Beer Travel Guides

Kansas City Beer Travel Guide
I get an email once or twice a week asking me where to go for the beer minded individual visiting KC. I used to type up a different response for each one based on specific itinerary or part of town, etc. But, it ended up taking up so much time, in case you didn't notice, I can get a little wordy, especially if I'm trying to hurry through something. So I thought it might be a good idea to just make this into a blog post that I can just link to and be much more thorough. I won't just cover beer locations though, I'll cover my choices for restaurants and beers not to be missed. Consider this my travel guide to KC. Unlike every other post on the KC Beer Blog, though, this will be a living document to be updated as new things enter town and others leave town.

Breweries

The Big Rip Brewing Company (216 E. 9th Ave, North Kansas City, MO) - Just opened in May 2013, Big Rip is one of the newest additions to the Kansas City beer scene. They are currently only open on the weekends, but if you have free time, it's definitely worth heading just north of downtown to check the place out and try some of their unique beers, which are in constant rotation.

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Boulevard (2501 SW Blvd, Kansas City, MO) - Boulevard is the largest and most well-known brewery in the KC area, and should be on any beer nerd's list if they are making their first visit to the area. Boulevard recently changed up their tour options (there are free, paid and private tours available, each different from one another), so it's worth taking a look at their website if checking out the brewery is on your agenda. Unfortunately, you can't simply visit the tap room without being part of a tour, but if trying their beer is all that you are concerned with, rest assured that you will find it EVERYWHERE around town.

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Cinder Block Brewing (COMING FALL 2013)

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Free State (636 Massachusetts, Lawrence, KS)- Free State is actually in Lawrence, Kansas, which is around a 30 minute drive west of Kansas City. A college town that is claimed home by the University of Kansas, Lawrence is an interesting mix of college students of all types, with an especially high hippie concentration. But I digress. Free State is a fantastic place and a must-stop if you are in Lawrence. Though they package some of their beers and sell them in KC, their Lawrence brewpub always has a number of unique beers available on tap that can't be found in liquor stores.

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Gordon Biersch (100 E. 14th, Kansas City, MO) - Located in the Power & Light District (and now a location in Leawood as well), a city planned district that lacks any local character, but has the benefit of being downtown across the street from the Sprint Center. If you're staying in the downtown area, Gordon Biersch is a great place to get a beer. If you're in a part of the US with your own Gordon Biersch, there's no reason to go to this one. But, they do have good food (if a little overpriced) and good German style beers.

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Green Room Burgers & Beer (4010 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO)

Located in Westport behind the Westport Coffeehouse, Green Room is a bit different in that it's not a full production brewery, but rather, a restaurant that periodically produces and taps small single batches of in-house beer. Creations have ranged from a Doppel Dubbel to a Belgian Cherry IPA, and in addition to their own beer, they maintain an excellent list of beer from other breweries (at great prices, to boot). Did I mention their food kicks ass, too?

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Kansas City Bier Company (COMING FALL 2013)

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McCoy's Public House (4057 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO) - McCoy's is a brewpub in the middle of Westport, an excellent part of town when it comes to beer drinking options. McCoy's standard beers are good, though they may not differ much from other brewpubs around the US. Their beer stands out the most with their special releases like their Gose and Blackberry Tart (just to name a couple). It's a great place for a beer and a dinner or lunch that can satisfy any number of moods for food. The patio is a great place to do Westport people watching (and trust me, there are a lot of people that deserve to be watched in Westport).

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Rock & Run Brewery (COMING FALL 2013)

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75th Street Brewery (520 W. 75th, Kansas City, MO) - 75th Street's beer can be a little hit or miss, but they have good pub food and it is a really cool place. 75th Street is located in the southern part of KC in Waldo which is another great area in town for beer. Waldo is also the best bet for beer for those who are staying in Overland Park.

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Bars, Beer and Otherwise

Bier Station (120 E. Gregory Boulevard, Kansas City, MO) - Though it just opened in December 2012, Bier Station has quickly become one of Kansas City's most beloved spots for craft beer. The Midwest's first combination beer bar and bottle shop, Bier Station hosts frequent events ranging from tap takeovers to 'Randall Wednesdays', and maintains a constantly rotating set of taps with a digital menu that makes it easy to see what's available. Grab a pretzel, check out what's on the dedicated 'Wild' tap, and head to the upstairs biergarten to soak in this unique spot.

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium (101 E. 13th, Kansas City, MO)- The Flying Saucer is the biggest and best place for beer in town. They have the most beers on tap and have a great selection of local beers. Even if you are coming from a town with its own Flying Saucer, you should still go to Kansas City's. If you're staying downtown, the Saucer is the perfect place to end your evening. Kansas City has so many food options you'd be silly to eat at the Saucer, but if you do, just get a slice of pizza.

Beer Kitchen (435 Westport Rd., Kansas City, MO) - Beer Kitchen in Westport is a great stop for lunch or dinner. They have great burgers which shouldn't be missed and, while they only have 8 beers on tap, those beers are usually pretty rare and special. Beer Kitchen also has an extensive selection of bottled beers. Located just across the street from McCoy's mentioned above, you can spend a great afternoon in Westport.

The Foundry (424 Westport Rd., Kansas City, MO- Another Westport bar across the street from Beer Kitchen and connected to McCoy's. The Foundry has more of a focus on Belgian beers and they have a great selection of taps as well as bottled beers. The Foundry also has great food and is a great late night spot.

Blanc Burgers and Bottles (4710 Jefferson St., Kansas City, MO; 10583 Mission Rd., Leawood, KS)- I consider Blanc more of a restaurant than a bar, but they do have an extensive selection of bottles and 4 taps (at the KC location) with some rather rare or tough to find beers. What you can't miss at Blanc, though, are the burgers. If you eat a better burger in the United States I will refund the money you spent on this travel guide. Blanc has 2 locations, one in the Plaza which you're probably going to anyway and one in Leawood. The Plaza one is probably better because of a more extensive beer list (more beers available in Missouri which is where The Plaza is than in Kansas). Make Blanc one of your meals while in town.

Swagger (8431 Wornall, Kansas City, MO) - Swagger is located in Waldo, the southern part of KC, in a nondescript strip mall in a nondescript part of town. What sets Swagger apart, though, is the massive beer list including lots of taps. Swagger is another place you may consider eating with quite an array of different, unique food, including an eclectic selection of burgers. If you consider yourself a glutton or appreciate gluttonous food, you should definitely check out the Swagger menu when planning your trip.

Waldo Pizza (7433 Broadway, Kansas City, MO) - For the beer traveler with kids, Waldo Pizza is a Godsend. Blanc, McCoy's and 75th Street Brewery are fine places for kids and you definitely shouldn't think twice about bringing kids there. But, Waldo Pizza is the best of the bunch kids wise. And, they have a great beer selection and some of the best pizza in town.

Harry's Country Club (112 E. Missouri Ave., Kansas City, MO)- Located in the River Market area, Harry's is a gem of a bar. It really is one of my favorite places in the city. They have a great happy hour with discounted beer, booze and food. The $3.95 burger and fries during happy hour is one of the best deals in town. They have a great beer selection, but nothing really rare or hard to find. You can get some great beer, good food and look at a naked Indian woman above the bar. I think you'll find everything you need at Harry's.

Westside Local (1663 Summit, Kansas City, MO) - The Westside Local which is a mere mile or two away from Boulevard Brewery has a nice little beer list and good food (try the burger or grilled cheese sandwich). It might be a perfect place to stop in for an afternoon beer and snack or go all the way and grab lunch or dinner here.

Barley's Brewhaus (16649 Midland Dr., Shawnee, KS; 11924 W. 119th, Overland Park, KS- Barley's has 3 locations in town, Overland Park, Shawnee and Leawood. Barley's has mediocre food but by no means bad food and has a great beer selection, especially for the Kansas side of the state line. Mostly tap beer, some good finds can be had, but since it is in Kansas some of the more well known brands are not available such as Firestone Walker, Bell's and Founders.

Grinders (417 E. 18th, Kansas City, MO- Grinders is probably the most unique place in Kansas City to get a good beer. They have about 20 taps most of which rotate so you never know what you're going to find there. Another place with eclectic food such as Tandoori Chicken Pizza or Chili and Tater Tot Pizza. Kind of a bad place for those with kids. Grinders is one of those places where a motorcycle gang and 5 guys in suits could be sitting at tables side by side. Be prepared to stay a while as service is notoriously spotty.

Riot Room (4048 Broadway, Kansas City, MO- The Riot Room has great taps and is a great place. A problem with Riot Room is it is a concert venue so if you're going late in the evening, you're going to pay a cover to see the band. If that doesn't interest you, show up when they open at 5 and you can sit at the bar and drink any of their fine selections. They tend to have some rare beers and because of the issues with drinking there, the rare stuff lasts longer than it should.  Located next to McCoy's and The Foundry in Westport, it's just one more great beer place on a great beer block.

All Star Pizza and Pub (6100 NW 63rd Ter, Kansas City, MO) - Near historic Parkville, All Star Pizza and Pub is just about the only place in the Northland to get a good selection of beer. If you're going to Parkville for an afternoon and want to make a good beer stop and get some food, All Star Pizza and Pub is your best bet.

The Well (7421 Broadway, Kansas City, MO- Another place in Waldo with a good beer selection. For the younger crowd, The Well is more of a house music type place with slicked up Guidos drinking Bud Light everywhere. But, The Well has good bar food, decent beer selection and one of the best decks in KC.

Harpo's (4109 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO- Yet another Westport bar, this one next to Beer Kitchen with a good beer selection. Harpo's is a pretty standard bar, like The Well, popular with younger people. But, they have an excellent patio with a well thought out selection of beers on tap. If you're visiting KC in the summer, Harpo's may be a good choice for you to drink outside. If you don't like it, you can leave just as quickly and hit up Beer Kitchen, McCoy's, Riot Room or The Foundry.

O'Malley's (500 Welt St., Weston, MO) - A historic bar unlike any other. Located almost entirely underground in cement encased rooms, you'll never see another bar quite like it. On the off chance you're going to travel to Weston when you come to KC, O'Malley's is worth a stop.

Granfalloon (608 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, MO- If you're going to spend a day shopping on The Country Club Plaza or eating at one of the great restaurants on The Plaza (see Blanc Burgers and Bottles) you may want to stop in for a drink. I've never been a fan of Granfalloon, but they've recently undergone a renovation adding a bunch of new taps and if you're in the area already, Granfalloon will certainly have some good beer for you to drink.

Manifesto (1924 Main, Kansas City, MO- Not a beer bar. Manifesto has some of the best cocktails in the country. It's a modern day speakeasy with seating for 40. You buzz in at the back door, leave your name and number and they'll let you know when you can go down to the bar. It's well worth it, you'll drink the best cocktails you're going to find in KC. While you're waiting, you can have a cocktail at the more conventional bar at The Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange (Manifesto is in the basement of the Rieger). It's a great place to spend an evening.

Pierpont's (30 W. Pershing, Kansas City, MO) - Pierpont's is primarily a restaurant in Union Station. But, they have an excellent bar that you'll be giddy about when you see it. You can get several Boulevard beers on tap, but you're probably going to want a cocktail just to see if you can make one of the bartenders climb the ladder to get your liquor. If you're looking for a good steakhouse in town, you can do a lot worse than Pierpont's, it's one of my favorite restaurants in town.

Liquor Stores
I'm assuming you may want to take some beer not available in your area back with you so I thought I'd recommend a couple of stores where you can find a good selection of beer. Depending on where you're from you may need a little education on buying beer in Kansas and Missouri. Because the state line runs right through the middle of town, we have 2 different systems in place. In Kansas, you cannot buy beer in a grocery or convenience store. Well, you can, you just don't want to, it's 3.2 beer and not full strength. In Missouri you can buy beer at a grocery or convenience store. As mentioned above, Missouri has more beers available than Kansas and you'll probably want to visit a liquor store in Missouri, but if you're looking for local beers, a Kansas liquor store will work just as well for your needs and depending on where you're staying in town, may be preferable. I'll note which stores are in Kansas and which are in Missouri.

Tipsy's (KS) (6840 Johnson Dr., Mission, KS) - Tipsy's is the store I frequent most simply because they're the closest to my house. But, they have an excellent selection, have good prices and are extremely helpful.

Royal Liquor on State Line (MO) (1301 W. 103rd St., Kansas City, MO- This is my Missouri liquor store where I pick up Founders, Bell's, Firestone Walker and Stone beers. Again, they have an excellent selection, good prices and are very helpful and friendly.

Gomer's (KS and MO) (3838 Broadway, Kansas City, MO; 12740 W. 87th St., Lenexa, KS; 6298 NW Hwy 9, Parkville, MO; 9902 Holmes Rd., Kansas City, MO, 201 SE State Rte 291, Lee's Summit, MO ) - Gomer's has several locations and is the best bet to be near where you are staying. Gomer's South, North, Lee's Summit, Midtown, Lenexa all are good stores with good selections. You'll be able to find what you need or want at any of them.

Lukas (KS and MO) (13657 Washington St., Kansas City, MO; 7541 W. 119th St., Overland Park, KS)- I'm listing Lukas here simply because they do have everything. If it's available in MO or KS, Lukas will have it. I don't personally like Lukas because shopping there has all the charm of shopping in a warehouse and I don't find them in any way helpful. Plus, their 2 KC area locations are not very convenient for the traveler. But, if you're looking for something hard to find, Lukas would be your best bet.

Barbecue
If you're coming to KC, you're more than likely going to want to eat barbecue at least once. You ask a Kansas Citian where to get the best barbecue and you're going to get many different answers, so keep in mind this is just one man's list. Another person's is just as valid and I assure you, unless you live in a barbecue mecca yourself, our 10th best place is better than your best place so this is all just academic.

Oklahoma Joe's (3002 W. 47th St., Kansas City, KS; 11950 Strang Line Rd., Olathe, KS) - OJoe's is pretty close to a consensus #1 pick for barbecue in town. They have the best pulled pork you're ever going to eat and some of the best fries in town. Everything's good at OJoe's. Don't be a hero and get the large sandwich, it will ruin the rest of your day, it's too big. The regular size sandwich is fine, you'll get full. You can get Boulevard beers on tap at Ojoe's and at most of the barbecue places in town. Go to the one in the gas station on 47th St. if you have the opportunity.

Gates (1325 E. Emanuel Cleaver, Kansas City, MO; 3205 Main St., Kansas City, MO; 1221 Brooklyn Ave., Kansas City, MO; 4621 Paseo Blvd., Kansas City, MO; 103rd and State Line, Kansas City, MO; 10440 E US HWY 40, Independence, MO; 1026 State Ave., Kansas City, KS )- Gates is a Kansas City landmark. Odds are if you've ever seen a television show dedicated to Kansas City barbecue, you've seen Gates. The simple order of ham on bun will get you a great barbecue ham sandwich and fries. That's what I get.

Arthur Bryant's (1727 Brooklyn Ave., Kansas City, MO; 3200 N. Ameristar Dr., Kansas City, MO; 1702 W. Village Pkwy, Kansas City, KS) - Bryant's is one of those love or hate type of places because of their sauce. I like their sauce, but it's quite vinegarry and not something you're probably used to. Known for their burnt ends which in turn is the reason KC is known for burnt ends, if you want to know why KC has this reputation, Arthur Bryant's is the answer. Go to the downtown location on Brooklyn by the Negro Leagues Museum if you're going.

LC's (5800 Blue Pkwy, Kansas City, MO- LC's is out near the stadiums so may be a good place to go if you're in town for a game. It's what a good barbecue place should be, a little scary looking in a scary looking part of town. Somehow, that makes the Q taste better.

Danny Edward's Blvd Barbecue (2900 Southwest Blvd, Kansas City, MO) - Danny Edwards has great barbecue as well and is just down the street from Boulevard Brewery. If you can get a late morning tour, Danny Edwards might be a good place for lunch.

Smokin' Guns (1218 Swift Ave., North Kansas City, MO- Known mostly for their brisket, Smokin' Guns should be your choice if you're looking for some good beef and willing to cross the river to the Northland.

RJ's Bob-be-Que (5835 Lamar Ave., Mission, KS) - RJ's puts a little gourmet spin on barbecue. While they have good barbecue, they also have a fine selection of other delicacies such as bison empanadas which might just strike your fancy. They also have a great breakfast with some of the best bacon you'll ever eat. If you're staying in Kansas or near The Plaza, RJ's may be worth a trip. RJ's also has a good beer selection and is probably the most beer friendly barbecue around.

Fiorella's Jackstack (4747 Wyandotte St., Kansas City, MO; 101 W. 22nd St. Kansas City, MO; 13441 Holmes, Kansas City, MO, 9520 Metcalf, Overland Park, KS) - If you wish to wipe your hands with cloth napkins and have waiter service, Jackstack is the place for you. It's really good barbecue probably top 5, it's just more of a fancy schmancy type meal for no good reason. A cheesy corn bake or Jackstack baked beans are mandatory if you're there. A good beer selection can be found at Jackstack as well. With 4 locations in town, you're likely to be near one at some point on your trip.


View Kansas City Beer Travel Guide in a larger map

Summary
This is by no means an exhaustive list of things to do, see, eat and drink in KC and should just be used as a resource in planning for your trip to KC. If you're into burgers this article in "All About Beer" magazine which I contributed to may prove a valuable guide as well. I'm sure commenters may add a couple of great things to the discussion so check out the comments. I'm going to keep this updated as things come and go so no matter what the date says on this post, know that it's pretty current. I've also included links to Yelp reviews of all these places to better crowd source this guide.

More city/region travel guides
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Milton and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
St. Louis
San Francisco
Colorado
Columbia, Mo
Virginia Beach, VA

5 comments:

  1. This list is almost perfect. I do have one suggestion about places to go. The Yardhouse at the Legends is a must see. Food is a little bit more on the pricey side but the beer selection is the largest in the city, over 100, although I'm not sure on the exact number. But for sure a must see if you can stand the Legends.

    Also, your comment about KCs 10th best BBQ place being better than your 1st is absolutely true.


    Great blog!

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  2. Your list is not complete without mentioning a few other great liquor stores. The Riverside Red X has a fantastic selection of micro and craft beers. Plus, where else can you get a 10 piece legs and thighs, a bottle of Saison Brett, a log of chew, and see a mueseum of glass eyes ALL IN ONE PLACE?!

    Many of the area HyVees are also fantastic. Unlike most liquor stores, they actually keep their beer in this new fangaled invention called a "Fridge."

    I particularly like the HyVee at Gregory and 350 highway and the one up off 152 and Kansas in Liberty.

    LCs is an overrated, overpriced, greasy spoon. The better place to eat is just down the road at Big T's on Blue Parkway. Much cleaner, better atmosphere, and WAY cheaper. They give you the hook up on the rib tips and burnt ends. I highly recommend it. Probably the most underappreciated BBQ in the city.

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  3. Very nice blog/guide, this is exactly what I was looking for as a primer for my upcoming trip to KC. Thanks!

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  4. This is a great exciting Article. I always have a preference to read the quality content and this thing I found in you post. I am glad to find your extraordinary way of writing the post.

    ReplyDelete