Issue 28

Kansas City Beers

Kansas City Beers

Kansas City has long been known as an epicenter for some of the most delicious smoked meats that the world has to offer, but a quick three-hour drive South down I-29 will truly prove rewarding to the craft beer enthusiast. With the Lincoln and Omaha markets combining as the largest consumers of Boulevard Brewing Company’s beer outside of Kansas City, Nebraskans have long been familiar with the excellent craftsmanship coming out of KC.

Since Boulevard’s first batch of beer brewed back in 1989, Kansas City started its long journey to become one of the nation’s great beer destinations. Now, with well over a dozen breweries and several more in planning, Kansas City is keeping a steady pace with the rest of America’s love affair with craft beer. Liver permitting, it would be easy to spend a week dedicated to brewery tours within a ten-mile radius.

While I wouldn’t suggest leaving the city without touring the Boulevard brewery (which takes some foreplanning due to the popularity), there is also a burgeoning beer bar scene that has continued to gain steam since the turn of the century.   In today’s world it’s not tough to find a decent selection of craft beer on the menu wherever you may find yourself, but here are a few tried and true Kansas City gems:

 

Flying Saucer

Easily the most well-known craft beer joint in Kansas City, this Dallas, Texas based restaurant and tap house is located in the heart of the downtown Power and Light District. 75 taps line the wall, pouring some of the finest American and European draught options available in the Missouri market – including plenty of top notch local options. Add over 100 bottles available on a neatly laid-out menu and there is surely something for everyone. While the feel may be a bit corporate for some people’s liking, the friendly staff and selection will make you feel right at home. If you come hungry they offer some tasty burgers and pizza, as well as a few German options. Get there early if you want a good seat.

Grinders

It can be quite confusing to out-of-towners as to why there are two addresses listed for Grinders, but be assured they are right next door to each other in the Crossroads Arts District. The original location, which is simply referred to as “Grinders”, has the feel of a hip dive bar. Grinders West is located right next door and has more of a polished-trendy feel. I usually find myself sliding into a booth at the original Grinders and taking in all of the fantastic draft options listed on one of the handwritten chalkboards. There is always a fantastic mix of local options and some well-chosen out of state brews.

The food is a serious strong point here. Big and juicy ½ pound burgers, New York-style slices, Philly with Whiz and their famous wings are all legit. A fair warning about the wings: they come in the level system of hotness, culminating in their world famous Death Sauce.   The servers will simply tell you not to order it, that nobody can eat them, and that it will be a waste of your money. Don’t try to be a hero; They aren’t calling you a chicken.

Bier Station

Located in the Waldo area, Bier Station hit the scene in 2012 with a genius combination of a well curated taproom and world-class bottle shop. The rotating draft list is filled with local specialty and seasonal offerings and an eclectic selection of hard-to-find craft beers from America and abroad. The bottle selection takes the experience at this laid-back bar from amazing to epic, with enough firepower to put even the geekiest of the beer geeks’ jaws on the floor. If you come with an appetite, they offer farm-to-table meat and cheese options that include whimsical grilled sandwiches, charcuterie plates, and to-die-for handmade bratwurst. If a snack is all you need to soak up your classy beverage, their Bavarian pretzels are a must. It’s easy to see why Draft Magazine rated Bier Station as one of the top beer bars in the country.

Beer Kitchen

Westport has become somewhat of a mecca for craft beer bars and brewpubs. McCoy’s Public House, Foundry, Local Pig, Riot Room, Westport Ale House, Green Room and Beer Kitchen are all right there within crawling distance from each other. It’s easy to make a night (or two) of this hip and bustling neighborhood. I suggest getting things started off with an empty stomach and head for the good vibes at Beer Kitchen.   At first glance the menu would appear to be typical pub fare, but a closer examination will show how much love went into turning each classic dish into a culinary delight that any foodie can appreciate. To wash it all down, the draft selection offers a few great options from the Kansas City area, but the bulk of their menu is a blend of current tried and true American craft greats and hard-to-find rarities. It’s a place you’ll want to come back to every time you’re in town, but be sure to head in before the nighttime bar crowd to avoid a long wait for seating.

Jason McLaughlin

Jason McLaughlin

Jason is a Certified Cicerone, ranked National as a BJCP judge (Beer Judge Certification Program), is a craft beer aficionado, a writer for the Nebraska Beer Blog, and award winning homebrewer living in Lincoln. Jason spends time traveling around the country judging beer competitions, and attending related events. Beer tasting and evaluation is his passion, and he can appreciate a great example of any style regardless of hype.


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