Imbibing Kansas City

Photo courtesy of Imbibe, credit Brandon Cummins.
 In the January/February 2012 issue of Imbibe Magazine, a story titled 'Kansas City Here We Come' is included, which examines drink culture in the Kansas City area. While the article covers everything from soda and cocktails to wine and coffee, there is a nice chunk that recognizes the beer presence in the city (even going so far as to call KC a 'serious beer town').

Of course, Boulevard gets the immediate mention, with references to GABF medals, the Smokestack lineup and Chocolate Ale. Steven Pauwels is quoted regarding the growth of craft beer appreciation in Kansas City:

"…It’s easy to forget craft beer wasn’t always so popular in Kansas City, says brewmaster Steven Pauwels. “We had to convince people that a beer that’s hazy or cloudy isn’t bad.”

Besides Boulevard, Imbibe gives the rundown on some of the hot beer spots in town. Special mentions are given to The Riot Room (which is given the most attention out of all the venues), McCoy's/Foundry/Beer Kitchen, Blanc, Swagger, Grinders and Waldo Pizza.

Overall, I think it's fantastic that Kansas City drink culture is getting national attention from a respected publication like Imbibe. Of course, given my beer bias, I think an article could have been dedicated solely to the city's appreciation for beer, but I understand that had to cover all areas with this specific piece.

I will say, though, that this article got me to thinking, and made me a little more appreciative of what we have in terms of beer culture in Kansas City. Sure, we may not have the insane amount of breweries that a town like Denver has. We may not be in the distribution areas of some of the higher echelon breweries like Dogfish Head or Russian River. But, we still have some great stuff going on in this town.

Boulevard and all the venues mentioned in the article are great. But they are just the tip of the iceberg.

We have newer venues like Martin City Brewing Company and Lakeside Tavern making a push for craft beer appreciation in 'unmarked' areas of town. Places like 75th Street Brewery, Barley's Brewhaus, All Star Pizza, Gram & Dun, Urban Table and BRGR are working to make restaurant beer menus as important of a consideration as the food menu.

We have a beer festival scene that seemingly exploded in 2011 and is sure to continue growing.

We have upstart brewing companies in Doodle Brewing and Wilderness Brewing that show promise for the future of breweries in Kansas City.

We have liquor stores that actually care about their craft beer customers, working hard to keep a consistently stocked selection of craft beer options and notifying customers of limited and new releases.

But most importantly, and what really ties all of this together, is the fact we have awesome beer PEOPLE. Not to have a Kumbaya-singing, holding-hands-around-the-fire moment, but the beer community in this town is awesome, and it's what makes all of the stuff listed above work so well and prove to be successful.

I have my 'grass is greener' moments sometimes where I think I'd prefer to live in Denver or somewhere in California where maybe the beer selection is more plentiful. But the article in Imbibe gave me a little perspective on the fact that when it comes to beer in this town..well, I think Randyl Danner said it best:

Right now is prime time to be a beer geek in Kansas City.

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