2015 Kansas Craft Brewers Exposition

Back in 2012 I wrote about the first Kansas Craft Beer Exposition (referred to as KCBE for the remainder of this article) for The Roaming Pint blog. At that time I was writing for the print magazine Tastebud, which was awesome, except that time was at a premium. Articles needed to be written a month and change ahead of time and I lacked that flexibility to knock out an article two days before an event, like this, goes on sale. Since this event is sure to sell out quickly, this is a timely article.

Pretty much nothing has changed since that article was written, this is still one of the best festivals in the Lawrence/KC area. First of all, it is located in downtown Lawrence. If you want to eat prior to the festival, which is something I would recommend for every single festival, your options are varied. Being that it takes place in March, Free State  will have their Mustard Madness in full effect. In years past, they would drive a van to Madison, WI to purchase a lot of mustard from the Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum, now the National Mustard Museum, in Middleton, WI. These days, the van might still be making the trip, but the executive chef and lead brewpub brewer might be sitting it out. Either way, there is going to be more great mustard than you could possibly eat with your pretzel and sausage. If you have to venture a little further to Quinton's, 715, or Rudy's, you are still doing pretty well.

The Venue, Abe and Jakes, is pretty cool. I used to go to concerts at it back in the day. The is no chance that Leftover Salmon or the metal frog will be making an appearance, but that is probably for the best. Few can handle this fellow after a few craft beers. Plus, that big ass frog is easy to trip over.

 I've gone to such length to describe the peripheries of the festival without truly describing the actual festival. I will remedy that now. It is great. I'm a Kansas boy and I really enjoyed meeting the new brewers from Salina (Blue Skye), Emporia (Radius), El Dorado (Walnut River) and Hays (Defiance) in years past. Although there are a lot of established Kansas breweries represented, such as Free State, 23rd St, Tallgrass, Little Apple, LB, Crazy Eye, Wichita Brewing, High Noon and River City. Pretty much all of the KC. Mo and StL breweries are there (23rd St. Kirkwood Station, Schlafly, Cinder Block, Weston). There are several breweries from farther out, such as New Belgium. Sierra Nevada, Boston Beer Co, Oskar Blues, Green Flash,  O'Dell, Deschutes and Evil Twin.

One of the best parts of the festival is the cheese and crackers station provided by HyVee, free of charge. The pairings are great, but having a little free food is also a positive. In the last couple of years the KCBE has split into a couple of sessions, a noon to 3pm and a 4:30 to 7:30. get your tickets at http://kscraftbrewfest.com/tickets/ on Jan. 29th. I'll see you there!

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