Thursday, December 11

Short Pours - 12/11/14

KC Ale Trail Book Signings this Weekend

Pete Dulin's new book KC Ale Trail is officially out for purchase now! The first shipments of preorders have gone out, and you can now purchase the book on Pete's website. The book is a recent history and guide to the craft brewing scene in Kansas and Missouri surrounding the KC metro area. It includes profiles of all our local breweries (and soon to be breweries), tasting notes, and interviews with various people important to the craft beer scene in KC.

Pete is going to be doing book signings at a couple places this weekend to mark the first sales. On Friday night, he will be at Bier Station from 7p-9p signing books, and they'll have a raft of local special releases on tap including Tallgrass Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat, Free State Winterfest IPA, Martin City Brewing Company Black Rye IPA, Mother's Squashed Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, and Boulevard Singlewide IPA. Then on Saturday morning, he will be at Grain to Glass from 10a-12p. John Couture, owner of Bier Station, and Jennifer Helber, owner of Grain to Glass are both featured in the book as well. You can also catch Pete at Rimann Liquors in PV next Tuesday, Dec 16, 5p-6:30p and at the Rimann in Lenexa Wednesday, Dec. 17, 5:30p-6:30p.

The book will be available for purchase at all of the book signings. If you order the book online before Dec. 19, you will receive it before Christmas. Ready-made Christmas present for the craft beer lover in your life!

Boulevard Crown Town Ale out Dec. 16.

Boulevard Imperial Stout & Crown Town Ale

Boulevard has some exciting new beers on the way now. Their 2014 Imperial Stout was released in bottles on Tuesday this week and kegs will be going out to bars next Monday. Based on the 2013 Imperial Stout we just sampled, I'm excited to get a taste of the 2014. It's 66% barrel aged beer this year, up from 40% barrel aged beer in previous years. They've also announced that they're going to be releasing a number of variants of the Imperial Stout throughout the year. What kind of variants they'll be is yet to be announced. 

Boulevard has also produced a special one-time release beer celebrating the amazing Royals season this year. They're calling it Crown Town Ale, and it will be released exclusively in the KC metro and Lawrence next Tuesday, Dec. 16. According to Boulevard, "Crown Town Ale is our toast to their inspiring journey and the remarkable achievements of our boys in blue; a golden blonde ale with bright citrus notes and just a hint of bitterness." Get this beer for your Royals-loving, Bud Light-drinking relatives and bring them over to the dark side! 

McCoy's Ursa Major Release Party - Dec. 23

It's Ursa Major time at McCoy's! Quite possibly the best beer produced in the metro is going to be released at the official party at McCoys and the Foundry on Tuesday, Dec. 23 at 4pm. They're going all out this year, and will have Ursa Major from 2012, 2013, and the new 2014 on tap. They'll also have 22oz. bombers of the 2014 available. You can get a commemorative glass to take home that will be available with tap pours as well. 

River North Barrel Aged Avarice

River North is blending and bottling their Barrel Aged Avarice Imperial Stout as we speak. The BA Avarice is one of their most sought after beers, and this marks the first time it will make it to KC. Brewery owners Matt and Jess Hess will be in the metro for a couple of events on the occasion as well. From River North:

Thursday, December 18th: Matt and Jess head back to Kansas City! On the 18th we’ll host a beer dinner at Happy Gillis Cafe & Hangout in Missouri. The menu is a secret until the day of the event...come see what they've cooked up for you and pick Matt's brain about beer!

Friday, December 19th: Kansas City, your last chance to catch us out and about in 2014 will be at Lukas Liquors on the Kansas side of the border. Free samples of River North beer, poured by the owners themselves!

Not certain how limited this beer will be around town, but I'm guessing it's going to be pretty difficult to get outside these events.

Cinder Block Distributing

In other news, Cinder Block has announced that they'll be starting distribution outside their tap room starting some time in 2015. The Pitch reported that Cinder Block will start sending out their flagship beers to other bars around the metro starting next year. It sounds like they'll be sending out special releases to other bars shortly after. Also, they're going to be canning their beers! Looks like we'll have more choices for drinking KC beer on the river next summer besides the aluminum bottle Boulevard Wheats. Exciting stuff for Cinder Block!  

Tuesday, December 9

The Great KC Imperial Stout-Off

Damn that's a beautiful beer!
I had set out on this post to sample a bunch of imperial stouts that are easy to find in KC and show you that the super rare Bourbon County Brand Stouts, Kentucky Breakfast Stouts, and Abraxases of the world are more about rarity and hype than actual excellence of flavor. That's not to say they're not great beers--just that they're not that much better than other imperial stouts out there.

So I assembled my crack team of tasting experts to drink imperial stout, watch the Chiefs, and eat taquitos. After much money spent, many samples poured, a good bit of half remembered reminiscing, and one hugely disappointing Chiefs game, we found out that I was wrong, as usual. Those rare hyped-up beers really are that much better.

To be fair to the competition, most of the other imperial stouts we sampled were not barrel aged, were half the price of BCBS and KBS, and a few of them are even available year-round. Many of the stouts we tried also have barrel aged variants, but they're similarly rare and expensive like BCBS and KBS. So it's not really fair to compare the way we did, but we did it anyways because sometimes we just get a little out of control drinking 10% abv beer all afternoon.

In any case, we did manage to come up a solid list of (relatively) cheap and easy to find alternates. Keep in mind that all of these beers are pretty excellent, so don't get your undies in a bunch if your favorite imperial stout got a low score by us. They're getting compared to two of the best beers in the world after all!

The All-Star Team.

The MVPs

1. Goose Island - Bourbon County Brand Stout (2014) - 9.9/10

Alcohol: 15% ABV
Release: November
How hard it is to find: Nearly Impossible
Approx. Price: $8/12 oz.

2. Founders - Kentucky Breakfast Stout (2013) - 9.5/10

Alcohol: 12% ABV
Release: April
How hard it is to find: Nearly Impossible
Approx. Price: $7/12 oz.

We just did a review for BCBS the other day, so I won't go much into it for BCBS or for KBS which has much the same character. Suffice to say, the balance, depth of flavor, thick body, and long lasting clean finish on these two beers are about as good as it gets. We felt the flavor profile of BCBS was slightly better, but the barrel aged character was somewhat better on the KBS. Either way, both of these beers are fantastic and you should do everything you can to get some of them.

The Starting Line

Yeti was our favorite easy
to find Impy Stout.

3. Great Divide - Yeti - 8.4/10

Alcohol: 9.5% ABV
Release: Year-Round
How hard it is to find: Very Easy
Approx. Price: $2.50/12 oz.

Yeti was the crowd favorite by far for a year-round, cheap, and easy to find beer. This beer is everywhere all the time! It's really well balanced, especially considering it didn't spend any time in a barrel. The hop bitterness was right on where it should be to keep the beer dry, but still let all the other delicious flavors shine through. Great Divide also makes Oak Aged variants of this beer, which are well worth the effort to find.

4. Boulevard - Imperial Stout (2013) - 8.3/10

Alcohol: 11% ABV
Release: December
How hard it is to find: Somewhat Difficult
Approx. Price: $13/750 ml ($6.00/12 oz.)

With the release of the 2014 vintage today, we had to throw this beer in the mix even though it's probably classed closer to KBS and BCBS in terms of price and availability (although it should be easier to get this year as Boulevard is increasing production). This was the easiest drinking of all the beers we tried but still has a great thick body. I could have drank it all afternoon, which is a huge compliment when you're talking about imperial stouts. As Mike put it, "If Count Chocula cereal were covered in booze, it would taste like this."

5. North Coast - Old Rasputin - 8.1/10

Alcohol: 9% ABV
Release: Year-Round
How hard it is to find: Very Easy
Price: $2.50/12 oz.

This one was a total surprise to me. Old Rasputin has been on the shelves for decades and you can find it at practically any liquor store. It's easy to forget about classics like this and pass them over for the new stuff. But this beer is still great after all these years. Like the others in the starting lineup, it has an excellent balance and great flavors.

6. Oskar Blues - Ten Fidy - 7.7/10

Alcohol: 10.5% ABV
Release: Fall-Winter
How hard it is to find: Easy
Approx. Price: $3.50/12 oz.

Oskar Blues is a relatively new entrant to the KC market, even though they've been around since the late '90's. All of their beers are solid, and Ten Fidy is no exception. It is the most robust stout of our starting lineup, with big flavors, a thick and viscous body, and big warming alcohol. If you haven't ever tried Oskar Blues out, go get a pack of these beasts!

The Second String

These beers were all still good enough to make it to the all-star game, just not good enough to make it off the bench. The biggest issue we had with these was them being slightly off-balance. They either had too much hops that would crowd out the other flavors and diminish the complexity, or too little bitterness which would leave you with a sweet cloying aftertaste. All in all though, they're all worth giving a try if you haven't before.  

7. Bells - Expedition Stout - 6.9/10

Alcohol: 10.5% ABV
Release: Fall-Winter
How hard it is to find: Easy
Approx. Price: $2.75/12 oz.

8. Boulevard - Dark Truth Stout - 6.8/10

Alcohol: 10% ABV
Release: Year-Round
How hard it is to find: Very Easy
Approx. Price: $3.00/12 oz.

9. Free State - Ironman Imperial Stout - 6.7/10

Alcohol: 8.5% ABV
Release: Fall-Winter
How hard it is to find: Somewhat Easy
Approx. Price: $2.50/12 oz.

10. Lagunitas - Imperial Stout - 6.6/10

Alcohol: 10% ABV
Release: Year-Round
How hard it is to find: Very Easy
Approx. Price: $3.50/22 oz. ($1.90/12 oz.)

Tuesday, December 2

Short Pours - 12/2/14

New Belgium Clips of Faith Tour

Kansas City: you are awesome! New Belgium just released the results of their Clips of Faith tour, and not that it was a competition or anything, but KC came in as the city who raised the most money for their local charity. You raised $13,086 raised for Bike Walk KC! About 1,400 people attended the event this year, and 91% of the waste from the event was diverted from landfills. We had the most money raised even though there were 6 other cities of the 21 total cities that had as many or more attendees than us. In total $139,524 was raised for all the local nonprofits involved with the event around the US. Way to go, KC! 


St. Nikolaus Tag at KC Bier Co

KC Bier Co is hosting a St. Nikolaus Day party and toy drive this weekend on Dec. 6 and 7th. St. Nikolaus Day is a traditional German Christmastime holiday, and is the origin of our Santa Claus tradition in America. As KC Bier Co describes their event, "Children in Germany put their 'Nikolaus Stiefel' (or nicholas boot) outside their front door that night. If the kids were good that year, St. Nikolaus would leave them gifts and sweets in their Nikolaus Boot. Instead of us rewarding kids with candy in their boots, we’re rewarding adults with Bier in Boots!"

They will also have a toy drive that weekend to benefits the Shadow Buddies Foundation. For every toy you bring in they will take $1 off each beer. So if you bring in 3 toys, you can get $1 off 3 different biers. Details on the toy drive can be found here 

They're also going to have Santa Claus in the brewery for pictures both days from 1-3pm and live Bavarian music from 3-5pm. 

Thursday, November 27

Gift Ideas for the Homebrewer

The Holidays feel like they came extra fast this year. I'm sure your love ones are looking for gift ideas. Decided to put together a list of some of my favorite things.

Brew Hauler

I prefer using glass carboys for fermentation because I love being able to see what's going on with my brews. The problem with glass carboys is they can be tricky, even dangerous to move when full. Move with peace of mind with the brew hauler. A simple solution to easily carry you carboy. Can be found at about any homebrew shop. A great stocking stuffer

Wednesday, November 26

Bourbon County Stout Black Friday

Well it's that time of year again. Time to be with family, feast, drink, watch football, and give thanks for the bounty of goodness in your life. Either that, or it's time to go trample over other people on Thursday afternoon so you can get that killer deal on a cell phone or ink cartridges or some such shit. Call me old fashioned, but I really think black Friday is the embodiment of a lot of what's wrong with America.

However, there is ONE black Friday event that I can get behind. This is basically because it involves one of the essential ingredients of the holidays--beer. And not just any beer. I'm talking Bourbon County Stout. Goose Island is releasing their Bourbon County Brand beers again this year on black Friday all over the country.

Tuesday, November 25

Sam Adam's KMF Tour Details

The Sam Adam's KMF Tour stop in KC is approaching fast and we have all the details for you here. A select number of bars will be getting kegs of the beer, and there are a couple events planned as well. Jennifer Glanville, one of the Sam Adams brewers, will also be in town for several of the events, leading tastings, answering questions, and talking about the beer. Jennifer was kind enough to answer a few of our questions via email this week ahead of the events.

Friday, November 21

Can You Brew It?

Can you Brew it?

Most homebrewers normally start brewing or get into brewing because they want to be able reproduce/ clone a favorite beer. One of the beers I've always enjoyed is Dog Fish Head Palo Santo Marron. Palo Santo Marron is essentially an Imperial Brown aged on Palo Santo Wood. Palo Santo comes from Paraguay and is known to have healing powers. Dogfish Head constructed the largest wooden fermentation tank made completely out of Palo Santo to produce this beer. The wood gives some incredible interesting flavors that makes it a very unique beer and as a homebrewer it really sparked my interested in how they made it.

Typically I've found a majority of breweries and professional brewers are more than happy to answer questions about their beer, ingredients, and process. I attempted several times to contact DogFish Head about Palo Santo but only response I received was that they do not reveal ingredients and secrets of their beers. I found that surprising but luckily their founder, Sam Calagione, loves to talk to anyone with a camera and a microphone and has given plenty of interviews about Palo Santo. With a simple Google search I was able to put together a majority of the ingredients this beer uses from several of Sam's interviews.

Free State & Boulevard Newspaper Clipping from 1989

Someone at Boulevard dredged up this awesome newspaper article from 1989 about Free State and Boulevard starting up. It's a great view into the past of American craft beer. The fact that craft beer was only 0.1% of the US market in 1989 shows us how far we've come even if 7.8% of the market doesn't seem like very much now.

I thought that it was very interesting to see that Boulevard was started with a $1.3 million investment, and Free State was started with nearly $1 million in investment (accounting for inflation). Might be something to think about for all of the new breweries starting up these days.

The article also states, "McDonald thinks that staying small is the key. He doesn't think he will ever brew more than 25,000 barrels of beer annually." Boulevard just announced the groundbreaking on their new $12 million Cellar 5 project. The project is expected to expand Boulevard's annual capacity to over 300,000 barrels. You can see a rendering of Cellar 5 below the newspaper clippings. How times have changed for craft brewers!

Click on the image for a larger view.