We all have bucket lists of some sort. Places we would like to visit, movies or shows to watch, Instapot recipes to try, and of course craft beers to try. One of the best ways to check off some of those bucket list beers is at a craft beer festival.
Craft beer is in such a tremendous place and we are lucky to be in an area that has access to breweries and festivals that take advantage of it. One of those festivals is the Tap That Topeka festival happening on June 23rd from 5:00-8:00 p.m.
This is the 6th year for Tap That Topeka. The idea was to give people the opportunity to enjoy craft beer and downtown Topeka.
There will be over 300 beers available and people are allowed to bring in water. The festival will also have food trucks and some vendors in attendance. The event last year did sell out so hurry up and get your tickets.
Here are the beers that I hope to get checked off of my bucket list. Check the link for a tap list and let me know what else I should try.
When one thinks of smoking cigars, most people envision pairing them with a liquor of some sort. I’ve paired cigars with scotch, rum, whiskey, and bourbon to varying degrees of success. However, I thought it would be fun to pair a few cigars that I enjoy with some local beers. I’ll then give you my best cigar/liquor pairing of all time. Hell, this article might be a good start for Father’s Day presents for those of you who haven’t bought anything yet! No more ties!
Pairing #1: Cigar: Drew Estate Undercrown Gran Toro. Price About $9.
Beer: Torn Label Alpha Pale Ale
I love to smoke barbecue. I love to smoke cigars while doing it. Once I have things well underway in the smoker, I usually like to have a beer and a cigar while I watch the smoke rolling. I had this pairing, and boy it didn’t disappoint. This cigar comes in both a maduro wrapper, which is darker, and a Connecticut wrapper, which is lighter and a bit smoother. I had the Connecticut wrapper with this pairing. It was a nice experience! The quality of this cigar is outstanding. I smoked it down to the nub. The beer is a crisper version of a typical IPA/pale ale that you would definitely want to drink in a hot setting.
I actually met Jonathan Drew at an Outlaw Cigar party in Overland Park. The guy is awesome and great to talk to. He noticed that I wasn’t smoking a cigar, handed me a gran toro, and lit it up for me. Who was I to say no? For customer service, you really can’t beat the guys at the Outlaw. They’ve been great to me every time that I’ve been in there. They also do a lot of charity events for various groups, as well as supporting the military veterans out there. They rule. Nothing against the other cigar shops in the metro area, but this is my place.
Pairing #2: Cigar: La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Belicoso. Price: About $8.50.
Beer: Boulevard Bully Porter
It may be a bit warm for some of you to try a dark beer in the heat of summer, but that’s what you’ve got me for. The cigar is one of my favorites. I’ve bought a couple of boxes of these over the years, and they are amazing. They are medium to full bodied with a bit of spice to them, which is just the way that I like most of my cigars. The bully porter by Boulevard goes really well with it. It’s just a nice, smooth pairing.
Pairing #3: Cigar: My Father’s Cigars: Flor de las Antilles Toro. Price: About $7.50.
Beer: Martin City Hard Way IPA
Y’all, this is the way to go right here. This cigar has won so many awards that it would take awhile to list them all here. It’s a smooth cigar that has a hint of coffee and spices. This cigar is on my short list for my next box purchase. As for the beer, I consider it to be Martin City’s flagship beer. I’m a sucker for IPA’s, and I think Martin City does a great job with theirs. The experience with this pairing was quite nice at the end of a long day dealing with my children.
Ultimate Pairing of all time: Cigar: Padron 1926 anniversary series Number 2. Price: About $30.
Liquor (I know, but humor me): Bacardi Ron Solera Rum (Cuban).
Don’t get me wrong, I am not in the habit of smoking $30 cigars. For Christmas a few years ago, my wife purchased this cigar for me from Diebel’s on the Plaza. I let that cigar stay in my humidor for a few years until I had the right opportunity to smoke it. Last year, my wife and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary in Mexico. We had a sitter watching the kids. After dinner, I smoked this cigar with a rum I’d never had before. It was awesome and amazing. The cigar is the best cigar I’ve ever had, and I’ve smoked both a Cuban Cohiba Siglo IV and a Montecristo #2. It is the best pairing I’ve personally ever had. I also may or may not have brought some of that rum back with me from my last trip to Mexico. By the way, a bottle of that rum is only about $16, so you won’t break the bank getting it, if you can find some.
Well, I hope that my cigar pairings helped you guys out there. I’ll be out at Boulevardia at Taps and Tastes tomorrow. Give me a shout at email@example.com you’d like to hang out while you’re there. Until next time, cheers!
7. Old number 7. It is of course aged in whiskey barrels that give it vanilla, bourbon whiskey, port wine, and fig flavors.
6. The number of bottles you are limited to purchase. Six means that you can cellar a couple.
5. As in 50% off your beer purchases at Free State Brewery if you purchase and wear one of their Owd Mac's T-shirts ($20).
4. Other free state beer will be offered at the release. Including Barrel-Aged Stingo 2015 and Lateral Roots 2017.
3. This is a beer 3 years in the making and will be available in 375ml bottles.
2. Meet and enjoy beer with other beer enthusiasts.
1. FREE STATE BEER "Because without beer, things do not seem to go as well"
Bonus: More June 9th fun at Blue Jacket Crossing Vineyard and Winery located at 1969 N 1250th Rd, Eudora. Highlights include $10 bottles of Panape Rose from 12pm - 6pm to celebrate Rose Day. That is where the after party will be.
While there are always reasons to not do something, I have tried to make it a point to focus on the reasons TO do something. I'm not big on New Year's Resolutions, but I did tell myself that I wanted to climb out of my comfort zone and out of my daily routine more often and do things that I am interested in but... never really follow through on. One big adventure was for me to finally visit an event put on by my local brewers guild. This event was The First Big Brew Day Brew-Off.
The Lawrence Brewers Guild (LBG) began meeting in 1995 with help from co-founder Dwight Burnham. They are under the direction of President Dale Wheeler and Vice President Courtney Servaes. Courtney was the competition coordinator for the Brew-Off and was pleased with the turnout. The event totaled 95 entries judged and the LBG received a generous amount of support from local sponsors. When asked about the makeup of the guild, Courtney responded that it is made up of young and old and with brewers with a wide range of experience. LBG has had many professional brewers associated with it and also people who just enjoy beer and want to learn more about it.
One of the more unique categories of the contest was the Cinco De Mayo category that came from Angelo Ruiz of Yankee Tank. One of the contestants from this category was Tara Taylor of the Homebrew Pro Shoppe in Olathe. Tara brewed a Cerveza Agava Habanero brew with her husband James Taylor (she reassured me that he indeed cannot sing) that gave your throat just the right amount of tickle after each sip. The winner of the IPA category was Jarrod Lynds. Jarrod took the knowledge he gained while visiting his brother in Vermont to brew a very aromatic and tasteful New England IPA called New England Hazy.
The contestants had the opportunity to win many different prizes and two of those prizes included the opportunity to brew their award winning beer with Free State Brewery and Yankee Tank Brewery. Robert Rys of the Missouri Mashers brewed a sweet stout to win the best in show beer and will have the opportunity to brew with Free State and also have it on tap with Free State Brewery. Robert's Hallopeno also won the Cinco De Mayo category and he will be able to brew with Yankee Tank Brewery and have this beer on tap at Henry T’s. Winners of the Big Brew Day Brew Off can be found here.
With ingredients like friendly people, good beer, and free food, the first LBG Brew-Off was a success. I would encourage anyone interested in beer to seek out LBG or your local brewers club. They are a great resource to learn more about beer, brewing, or anything related to craft beer.
If you find yourself looking at an event/adventure from afar thinking it would be fun...go ahead and make a commitment to yourself to do what is necessary to take part in it. You will not be disappointed.
I mark the official start of Spring every year in KC as the last weekend of April. I know, spring officially comes sooner, but the REAL start of Spring happens at the Parkville Microbrew Festival! Parkville is the longest running beer festival in the city, now in their 15th year! They are definitely the best organized beer festival in town and in the best location possible for a beer fest--on the banks of the Missouri River near historic downtown Parkville.
Contrary to last year, the weather forecast for Saturday looks absolutely fantastic! Although I really have no complaints about the freezing rain last year--it sure made for a fun time and no lines for beer! But I also can't complain about 65 °F and sunny as a beer fest forecast. Based on the weather, the continual improvements that the Main Street Parkville Association has done over the years, and the beer list, I think this is going to go down as one of the best beer fests that Kansas City has ever seen.
Parkville 2016 was pretty epic--weather looks even better for this year!
Thanks to the Main Street Parkville Association, I'll be there with my wife on "official business" with complimentary tickets. We'll be there wearing our KC Beer Blog shirts, so if you see us, come say hi! In addition to the organizers being super cool, the best things about Parkville are:
You can bring your dogs and kids.
They let designated drivers in for free.
You can bring your own food and water into the fest.
You can bring lawn chairs.
At $35/person, this is the absolute best value in beer festivals in KC!
Driving/Parking: While this is at wonderful location, getting there and away and parking can be a pain. My advice--arrive early, and leave late. If you come around 11am (before the tasting starts but after the doors open) it's usually really easy to park and walk in without much of a line. And after the fest is over just walk up to Parkville downtown somewhere and get a bite to eat while watching the hoard jockey their way out. By the time you finish dinner, it will be pretty much cleared out.
Other Stuff: As always, they've got a full lineup of bands for the day. There are also about a half dozen food vendors there with everything from brats to chicken & waffles.
Map of the festival grounds. Keep this one handy!
The Breweries of the Fest
With over 50 breweries,and over 200 beers to sample, there's going to be a beer (or cider, or mead, for everyone there. Map your plan out early! And remember--this festival is about having fun, not trying every single rare beer you can find. It might just be more fun to go cruising around to all the brewery tables without any lines rather than waiting 30 minutes in line to try the 1 rare beer. Instead, go down to Bier Station for the rare beers and just have fun at the festival!
23rd Street Brewery
3 Trails Brewing
Big Rip Brewing
Blind Tiger Brewery
Blue Blood Brewing
Brickway Brewery and Distillery Brewery
Bur Oak Brewing
Casual Animal Brewing
Cinder Block Brewing
COOP Ale Works
Double Shift Brewing
Emperial Brew Lab
4 Hands Brewing
Free State Brewing
Gella’s Diner and Lb Brewing
Green Room Burger & Beers
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing
Kansas City Bier Co
Keg Creek Brewing
Martin City Brewing
McCoys Public House and Brewkitchen
Perennial Artisan Ales
Piney River Brewing
Prairie Artisan Ales
Red Crow Brewing
River City Brewing
Strange Days Brewing
T.W. Pitchers’ Brewing
Urban Chestnut Brewing
Walnut River Brewing
A bunch of homebrew clubs will also be in attendance. If you're really adventurous, go check out their tables. They usually have some very good beers along side some really wacky stuff. They don't have to adhere to the dictates of retail sales, so they're free to do whatever crazy stuff they want! Here's the clubs attending:
We are truly in the middle of the beer renaissance in Kansas City. For many years, it was a pretty epic event when a new brewery opened in KC because it was such a rare occurrence. It's still a pretty monumental event, but nowhere near as rare as it used to be. In 2017, there were SEVEN brewery openings. And just when you think that might be an anomaly, you can look forward to 2018, where TEN breweries are planned to open, two of which are already open.
We now have 31 breweries in the KC Metro + Lawrence, and if all goes to plan, we will have almost 40 by the end of 2018. (But isn't the bubble about to burst?? No--remember that Denver has 95 breweries in their Metro + Boulder. We've got a long way to go before our market is "saturated," whatever that means.)
Between 1995 and 2013, Kansas City hovered between 8 and 10 breweries operating at any given time. Lots of breweries opened with dreams of riches, poor business models, and even worse beer--and lots of those breweries lasted less than a couple years.
All that changed in 2013 when a new class of breweries started opening--breweries with a passion for beer and the community rather than trying to make a quick buck. Green Room Burgers and Beer was the first of this new wave and since they started brewing in 2013, there have consistently been 3-4 new breweries opened each year until 2017 when that number doubled.
Breweries in KC--Openings, Closings, and Number Operating by Year
As of today, 24 new breweries have been opened in KC since the beginning of 2013, and NONE of the new breweries have closed. That, to me, is astounding, considering around 90% of new restaurants fail in the first 5 years. Only two breweries have closed since 2012, but those closings were from older breweries that had it a long time coming.
This rate of growth almost exactly mirrors the national trend. Nationally, we're up to over 6000 breweries, which is more than triple the number in 2012, with the rate of openings vastly outnumbering closings. Nationally, nearly 1000 breweries opened in the US in 2017, with about 170 breweries closing their doors for good.
Here's the down-low on all of the new brewery openings last year and planned for this year. FYI, if you want to try a lot of these breweries all at once--many of them will be at the Parkville Microbrew Fest coming up this weekend!
Over the years on my way to becoming more enlightened in the ways of beer, there are a few mythical beers that I’ve been told that are true holy grail type of beers. I’ve heard about Dark Lord by 3 Floyd’s Brewery in Indiana, where that particular beer is released one day per year. As much as I’d like to, 3 children will prevent me driving to Indiana anytime soon for it. Hell, I’m lucky to make it from Overland Park to Martin City without one of my children attempting to kill one of the other ones. However, I’d love to go one day. There’s Bourbon County Brand Stout by Goose Island, where I’ve heard that people camped out overnight for this beer. I’ve hit middle age, so I’m not camping out for anything overnight anymore. Side note: I’ve had it before, and it is quite good. Besides, all husbands know that to camp outside overnight or to drive many hours for beer would not make the wife happy.
Then of course, there’s Pliny the Elder.
I read all of the reviews: It’s historically one of the best (if not the best) double IPA ever made. They say that the heavens open up and the angels sing as you drink it. (Note: I might be slightly exaggerating there). Of course, this beer is not to be confused with Pliny the Younger, which only comes out for two weeks of the year and is only available at the brewery. From what I’ve read and heard, expect LONGlines for that beer during its two week release. Russian River Brewing Company created Pliny the Elder, and they are located in Santa Rosa, California. Russian River has achieved cult, if not legendary status in the brewing community. If you want to try Pliny the Elder, you’ll be in luck…if you’re in Southern California, Northern California (though I don’t know where. When I was in San Francisco, no one knew of this beer), Denver, and Philadelphia.
Last fall, my wife informed me that we were going to Napa in March. I immediately became excited. I MUST TRY PLINY was all that I could think about. Y’all, I am not a wine drinker, but I’ll drink it if I’m out of options at a gathering. Of course, I love me some craft beer. As a Southerner, it is predestined that I also love bourbon and whiskey. Red wine comes after these three, and white wine is even further down my list of things I’ll drink. So, I begged my wife if we could visit Russian River Brewing so that I could try this mythical and legendary beer. She relented and said yes. It’s the sacrifices that I make for you, dear readers.
We arrived in the late morning during March Madness. Fortunately, Kansas was playing, and the restaurant was not too packed. My wife and I along with another couple travelled together to Russian River, and we were starving and thirsty from our long morning of travel from KC. Of course, I wanted Pliny. Our server finally delivered the golden nectar of the gods. I took one sip…and immediately understood why this beer has garnered the ratings that it did. As of today, it is the best double IPA that I have ever had. I savored this beer. Then, I tried the flight. For those that have yet to have the pleasure of going to Russian River Brewing, they have a beer flight of twenty of their creations. Each beer is in two-ounce pours, so it is roughly the equivalent of 2.5 beers.
However, it looks mighty impressive when they bring it out…kind of like you’re in training for Beerfest 2. (Side note to Broken Lizard if you’re reading this: Now that you’re done making Super Troopers 2, make Beerfest 2). While I didn’t finish the beer flight as quickly as this guy, I did enjoy them. I found the remaining beers to be a bit of a mixed bag. Some, like Benediction and Damnation, were amazing. However, I wasn’t as big of a fan of their darker beers in general. I posted my ratings on Untappd, but here’s the ratings that I gave for my flight. Note: if you go, your beers may differ slightly from mine. They rotate beers quite frequently.
My Untappd ratings:
My Untappd Rating
Pliny the Elder
Blind Pig IPA
Row 2, Hill 56
Shadow of a Doubt
As far as the food went, I hate to talk negatively about a place…but I’ve had better pub food. Granted, I was there for the beer. However, my companions and I were starving, and we were not pleased with the food. The four of us rarely complain about the food when we dine out, so it kind of stood out. Maybe it was a bad day for them, but I’ve certainly had better wings. Regardless, I’ll be back.
As far as the gift shop is concerned, it was awesome. They had a lot of beer for sale there, and a variety of things to buy. Did I buy a Pliny the Elder hat and t-shirt? You know I did. I got both for around $30, which I thought wasn’t a bad deal. If you ever get out there, or if you’ve been there before, I’d love to know what you think. If you want to follow me on Untappd, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org , and I’ll send you my info so we can be friends!
As for the rest of my trip to Napa, it was amazing. I loved every minute that I spent there. The wineries, the food, our hotel…all of it was breathtaking. I’d move there if I could. I’ll have to see if Napa Beer Dad is taken as a blog handle, but I won’t be moving out there unless I win the lottery or if I have a rich uncle twice removed out there that I don’t know about. Until next time, cheers!
Being a tourist in your own town is something that I have started to embrace more over the last year. My wife and I have three young and wonderful children and we can easily get wrapped up in weekly routines that leave little time to explore new experiences. Even though I grew up in Olathe, I still have many places in and around KC that I have never experienced.
One of those places is Yankee Tank Brewery in Lawrence, Kansas. The perfect opportunity for this was Saturday at their open house. They were celebrating their 3 year anniversary and had free tours, merchandise available for purchase, free food, and of course those two beautiful words, free beer. The atmosphere was very casual and all the employees were approachable, shared great information, and even better stories about their lives and their experience with beer.
Yankee tank is a microbrewery that produces about a thousand barrels a year. They distribute in and around Lawrence (more info about where to find them here on their website) and just started to distribute to the Kansas City area. I was able to ask the head brewer Angelo Ruiz some questions about the brewery.
Yankee Tank started about 3 years ago as a way to supply local bar and grill Henry T’s with good beer. They have absolutely met that goal and have been able to get their beer on tap at many local establishments around the area. Angelo was hired on shortly after their start in a very unique way. Angelo was critiquing a Yankee Tank Saison on an online forum and was approached by Sean Gerrity who was managing Henry T’s at the time about his critique. They met and eventually hired Angelo to become a brewer for Yankee Tank.
Yankee Tank Brewery has four flagship beers, Cloud 9, Scissortail, RipTide Pale Ale, and Red Dirt Country Ale. Their best seller, Cloud 9 is an American IPA at 6.8% ABV and 62 IBU. Their next bestseller is the approachable Scissortail Cream Ale. The Scissortail comes in at 5.1% ABV and 17 IBU. The Rip Tide Pale Ale is my favorite of the four and comes in at 5.9% ABV and 40 IBU. The Red Dirt Country Ale is an American Amber that is at 6% ABV and 35 IBU.
In addition to the four flagship beers you can usually find Angelo exploring with many other types of beers. He is excited about brewing new styles and techniques that range from English Cask systems to pepper beer. He has also been using local ingredients such a honey, and hops from Juniper Farms. Ultimately his goal is to brew beer that is enjoyable. Two of these new brews that were indeed enjoyable include the North 40 Pilsner and a very drinkable Mexican Style Lager that was brewed as a tribute to his grandfather Pedro.
Yankee Tank Brewery has the feel of something that is about to really take off in a big way. The success and positive feedback from these new styles has lead Angelo, Jeff Hornberger, and his brew team to discuss the possibility of seasonal beers, future expansion ideas, and adding additional events and festivals.
Event listings, distribution area, tap locations, and beer descriptions can be found at their website and on their Facebook page. You can also follow them on twitter at @YTankBrewing,
Monday, March 12: A Brewhouse One release for Boulevard. After dropping my kids off at daycare, I headed down to Boulevard's Tap Room to get my hands on the latest Brewhouse One release, Rye on rye on rye on rye. Given the popularity of the previous releases, I knew that I had to get down there the day of the release if I was to try this. I love rye, and I love beer, so I knew that I must have it!
When I arrived, there were about 30 people in line ahead of me, which is impressive given the fact that it was also about 30 degrees outside. However, Boulevard supplied us with donuts while we waited for the doors to open. Score! I was also able to get an interview the Boulevard's Ambassador Brewer, Jeremy Danner for this release. Please note: He prefers to be called Danner. Everyone calls him this. Danner was amazing about giving me this interview. He's also quite funny, engaging, and has forgotten more about beer than most people know. He's also very approachable and loves everything Kansas City, so go up to him and say hello if you see him out somewhere at a tasting or beerfest. Give him a follow on Twitter @Jeremy_Danner.
Tell me about the new release of Rye on Rye on Rye on Rye that the average consumer may not know. How does this differ from previous versions of this beer?
JD: Regular rye on rye is 2/3 barrel aged, 1/3 fresh beer. We wanted it to be a little more balanced. The other 2 versions are 100% barrel aged. The other major difference for this year’s version that they were not aged in all Templeton barrels.
I noticed that the entire process to make this version of this beer took about 2 years. Why did you choose to do it in the manner that you did? In other words, why did you select the 10-year Canadian Rye Barrel first for a year, then Templeton and Woodford barrels for six months each? Do you do any blending from different barrels, or is it a single barrel process?
JD: It wasn’t necessarily a plan. It was just the barrels that we had on hand at the time we started the project. The barrels had to be quality. Good whiskey barrels make good beer. It was all about the base beer. We wanted to make sure that the beer was high quality before we started aging it. Multiple barrels were blended in. It was more than one whiskey barrel to create the entire batch.
What characteristics were you hoping to import from each of the rye barrels to the beer as you went through this project?
JD: Rye on rye when we first made it was to showcase what the rye whiskey does to the rye base beer. This mission was ridiculous. We wanted to blur the line between the beer and a rye. Personal note: mission accomplished.
How much of the beer is lost due to evaporation over time/angel’s share?
JD: Danner texted Ryan (who is one of the barrel aging brewers for this project) who informed us: We typically lose 5 gallons per 10 months. We lost about 10% to the barrels over the course of the project. Thanks Ryan!
Why did Boulevard elect to do a brewery only release this time around? Is this something that you are going to do for future releases going forward?
JD: For this beer, the logistics were that we weren’t able to produce a lot of it. We have a considerably smaller batch to distribute and allocate. You could only get a very tiny batch per distributor. We decided to release it at the brewery so we could get as many folks in KC to try it. That’s been the limiting release factor for all of the Brewhouse One series beers. This is the only rye on rye series beer that’s brewery only. The future releases will be on a larger scale.
Are there any other bourbon or rye makers out there that you would love to collaborate with on future versions of this beer? Would you alter the aging process of this project in the future? Personally, I’d love to see you guys make this beer with Angel’s Envy, or another collaboration of some sort.
JD: We wouldn’t make another variant. When our barrel guys are working with brokers, we never say never. We are looking for the best quality barrels that we can get our hands on. I don’t think we’d mess with the process much. I think the process is pretty good man. If we have something turn out really well, as this one has, we don’t want to mess with a good thing. Personal note: Danner and I agreed that Angel’s Envy rye is amazing.
I’m sure there will be collectors/fans who will choose to cellar this beer instead of drinking it right away. In your opinion, how long should this beer be cellared for to allow for any subtle changes to the beer?
JD: Personally, I’d drink it fresh. It will only fade with time. If you do cellar it, I wouldn’t cellar it for too long. It’s meant to celebrate rye whiskey barrels. The max I’d cellar it would be two years. The beer is boozy and fun, and that’s the point.
I loved to learn that a portion of the proceeds are going to the Rose Brooks Center. Are there any other times where Boulevard does a similar event to donate to institutions or charities like this throughout the year?
With the first to Brewhouse One beers, we did chartable events. We do a lot of charitable events in the beer hall. As a brewery, we are lucky that KC supports us, and we like to give back when we can. It’s a big deal to John, our founder. As a brewery, we don’t play in the political arena. We wanted to work with Rose Brooks and their mission to support their desire and the need for people and pets to be safe. We feel really good about keeping folks safe.
Finally, what types of local dishes from the KC restaurant scene would you pair this beer with if you had the chance?
JD: First thing is the Howard Han’s pork soup at the Reiger. It is amazing. It’s very rich and savory. I’d pair this with anything that I’d pair with whiskey. I would also pair this with some lemon pie from Rye. I like citrus in my rye whiskey. From Grunauer, the Jager Schnitzel Vom Schwein. From the menu, it’s a pork scallopini with a mushroom cream sauce served with spatzle.
Personal tasting notes: This beer is dark caramel in color. It comes in at a whopping 15.5% ABV, with 33 IBUs. When you smell it, it smells quite sweet, which definitely comes from the barrel aging. I can honestly say that wow, the rye flavor really stands out, but it isn’t quite as spicy as drinking a rye whiskey. The sugars from the rye and beer have married quite nicely. It’s a rather smooth finish. It’s a fantastic sipping beer/rye. A true powerhouse.
This is my first blog post for the KC Beer Blog. Here’s a little about me: I moved to the KC area about eight years ago from South Carolina. I live on the Kansas side of the metro area, and I’ve got three boys. I’m also about to finish my doctorate from KU. As you can imagine, my beer drinking time is fairly limited. I wanted to write some posts that us dads who love beer can appreciate and enjoy. I hope to entertain, make you laugh, and inform you a little when I can.
My first experience with craft beer had to do with my humble upbringing in the foothills of South Carolina. We have a local brewery there called RJ Rockers that’s still around and doing well. You can find their flagship beer, Son of a Peach, at the larger liquor stores in the KC area. I tell you that to tell you this: I’ve been drinking craft beer for about half my life now. I spent many nights at the brewery, playing trivia, and trying all of these strange new flavors (IPAs? Stouts? Oktoberfests?) that I certainly had never had when I was drinking Icehouse, Bud Ice, and Zima (don’t judge) in college. Boy, did my palate change quickly and for the better. Most importantly, I fell in love with draft beer so much that I vowed one day I would have beer on tap in my home.
About a year ago, my dream was finally realized. I had a two tap kegerator installed at my house. I finally had draft beer at home whenever I wanted it! Here’s the thing you must realize if you’re deciding to get a kegerator: You’re about to become popular. VERY popular. Your neighbors are going to see you grilling out with a draft beer in your hand, and ask you for one. You’re going to become even better friends with your friends, and potentially their friends as well. That doesn’t bother me at all, as my wife and I enjoy entertaining. However, don’t be surprised when your kegs tap unexpectedly. The flip side would be that if your beer sits there, it could eventually go flat. I’ve yet to have this problem though.
If you decide to take the plunge and invest in a kegerator, you’ll most likely be buying your beer at the larger liquor stores. The smaller liquor stores typically do not want to deal with the hassle. I talked to several small liquor store owners close to where I live, and they all indicated those very same words to me. While I am more than willing to help out smaller liquor store owners (and trust me, I do), you’ll most likely be patronizing the big dogs when you’re making a keg purchase. The larger liquor stores are awesome to deal with and very professional and knowledgeable. The two that I’ve directly dealt with are the Lukas Liquor stores on both sides of the state line. Bobby at the Lukas Liquor store in Martin City is the man! He’s very helpful, and knows his stuff.
With that in mind, the question began to form: What in the hell am I going to have tapped first? I had already made up my mind about two rules regarding kegs: 1. Always purchase craft beer. 2. Try to purchase from local breweries when you can. With those mantras in mind, I did a fair amount of “research” at my favorite local beer bar (shout out to Barley’s on 119th), and took the plunge. Here’s what I’ve had on tap over the last year or so:
Purchase 1: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and Torn Label Coffee Brew. I love dark beer in the winter, so that was a must. Bell’s Two Hearted probably needs no introduction to most of the regular readers of this blog, and it’s probably my favorite IPA right now. I actually tried Coffee Brew for the first time the day I took the keg out of the store. I tried two sips of it out of the can, and had to have it on tap. It’s an amazing beer. It’s rich, and has nice notes of coffee and hints of chocolate. My friends and family loved both. Having two taps is nice so that I can have variety when I’m drinking beer. One thing to note: Bell’s comes in an 8 gallon keg, so plan accordingly.
Purchase 2: Torn Label Alpha Pale Ale and KC Bier Company Dunkel. I loved Torn Label’s Coffee Brew so much that I had to have their IPA on tap. Guess what? It’s a great beer in its own right. It is not as powerful as Bell’s on the flavor profile, but I didn’t want a flavor bomb as summer approached. It went really well with all the barbeque that I smoked last summer. It seems that everyone I know these days love Dunkel. It’s an amazing beer. Needless to say, neither of these kegs lasted long in my house.
Purchase 3: Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Free State Oktoberfest. When I heard that Dogfish Head was coming to Missouri, I rushed across the state line to purchase beer from one of the most respected craft breweries around. When I went to go pick up 60 Minute from the liquor store, I found that Free State also released Oktoberfest commercially. I had to have it, as I had found out that Free State’s Oktoberfest was being rated off the charts. I contacted the brewery directly, asking for any Oktoberfest stickers for an old Free State tap handle I had. Not only did they mail them to me, they sent me a few coasters and a nice note thanking me for supporting them. It was a small gesture of gratitude, and it went a long way with me. Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA is amazing. To me, it’s a perfect balance of hops, flavor, and crispness. Free State’s Oktoberfest is fantastic. Both kegs only lasted about six weeks in my house.
Purchase 4 (And currently on tap): Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and Deschutes Black Butte Porter. Not only do I love Bell’s, but it’s also a favorite of my friends and family. It made a lot of sense to put it back on tap in time for the holidays. I almost purchased Deschutes Black Butte Porter when I made my first purchase. If you haven’t had this beer, please run out and try it. Black Butte Porter is one of the finest porters that I’ve ever had. It’s fairly smooth for a darker beer, but without the strength of an imperial stout. This is good, since I prefer to have several of them at a time, and I don’t want my head ringing in the morning when my kids are up and running. This isn’t to say that BBP is a weaker beer, because it certainly isn’t.
At the time of this writing, I haven’t had the opportunity to consider what I’m putting on tap next. I’d like to get something from Boulevard and Cinder Block on tap, but I don’t know what yet. Feel free to hit me up with suggestions.
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