like crazy, deer season opens, the trees start turning, hops, barley, and grapes are being harvested, and, of course, Oktoberfest! You may be wondering why I would include Oktoberfest in with all the other great things in September. No matter the engineering precision the Bavarians are known for, you can't always say the same about their linguistic accuracy.

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of Oktoberfest actually takes place in September. The one-true Oktoberfest officially begins two weeks and a day before the first Sunday in October. This puts the official start of the Fest at September 20th this year. So with the beginning of Oktoberfest looming, I thought I'd put together an Oktoberfest primer to get you in the mood.

Himmel der Bayern

(photo: oktoberfest.de)
Bavarian Heaven
Oktoberfest is a Bavarian thing and really only a Munich thing. Over the years, I've talked to a lot of people who believe that Oktoberfest is held on every street corner in Germany basically all year long. However, the official Oktoberfest is held only at a special fairground named the Theresienwiese (the Wiesn) near the center of Munich. The Wiesn is named after Therese of Bavaria, whose wedding to Ludwig I, King of Bavaria, was the reason for original festival in 1810. There are plenty of other folk festivals throughout the rest of Germany in the autumn, but none rivals the size and renown of Oktoberfest.

My wife knows what's up with dirndls!
In actuality, many Germans, especially those from the north, view Oktoberfest the same way someone living in New York might view a Midwestern state fair. A bunch of vulgar drunk hillbillies doing hillbilly things. Now, we all know that this is basically what state fairs actually are, but we don't care because it's just too fun to drink beer, eat fried food, peruse the prize cocks and bulls, and end up throwing up on the tilt-a-whirl.

What most people don't realize about Oktoberfest is that it is essentially same as one of our state fairs, just with more highly organized drinking and singing. It is actually considered the largest folk festival in the world. And if you are ever lucky enough to visit, you'll see why. The fest includes parades, carnival rides, food stands, and even livestock and tractor shows. The music is pretty much all tubas, accordions, and alphorns, and the vogue fashion on the Wiesn is peasant clothing from the 19th century. (And one cannot underestimate the importance of the dirndl.)

Das Bier

Notice the name. "Oktober Fest-Märzen."
The Ayinger Brewery is south of Munich. 
All the Volksmusik and history aside, now the focus is mostly on the beer and beer tents. (If you can still consider these 8,000 person capacity canvas structures a tent.) However, Oktoberfest beer as a style doesn't really exist as we typically imagine it over here. "Oktoberfestbier" is actually a legally protected designation in Germany, and only beers produced within the city limits of Munich can be called that. What's more, the typical beer served on the Wiesn is actually relatively light in color, body, and flavor--perfect for drinking by the liter.

The beers we think of as Oktoberfest beers are more accurately described as märzens and are quite a bit different than what's served on the Wiesn these days. Märzen (literally, March beer) was historically the last beer brewed at the end of winter and would be the only thing available to drink in the late summer and early fall months. Before Louie Pasteur and modern refrigeration, it was difficult to impossible to brew beer in the hot warm summer months without it spoiling from airborne bacteria and yeast. To combat this, brewers made stronger and hoppier beers at the end of winter that would keep well during long summer storage in caves.

Märzen is what is typically brewed by craft breweries the world over for this season, and I'm glad for it. Although I have had my share of it, I'd rather skip the Wiesn beer for a good hearty märzen this time of year. A perfect Oktoberfest märzen for me is one that has a rich yet smooth malt sweetness up front, and a balanced, dry finish. This gives you the great rich flavor you get from the specialty Munich malt, but allows you to keep drinking all day long.

Some of my favorites that you can buy around here include Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen, Free State Octoberfest, Left Hand Oktoberfest, and Boulevard's Bob's 47. The key, though, like any lager, is that the beer is fresh and has been treated well, i.e. always kept refrigerated and out of the sun. I haven't had a chance to try out the KC Bier Co Festbier yet, but based on the freshness factor (and the fact that KC Bier Co just brews great beer) their fest beer might just end up being our best bet locally. 

Stay tuned next week for a full rundown of all the Oktoberfest events here in town! Eins, Zwei, G'suffa!

Thursday, September 11

Cinder Block's One Year Anniversary Week

Can you believe it's been a year since Cinder Block has opened up just north of the river? To celebrate they're throwing a week long bash! We'll let the poster speak for itself - and we'll see you there.

Thursday, September 4

First Friday - Storyteller Series @ Collection

Celina Tio is spinning up a new series of events called the "Storyteller Series" that will be held in her restaurant, Collection, attached to The Belfry in The Crossroads. These will be intimate dinner events focused on artists where you can hear their stories first hand.

To kick the series off Payton Kelly, Creative Director at Boulevard Brewing Co, will be showing some of his work while telling the stories behind the labels we all know well this Friday. Payton has picked the course pairings for the night as well.

So if you're planning on being down at First Friday's this weekend anyways - why not make sure the art you're looking at includes a beer in your hand...

Hibiscus Gose - Welcome beer
Tank 7 - Al Pastor TacosPale Ale - Malted Pot RoastLong Strange Tripel - Macerated berries, crispy phyllo and vanilla custard

The dinner is $45 a person - welcome is at 6:00pm and dinner begins at 6:30pm
Email info@CollectionRestaurant.com for reservations

Tuesday, September 2

Bridger's Day of Sours

If you like sour beers and/or roasted pigs, I've pretty much got your Saturday planned out for you. Bridger's Bottle Shop in Westport is hosting a 4 hour long Day of Sours beer tasting event and roasting a whole hog this Saturday, Sept. 6.

The event is going to feature rare sour beer tappings throughout the day. There is a VIP sampling of very rare stuff, but unfortunately those tickets are already sold out. The rest of the beers will be sold by the glass as they're tapped. There will be a special menu through the day featuring the roast hog. I'm guessing from my past culinary experience at Bridger's & Local Pig that the special menu will be ridiculously delicious.

The event begins at noon, and there will be tappings every hour. The free tasting from Crane Brewing will begin at 1pm. So far, Bridger's has given us a list of a few of the beers that will be available to walk-ins (outside the VIP tasting). These beers include Prairie Funky Gold MosiacRitterguts Gose, 4 Hands Prussia Passion FruitMikkeller/BrewDog Spontanpeach, Boulevard Saison Brett and Hibiscus Gose. They're planning on announcing more beers throughout the week.

Bridger's is also hosting a Schlafly beer sampling and pairing event this Thursday at 5:30p as well. Brewery co-founder Dan Kopman will be there to lead the event. Tickets are $20 for four beers and four small plates. Reserve your spot by emailing erica@bridgerskc.com.

Thursday, August 28

Short Pours - 8/28/14

(photo: Flying Saucer KC)


BrewDog has landed in KC! This one kind of caught me off guard as I didn't even realize you could get BrewDog in America. Shows how super clued in I am on this stuff... For now, they've got 5 beers in town, the Punk IPA, Hardcore IPA, Libertine Black Ale, Dogma Scotch Ale, and 5 A.M. Saint. Sorry, no Tactical Nuclear Penguin yet.

Flying Saucer has had them on tap since Tuesday, Martin City is tapping today, and Bier Station is having a BrewDog event on Monday.

Apparently BrewDog also has a reality TV show. Surprisingly, it appears that guys look nothing like the Duck Dynasty people*.

Edit: There's been some questions about retail sales of BrewDog in liquor stores. Central States has confirmed that there will be some bottles going out to liquor stores starting on September 9th, but the supply be very very limited. They also estimate that they will have delivered all of their kegs to bars by the end of next week. Better go get your fix on when you can, because it might be a while before we get more in town.


Pumpkin Beers

Some breweries got confused and released their pumpkin beers two months early. Moving on. 

Oktoberfest Beers

Oktoberfest season approaches and märzens are showing up all over the place. Bob's 47 should be on store shelves on both sides of the state line by now. A few years ago, I probably would have told you to buy as much of that as you can afford, but anymore Bob's has some serious local competition. Free State Octoberfest was released about a week ago and it's excellent (except the spelling). Then again, the KC Bier Co Festbier might just blow all the others away. It will be available mid-September. And who knows, maybe even Urban Chestnut will make it over here in time for the party... 

Irish Fest - Aug. 29 - 31

Coming up this weekend is Irish Fest at Crown Center. Not a beer event, per se, but always a good excuse to drink as much Guinness and Jameson as humanly possible. Boulevard will also be hosting tasting sessions on Friday and Saturday and there will be whiskey tastings as well. 

The sessions will be an hour long, with a 30 minute presentation, and a 15 minute Q&A with some of the brewers. The beers on sample will include Hibiscus Gose, Ginger-Lemon Radler, Duvel, Ommegang Three Philosophers, and La Chouffe. Guess there won't be any sampling of Boulevard Dry Stout...RIP. 

You've got to buy tickets in advance, and they're separate from the GA Irish Fest Tickets. The single day GA tickets are $10 and the tasting sessions are an extra $10. 

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.

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