The Free State Project

We took our biennual trip to Lawrence Saturday for some Mother's Day festivities. Stella wanted a Runza or Spangles and Lawrence was the closest place to get the Nebraska or Wichita delicacies. As we pulled into Lawrence while listening to the Kristen Chenoweth biography on the ride down Stella decided that our lunch was to be Runza. I was less than pleased because last time I had a Runza I threw it up (though to be fair, it was a frozen Runza that I didn't heat up thoroughly enough). Stella was happy, she got the bierocks she grew up eating and some good onion rings. I was less pleased, but the cheese Runza was edible.

We then spent the afternoon at the Natural History Museum in Douche Hall on the KU campus and some nature place with a really loud macaw that liked screeching for no reason. Then we hit up Mass street to do some shopping. We went to my favorite store, Brit's, where they had West Ham and Man City soccer scarves, but not my beloved Tottenham Hotspur. Stella got herself some Christopher Elbow chocolates which prompted my oldest daughter to look at me and ask quietly "but, what about your present?". My present, a 42 piece box that we had gone down to the Elbow store to get on Friday.

Then we finally got to the only place in Lawrence I look forward to, Free State Brewery. It was only 4:30, but we only had another hour of good kid behavior before fatigue set in too far and we could no longer control the kids. I went and put our name in and got seated while Stella and the kids were shopping across the street. By the time they got there I already had fallen in love with the Bumper Crop Saison. The Free State saison was everything I look for in a saison, a little citrus, some spice in the back and some funk all over. It was truly stunning and wonderful. It was so good, when it came time to have a second beer, it was difficult to not get another saison even though there were several other beers I wanted to try.

Stella got the Crimsonberry ale which was just what she was looking for. She really liked it, I thought it tasted a little flat. But it was good, the berry flavor was a complement to the beer not the main taste, which we both like. For my second beer, I went with the Vortex Red because of my newfound love of red beers. For my dinner I went outside my comfort zone and got a smoked trout sandwich with watercress and some kind of blackberry compote. Stella got a fig walnut salad. Both items were daily specials. To say that the smoked trout sandwich was the best fish sandwich I've ever had may sound like hyperbole, but it's absolutely true. It's the only fish sandwich I've ever had, but I'm sure I'll never be able to beat it. The cool fish and the light bread was a perfect linner selection. Since it was only 3 hours since lunch, I was worried the sandwich would be all bready and big, but it was the perfect size, the perfect flavor and the perfect ratio of bread to meat to toppings. We're nearly 48 hours from the time I ate the sandwich and I've thought of it at least 75 times since then. Stella's enjoyed her fig walnut salad almost as much. The Vortex Red was a fine beer, but not better than the Lagunitas Red or Odell Red I've had lately.

About halfway through my wonderful sandwich I ordered a Belgian Wheat. It was fabulous and a great complement to my sandwich. Stella decided to get a little 10 oz. glass of the saison to go with our strawberry shortcake dessert. I kept stealing sips of the saison to wash down the wonderful little strawberry shortcake (it was  a little light on strawberries, but the shortcake was wonderful) bites.

Overall, Free State Brewery would be my favorite place in KC to eat. The food is wonderful and quite reasonably priced. Only a couple of entrees are over $10. The beer is just as wonderful and puts the brewpubs in KC to shame. The biggest compliment I can give to Free State would be that if one of my kids decides to go to KU, I will be close to okay with it simply because I will have a reason to go to Free State more regularly than we do now.

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