It’s easy for those of us who live in the beer Mecca that is the Bay Area to take for granted the bounty that surrounds us every day, at most a short train or Lyft ride away.
But what happens when your travels take you to visit relatives somewhere in, say, the Midwest?
Not so long ago, your choices would have been quite limited.
But on a recent trip to Missouri, I must say I was very pleasantly, happily surprised.
First stop on our itinerary was a quick two days in Downtown Kansas City, which from a beer standpoint I wasn’t worried about. I didn’t get to an actual brewery, but each restaurant and/or bar had at least a decent selection of local brews available.
As did Kaufmann Stadium, where we caught a Royals game. I was very happy to see that Boulevard Brewing, part of the Duvel family (Brewery Ommegang, Firestone Walker) and a big regional player, has a major sponsorship with the Royals. It was heartening to hear the beer vendors hawking Boulevard Radlers as well as BigBeer Light. And the Radlers were selling well.
Boulevard also sponsors Craft & Draft, a very cool stadium bar. And I mean literally cool. My wife and I abandoned our seats after three innings of mid-90s, 60% humidity heat, and sought refuge there. It was quite the popular hangout.
Yes, the vast majority of tap offerings were Boulevard, but they also allotted some space to other local brews.
LAKE OF THE OZARKS
After Kansas City was a three-hour drive to the Lake of the Ozarks. My hopes weren’t high that my run of good beers would continue.
The Lake of the Ozarks (who’s marketing slogan seems to be “more miles of shoreline than the entire California coast,” which I heard on several occasions — even on the premiere episode of Ozark) is a collection of wealthy people’s vacation homes and about a jillion tourists. The primary activities seem to be boating and drinking (hopefully not by the same person). The place is littered with boatable bars and restaurants, nearly all of them with their own swim-up pool bars.
I pretty much reduced myself to finding Corona, Lima-a-Ritas, or maybe the occasional Blue Moon at the fancier places.
Again, I can happily report that I was wrong.
One the first places I went to not only had a very decent selection of local beer, but sold them in flights! Great way to sample the local fare.
In fact, every bar or restaurant we visited had at least a few local selections. I was able to sample at least one beer from the following:
Torn Label Brewing Co., Kansas City — founded in 2014 in Downtown KC’s Crossroads district, home of a thriving local arts scene. Their 15-barrel brewhouse and taproom is located in a section of an artists’ collective building.
Core beers include Monk & Honey, a Belgian ale made with honey; House Brew, a coffee-wheat stout; and Alpha Pale, an 80 IBU pale ale. In keeping with their local community, they also feature limited Artist Series collaborations with local artists.
Martin City Brewing Co., Kansas City — although technically in Kansas City, the brewpub was founded in 2011 in unincorporated Martin City, in the southern KC metro area on the Kansas border. Beers were brewed off-site until 2014, when a brewery and additional taproom was built in a space across the street.
Core beers include a Belgian-style Abbey Ale, a Belgian-style Blond, and Hardway IPA. Specialty brews include an imperial porter and stout, a barrel-aged saison, and quad aged in Scotch barrels. Beers are available in bottles and cans as well as draft, and are distributed throughout Missouri and Kansas.
Mothers Brewing Co., Springfield, MO — established in 2011 in a former Hostess bakery building downtown. Their 30-barrel capacity brewery/taproom distributes bottles and kegs throughout Missouri, Arkansas, and eastern Kansas.
Core beers include Towhead American Blonde, Lil’ Helper IPA, Three Blind Mice Brown, and Loopty Loop Helles. They also feature seasonals and special brews, and a series of sessionable cans called Backyard Beers.
Piney River Brewing Co., Bucyrus, MO — established in 2011 in a small community of about 1100, approximately 90 miles east of Springfield. A 10-gallon brewhouse soon expanded to a 7-barrel facility at the “BARn”. Today they brew on a 15-barrel system in a larger facility.
This multiple-medal-winning brewery (including a 2013 GABF Gold for their Old Tom Porter) features a blonde, pale, IPA, amber, and Mexican-style lager as their core beers. Limited-production brews include an imperial IPA, an “Ozarks Lager,” and an imperial stout.
Logboat Brewing Co., Columbia, MO — its name a derivate of the Missouria (or “people of the wooden canoe”) Native American tribe, Logboat was founded in 2014 and currently brews on a 30-barrel system.
Core beers include Shiphead Ginger Wheat, Mamoot Mild, Snapper IPA, and Lookout Pale. They also offer a wide array of seasonals as well as a Delta Series and Fretboard Coffee Series, made in collaboration with a local coffee roaster.
Overall, it was very gratifying to see just how much the good beer movement has permeated the drinking culture in this country. If it can make inroads in a Midwest resort community, it has indeed arrived.
So take heart, weary traveler. Odds are, no matter your destination, if it is good beer you seek, you shall find it. Drink well.