Kansas City isn’t just about BBQ -- it’s blossoming with new craft breweries everyday. My good friend and craft connoisseur Paul chronicles his adventures through the KC beer scene.
The More You Know: Kansas City is not in Kansas. It’s in Missouri.
Kansas City has the best BBQ (sorry, Texas), the best football fans (sorry, Seattle), and the best (and only) national monument to WWI (the Liberty Memorial). I’m not biased -- I was just born there, spent most of my formative years there, and GO CHIEFS AND GO ROYALS. Nope, not biased at all.
Up until recently, when it came to beer, KC was pretty much about three breweries: Boulevard, Boulevard, and Boulevard. I’m not complaining -- the ‘Vard makes some damn fine beers -- but since I’ve lived in Seattle, I’ve become spoiled on walking less than a mile and having no less than five breweries where I can grab suds. It’s not just about quality. It’s about beer being life itself.
Flash forward fours years, two jobs, and a marriage later, and KC’s beer scene is truly blossoming. My good buddy and beer-lover-about-town Paul smacked me with a little knowledge: “Your hometown’s got the beer goods.”
I told him: “Prove it.” And boy did he -- Paul went on a day-long excursion through Kansas City to show off how much I’ve been missing, photographic evidence and all. Here’s Paul’s boozy adventure:
Located in North Kansas City just across the Missouri River, Colony was originally just a coffee roaster before recently adding beer to their arsenal. Their forte: rotating, experimental, flavor-centric beers. Paul’s Pick: “Uncharted Territory - pineapple and guajillo pepper ale - at 12.5%, [the ABV] should be mentioned every time a glass is poured, because it drinks like 5%.”
Kansas City was the epicenter of the beef industry in years past, and Stockyards honors that tradition by brewing behind a 65-year-old meat locker door in the West Bottoms neighborhood. Their mission? Creating and refining delicious, unpretentious beer styles.
Paul’s Pick: “Cerveza Royale Mexican Lager - corn-forward without the heavy starches, you can drink your fill without feeling full.”
Open less than 6 months, Casual Animal is quickly becoming many locals’ home away from home -- Paul included! Casual Animal is super hardcore about keeping craft independent, adhering to freshness and flavor above all else. With ten constantly rotating taps, you may not always find what you had last time, but everything is so fresh and flavorful that you’ll be happy to try something new. Paul’s Pick: “Mane Event Helles - while every beer on the board could be enjoyed while in a pool, pushing a lawnmower, or watching the game... this Helles is amazingly drinkable and one of a kind.”
Smack dab in the middle of the hip Crossroads District, Brewery Emperial and its thriving beer garden are run by a group of folks with deep roots in KC’s beer and culinary scene. Their experience shows with a diverse range of Euro-beer styles and a foodie’s dream of a menu. According to Paul, “If you stop in here, you’ll enjoy the food just as much as the European-style beer.” Paul’s Pick: “Biscuit - while BE’s darker beers usually win the day, Biscuit is a unique and flavorful English Brown Ale.”
Another North Kansas City joint, Calibration is all about family and community. This father and son team focus on sustainable food and beer. They’re also dog friendly! To further bring together the community, they’ll soon open up a patio area with Bocce ball courts. Paul’s Pick: “Scottish Ale - the flagship brew is a decidedly malty, but mild, delight. At 9.43%, the refreshing finish belies its deep caramel hue.”
Built right along Kansas City’s streetcar line in the bustlin’ River Market, Strange Days brews with inspiration from global cuisine and the “strangeness” of life. Their building has been a home to beer from its foundation, once home to historic Muehlebach Brewery & Schlitz. Paul’s Pick: “Episodes [a rotating single hop Pale Ale series] - “every batch has a different story to tell, with varying hop character and flavor.”
Seattle, Portland, Denver -- you can’t whistle in these cities without a song bouncing off the walls of brewery after brewery after brewery. In just four years time, KC is fast joining these meccas. Beer tourists -- if you visit, definitely live it up “Paul style” and check out as many breweries as you can. Just make sure to leave a little room for burnt ends.
Written by Ed Moore