The Beer Directory: Belly up with the metro’s beer makers
3200 North Ameristar Drive
4-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.–1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sunday
Amerisports lives up to its sports-bar moniker. The brewpub in the Ameristar Casino is home to the city’s largest professional-grade, high-definition indoor monitor. Want to watch the Royals, the Chiefs or Sporting on a big screen? There’s none bigger. Brewmaster Stacey Payne’s beers each have a sports theme — Half Court Light, Face-Off Pale Ale, Red Zone Lager — and he’ll be sampling them Saturday at Steer & Beer.
Order: the peppery and citrusy Draft Choice Saison
Big Rip Brewing Co.
216 East Ninth Avenue, North Kansas City
4-9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon–11 p.m. Friday, noon–10 p.m. Saturday, noon–5 p.m. Sunday
In a warm, red, cinder-block building across the river is Big Rip Brewing Co. The cozy tasting room is dark, the perfect hideout for the apocalypse, with the TVs playing horror or sci-fi films and the walls adorned with posters of Friday the 13th, The X-Files and more. Even the beers are named after thrillers — and there are some thrilling beers here, such as Delta 88 IPA or Twins Cherry Cheesecake, which is like drinking a glass of pie. Big Rip occasionally bottles its beers, but you’d better get it the day it goes on sale in the taproom. And don’t sleep on Big Rip’s annual Get Ripped Fest, an intimate event with a focus on local.
Order: the Vanilla Cream Ale. It’s so good I had to get a howler of it.
Blind Tiger Brewery and Restaurant
417 Southwest 37th Street, Topeka
11 a.m.–11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.–midnight Friday and Saturday
If you find yourself in Topeka, find your way to the Blind Tiger. Get a plate of barbecue and grab a flight of brewmaster John Dean and head brewer Alvaro Canizales’ award-winning beers. The Blind Tiger has been collecting medals for several years now, and it’s the best reason to stop in a city that’s home to the Kansas Legislature and Westboro Baptist Church.
Order: the Wild Mild, an English mild ale with wild and red rice and Vermont maple syrup added. Get a sour pucker from malt that’s been acidified in the mash.
Border Brewing Co.
406 East 18th Street
4-9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday, noon–11 p.m. Saturday, noon–6 p.m. Sunday
Brewing Co. is one of the smallest breweries in the city, but owner
Eric Martens prides himself on listening to those who belly up to his
bar. Martens started the We Brew for You series, allowing his patrons to
vote for the beers they want him to brew. It’s a democratic effort in
the Crossroads Arts Districts, one local drinkers can appreciate.
Order: the Chocolate Milk Stout, especially on a night when Border teams up with Shatto for floats
Boulevard Brewing Co.
2534 Madison (rec center)
10 a.m–7 p.m. daily
Last month, Boulevard Brewing Co. opened its game-changing rec center, with a beer hall and a second-floor patio. With 24 taps — a handful of them pouring test beers or tasting-room exclusives — the beer hall is the place to drink beer from Kansas City’s largest brewery. There are no TV monitors, because Boulevard is, as always, focused on beer first. But you can get snacks: pretzel dogs, meat-and-cheese boards, veggie trays, and sweets. If you’ve never taken a tour, hop on one and then grab a beer in the tasting room that’s exclusively for visitors. Boulevard’s favorites are still favorites, whether they’re flagships (wheat, pale ale) or Smokestack Series staples (Tank 7 farmhouse ale, Bourbon-Barrel Quad, Long Strange Tripel, Rye-on-Rye).
Order: Rye-on-Rye-on-Rye, a 14.5 percent ABV monster that drinks easy for a big beer that’s been aged twice in rye whiskey barrels.
The most anticipated local-brewery opening could finally come this fall. The gang at Brewery Emperial — longtime McCoy’s brewmaster Keith Thompson; his wife, Julie; Room 39 restaurateur Ted Habiger; and Rich Kasyjanski — is getting closer to opening in the East Crossroads’ Brewmuda Triangle. The building started as a graffiti-splashed shell 16 months ago. Now it gleams, with a 24-foot-tall metal quonset hut housing the brewhouse, and a silo towering over a shipping container behind the building. We can’t wait to see what comes out of Thompson’s brewhouse, and off Habiger’s wood-fired grill.
119 Armour Road, North Kansas City
4-9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, noon–9 p.m. Wednesday, noon–10 p.m. Thursday, noon–11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
When the metro’s newest brewery opened with seven beers, in mid-June, around the corner from Cinder Block Brewery in North Kansas City, its early beers needed a bit of recalibrating. Pat Sandman, the former brewmaster at the now-shuttered 75th Street Brewery, is writing the recipes, and he admits he’s adjusting to an automated seven-barrel system from Brewmation, with Stout Tanks, after years of brewing on archaic equipment. Sandman is confident that the early hiccups were just blips, and he’s working to perfect his initial run of beers: Brown Ale, Coconut Brown Ale, Golden Ale, Hefeweizen, IPA, Milk Stout and Scottish Ale. Arrive hungry. Calibration is one of the few local breweries that actually serves food, with a menu of burgers, dogs, gyros and appetizers.
Order: The hefeweizen here should be called B-A-N-A-N-A-S because it’s loaded with the fruity (and clove) flavor.
Cinder Block Brewery
110 East 18th Avenue, North Kansas City
4-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon–11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
The nicest taproom in the city — outside of Boulevard’s massive beer hall — is at Cinder Block Brewery, where a spacious tasting room is filled with round wooden tables. When it’s packed, the Reclamation Room is a sanctuary from the masses and a passageway to the spacious patio with yard games and picnic tables. Cinder Block loves hops and celebrates them in the Hop Maven IPA series. The barrel-aging program is also on point. Black Squirrel imperial stout will keep you warm in the winter, and Lusus Naturae peach farmhouse ale, sour-aged in wine barrels, will challenge your tastebuds. The brewery is also pumping out interesting experimental beers in its CB00 series. Not a beer fan? Cinder Block dabbles in cider. If owner Bryce Schaffter is around — likely tinkering with something in the brewhouse — he’s more than willing to give an impromptu tour and talk shop. Just don’t ask him about sports.
Order: Collapse Barleywine, if it’s on tap. The English-style barleywine is one of the best I’ve had outside Perennial’s Vermillion.
6515 Railroad, Raytown
4-9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 2-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, noon–5 p.m. Sunday
The demand for Michael Crane’s beers was strong before his brewery was even the faintest yeast strain in the back of his mind. Crane made his mark on the homebrewing circuit, collecting a pile of medals, before declaring that he was going pro. And once he made the leap, Central States was ready to sign him up for distribution before the brewhouse was even operational. Crane Brewing has lived up to the promise, pumping out high-quality beers in its wheelhouse — saisons, Berliner Weisses and lambics. The brewery’s 30-seat tasting room is now open in the rustic building that’s truly off the beaten path in Raytown, so fire up your GPS and head southeast.
Order: the citrusy and refreshing Kumquat Weiss
Double Shift Brewing Co.
412 East 18th Street
4-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4-11:30 p.m. Friday, noon–11:30 p.m. Saturday, noon–8 p.m. Sunday.
Double Shift celebrated its first anniversary last month with a pair of bottle releases — Yellow Canary Grisette and Anniversary Brett IPA — and it’s likely only the beginning of the brewery’s foray into bottling. It’s been an up-and-down year for Double Shift, which suffered early from water-quality issues. Aaron Ogilvie’s brewery has worked to overcome that obstacle.
Order: Cherry Saison — if and when it’s on tap
Free State Brewing Co.
636 Massachusetts, Lawrence
11 a.m.–midnight Monday-Saturday, noon–11 p.m. Sunday
Last year was a good one for Kansas’ oldest brewery. Free State Brewing Co. took home a gold medal at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival in the herb-and-spice-beer category for Garden Party, a lager with cucumber, basil and juniper berry. The recipe was developed at the flagship Lawrence pub by head downtown brewer Geoff Deman, and has since graduated to a seasonal release. Deman and Steve Bradt, brewmaster at Free State’s east Lawrence production facility, are a formidable team. There’s always a good reason to visit the pub, and an even better chance that you’ll spot Free State founder Chuck Magerl. Stop in for a Yakimaniac IPA or one of the pub exclusives and pick Magerl’s brain.
Order: Garden Party, on draft and in six-packs now. It won a GABF medal. Enough said.
Green Room Burgers & Beer
11 a.m.–11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m.–1 a.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sunday
Small-batch beers and cask ale are the name of the specialty game at Green Room Burgers & Beer. Oh, and the burgers. The creativity on the grill at Michael and Cindy Ptacek’s joint is straight out of Bob’s Burgers — and that’s a compliment. That creativity also shows in the nanobrews pumped out as part of the Papa Louie’s series.
Order: any of the Papa Louie’s beers. The small-batch nature of the beers here means you may not see what’s on tap anytime soon.
KC Bier Co.
310 West 79th Street
4-11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 2-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Saturday, noon–9 p.m. Sunday
The future is bottles at KC Bier Co. The German-style brewery tested selling six-packs of Dunkel last month, and once the German-built (of course) bottling line fires up for real, it’ll crank out 12-ounce bottles of Dunkel, Hefeweizen and Helles for distribution in stores around Labor Day. KC Bier Co. prides itself on keeping it real German — from the beer hall to the ‘i’ in bier to the owner’s affinity for lederhosen. The patio is dog-friendly, so if you need a drinking buddy, there’s no reason to leave your furry pal at home.
Order: the funky and tasty farmhouse ale, Der Bauer, or the GABF silver-medal winning Weizenbock
Martin City Brewing Co.
410 East 135th Street
11 a.m.–1:30 a.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sunday
It’s been a year of evolution for Martin City Brewing Co. Cans replaced the 750-ml bottles for flagship beers Hardway IPA, Belgian Blond and Abbey, and it’s a welcome change. MCBC kept riding the aluminum wave and added 32-ounce Crowlers, the half-can, half-growler for to-go beers. Specialty beers still come in 750-ml bottles, and brewmaster Nick Vaughn and company are brewing interesting Belgian-inspired beers and having fun with brett. Make the trip to the Martin City tasting room, and you’re likely to find something special on tap and a pizza to your liking.
Order: Poitier barrel-aged tripel
McCoy’s Public House
11 a.m.–3 a.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.–3 a.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.–midnight Sunday
McCoy’s Public House was the lone Kansas City brewery to claim a gold medal in last year’s Great American Beer Festival. That medal, for Ursa Minor, an imperial brown ale (8.8 percent ABV), came in the Other Strong Beer Category. It’s proof that the business is in good hands with brewers Morgan Fetters and Emily Yeager. Around Christmastime, the annual Ursa Major imperial stout bottle release is an event not to be missed, as are the two McCoy’s brewfests — the Westport Summer Beer Festival and the Strong Ale Festival.
Order: the chocolatey, biscuity Ursa Minor
Red Crow Brewing Co.
20561 South Lone Elm Road, Spring Hill
4:30-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon–10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, noon–7 p.m. Sunday
Red Crow is closing in on its first anniversary. Chris and Mistie Roberts opened the brewery in Spring Hill — 35 minutes south of downtown KCMO — and they’ve focused on five beers: Isabelle (Belgian blonde), Frances (pale ale), Donna (American wheat), Elaine (rye porter) and Louise (IPA). Each is named for an influential woman in the Robertses’ lives. The patio is an underrated spot to grab a beer.
Order: If you’re making the drive, you best grab a flight to try all of the beers.
Rock & Run Brewery
114 East Kansas, Liberty
11 a.m.–11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Friday-Saturday
To say 2016 has been a rocky year for Rock & Run Brewery is an understatement. But even the collapse of a neighboring building, which shared a wall with the brewpub, couldn’t keep Rock & Run closed for long. Within a month, Rock & Run had moved into a different neighboring building, the former Bell, which shared the other wall with the brewery. Rock & Run has plans to go even bigger, with a 15-barrel production facility in downtown Kearney where it will brew all of its flagship beers.
Order: The Saminator double IPA is a big, boozy time.
Stockyards Brewing Co.
4-11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon–midnight Friday and Saturday, noon–8 p.m. Sunday
Out of the gate, Stockyards owner Greg Bland made a smart play, hiring an experienced brewmaster in Micah Weichert (Gordon Biersch, 75th Street Brewery) to run his brewhouse. Stockyards has put out solid beers — two IPAs, a golden alt, a hefeweizen, a brunch stout, a Scottish ale — in the former Golden Ox bar space. Weichert also brought over his Bohemian pilsner, which earned him a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival in the Bohemian-Style Pilsner category in 2006. Stockyards’ bar is stylish, and it’s a good place to watch a Royals game.
Tallgrass Brewing Co.
5960 Dry Hop Circle, Manhattan
Tallgrass shuffled the deck last year, discontinuing old favorites (Velvet Rooster tripel, Halcyon Wheat, Ethos IPA, 16-Bit Double Pale Ale) and introducing a slew of new beers (Top Rope IPA, Songbird Saison, the Grizz imperial IPA). One welcome addition: Half Pipe Tart Pale Ale — the March-to-July seasonal that deserves a longer run. Tallgrass also found itself a new brewmaster in Greg Papp, and we’re curious to see his first beer, Flyin’ Hawaiian Double IPA, hit the line. While Tallgrass’ gleaming new 60,000-square-foot production facility isn’t likely to be open for tours, the Tallgrass Tap House (320 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan) is worth a visit for brewpub exclusives, should you find yourself in Wildcat country.
Order: Half Pipe Tart Pale Ale while you can, and then Zombie Monkie porter
Torn Label Brewing Co.
5-10 p.m. Thursday, 5 p.m.–midnight Friday, noon–midnight Saturday, noon–8 p.m. Sunday
Torn Label Brewing Co.’s tasting room is definitely off the beaten path, tucked into the Studios Inc. building in the east Crossroads. The 30-seat room is often packed, and for good reason: Torn Label produces some of the city’s most creative beers. Credit brewmaster Travis Moore and his crew for such inventions as Magic Magic, an IPA with raspberries and lemon peel that was inspired by the artwork of tasting room manager Thomas Woodward. And Thursdays have turned into a must-stop day in the tasting room to try pilot brewer Alex Moss’ latest Rough Draught series beer (past hits have included Idiot Control Now, an oatmeal stout with coconut and vanilla, and Trippy Mang, a mango-peppercorn-cardamom IPA).
Order: Christmas in July, a barrel-aged stout with blood orange
23rd Street Brewery
3512 Clinton Parkway, Lawrence
11 a.m.-midnight daily
This brewpub is all about the Jayhawks. The beers here feature KU-inspired names (Crimson Phog red ale, Rock Chalk Raspberry Wheat, Wave the Wheat), and brewmaster Russell Brickell keeps things small-batch on his 15-barrel brewing system.
Order: A flight of nine beers can be had for about $10. Or just grab a Crimson Phog, which earned a silver medal at the 2007 Great American Beer Fest for Irish-style red ale.
Weston Brewing Co.
500 Welt Street, Weston
11:30 a.m.–9 p.m. daily
If you’re making the trip to Weston, get the full Irish experience and stop by the pub for a pint and a tour. You’ve made it this far — you might as well see the whole setup.
Order: Drop Kick, an amber ale
8004 Foster, Overland Park
11 a.m.–7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Sunday
Brew Lab already allows those with the dream of brewing to live it out on a professional system. Now, it’s taking the next step by signing a lease on a 4,000-square-foot space that will house a three-barrel brewhouse and a tasting room. KC Beer Blog reports that the business could be in its new space — east of the Overland Park farmers market — by this fall.
Colony Espresso & Beer
312 Armour Road, North Kansas City
7 a.m.–10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.–midnight Friday and Saturday
Colony Espresso & Beer already keeps a lot of beer on draft and in bottles, but it’s taking a step toward becoming a nanobrewery. Heading up the brewing operations is Rodney Beagle (who has worked with Big Rip), who says Colony is still in the planning stages, with paperwork in process.
Loose Cannon Brewing
Loose Cannon Brewing is the brainchild of Tony DiPlacito, whose family has already begun downsizing in order to open a three-barrel brewhouse in Lee’s Summit or Blue Springs. The dream started when he got the chance to brew with Cinder Block.
“I’ve been a mechanic almost all of my adult life and being hands-on, so Nano it is.” DiPlacito says. “I did the numbers shortly after brewing at Cinder Block, and figured I could keep it small, artisan, and the goal wouldn’t be to make a ton of money — just pay the bills.”
DiPlacito says he’s partial to brewing (and drinking) English-style ales, though his American Pale made it to the final round of the Homebrewers Conference last year. As for when Loose Cannon will become a reality: “When all the pieces fit together,” he says. “To be honest, I’m focusing on a checklist, not a date.” Smart move.
Strange Days Brewing Co.
Strange Days Brewing Co. is in the planning stages of opening a brewery, with an eye on summer 2017. The guys behind Strange Days are Nathan Howard, Chris Beier and Alec Vemmer, and though they haven’t nailed down a spot, they’re looking within the city limits. When they do open, they plan to operate a five-barrel system, with beer sold exclusively from their taproom. Expect a focus on global beer styles and experimentation with local and foreign specialty ingredients.