Just spent several lovely days in the Cornhusker State. The weather was great (humid, but not stifling), the scenery beautiful (green, seemingly endless rolling hills of corn), and the company terrific (even at my wife’s high school reunion).
Yes, yes, yes, I hear you say. But what about the BEER?
Well, I’m glad you asked. I had occasion to try several local brews, listed here in no particular order.
If there’s anything close to a ubiquitous craft brewer in the Midwest, it’s got to be Boulevard Brewing out of Kansas City. They began in 1989, and currently brew in a 600,000 barrel-per-year facility. You can find it pretty much everywhere, especially the Unfiltered Wheat, which I enjoyed on the rooftop deck of Barry’s Husker Bar, in the Haymarket District in downtown Lincoln, just south of the University of Nebraska campus (Go Big Red!). It went down easy on a warm afternoon, with just enough bread and citrus to make it interesting.
Also in the Haymarket is Lazlo’s, the brewpub home of Empyran Brewing. I had the sampler, along with a Lahvosh the size of a large pizza. Geez! Anyway, the sampler was generous, and overall the brews were good, if not spectacular. I particularly enjoyed the Luna Sea ESB, which had a more fulfilling bite at the end than the Watch Man IPA, which was pleasant but not much more than a slightly amped-up pale ale. The Collapsar Oatmeal Stout was smooth and rich, with just enough bitterness. They also had a Mild on tap, which had a bit of a hefe thing going on, and at 4% would be a terrific session beer for those humid Midwest days.
Since I would be spending most of my time in a tiny town in the Northeast corner of the state, I picked up some rations to see me through — Cropduster IPA (in cans) from Thunderhead Brewing in Kearney, NE, and an IPA from Lucky Bucket in La Vista. The Cropduster leaned more on the citrusy, bitter side, while Lucky Bucket had a bit more of a malt base, a little bigger and nuttier on the palate. Both were outstanding examples of the style, and if they are any indication of the state of the craft brew industry here in Nebraska, I can’t wait to get back to sample more.