Kansas City is sprinkled with places to savor lovingly crafted beers
Since the first keg of Pale Ale was tapped in 1989, Boulevard Brewing Co. has been a point of pride for Kansas Citians.
So last year, when founder John McDonald sold a majority stake in the company to Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat, many local beer fans were heartbroken.
The feeling didn’t last long: Duvel, which also owns Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y., hasn’t changed Boulevard’s recipes, ordered mass layoffs or moved brewing operations to Antwerp.
Duvel has, however, helped Boulevard expand its reach. Within five years, Boulevard beers could be sold in every state and in Europe.
The expanding brewery hasn’t lost its hometown focus: In June, Boulevard debuts a new street festival, Boulevardia, which celebrates food, beer, art and music in the West Bottoms.
Several new Kansas City breweries are participating in the sold-out beer festival portion of Boulevardia. Among them: the Big Rip Brewing Co., Cinder Block Brewery, Kansas City Bier Co. and Martin City Brewing Co.
The Big Rip Brewing Co., which opened a year ago at 216 E. Ninth Ave. in North Kansas City, recently doubled its brewing system from two to four barrels and added an outdoor beer garden. The Big Rip’s brews include a coffee porter made with locally roasted beans, a banana cream ale and gluten-free blackberry beer.
About a mile north of the Big Rip is Cinder Block Brewery, 110 E. 18th Ave. in North Kansas City, which serves Block IPA, pleasantly chocolatey Paver Porter and cider made from Missouri apples. Sip a flight in the bring-your-own-food tasting room, lined with wine and whiskey barrels.
Farther south, in the Waldo neighborhood, Kansas City Bier Co. is brewing German-style beers on a 30-barrel system.
The brewery’s tasting room, at 310 W. 79th St., serves sausages and cheese alongside Hefeweizen (unfiltered wheat ale) and Helles (a crisp golden lager). Hopheads will dig Hopfen Doof, a dry-hopped beer with the citrusy aroma of an IPA.
On the southern edge of KC, Martin City Brewing Co.’s Pizza + Tap, 500 E. 135th St., is pairing brews with pizza from a stone oven. Try the Belgian-style dark Abbey beer, popular even among Bud Light drinkers.
As for Boulevard beer, you can find it on tap at most Kansas City-area bars. The brewery, at 2501 Southwest Blvd., also offers free 40-minute walking tours daily, starting at 10 a.m.
The tours, offered on a first-come, first serve basis starting at 10 a.m., end in Boulevard’s pub-like tasting room, where you can sample classics like Unfiltered Wheat alongside experimental brews and limited-edition offerings such as Saison-Brett, a dry-hopped beer that gets its earthy flavor from wild yeast.
| Sarah Gish, The Kansas City Star
Healthy craft beer scene has taken St. Louis beyond Budweiser
The city that’s home to the King of Beers has become a serious player in the craft beer world.
The Saint Louis Brewery, better known as Schlafly, was the area’s first craft brewery and remains one of the best. Its regular and seasonal offerings are available at its two brewpubs, the Tap Room just west of downtown and the Bottleworks in Maplewood.
The craft beer boom has been accelerating since 2011. Among the standout new breweries is Perennial Artisan Ales in South City, which has won national acclaim for its Belgian-style sour beers.
Urban Chestnut Brewing Co., founded by two former Anheuser-Busch employees, brews both traditional German and contemporary American styles at its original midtown tasting room and a massive new brewery and tasting room in the Grove entertainment district.
The Civil Life Brewing Co. offers an exceptionally friendly pub atmosphere — and delicious traditional English and American ales — in the city’s Tower Grove South neighborhood. In Soulard, you’ll find the tasting room of 4 Hands Brewing Co., known for its fruit-laced and barrel-aged offerings.
Budweiser fans can take comfort knowing that even in these days of foreign ownership, the brewery remains open for tours. The new Ballpark Village next to Busch Stadium also features Budweiser Brew House, a large restaurant and bar.
And if it’s wineries you’re looking for, head to the Augusta Wine Trail, about 45 minutes west of downtown. You’ll find nine wineries with gorgeous views of vineyards, the Missouri River and its bluffs. Most are near the Katy Trail, so you can enjoy a stroll or ride along the way.
| Ian Froeb, St. Louis Post-Dispatch