Special thanks to Chris Stenger for writing a guest post this week about the first ever Kansas Craft Brewers Expo. We were very disappointed to have missed the event this year, but were extremely happy to hear of the event’s successes and will be excited for our much anticipated return to Kansas, reuniting with our Lawrence Home Brewers Guild friends and Free State family to continue to enjoy all the great beers the Midwest has to offer! Check out more photos on the 2012 Kansas Craft Brewers Expo Facebook Page!
[hr] The best thing to do before a beer festival is to have a large meal. I found this exceedingly easy to do before attending the inaugural Kansas Craft Brewers Exposition in Downtown Lawrence. Since we parked right by Abe & Jakes, we walked over to Free State to take part in their March “Mustard Madness”. In years past, Free State staff has driven to the Mustard Museum in Wisconsin and loaded up on mustards (garlic ones, horseradish ones, spicy ones, ones made from beer or alcohol and pretty much about anything you can imagine) to bring back and serve at the restaurant. The menu was very mustard friendly, featuring a beer pretzel appetizer and a great, homemade sausage. The Galena 911 spicy mustard and Arran stoneground mustard with elephant garlic were the mustard standouts and the Castle Rock Rye, Black Jack Porter and Eccentricity (strong, blended, barrel aged beer) certainly helped enhance the meal.
Although it was a beautiful and sunny day, the weather was not a large factor since the event took place indoors. Abe & Jakes is a pretty neat venue, multi-leveled, lots of wood, lots of character and a lot of natural light. The event was capped around 700, which helped with the lines all day long, although parts of the festival got somewhat congested.. As well as offering food vendors, small bites of cheese and crackers were offered up free of charge.
Kansas and Missouri brewers were well represented, but breweries from Nebraska, Colorado and California were also pouring beers. From Lawrence, Free State and 23rd St were pouring beer. Other Kansas breweries there were Blind Tiger from Topeka, LB from Hays, High Noon from Leavenworth and Little Apple and Tallgrass, from Manhattan. Free State served several different beers including their Old Backus Barleywine, C3 IPA and upcoming bottled seasonal, Brinkley’s Maibock. 23rd Street had several beers offered as well, with the Bitter Professor and new Belgian Dubbel among the high gravity offerings. Blind Tiger had several taps going, two containing their award winning Java Porter and the delightful Top Gun IPA. It was nice to get to drink the Liberty Stout from LB brewing since I usually only get it once a year when I stop in the brewpub on my way to Colorado. Tallgrass also was able to get their new 8-bit Pale Ale approved so that they could debut it at the festival.
McCoys, 75th St, Boulevard, Gordon Biersch, Flying Monkey and Weston made the short trip from the KC area. Boulevard had several beers on tap including a couple test batches and the lovely Saison with Brett. McCoys had their collaboration (with Gordon Biersch) Baltic Porter and a couple other regulars. Gordon Biersch had their Weizenbock and several regulars, including the excellent Marzen. 75th Street had their Dantes Dream, a 9.3% ABV strong Belgian Pale Ale, as well as a few other regulars.
Lucky Bucket and Nebraska Brewing Co. represented Nebraska and served a lot of really nice beers, including the Lucky Bucket Certified Evil, an Imperial Porter aged in oak cabernet barrels and Nebraska Brewing’s Melange a Trois, a Belgian-Style Blonde Ale aged in chardonnay barrels.
The St. Louis brewers included O’Fallon, Schlafly, Kirkwood Station (who’s beers I poured for 30-45 minutes) and newcomer Perennial. Perennial had some interesting beers including a cedar aged red, a saison with chamomile and a tasty sour beer.
This was a great event, which was well though out and well run. I think it will be very popular in future years and will continue to be a hot ticket. I know I am excited to go to it again next year.[hr]Chris Stenger is a an avid homebrewer and a member of both the Kansas City Bier Meisters and The Lawrence (home) Brewers Guild. In addition to craft beer, Chris loves to cook, travel, and hang out with his wife and two dogs. Chris also writes monthly beer articles in Kansas City’s own food and beverage magazine, Tastebud Magazine. Check the website for local locations that carry the free magazine.
Did you attend the first annual Kansas Craft Brewers Expo? If so, what were your highlights from the event??