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Best Outstate Brewery

Kansas City’s awesome. We know. But we also like to share our craft beer love with the other amazing breweries spread across Missouri and Kansas. So, we want to know your favorite breweries outside the Kansas City area, but inside our two states. (Lawrence is KC-area. Topeka and Springfield are not.) Your nominated brewery does not necessarily need to distribute their beer in KC, but it sure would be nice if they did.

Give us your pick for best Kansas or Missouri brewery!

About the Golden Tappys

This is our third year of celebrating the best of Kansas City craft beer. We will open nominations for each of the categories for one week throughout February. You will have two weeks to submit your choice either in the comments below. There’s no limit to how many nominations you can make. After all, we all have multiple favorites.

We will open voting on each category when the nomination process is over. Vote early, vote often.

Deal? Deal.

2017 Golden Tappy Categories
  • Best Local Beer
  • Best Beer Bar
  • Best Bottle Shop
  • Best Festival
  • Best Small Brewery
  • Best Outstate Brewery

The post Best MO or KS Brewery Nominations for a 2017 Golden Tappy appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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Best Bottle Shop

Liquor stores – and grocery stores in Missouri – have stepped up their game with a wider and deeper selection of craft beer. In Missouri, several have growler/crowler filling options too.

Now it’s time to pick your favorite place to pick up craft beer for enjoying somewhere else. Nominate your choice for the shop with the freshest selection, best staff, and best choices. Only the greatest bottle shops in Kansas City deserves your nomination!

Nominate below!

About the Golden Tappys

This is our third year of celebrating the best of Kansas City craft beer. We will open nominations for each of the categories for one week throughout February. You will have two weeks to submit your choice either in the comments below. There’s no limit to how many nominations you can make. After all, we all have multiple favorites.

We will open voting on each category when the nomination process is over. Vote early, vote often.

Deal? Deal.

2017 Golden Tappy Categories
  • Best Local Beer
  • Best Beer Bar
  • Best Bottle Shop
  • Best Festival
  • Best Small Brewery
  • Best Outstate Brewery

The post Bottle Shops – Nominate the Best for a 2017 Golden Tappy appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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Best Beer Bar for 2017

There’s a lot of great beer bars in Kansas City. Some are well known as craft beer destinations. Some disguise themselves as neighborhood bars or steak houses. But each and every great beer bar cares for the quality of beer flowing from its numerous, well-cared-for taps. The bottle selection is well designed, if not extensive. They all rock.

So, which is your favorite beer bar? What restaurant or bar has the best combination of quality beer selection, knowledgeable staff, and friendly atmosphere?

Nominate your choices for Best Beer Bar in 2017 below.

About the Golden Tappys

This is our third year of celebrating the best of Kansas City craft beer. We will open nominations for each of the categories for one week throughout February. You will have two weeks to submit your choice either in the comments below. There’s no limit to how many nominations you can make. After all, we all have multiple favorites.

We will open voting on each category when the nomination process is over. Vote early, vote often.

Deal? Deal.

2017 Golden Tappy Categories
  • Best Local Beer
  • Best Beer Bar
  • Best Bottle Shop
  • Best Festival
  • Best Small Brewery
  • Best Outstate Brewery

The post Nominate the Best Beer Bar in Kansas City for 2017 appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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Best Small Brewery

Once again, we have a winner for Best Large Brewery. Boulevard, take a bow!

Now for everyone else: We are asking for your choice for best of the new – and established – small breweries around Kansas City. Which is your favorite? Kansas City is in a tremendous growth spurt of new establishments creating their own craft beer. And the 3- and 4-year-old breweries are really growing. But which is the best? Which is your favorite?

Nominate all your choices for Best Small Brewery below.

About the Golden Tappys

This is our third year of celebrating the best of Kansas City craft beer. We will open nominations for each of the categories for one week throughout February. You will have two weeks to submit your choice either in the comments below. There’s no limit to how many nominations you can make. After all, we all have multiple favorites.

We will open voting on each category when the nomination process is over. Vote early, vote often.

Deal? Deal.

2017 Golden Tappy Categories
  • Best Local Beer
  • Best Beer Bar
  • Best Bottle Shop
  • Best Festival
  • Best Small Brewery
  • Best Outstate Brewery

The post Nominate the Best Small Brewery in KC for 2017 appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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We Want Your Opinion.

We know you have one. So let’s hear it. It’s time again to give your nominations for the best of craft beer in Kansas City: the Golden Tappys!

We are looking for your nominations in six categories for 2017. We will continue the same six categories as last year:

  • Best Local Beer
  • Best Beer Bar
  • Best Bottle Shop
  • Best Festival
  • Best Small Brewery
  • Best Outstate Brewery*

*Outstate refers to breweries outside the Kansas City metro, but within Kansas or Missouri. For our purposes, KC metro is a nebulous area surrounding the city. We’ll say Lawrence is in. Topeka, Columbia and Springfield are not.

Awards, by Dave Shea via Flickr

Let’s begin!

Today marks the opening of nominations for Best Local Beer. You have one week to make your nominations.

Best Local Beer

There are some amazing beers produced in this city, and new ones every day. Old favorite from an established brewery or brand new beer from one of the young taprooms? Which is your choice for best local beer?

Please comment below for your nomination for best beer produced in Kansas City.

Nominate away!

About the Golden Tappys

This is our third year of celebrating the best of Kansas City craft beer. We will open nominations for each of the categories for one week throughout February. You will have two weeks to submit your choice either in the comments below. There’s no limit to how many nominations you can make. After all, we all have multiple favorites.

We will open voting on each category when the nomination process is over. Vote early, vote often.

Deal? Deal.

2017 Golden Tappy Categories
  • Best Local Beer
  • Best Beer Bar
  • Best Bottle Shop
  • Best Festival
  • Best Small Brewery
  • Best Outstate Brewery

The post The Best of KC Craft Beer Nominations: The Golden Tappys appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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The beauty and success of American Craft Beer has been its amazing ability to consistently build upon pre-existing classic beer styles and make them “their own”. It’s great to see how different American brewers interpret these styles and how each one can tweak them here and there with available ingredients to show a unique and creative approaches. This has been going on for decades. American brewers have been so great at that we’re at the point to where European craft breweries are now trying to imitate the styles that … well … they were imitating decades ago when this whole thing started. Seriously check it out next time you get to travel abroad. Last time I was in Amsterdam, every local brewery was trying to wrap their heads around the West Coast IPA. A beer style Americans invented (after brewers figured out American hops are way more fun than British hops), and have been tweaking ever since. Just like American brewers, Europeans are limited to the ingredients and other resources (including experience brewing those styles) they have access to, and every take on an American product was tweaked a bit towards what they currently know about beer. They simply aren’t going to be able to knock out a Union Jack IPA clone right off the bat. I’d be curious to see how those same beers are tasting in a few year’s time as the continent gets more access to classic American craft beers as examples to base theirs off of while also making the beer “their own”. Just like over here, it’s a process and there’s most definitely a learning curve.

That being said, there’s no shame in producing or consuming something that represents a really great take on a classic European style. We can go back and forth about what you or I perceive to be “classic”, but I think you will understand where I’m coming from. Lager/pilsners, hefeweizens, British pales, etc. For some reason, there are those that call these beers “boring”. I have no problem if someone doesn’t like a beer, but I guess I don’t always understand the criticism of a brewery choosing to make classic styles. I love pretty much any and all forms of beer, with a few exceptions with styles that just don’t agree with my palate. Maybe I’m one of those weirdos that gets just as excited about a brewery executing the newest hop profile perfectly in their IPA as I am about one that just absolutely knocks their helles lager out of the park. Why can’t you like both? Maybe the perception (and I’m guilty of this as well) can be that a brewery is making a light lager mostly to appeal to the Bud Light crowd? If so … is that like … the worst thing you’ve ever heard of? Especially if it’s a well thought out, local product that is extremely well made? Maybe that light lager or Kölsch gets them introduced to that brewery or that city’s brewing scene and hopefully some welcoming craft beer enthusiasts along the way. A few months down the road maybe you see them out with a dry-hopped brett saison in their hands. We all started somewhere, and just because someone “started” on their craft beer journey years after us isn’t a bad thing.

Classic Styles Have Nothing to Hide

Sometimes a perfectly executed, yet “simple” beer style can showcase a brewer’s attention to detail and appreciation for historical brewing techniques and ingredients. It also allows the consumer to have insight into where some of their favorite contemporary American brews got their start. A wonderfully made lager or pilsner requires a crazy amount of technical brewing ability as there is virtually no room for that brewer to hide any defects. An unorganized recipe, minor issues with water quality, ingredients, or even the smallest hiccup in fermentation will immediately rear its ugly head, and won’t be able to hide behind a boat load of specialty grains/adjuncts, an intense hop profile, or get muddled out and subdued with barrel aging and eventual blending. I liken it to a chef executing an extremely simple dish versus something that features twenty different ingredients. Failure to execute one or two components of a beer without a ton of stuff going on will be more apparent than one with a myriad of things on the plate/in the bottle. There’s less room to hide mistakes. (Of course some of those beers or dishes with dozens of ingredients on the place can be awesome, as well.) I find the ability of a small-scale brewery to execute a classic style exciting and fun, and it gives me confidence in trusting that what’s in the glass is going to be exactly what they were going for. But like I said before, maybe that’s just me, maybe I’m the weirdo.

Only So Much One Tongue Can Take

There’s also the issue of palate fatigue with some of the bigger American brews. I’m around craft beer every single day of my life and have been fortunate enough to continually gain access to all of the latest and greatest American styles.

I’ve sat down after a long day of pouring IPAs, stouts and extreme sours and sometimes just want a mug filled with a well-executed Czech pils. While I normally lean towards the beers with a ton of fun, intense character, sometimes I’m tired and my palate isn’t in the mood for that. That’s not me denying the fantastic beers I have on hand, that’s just me wanting to get something that’s going to be easy to drink, but is still interesting throughout the entire glass. Sometimes I am looking for subtlety and not always “beat you over the head” flavor profiles. I’ve talked to people who think hefeweizens can get boring and I have a hard time understanding that. Easy drinking? Yes. Boring? Hardly. Outside of maybe a classic saison, a true Bavarian hefeweizen is one of the most readily available styles that showcases a well thought out yeast profile containing a ton of character (banana, clove, bubble gum) balanced with a full, creamy body that usually remains extremely drinkable. A big, tall, sexy hef is a great way to end your day. Well, for me it is. Other times it’s a pour of a super fresh, local IPA that was just tapped that day, or a snifter of the barrel aged stout that you tapped that day and are just happy there was a bit left in the keg after your shift. You can go either way, and it’s OK if you aren’t in the mood for 70 IBUs or 10% ABV after a long day of work.

Pick Up a Classic Yourself

Back to the point … I’m really not trying to complain here. I’m extremely passionate about the beers American brewers are churning out on a daily basis, and am often first in line to get excited for the next big thing in American craft beer. I love it when a brewer can execute a flavor profile that most people hadn’t even thought of and love having my mind blown and my palate challenged. I hope that doesn’t change anytime soon. I just hope the average craft beer drinker can get behind those breweries that have a similar passion for knocking out classic styles at a high level. In my humble opinion, there’s room for those beers in your fridge and on tap, as well.

Take in mind I’m writing this while getting geeked to get in line for my first pour of Founders CBS as well. So yes, I can and still do nerd out on a regular basis.

Cheers,
Stully

The post Classic Styles Aren’t Always Boring appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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Nothing like publishing a buildup to pre-Christmas beers three days after Christmas. But, you know, life. Kids. Family travel.

Be sure to check out Week 1 and Week 2 of our Advent Calendar of beers, if you haven’t already.

Advent Beers, Week 3 Abita Christmas Ale

December 13

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from Abita Christmas Ale. Mostly because I don’t expect much from Abita. So with lowered expectations, it exceeded them. Smelling of caramel, Abita’s Christmas delivers a malty, sweetish, mildly nutty beer with subdued spices. Some nutmeg up front and a light, spicy bitterness at the end. A totally drinkable seasonal ale.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Abita Brewing Spiced ale 5.5% (vol.) 34
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
6 out of 10

some retention

clear
light brown

Torn Label Bloody Christmas

December 14

I wasn’t sure what to think of Bloody Christmas. Chocolate and oranges are a natural match, but the bottle label promises an “Belgian-style stout”, which typically denotes dark fruit flavors from ester-producing yeast.

Bloody Christmas certainly smells of chocolate and oranges, delightful. Flavors of plums and cherries, while not assertive, mix with the citrus and chocolate for an uneasy blend. The beer is fairly dry and not bitter, outside of a burnt/roasted aspect typical with stouts. The oranges and plums just don’t jive for me when paired with the roasted aspects of the stout. Any two of the three main flavor components would make a happy beer. But all three seem muddy and disjointed.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Torn Label Brewing Belgian-style stout with blood oranges 8.1% (vol.)
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
6 out of 10

good retention

opaque
black

New Belgium Accumulation

December 15

Is my memory shot or was New Belgium Accumulation not an IPA four years ago? I know the folks in Fort Collins have been changing names and brands, but I swear it was more of a winter warmer-type. Then again, we’ve already established that I don’t remember beers of Christmas past very accurately.

We will judge Accumulation as it is, which according to the label, is a white IPA. The straw-colored, hazy beer emits a plume of bright citrusy orange aroma. Upon drinking, it’s more of the same, oranges, grapefruit and a sunny disposition standing in stark contradiction to the snowed-in cottage on the bottle. The pithy bitterness is mild for an IPA, but works well. Good beer, yes.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
New Belgium Brewing White IPA % (vol.)
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
7 out of 10

good retention

hazy
straw

Empyrean Brewing Winter Wisdom

December 16

Winter Wisdom teaches us that nutty brown ales in winter are good. The brown ale smells of sweet chocolate and walnuts. It opens to a brown sugar and chocolate center with hints of hazelnuts, less in a Nutella way, and more as a complimentary nuttiness to the sweet, malty chocolate flavors. It’s a very tasty beer.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Empyrean Brewing Brown ale with hazelnuts % (vol.)
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
8 out of 10

good retention

clear
brown

Santa Fe Brewing Adobe Igloo

December 17

My day job is a graphic designer/web developer/business owner. My software world is Adobe’s world the way some engineers live in CAD or writers inhabit Word. Adobe Igloo totally sounds like a ice-castle designing software. Or maybe a rendering engine for ice cubes. Tangent over.

Adobe Igloo, the beer not the theoretical software, is a winter warmer with chocolate and New Mexico chiles. Mole in a can of beer. Mildly aromatic, mostly reminiscent of cocoa powder, the deep brown ale has a nutty, chocolate body with a hint of mild chile heat and no discernible bitterness. It’s a sweeter beer, and certainly not “hot” from the peppers, just enough to notice their presence.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Santa Fe Brewing Winter ale with chocolate and chiles 6% (vol.) 18
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
7 out of 10

some retention

clear
brown

Bell’s Winter White Ale

December 18

Bell’s supplies another zagging non-traditional winter beer heading in a totally different direction from the zigging stouts, warmers, and alcohol bombs. The label claims no spices were harmed in the production of this “Belgian-inspired wheat ale”. Nevertheless it certainly delivers the expected burst for fresh, bright citrus, cloves, and coriander associated with witbiers. The body and malt profile are soft, letting the yeast and hops (which I’m assuming are supplying some of the citrusy flavors) take the lead.

Like Accumulation above and Frost Flower last week, Winter White is a break from the darkness with a bright light in the winter months. I don’t know if it works for me, but it might work for you. I may hold off until spring.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Bell's Brewing Belgian-style witbier 5.0% (vol.)
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
8 out of 10

some retention

hazy
light gold

If anyone’s still paying attention, I’ll post the last week of beers after the new year. Life, people.

The post ’Tis the Season: Advent Beers Part 3 appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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We are now twelve beers into our Advent calendar. The second week of Advent beers hit upon some classics and some new brands (at least to Kansas City).

Advent Beers, Week 2 Samuel Smith Winter Warmer

December 7

Sam Smith’s Winter Warmer is classic British winter beer. Like the best pub ales, this is a fabric of interwoven flavors from hops and malt. Leather and toffee. Caramel and tobacco. Toast and bread crusts. Mmm. There’s a spicy, herbal bitterness at the end of each drink. Winter Warmer is for milder winters at 6% ABV, but it might carry you thru the night with its drinkability and balance.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Samuel Smith Winter Warmer 6% (vol.)
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
9 out of 10

crystal clear
light brown

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

December 8

Ah, Celebration. It has always been a part of my family’s Christmas celebration. Back in the days when the only craft beer drinkers we my younger brother and one older brother, we feasted on Celebration, Nutcracker and a fancy Belgian bottle of some Nöel or another. Now we get to share a wider assortment of traditional and brand new beers with nephews, the old man, and new converts.

Celebration, as one would expect from Sierra Nevada, is hop forward with classic American hops. Fresh pine trees and grapefruit aroma followed by some sweeter caramel malt, finally finishing with a pleasant bitterness. Each drink invites the next in a near-perfect showcase of an American IPA with a caramel malt middle.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Sierra Nevaada Brewing IPA 6.8% (vol.) 65
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
9 out of 10

good retention

crystal clear
amber

Golden Road Back Home

December 9

The festive can reads “Gingerbread Stout”. Half of that is right. Ginger and cinnamon are apparent in the nose. The spiced assert themselves with each sip. Crowds of ginger, cinnamon and cardamom trample any aspects of the stout foundation. The beer is black. I think I might have tasted a faint hint of chocolate. The rest is an army of spices.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Golden Road Brewing Gingerbread stout 8.5% (vol.)
Scouts’ Assessment
0%
5 out of 10

some retention

opaque
black

Samichlaus

December 10

Yeah, I should have celebrated St Nicholas day with a Samichlaus. But the 14% fat man was a little too girthy for a Wednesday night. Brewed once a year, on St Nicholas day in Austria, Samichlaus is a Christmas monster (not to be confused with Krampus). Subtle like a fruitcake, this doppelbock (viererbock?) is an intense experience of raisins, rum, and wet grain. Sweet and oh so boozy. Beneath the booze and dried fruit lie a subdued layer of caramel and chocolate. Samichlaus is a delightful beer that will warm you any time. But it’s absolutely perfect for Advent.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Brauerei Schloss Doppelbock 14% (vol.)
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
9 out of 10

some retention

crystal clear
light brown

Stone Enjoy by 12/25/17

December 11

My plan upon picking up this ugly-sweater-wearing can of Stone imperial IPA was to hold it until Christmas eve, therefore going as long as allowed. That plan was changed, as I needed the antithesis to the malt-bomb of Samichlaus scrubbed from my palate.

This Enjoy By, like its siblings, explodes with hop aroma. Oranges, kiwi, pine and grapefruit on the nose. Pineapples and citrus in every drink. There’s very little in the way of malt flavor, only a supremely bright citrus flavor rolling into a substantial punch of bitterness, which to its credit does not linger as long or as roughly as I expected based on other beers from Stone. The Christmas cheer if 9.5% ABV is completely masked under the bushels of hops. Enjoy!

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Stone Brewing Imperial IPA 9.5% (vol.) 90
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
8 out of 10

hazy
light gold

Free State Frost Flower

December 12

A winter pils is an interesting choice. The common expectation for winter beers, as you’ve witnessed so far in this series, are big, boozy, intense beers. Frost Flower is not.  This lager is certainly hop-forward with classic German spicy and floral hop aromas and flavors resting on a soft, bready malt bed. Frost Flower has the pungent bite of noble bitterness I expect from a well-made pils. Which it is.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Free State Brewing German-style pils 6.6% (vol.) 40
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
9 out of 10

good retention

crystal clear
straw

Two Down, Two to Go

Two purple candles are lit. We’ve moved on to pink! If you missed Week 1, check it out now.

The post ’Tis the Season: Advent Beers Part 2 appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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As a child, I was obsessed with Christmas. I was also Catholic. Advent came with four candles (do other Jesus-types do the four candle purple-purple-pink-purple wreath?), and a never-ending countdown to the greatest morning in the whole year. Presents! Cookies for breakfast! Cookies for lunch! Passing out in a sugar coma on top of the gifts! And weeks without school to do what I wanted to. Pure kid joy.

The joy of Christmas as an adult is watching my kids get excited about everything they open. “Socks, dad! Socks!” The excruciating anticipation of an eternal 24-some days during my youth is now more anxiety about getting everything done in a mere four weeks. While candy and cookies pushed me through before, I can now enjoy the Advent count-down with some beer. (And cookies.)

I’m going to document my Advent calendar of beers this year. I’ve selected 24 winter- or Christmas-themed beers to be enjoyed one a night for 24 nights. To ease my documentation, I’m breaking it up into four six-day posts. I’m already behind, obviously.

But let’s begin.

Advent Beers, Week 1 Boulevard Nutcracker

December 1

I feel like any countdown to Christmas in KC should begin with Nutcracker, the grandad of local yuletide beers. I can recall the early spiced versions (though Jeremy Danner sez differently) back when I was just getting into beer. I can also remember the fresh-hop and caramel bombs from recent years. But the 2017 version of Nutcracker seems quite different from my memories. I readily admit that it could be my memory that’s failing.

The fresh-hop explosion is gone. Instead, a malty, caramel and piney swirl of aroma greeted me. There were plenty of piney American hops dancing in each drink. Their swings and twirls descended into a sweet, malty finish without the punch of bitterness I was expecting.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Boulevard Brewing Winter Warmer % (vol.)
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
6 out of 10

good retention

clear
brown

Deschutes Jubelale

December 2

Jubelale was never my favorite American winter beer. Though it was never one I avoided either. One I more often overlooked. Prunes upfront and a complex blend of very fruity coffee quickly gave way to a piney, aggressive bitterness to end. It was vaguely spicy.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Deschutes Brewery winter warmer 6.7% (vol.) 65
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
7 out of 10

good retention

clear
brown

Boulevard Snow & Tell

December 3

Yeah, I should have spaced out the two ales from Boulevard instead of downing both in the first three days. But I like Snow & Tell enough that I wanted to get to something I knew and enjoyed.

Like any good Scottish-style ale, Snow & Tell is malt and all malt: caramel and nutty, like a good toffee. A very restrained bitterness allows the toasted, cookie flavors to dominate this immensely enjoyable beer.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Boulevard Brewing oak-aged scottish-style ale 6.3% (vol.) 28
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
8 out of 10

some retention

clear
brown

Torn Label Old Believer

December 4

My bomber of imperial stout is the unadulterated Old Believer. You can pick up a different variation of this beer each Sunday between now and Christmas. Last week was White Russian Old Believer with milk sugars, coffee and vanilla. You’ll just have to wait to see what else they have planned.

Old Believer is a full-bodied, creamy black-as-night imperial stout. Burnt like dark coffee and darker chocolate with a significant finishing bitterness. The dark, roasted flavors, residual sugars and bitter finish play well together. It’s a very good beer. Even without the additions.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Torn Label Brewing imperial stout 11.1% (vol.)
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
9 out of 10

opaque
black

Crane Festiweisse

December 5

And now for something completely different. Be gone, large, boozy winter warmers. The guys from Raytown have a slight, bright red light shining seasonal fruitiness our way. From the hazy red liquid arose an aroma of far-away berries and candied ginger. The beer is tart – it is a Berliner Weisse base – and the bright cranberry flavors play right into the acid. The beer ends with a spark of gingery spiciness, which is a nice pop from the sour.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Crane Brewing cranberry ginger Berliner-style weisse 4.5% (vol.)
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
7 out of 10

some retention

hazy

Brooklyn Winter Lager

December 6

I might be the most excited Kansas Citian to see that Brooklyn Brewery has expanded its footprint into Missouri. In my one visit to the brewery in NY, the tour guides (who, for the most part were script readers and totally unknowledgeable to my battery of questions) did happily point out that Europe would continue to enjoy Sorachi Ace, Black Chocolate Stout and the rest of the lineup while flyover country would not. Ha! Sorry, hipster. I finally got my Brooklyn beer in Brookside.

Winter Lager is in the neighborhood of a schwartzbier, a German-style black lager. Despite it coal-black appearance, this beer lacks much of the assertive roasted, burnt aroma and flavors one expects from a porter or stout. Instead, a hint of lightly-roasted coffee aroma followed by a round, gentle bitterness that fits with the roasted profile. It’s light bodied and terrifically drinkable.

Brewery Style Alcohol IBU OG FG
Brooklyn Brewery schwartzbier 5.6% (vol.)
Scouts’ Assessment
100%
8 out of 10

good retention

opaque
black

One Down Three to Go

That’s all for week one of Advent Beer 2017. One purple candle is burning. Time to light up the next.

The post ’Tis the Season, Advent Beers Part 1 appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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Original photo by Tristan Schmurr “Trolls” via Flickr

Everyone wants to make good beer. Everyone. Presumably, everyone also wants to drink good beer. It’s OK to be critical of the beers you drink, and it’s OK to not always be satisfied with everything you are drinking. Breweries that have just opened and are trying to carve out a place for themselves in the local market not only want your feedback, they need it. Sometimes, they crave it. If it is one of the first batches of IPAs that a brewer has scaled up from a trusted garage recipe, it’s probably going to have initial flaws. Most brewers aren’t so arrogant that they don’t understand that fact. It might be a recipe they’ve had for years and have won countless contests with, but that doesn’t mean it will immediately translate to a professional setting, and one where they are asking the consumer for six bucks when they order a glass. A good brewer will also understand that it’s not only themselves they need to satisfy. Brewers also have to get a grip on what their consumers are looking for and what they are tasting.

If you’re ever at a smaller brewery’s tasting room, there is a good chance that one of their brewers is there hanging out. Hell, that brewer might even be behind the bar, serving you the very product they helped produce. Remember, these small breweries are not initially large, revenue generating operations, and the brewers might need to bar-tend here and there to pay bills. They also are there so they can interact with craft beer consumers and get feedback. If they aren’t there, there’s a good chance that the person bartending had a minor say the production of that beer, a good idea of the recipe, concept, or at the very least: how it was made. These breweries aren’t a huge tap house moving hundreds of different rotating handles that they have to keep up on. Most likely they’ll have ten to twelve beers on tap, and have a pretty good knowledge of what it is they’re serving.

This gives the drinker, and the brewery employee a great chance to interact and really dissect what’s in the glass. You can also learn of any possible issues that they ran into when trying to produce the beer. Maybe it was an unforeseen hurdle that they just learned while brewing on their current system, like learning how to adjust the grain bill for a scaled-up batch. It’s an intimate interaction that would be hard to find at a large-scale craft beer bar, even with the most beer savvy staff. This also gives you a great opportunity to give, real, meaningful feedback on the product you’re drinking. Feedback concerning why you like or don’t like it, or something that might help clear up some questions pertaining to the style or flavor-profile of that beer. Both parties can learn from this process. Let’s talk about it.

Issues with style/concept vs. execution/quality.

Maybe you just don’t like hefeweizens.

First thing’s first: What kind of beer is in your glass and what concept was the brewer attempting to execute? This is important because sometimes a consumer will admonish a beer based on the style or the brewer’s concept, all while admitting (after the fact) that they simply aren’t a fan of that specific style. You don’t have to like every category of beer on the market. There are certain styles I absolutely abhor, and I try to reign in my judgment of those beers while keeping that fact in mind. If you don’t like black IPAs, there’s a really good chance that you won’t like even the best black IPA on the market. I had someone tell me that hated someone’s hefeweizen because it has that “stupid banana flavor”. Well, dude……I just think you might not like hefeweizens. That’s OK, but your critique has little to do with the actual quality of the beer, or the brewer’s ability to execute that product. I really dislike any sort of spice adjunct in my beer. I’ll often grab a sample of a spiced beer at a brewery, so I can say I at least gave it a shot. If I’m asked, I’ll give them my opinion, being careful to frame it as a style I’m not a fan of. The best I can usually muster with someone’s Christmas spiced Belgian abbey is: “this is pretty balanced” or jokingly say: “this doesn’t offend me.” I won’t tell them it’s dogshit because I know I’m diving into a style that I don’t like and want my feedback to relate that fact. If you are lucky enough to find a brewery that can change your opinion on a specific style, even better.

Now what if it is indeed an issue with execution, or quality of the product? This can include anything from a poorly thought out or executed recipe, or a glaring defect that came about from mistake in the brewing process. That shit happens, and it’s ok to let a brewer know that is what you are tasting. But you can tell them without being an asshole about it. Notice how I said “tell them” and not “run to social media to trash the brewery and get multiple likes, retweets, etc.” I’m not saying avoid rating websites, or tweeting at a brewery, but do it under the guise of wanting to give feedback to the brewery, and not for your personal attention. A brewer isn’t going to be super pumped to hear you tasted diacetyl, acetaldehyde, or perceived a bitterness that was not supposed to be in the finished product. But here’s the thing, they need to know, and often times want to know. They want to make good beer, they really do. Hell, they NEED to, because that’s how they make their money. If you taste something off, be specific. What exactly are you tasting? It could be a defect in the beer, or it could be a flavor that maybe you aren’t keen on, and then we might go back to the “maybe it’s just a style you aren’t a fan of” scenario. Politely tell them “hey, I’m getting a bit of X in the beer, do you taste that as well?” Nearly every brewer I’ve ever met is extremely anal and will usually immediately pour themselves a sample and sit down and analyze it with you. They will then proceed to agree or disagree.

Yes sometimes, they agree with you.

You’d be surprised at how often a brewer might agree with you. Sometimes they’ll admit to needing to tweak the hop/fermentation schedule, or mash temperature. Sometimes they’ll even admit that they might have picked up a specific off-flavor that they thought fell within an acceptable range and think it’s still a drinkable product. New breweries don’t have a ton of money, and they have to think really hard before they simply dump a batch of beer. They are learning, and the fact that you are also giving them that feedback can help them confirm their suspicions and understand that maybe they need to tweak the beer for the next batch. You’d be surprised how even an uneducated palate can give unique insight to a beer. Opinions from someone not invested in the success of a small brewer’s newest release is essential, as even the most honest brewer needs outside opinions to help them really evaluate their finished product. They put their heart and soul into their product and a non-invested perspective is often crucial. Not that long ago I was given a sample of a stout that a brewery had aged in bourbon barrels. It was a solid base beer, but I commented that it was a hair thin, and maybe even a bit boozy. The barrel was coming through as much, if not more than the actual beer. A few months later they revisited the same product and the brewer made it a point to give me a sample of the second go-around with the same beer and the same barrels. They tweaked the blend of fresh vs. barrel aged beer for the final product, and what came through was a big, full mouthfeel, and a great base beer enhanced by much more subtle notes from the barrel. The brewer then said, “Yeah, I remember you saying it was a bit thin, and I think I agree that this blend works a lot better.” I wasn’t a dick to the brewer the first go around, and didn’t go around trashing the product. I was honest. And the brewer agreed the product needed a tweak. The next batch was fantastic. I probably wasn’t the only person that had a similar critique.

At the end of the day, if a brewer can’t handle a bit of honest criticism, and won’t listen to their customers, then it’s on them. I’ve seen it happen before, and I’ve seen breweries struggle and even fail because of it. If you as a consumer are coming from the place of someone that wants to drink, and continue to drink great, local product, then that sentiment will come through in these interactions.

Cheers,

Stully

The post Be Critical. Be Nice. Be Specific. appeared first on KC Beer Scouts.

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