Tallgrass hires Greg Papp as brewmaster, Big Rip releases barrel-aged beer, Neil Witte takes you to school, and more beer events

Tallgrass Brewing Co. has a new brewmaster. Greg Papp is now the man behind the beer at Kansas’ largest production brewery. He started at the Manhattan business on February 1, taking over for Brandon Hoag, who is now the brewmaster at Little Apple Brewing Co.

Papp joined the industry in 2004, and he most recently served as head brewer and production manager for Smartmouth Brewing Co., in Norfolk, Virginia. There, he won several awards, including a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Fest, for Smartmouth’s Notch 9 Double IPA in 2013.

“I built that place from the ground up,” Papp says. “Did all of the install and stayed on as head brewer and wrote all of the recipes there and just ran the day-to-day operations there for four years.”

His past also includes stints at Victory Brewing Co., Trumer Brauerei and Mother Earth Brewing Co. among other stops. He says he made the move to Manhattan because he wanted to brew again at a larger production company.

“The brewery that I was working at, we were only production 5,000 to 6,000 barrels a year,” Papp says. “I just wanted to jump up to the 30,000-barrel, 40,000-barrel, 50,000-barrel realm. And I knew Tallgrass was on track to do all of that. I came out and interviewed, and I loved the interview process here. I got to meet all of the people, and it really was getting to know all of the people that work at Tallgrass and their vision and where the company is going. And Manhattan is a great little town.”

Papp’s plan for the future of Tallgrass brews echoes a familiar mantra at Tallgrass: “Consistency and quality,” he says. That’s in line with owner Jeff Gill’s vision, which he cemented with the addition of a quality-control lab in the new production facility.

So what styles of beer does Papp like brewing?

“Most of my favorite styles are IPAs, double IPAs and anything German,” he says. “Primarily German lager beer.”

Tallgrass isn’t known for lager, but it’s something Gill has said he wants his brewery to make in the future.
“Jeff and I had discussed it, with my background in lager brewing, and I don’t know,” Papp says. “There might be some lager beer coming down the pipeline in 2017.”

In the meantime, Papp says he’s looking forward to brewing a Belgian-style stout for next winter.

“We’re going to take the classics of a stout — nice roasted barley and all of that — and we’re gong to make it a Belgian stout,” Papp says. “Kind of the influence was Allagash’s Black. I’ve lived and worked in Maine before and had tasted their Belgian-style stout and thought it was excellent. So we’re going to try to do something like that.”

And keep an eye out for more Belgian-style beers, such as saisons.

“We already make a saison now, but who knows — we might do a different one,” Papp says. “I’ve also had good success with lots of IPAs. I had won a Great American Beer Festival award for my double IPA, so I like to bring some of that into the mix as well.”

The first beer that will have Papp’s stamp on it is Half Pipe Tart Pale Ale.

“I inherited that, but I threw my little twist on it and dry-hopped it a little more aggressively than we’re known for doing,” he says. That’s a little bit of my influence on it. Coming down the road, we’ll be making a Double IPA in September, so that’s going to be my first stamp out there. That’s going to be my first full-on recipe and idea. We’ll be following that with our Belgian stout.”

Look for the Double IPA and Belgian Stout in the Explorer Series of specialty beers. But first, we’ll see Raspberry Jam, a Berliner Weisse with raspberries, in the next few weeks.

Papp has experience with barrel programs and says he looks forward to continuing that at Tallgrass.
“I spend a lot of time in the barrel room, seeing what’s going on back there,” he says. “I think we’re going to try to mix that up, and I’m pushing to bring in some wine barrels. I think we can do some really unique things with that. Everyone always loves bourbon and rye barrels, and I think they’re great, so we’re going to continue to do that. But I think I’m going to try bring a little twist and bring in some wine barrels and play around with those. I usually use chardonnay barrels. I think they’re great.”

Thursday, April 7
Summit Brewing Co. is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and that means limited-release beers. The St. Paul, Minnesota, brewery’s Unchained Series Us & Them — two different IPAs (an imperial and a small) from one batch of beer — taps at 4 p.m. at the Foundry (424 Westport Road). Summit also takes over Ruins Pub’s (1715 Main) taps at 6 p.m. Summit mailed me the first of four anniversary beers — the 30th Anniversary Double IPA — and I love its citrusy blast, showing off a blend of six U.S. and New Zealand hop varieties.

If you’ve never experienced a beer with master cicerone Neil Witte, then a trip to 801 Fish (11615 Rosewood, Leawood), at 7 p.m. for a Boulevard beer dinner should be on your agenda. Tickets cost $70. Call 913-322-3474 to make a reservation.

The Big Rip Brewing Co. (216 East Ninth Avenue, North Kansas City) releases a wine barrel–aged Sour Brown Ale at 4 p.m. Get it in bottles and on draft.

Friday, April 8
The only place in the United States to get Bigoud Cidre is Kansas City, thanks to Central States Beverage. The three varieties of cider — Brut Pur Jus, Demi-Sec Pur Jus and Doux Pur Jus — are easy-drinking and damn tasty. (Grab a bottle of the Doux Pur Jus.) If you want to try them out, hit Rimann Liquors (15117 West 87th Street Parkway, Lenexa) for a sampling from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

It’s Royals night at Grain to Glass (1611 Swift Avenue, North Kansas City).

Saturday, April 9
Spend some time with Martin City Brewing Co.’s barrel-aged bombers and 750 ml wild ales from 1 to 3 p.m. at Lukas Liquor Superstore (13657 Washington).

Green Room Burgers & Beer (4010 Pennsylvania) is throwing a happy-hour fundraiser for the Kansas City Pet Project on the patio from 1 to 3 p.m. Bring a donation (food, beds, towels, toys), and Urban Chestnut will buy you a beer. Beer Paws will also be there with treats. So go drink for the doggies and kitties — and feel free to bring a furry friend with you.

Grain to Glass (1611 Swift Avenue, North Kansas City) holds a homebrewing-for-beginners class from 4 to 7 p.m. Tickets cost $50.

Tuesday, April 12
Sample new Tallgrass beers from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Rimann Liquors (3917 Prairie Lane, Prairie Village).

Wednesday, April 13
Lidia’s (101 West 22nd Street) is pairing small plates with Torn Label beers from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Get a taste of both for $30. RSVP at 816-221-3722.

Add to your glass collection with an Odell Teku glass in a buy-the-beer, get-the-glass deal at Flying Saucer (101 East 13th Street), 6 p.m.

Get to know the flavors in your beer with a class at Grain to Glass (1611 Swift Avenue, North Kansas City) from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Cost is $15. 

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