Monday, March 29, 2010

Western Kansas Beer Trip-Dec. 2009

In late December, we took a quick trip out to Western Kansas to visit some of the great breweries and brewpubs the Sunflower state has. We left on a Friday morning and headed towards Manhattan. We had the full crew except Ed for this trip. Our first stop was Little Apple Brewing Company located on the western side of Manhattan for an early lunch and the first beers of the trip. We met with the head brewer, Kris and he chatted with us for awhile as we waited for our food. He was really friendly discussing the beers they had on tap, including almost everyone’s favorite that day, a seasonal brewed with hazelnuts. After we had lunch, Kris showed us around their brewing facility while we finished up our brews. It was a really good stop as Kris was great and the staff was really helpful.

After lunch, we drove about two hours to Gella’s Diner and lb Brewing Company. I mention that it was just two hours at that was a topic of discussion. A lot of people think Hays is further out, when in fact it’s about four hours from the KC metro area. We’ve been to Gella’s before, as it was the first stop on Beer Trip II. It’s located in Hays’ old downtown in a historic building, but inside is new and modern. An absolutely beautiful place. The brewing facility is the cleanest I’ve ever seen. Every piece of equipment sparkles. Unfortunately, the head brewer, Gerald, was feeling under the weather. He said he didn’t want to get us sick so he just stopped by and said hi real quick before going home to recover. Gella’s always has a huge selection of beers on tap, including their 2009 GABF gold medal winner Liberty Stout. Kelly, knowing this was his last bit of fun before tax season, probably had the most fun of us all and ended up having to curl up in the EM-50 to wait the rest of us out before we went back to our hotel in Hays.

The next morning we were up and headed to the tiny town of Beaver, KS. Even native Kansans have never heard of it. Just for future reference, it’s located about 20-30 minutes south of Russell, KS. Huge help, right? Anyway, Len and Linda Moeder run a tiny oasis in the middle of BFE Kansas. It’s a small town establishment where people know you’re from out of town (although, in a town the size of Beaver, not a hard accomplishment). Len and Linda run it all themselves, but they still found time to come over and talk to us both times I’ve been there. He’s even growing his own hops now, and the beers are great.

After Mo’s, we headed back to Manhattan, this time the east side, to Tallgrass Brewing Company. We met up with Jeff Gill, the owner and head brewer, before their regular tour. He showed us around the brewery keeping us supplied with beer the entire time. Tallgrass has expanded rapidly in the few short years it’s been open. It’s always good to see another Kansas brewery succeed and start distributing to other states. Jeff let us try a beer that he was experimenting with, and even asked for our thoughts about it. We all agreed that we hoped it was in their future line up. We shared some of the beers we brought as well with him in their tasting room, and had a great time talking with Jeff for a couple hours until the normal tour people started showing up. He even put the Tallgrass sticker on the back of the EM-50 for us, which was pretty cool.

The final stop of our quick trip was to Blind Tiger in Topeka, KS. They’re a perennial GABF winner and they didn’t fail to impress us either. It was getting late so we had just a quick meal there before we headed back to KC. Overall a great trip to the great breweries in Kansas to the west of us. They’re not far off I-70 so anyone traveling out to Colorado needs to make the effort to stop and support these great locally owned businesses.


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