We are rapidly closing in on one of my favorite holidays — the Fourth of July!
I love the fireworks, the grilling, the gatherings of family and friends, and the consumption of tasty alcoholic beverages. I’m here today to make that last element even better with a 12 pack of recommendations from the local craft beer scene.
Kansas City’s craft beer scene is exploding with new brews and breweries. From just eight local breweries a few years ago, we will have close to 40 in the metro by the end of the year.
I reached out to six local craft beer expects for their thoughts on what two brews they’d recommend for the holiday. So, here you go!
Christopher Meyers: Tea Weiss and Cerveza Royale
My first two recommendations come from the co-founder of one of those eight “originals” — Christopher Meyers of Raytown’s Crane Brewing.
“I like the Tea Weiss from us and the Cerveza Royale from Stockyards (Brewing Company). Tea Weiss is a ‘go to’ summer beer-bright and refreshing with subtle fruitiness. Cerveza Royale is a beer for those seeking a clean lager. Don’t forget the lime!” Meyers suggested.
Chris Bengston: Starting at the End IPA and Trailsmith Farmhouse Saison
I turned next to Chris Bengston of Common Descent Provisions hot sauce fame. Bengston is an avid admirer of craft beer.
“I would probably suggest the Starting at the End IPA from Alma Mader (a collaboration with BKS Brewery). It’s available in growlers. Then, the Trailsmith Farmhouse Saison from Crane.
“Starting at the End has got an interesting depth and complexity from the addition of oats and the exclusion of hops during the cooking process. Meantime, Trailsmith, to me, is the perfect beer for a summer celebration. It’s crisp and well-rounded, not too malty, not too hoppy. That makes it very drinkable and easy to pair with many types of summertime food,” Bengston said.
Kyle Hopkins: Space Camper IPA and Amusement Sour IPA
Kyle Hopkins, a brand ambassador for Boulevard Brewing, suggests one of his own brews and another local favorite.
“Space Camper IPA from Boulevard Brewing Company. Obviously, I’m going to go with a Boulevard beer first. I will have a cooler full of this new IPA for the Fourth. Featuring El Dorado hops, which are known to have notes of tropical fruit and watermelon, Space Camper is the perfect beer to have on hand for a day of barbecue, swimming pools and fireworks. It’s loaded with tons of juicy hop flavor but with a light enough body that I can sip on it all day.
“Second, I’d recommend the Amusement Sour IPA from BKS Artisanal Ales. They brought this to Boulevardia Taps and Tastes this year and it was one of the most memorable beers I tasted. It’s a Sour IPA made with hibiscus, rose petals, Meyer lemons and lychee that’s dry-hopped with Citra and Mosaic. It’s a delicious thirst-quenching beer with complex layers of sourness, fruit and hops,” Hopkins said.
Pete Dulin: Hard Way IPA and Love is Love Fruited Sour
Pete Dulin wrote the book on local craft beer, literally. His book, “Kansas City Beer: A History of Brewing in the Heartland,” is a must-read for any local beer lover.
Here are his two picks for the Fourth: “Martin City Brewing’s Hard Way IPA. Dry hopped three times to produce a bold citrusy aroma and hops flavor yet still balanced and refreshing. Servaes Brewing’s Love is Love Fruited Sour. Featuring flavors of cherry, orange, lemon, lime, blueberry, plum and grape packed into one beer.”
Rodney Beagle: Bi-Coastal Cerveza Ale and IPL
Rodney Beagle, the head brewer of the soon-to-open 3 Halves Brewing Company in downtown Liberty, was quick to respond with his picks.
“Bi-Coastal Cerveza Ale with lime and salt! Light, refreshing, and thirst-quenching with a slight citrus/salt finish. It tastes like a more flavorful Corona with a lime in it. It’s from Callsign Brewing.
“And my second would have to be Casual Animal’s IPL. It’s a hoppy lager-clean and crisp with just the right amount of hops to satisfy the hop lovers of KC. It goes great with spicy barbecue sauce and smoke bombs!” Beagle said.
Seth Welch: Violet Carson and Kolsch
Finally, I went out to Johnson County for a visit with Seth Welch, general manager of Pig & Finch restaurant. Welch oversees the restaurant’s excellent beverage program, which includes a large selection of craft beers.
“I like my ‘easy drinking’ beer to still have flavor and complexity. Martin City (Brewing Company) has a new release called Violet Carson. They age it with grape must, so it’s like a beer/rosé hybrid and it’s amazing-perfect for a hot day. Also, this is kind of basic, but Boulevard Brewing Company’s Kolsch is just a solid beer, and again, great for summer,” Welch said.
So, there you have it, 12 local craft beers for the holiday! Enjoy and cheers!
Dave Eckert is a longtime Kansas City food and beverage journalist. He was the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS and AWE for 12 seasons. Follow Dave’s eating and drinking experiences on Instagram at @eatsanddrinkswithdave.